Southland group remembers 1968 Mexico City massacre

Forty years ago today soldiers shot and killed dozens of people at an antigovernment rally in Mexico City. KPCC's Adolfo Guzman-Lopez says Los Angeles activist groups have organized an afternoon of performances this weekend under the motto, "We will not forget."

Adolfo Guzman-Lopez: On October 2nd, 1968, the Day of the Dead arrived a month early in Mexico City.

Andres Jimenez: As people were gathering, I think even before the formal demonstration occurred, shots rang out into the crowd from the buildings surrounding. And there was never an official accounting of the number of people killed. Some foreign press reports had hundreds of people being killed. The Mexican government only acknowledged 22.

Guzman-Lopez: Political scientist Andres Jimenez says the killings sent shockwaves through Mexican society, just as the Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy assassinations stunned Americans the same year. Jimenez says that among Mexican-Americans in L.A., more people are aware of the 1968 massacre now than when it happened.

Jimenez: Primarily because today's L.A. Mexican-American community has a larger proportion of people who are immigrants or children of immigrants. Whereas in 1968, it really was the other way around.

Guzman-Lopez: Mexico City native Edith Hernandez migrated to L.A. six years ago. She says her father was one of thousands of students who attended the demonstration 40 years ago today.

Edith Hernandez: Es un digno ejemplo en el que los estudiantes...

Guzman-Lopez: She says that when she was an architecture student in Mexico City, she became passionate about what had happened to the young protesters. In Los Angeles, she met some college students who shared her indignation. Hernandez and some of those students are performing in a street theater piece on Saturday in front of the Mexican consulate in MacArthur Park.

[Veracruz music]

Guzman-Lopez: The seven-hour event also will include performances by traditional Mexican, rock, and reggae bands.