With the 1970 World Cup competition starting at the end of May, the attention of football fans all over the world will be turned towards Mexico.
With the 1970 World Cup competition starting at the end of May, the attention of football fans all over the world will be turned towards Mexico. Some authorities in the host country, however, are watching the students of the University of Mexico to see that there is no repetition of the huge demonstration that preceded the 1968 Olympics and resulted in the deaths of many demonstrators when the Army opened fire.
Since the arrival of the teams for the World Cup and concomitant world focus on Mexico, the movements of students have been closely scrutinised. A recent demonstration originally planned to take place outside the U.S. Embassy to protest U.S. involvement in Cambodia became instead a peaceful rally in downtown Mexico City which included present Mexican leadership among its grievances.
The conflict between activist students and the authorities can be seen on the walls of the modern buildings of the University where posters and slogans put up by students are either torn down or painted over by the authorities. A few posters survive praising Che Guevara, condemning U.S. intervention in Cambodia and advertising the student demonstration. Two anti-American posters have been pasted on an entrance sign to the University, but as it is inside the campus no policeman can enter to tear it down, for the University city, where police are not allowed to enter.
Another sign of student unrest is the screen which surrounds the 30-foot high statue of former President Miguel Aleman who helped to get the University built. Students considered the erection of a statue a premature honour and one night tried to blow it up.
With the two sides watching each other during this period before the World Cup, students will be taking not of the fate of some of the leaders of the 1968 pre-Olympic demonstrations.
A Mexico City court meeting last week jailed 10 people, eight of them students, for terms of up to 25 years. The charges were listed as organising acts of violence and terrorism. All accused were also ordered to pay joint fined and sums varying from GBP2,000 sterling (60,000 pesos) to the Ministry of Defence to GBP 150 sterling (4,800 pesos) to the Ministry of Education for damage they were alleged to have caused.