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The Corpus Christi Massacre
Mexico's Attack on its Student Movement, June 10, 1971

by Kate Doyle
(kadoyle@gwu.edu)

Research Assistance: Isaac Campos Costero

Additional Research: Tamara Feinstein and Michael Gavin

Posted - June 10, 2003

El artículo en español
(PDF format - 1.2 MB)

 

This new Electronic Briefing Book on the Corpus Christi massacre is the fourth to appear based on a collaboration between Proceso magazine and the National Security Archive and launched on March 2, 2003.

The collaboration grew out of a shared desire to publish and disseminate to a wide audience newly-declassified documents about the United States and Mexico. Each month, Proceso magazine will publish an article by the Archive's Mexico Project director, Kate Doyle, examining new documentary evidence on a chosen topic. The series - called Archivos Abiertos (or, Open Archive), will draw from U.S. and Mexican declassified records on a range of issues that could include, for example: drug trafficking and counternarcotics policy, Mexican presidential elections, human rights cases, immigration, U.S. training of the Mexican military, NAFTA negotiations, the role of the press, peso devaluations, and state repression during Mexico's "dirty war." On the same day that Proceso's article appears in Mexico, the National Security Archive will post an Electronic Briefing Book on its web site, containing an English-language version of the article, a link to Proceso's web site, and all of the declassified documents used for the piece, reproduced in their entirety.

 

Contents
Article
Documents
Link - Proceso Magazine
El artículo en español (PDF format - 1.2 MB)

The Corpus Christi Massacre
Mexico's Attack on its Student Movement, June 10, 1971

by Kate Doyle

When Luis Echeverría Alvarez was sworn in as President of Mexico on December 1, 1970, his reputation as the hard line Interior Secretary to former President Gustavo Díaz Ordaz preceded him. Echeverría had been at the helm of internal security when the massacre at Tlatelolco exploded in 1968, leaving dozens of students dead at the hands of Mexican police and military forces. But during his presidential campaign, candidate Echeverría promised a kinder, gentler government, and reached out to the constituency most affected by the tough tactics of the Díaz Ordaz regime: Mexico's young people. In comparison to his predecessor, the new President was youthful and energetic; once in office, he pledged to repair relations with the nation's students, respect university independence and oversee a new "democratic opening" in Mexican society.

Within six months, Echeverría's resolve was put to the test. The Autonomous University of Nuevo Leon in Monterrey, long torn by political differences, was shut down by angry demonstrators on May 1 after the conservative state congress changed the university's bylaws, greatly reducing its autonomy. Nuevo Leon's Governor, Eduardo Elizondo, sent police forces to occupy parts of the campus, exacerbating student outrage. In the face of the deteriorating situation, President Echeverría intervened to annul the offending law and restore full autonomy to the university, a decision that prompted Elizondo to resign.

Despite the settlement reached in Nuevo Leon, sympathetic students in Mexico City decided to proceed with a planned march in support of the struggle in Monterrey. The protest of June 10 was to be the first major student demonstration since Tlatelolco, and many hoped it would revive the student movement, hard hit by the repression of 1968. The march began at the National Polytechnic Institute (IPN), in the Casco de Santo Tomás. It would quickly become a bloodbath. At five in the afternoon, as some 10,000 demonstrators wound their way down the Avenida San Cosme, dozens of young men swarmed out of buses and pick-up trucks and descended upon the crowd. Dressed in civilian clothing, they were armed with wooden poles, chains and truncheons. They attacked the students as scores of police stood idly by and watched. When the fighting stopped hours later, some 25 students lay dead and dozens wounded.

These were the Halcones, the "Falcons," thugs-for-hire enlisted, trained and armed by the Federal District government to carry out the dirty work of suppressing the student movement in Mexico City. In the aftermath of the "Corpus Christi massacre" (named for the Catholic celebration that takes place on that Thursday every June), numerous historical and eyewitness accounts have testified to the brutality and violence of that day, but never has the Mexican government acknowledged its part in the attack. And never has Luis Echeverría Alvarez - who today is under investigation by the Office of the Special Prosecutor compiling criminal cases against the perpetrators of past human rights violations - spoken honestly about his connection to the incident.

Declassified U.S. documents do not provide a smoking gun. But they do offer an extraordinary glimpse of what went on behind the curtain of official denial that fell immediately after the slaughter. They are quoted here at length to provide the reader with new details about the origins of the Halcones, the culpability of the government, and U.S. complicity in the cover-up that followed the massacre.

U.S. police training and the Halcones

Early on in the new regime, Foreign Relations Secretary Emilio Rabasa approached U.S. Ambassador Robert McBride with a request from the President: would Washington be willing to arrange a program of police training for a group of Mexican security forces? Rabasa's personal visit was followed by others, among them Foreign Relations Under Secretary José S. Gallastegui and Col. Manuel Díaz Escobar Figueroa, who - explained an embassy cable to Washington on January 6, 1971 - said the men would be particularly keen on learning "crowd control, dealing with student demonstrations, and riots. They would also be interested in training in physical defense tactics and hand-to-hand combat."

According to embassy information, Díaz Escobar is a colonel in Mexican army, and, among other things, is also currently in charge of a group of individuals known as the Halcones. This group was responsible for putting down the ostensible student rally [on November 4, 1970] to celebrate the election victory of Chilean president Allende [. . .]. Halcones used bamboo sticks in this endeavor, were identified by the students, and described as "army-trained toughs." Embassy understands that this organization numbers approximately 2000 individuals who assist GOM [Government of Mexico] in the above manner. [. . .]

In describing group to go to U.S., Díaz Escobar indicated that "four or five" would be young army officers in their mid-20's, three would be 18-19 year old university students (Embassy comment: possibly GOM "sources" in Mexican student organizations), and 8-10 would be in their early 20's being trained for "important positions" (Embassy comment: possibly for later assignment to police department or possibly as sub-chiefs of Halcones). Group is entirely outside regular Federal District police department and their ages would indicate that these men might be used to lead and train the Halcones.

[. . .] Gallastegui said in confidence that this project and request for USG [United States Government] assistance had full blessing of President Echeverría.

The connection between Díaz Escobar and the Halcones worried U.S. embassy officers, who wondered if the officials trained in the United States might return to Mexico "to play some role in the Halcones, dealing harshly and perhaps even outside the law with student leaders and demonstrations." In its January 8 telegram back to the embassy, the State Department also expressed its concerns about the "politically unpopular" tactics the trainees might use after their return to Mexico.

Nonetheless, we agree that we should be as forthcoming as possible in meeting this first substantive request for assistance by Echeverría Government. [. . .] Potential anti-US fallout resulting from future activities of trainees might be diluted by arranging for them to visit other foreign police departments as well, e.g. the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

Arrangements for the training began. On March 8, the first group of five men - which included Col. Díaz Escobar's son, Manuel Díaz Escobar Celorio - left for Washington. They were scheduled to return on July 9.

The "double game" of Luis Echeverría

Reporting by U.S. officials during and immediately after the bloody attack on June 10 was thin as information from their sources trickled into the embassy, but it was clear from the outset that the young men behind the assault were the infamous Halcones, acting with government knowledge. It was equally clear the Echeverría government was not going to publicly disclose its role in the massacre, and just days after the attack the embassy was characterizing the regime's response as "a whitewash." On June 15 the mayor of Mexico City, Alfonso Martínez Domínguez - considered a controlling force behind the Halcones - was forced out of office. Although the press was buzzing with talk that the powerful Martínez had engineered the Corpus Christi attack in effort to undermine the President, U.S. deputy chief of mission Jack B. Kubisch discounted such rumors in an analysis he wrote on June 17.

The resignation of Federal District Regent Alfonso Martínez Domínguez, June 15, can best be viewed as a move on the part of President Echeverría to establish his undisputed political leadership, a desire common to all Mexican presidents. That the resignation satisfies a presidential need to find a high-level scapegoat for what happened on June 10 is perhaps a related factor but not in itself an explanation. [. . .]

Martínez Domínguez is the Mexican politician par excellence, a master of compromise, political deals and subterfuge. He is at least, and probably more, corrupt than most. He has the reputation of a "dirty politician," one who is not adverse to using force when the needs of the political system or his own interests so dictate. Most of these traits are at variance with the leadership image that Echeverría has worked hard to project during the past six months. [. . .]

In his cable, Kubisch suggested that Martínez Domínguez may have been "set up for his fall" by a new President seeking to consolidate power within his own government.

It is well established that the Halcones are an officially financed, organized, trained and armed repressive group, the main purpose of which since its founding in September 1968 has been the control of leftist and anti-government students. Its existence and function were well-known to all top GOM law-enforcement and political officials. Although we cannot be quite so sure of this, it appears that Martínez Domínguez was the cabinet officer with the most direct control over the Halcones. In the tacit manner of Mexican politics, it was his responsibility to use them in the manner that he considered most in keeping with the presidential wishes. They and the related (if not identical) Francisco Villa Group had been used to intimidate (and sometimes kill) students during the past six months. These actions had brought no official reproof and we have no seen no other indications that Echeverría had warned Martínez Domínguez or others about the possible political dangers of a severe confrontation. It stretches the imagination to believe that Echeverría could not have forced the disbandment of the Halcones had he so desired or that he was not aware of plans to severely repress the June 10 demonstration, with consequent damage to many of his policies since taking office. [. . .]

[I]t is hard to escape the conclusion that some deaths could have been expected, and there may have been a conscious decision that this was the best way to prevent a repeat of the ten-week long demonstrations that occurred in 1968 and ended in the even bloodier repression at Tlatelolco on October 2 of that year.

Based on the reports it had received from its embassy in Mexico, the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR) also prepared an analysis of the massacre on June 17, in which it, too, contradicted government denials about its role. In particular, the INR assessment cited an intelligence report which offered details on how the regime controlled and managed the Halcones.

Who are the Halcones? The government has been asserting that there is no connection between the Halcones and any government agency and that they are simply a manifestation of right-wing dissent and equally as repugnant as the leftist student "struggle groups." A clandestine report, however, indicates that the Halcones membership is recruited from university age students who are sons of people friendly with PRI [the ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party] officials enjoying the personal confidence of President Echeverría. The recruits are given some university education plus some pay and the assurance of a bright future in the PRI. They are trained by army personnel and have been supplied with close to $200,000 worth of weapons and equipment, including 100 M-1 carbines.

There has been much press speculation that the Halcones were unleashed by conservative high-level government officials displeased by Echeverría's kowtowing to student demands and who wished to force a confrontation with the students and bring about Echeverría's overthrow. There is also speculation that Echeverría was seeking to dismiss Martínez Domínguez, mayor of Mexico City, and therefore engineered the atrocity in order to have an excuse to dump him. Neither of these theories appears to be very convincing. A more probable explanation is that Echeverría was playing a double game by meeting student demands at the same time he was supporting the Halcones as a counterfoil to the activist left-wing "struggle groups." Possibly out of anger over the fact that the students insisted on demonstrating even after he had gone to such great lengths to meet their aspirations, Echeverría may well have given his blessing to the use of the group against the IPN demonstrations.

Echeverría and the student movement

Before the clash of June 10, U.S. officials frequently commented on Echeverría's desire to establish improved relations with Mexico's young people. In an assessment of "Youth and the Echeverría Administration," written on May 28, the U.S. embassy described the president's public efforts to ingratiate himself with the university community. The document also described the hidden face of a regime determined to keep leftist student opposition in check.

Echeverría's public posture is one of strict non-interference in university matters. [. . .] Less publicly it is clear that the Government is devoting considerable resources to the control of student groups. This is best documented at UNAM [the National Autonomous University of Mexico], but it may be true as well at provincial campuses. As usual there is both a carrot and a stick. Reportedly, the administration has made it known that it will provide financial support for any student group rejecting Marxist ideas and the communist system and supporting [the] Mexican Revolution and the administration's programs. One objective is to break the power of the Struggle Committees that have dominated UNAM student affairs since 1968. The second is to prevent the creation of any alternate unified student organization. The stick consists of student toughs (the Francisco Villa Group), paid and organized by the Federal District Government, whose role is to intimidate leftist student leaders and to break up anti-Government meetings. A number of students have been killed during the past year, many more injured.

Some two months after the massacre, the government began cracking down on the gangs of so-called "porras" - young thugs who had been used for years to bully leftist students and student groups on university campuses as a way of controlling their actions. Although the decision was in part a reaction to rising public outcry against the groups, it was also, as an embassy telegram described on August 20, an attempt by the Echeverría regime to divert attention from the government's continued failure to deliver a long-promised report by the Attorney General's office on the events on June 10.

For several years groups of students and non-student young toughs have been used by rightist elements, including administrators of preparatory schools and university faculties, and perhaps by politicians as well, to keep leftist student groups in line. The Government has given some tacit support and encouragement to the use of these groups to keep the students off balance, but they are not as directly sponsored by the GOM as were the "Halcones." [. . .] These activities have included more than merely keeping leftists in line. They have also, presumably without the approval of their patrons, terrorized students in general, demanding "protection" money. Student deaths have resulted from a number of incidents, mostly from beatings at the hands of the "porras." [. . .] The Embassy believes it quite likely that the current concentrated effort to control the "porras" is an attempt on the part of the GOM to take some of the heat off itself because of a lack of a forthcoming Attorney General report on the June 10 events.

The cover-up

As soon as it became know that the Halcones were behind the Corpus Christi massacre, a flurry of secret cables began to fly between the U.S. embassy in Mexico and the State Department in Washington in an attempt to figure out how to conceal the police training program inaugurated just three months before. While none of the individuals accepted into the program had participated in the June 10 attack (they returned to Mexico in July), U.S. officials recognized that their knowing association with the Halcones - in particular, their warm relationship with Halcones chief, Col. Díaz Escobar - would spark an uproar, in Mexico and in the United States. In their eagerness to hide the U.S. connection to the Halcones, American officials supported and encouraged the Mexicans to cover its tracks in the affair as well. In a cable to Washington on June 17, the embassy summarized the U.S. role, and suggested some first steps in how cover it up.

On the face of it and dealing strictly with the facts, the USG is completely clean in this matter. We were officially asked by the Foreign Secretary for a police training program, the Mexican government itself designated Col. Díaz Escobar as coordinator of the program, the trainees were all certified to U.S. to be qualified police officials and none of the trainees, so far as we know, have yet returned to Mexico. It was only our own inside information that linked Díaz Escobar to the "Halcones." [. . .]

We believe it would be useful, even if the statement never has to be issued, to let GOM know that we are concerned over possible damage to US/Mexican relations out of irresponsible and unfounded attempts to connect us to June 10 riots, whether by official investigation or "accidental" leaks to press.

We also strongly recommend that Department do whatever it can insure that no publicity whatsoever be given inadvertently or otherwise to Mexican police training by International Police Academy or anyone else. We are taking similar steps here to assure no leakage from this embassy. Obviously there should also be no USG comments on current internal Mexican political problems.

On June 25, Foreign Secretary Emilio Rabasa met with embassy officials to assure them that the Mexican government would do everything in its power to prevent harmful publicity about the U.S. training program.

He said every possible measure had been taken to prevent publicity on training program in US and I gather that stiff measures were approved insofar as press was concerned.[. . .] I expressed satisfaction at measures which Mexican government had taken.

Yet even as the embassy urged the Mexicans to guard their silence about the U.S. training given to members of the Halcones, Ambassador McBride was lamenting the Mexican government's unwillingness to disclose its own role in the matter, as he wrote in a telegram on December 22, 1971.

[I]t is becoming increasingly clear that the GOM has no intention of ever issuing a full report and no doubt hopes that the whole matter can be allowed to slide quietly into oblivion. The difficulties of issuing a full report are obvious. No one would believe the report unless it acknowledged some official responsibility for the "Halcones" (Government toughs) who broke up the demonstrations. Such responsibility would be most difficult for the Government to concede. [. . .] Thus, as time goes on, even though the tragedy is occasionally brought into the public forum by leftist groups and has not been forgotten, the Attorney General's report becomes less and less likely.

Shortly after the events of June 10, the U.S. embassy speculated on the long-term effects of the Corpus Christi massacre for Mexico. The comments, written on June 17, offer a chillingly accurate vision of the violence that would follow the bloody clash.

If, as now seems inevitable, the Halcones are disbanded, we may wonder how the government intends to control subversive student groups. It is worth recalling in this regard that the Halcones were formed at least in part because of the 1968 student demand that uniformed riot police be disbanded. Many responsible Mexicans doubt that Echeverría's call to national unity will sway the more politicized students - unless accompanied by much more significant economic and social changes than have characterized the administration to date - and believe that repressive force will be an inevitable part of the Mexican political system for some time to come.


Note: The following documents are in PDF format.
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Documents

Document 1
January 6, 1971
Special Observation and Training Program in Police Activities
U.S. Embassy in Mexico, confidential telegram

While in favor of a training program for Mexican police officers as proposed by Foreign Secretary Emilio Rabasa, the U.S. Embassy expresses some concern that these newly trained officials might return to fill the ranks of groups like the Halcones, state- sponsored thugs enlisted to intimidate the left on university campuses. The Mexican Government's decision to appoint Halcones chief Col. Manuel Díaz Escobar as its key liaison with the U.S. exacerbates these concerns.

Source: National Archives, RG 59, 1970-73
Economic, Box 572, "AID (US) Mexico 1/1/70"

Document 2
January 8, 1971
Special Observation and Training Program in Police Activities
Department of State, confidential telegram

In a response to the telegram of two days prior, the State Department echoes the Embassy's concerns about the selected Mexican trainees. While suggesting that potential negative fallout might be assuaged by including other countries such as Canada in the program, State also wants emphasized that "if GOM [Government of Mexico] is serious about doing a thoroughgoing job of reorganization and reform, then the trainee candidates…should consist of experienced police officers."

Source: National Archives, RG 59, 1970-73
Economic, Box 572, "AID (US) Mexico 1/1/70"

Document 3
January 14, 1971
Special Observation and Training Program in Police Activities
U.S. Embassy in Mexico, confidential telegram

U.S and Mexican officials begin to work out the finer details of the training program.

Source: National Archives, RG 59, 1970-73
Economic, Box 572, "AID (US) Mexico 1/1/70"

Document 4
January 15, 1971
[Rabasa Reiterates Mexico's Interest in Training Program]
U.S. Embassy in Mexico, confidential telegram

While arrangements for the police-training program have yet to be finalized, Mexican Foreign Secretary Rabasa accelerates the pace of events by asking that Díaz Escobar be received in Washington within the next week to scout out the terrain. Aware of the U.S. desire not to squander a rare opportunity for security cooperation with Mexico, Rabasa emphasizes "Echeverría's personal interest in this program".

Source: National Archives, RG 59, 1970-73
Economic, Box 572, "AID (US) Mexico 1/1/70"

Document 5
January 15, 1971
Police Training Program
Department of State, confidential telegram

As requested by Foreign Secretary Rabasa, the State Department agrees to arrange for Díaz Escobar to visit both the FBI and the International Police Academy.

Source: National Archives, RG 59, 1970-73
Economic, Box 572, "AID (US) Mexico 1/1/70"

Document 6
January 30, 1971
Police Training
U.S. Embassy in Mexico, confidential telegram

Following his trip to Washington, Díaz Escobar expresses warm thanks for the reception given him in the U.S. and says that the first group of five Mexican trainees will not only be ready to commence the program on March 8 but will also include his own son, Manuel Díaz Escobar.

Source: National Archives, RG 59, 1970-73
Economic, Box 572, "AID (US) Mexico 1/1/70"

Document 7
February 11, 1971
Police Training
U.S. Embassy in Mexico, confidential telegram

Just one month before the police-training program is to begin, Díaz Escobar provides the Embassy with the names of the five men who will constitute the first group to travel to the U.S.

Source: National Archives, RG 59, 1970-73
Economic, Box 572, "AID (US) Mexico 1/1/70"

Document 8
February 24, 1971
Police Training: IPA, IAGC 53
U.S. Embassy in Mexico, confidential telegram

Responding to a State Department request, the Embassy provides biographic information on the first group of trainees to visit Washington all of whom are "employed by the Metropolitan Police, serve in anti-riot police force, and have received one year in-service training in anti-riot police work."

Source: National Archives, RG 59, 1970-73
Economic, Box 572, "AID (US) Mexico 1/1/70"

Document 9
April 2, 1971
Police Training- IPA
U.S. Embassy in Mexico, confidential telegram

Two weeks before the second group of police trainees is scheduled to arrive in Washington, Díaz Escobar reports some last-minute changes in the list of participants. The updated list with biographic information is forwarded to Washington.

Source: National Archives, RG 59, 1970-73
Economic, Box 572, "AID (US) Mexico 1/1/70"

Document 10
May 18, 1971
Public Safety Training: IPA, IAGC 55
U.S. Embassy in Mexico, confidential telegram

As with the second group of trainees sent to Washington, the third installment receives a last-minute change by Díaz Escobar.

Source: National Archives, RG 286, OPS LATAM Branch
Mexico IPS 1 thru IPS 10-2, Box 88, IPS; Training 1971-72

Document 11
May 25, 1971
Youth and the Echeverría Administration
U.S. Embassy in Mexico, confidential airgram

The U.S. Embassy provides an analysis of the political role of the student sector within Mexico. "Students constitute one of the few free-floating elements in the Mexican political system and as such they are a target for manipulation by a variety of leftist groups as well as by persons within the power structure." The report also examines President Echeverría's relationship with this crucial constituency, his desire to appeal to their sensibilities with his "dynamism and youthful enthusiasm," and the tools he has at his disposal to influence them, including groups of government-financed "student toughs."

Source: National Archives, RG 59, 1970-73
POL 3 Mex, Box 2474

Document 12
May 26, 1971
Student Violence in Monterrey
U.S. Consul in Monterrey, confidential telegram

As tensions grow in Nuevo León over the university's autonomous status, the American Consul in Monterrey provides Washington with a detailed history of the conflict and a status report on the current situation. Describing various acts of violence in recent weeks, the report calls the issue of autonomy "a near sacred concept in Latin America" and emphasizes that the outcome of the conflict remains very much in doubt, with local students hoping to gain "strong support…from the National University in Mexico City when its student body returns from spring vacation June 2."

Source: National Archives, RG 59, 1970-73
POL 23-8 Mex, Box 2476

Document 13
June 7, 1971
Change of Government and the University Problem
U.S. Consul in Monterrey, confidential telegram

In a surprise move, Echeverría makes sweeping concessions to the students of Monterrey, granting total autonomy to the University of Nuevo León. The university's rector and Governor Eduardo Elizondo - both behind the original push to reduce university autonomy - resign in response. "Conservative elements of community are obviously shocked at sudden and drastic reversal of their apparent 'victory' in university dispute."

Source: National Archives, RG 59, 1970-73
POL 23-8 Mex, Box 2476

Document 14
[Circa June 10, 1971]
Student Demonstration Erupts in Violence
U.S. Embassy in Mexico, confidential telegram

The Embassy transmits early reports of a violent attack by "plain-clothed 'Halcones'" on thousands of students marching from the National Polytechnic Institute in Mexico City in a demonstration of support for their fellow-students in Nuevo León. The bloody clash - which results in some 25 people killed and dozens wounded - becomes known as the "Corpus Christi massacre" for the Catholic celebration traditionally held on the day it occurred.

Source: National Archives, RG 59, 1970-73
POL 23-8 Mex, Box 2476

Document 15
June 16, 1971
Student Demonstration
U.S. Embassy in Mexico, confidential telegram

Tens of thousands of people attend a rally in Mexico City organized by the Partido Revolutionario Institucional (PRI) to show support for President Echeverría. The U.S. Embassy predicts a government "whitewash" of the events of June 10 after the Mexican Attorney General's office issues a second report that makes no reference to the Halcones and blames the violence on student infighting.

Source: National Archives, RG 59, 1970-73
POL 23-8 Mex, Box 2476

Document 16
June 17, 1971
US Training of Mexican Police as Related to Student Disturbances
U.S. Embassy in Mexico, secret telegram

In a cable one week after the Corpus Christi massacre, the U.S. Embassy in Mexico worries that the Halcones paramilitary outfit used to violently suppress the June 10 student demonstration will be linked to U.S. training of Mexican police officers, which began in March. "Department will recall that at time program was being considered, Embassy expressed concern over possibility that groups trained in US might return to Mexico and play leading role in the 'Halcones.' [. . .] Recent events show that our concern was more than justified."

Source: National Archives, RG 59, 1970-73
Economic, Box 572, "AID (US) Mexico 1/1/70"

Document 17
June 17, 1971
Proposed Statement on Police Training
U.S. Embassy in Mexico, secret telegram

In preparation for possible questions from the Mexican press on the police-training program, the U.S. Embassy proposes a statement on the matter to release if necessary.

Source: National Archives, RG 59, 1970-73
Economic, Box 572, "AID (US) Mexico 1/1/70"

Document 18
June 17, 1971
June 10 and the resignation of Martínez Domínguez
U.S. Embassy in Mexico, confidential telegram

Two days after Alfonso Martínez Dominguez's surprise resignation as Mexico City mayor, the Embassy offers its analysis of this latest development and its connection to the events of June 10. While the possible motivations of the resignation are multiple, the Embassy leaves little doubt that the Halcones were indeed a government-supported group, most likely under the control of Martínez Dominguez with the consent of President Echeverría.

Source: National Archives, RG 59, 1970-73
POL 23-8 Mex, Box 2476

Document 19
June 17, 1971
[Potential Statement on Mexican Police Training in U.S.]
Department of State, secret telegram

Replying to earlier telegrams from Mexico City on the connection between the police-training program and the Halcones, the State Department echoes the Embassy's concern and advises that leaks be contained and no statements be made about the program. "[S]ince even most carefully drafted press statement is likely to sound defensive, we believe burden of response to press allegations should be on GOM and that Embassy should issue statement only if it is apparent silence would be even more damaging."

Source: National Archives, RG 59, 1970-73
Economic, Box 572, "AID (US) Mexico 1/1/70"

Document 20
June 18, 1971
Mexico: Government Repression of Students Causes Crisis
Department of State, Bureau of Intelligence and Research, secret report

In a comprehensive report on the turmoil in Mexico, the State Department explains the antecedents of the June 10 demonstration and likely reasons for the government crack down. Whatever Echeverría chooses to do in the wake of the killing, suggests the report, U.S. interests may suffer. Increased repression by the Mexican government will provoke criticism in the U.S. Congress and press. But if the President seeks to appease the students by implementing the kind of nationalistic policies they advocate, U.S. economic interests may be damaged.

Source: National Archives, RG 59, 1970-73
POL 23-8 Mex

Document 21
June 18, 1971
US Training of Mexican Police as Related to Student Disturbances
U.S. Embassy in Mexico, secret telegram

Responding to Mexican press reports linking the Halcones to the United States and describing Col. Díaz Escobar's connection to the group, the U.S. Embassy moves to insure that the Echeverría administration is prepared to take full responsibility for Mexican participation in the Washington police-training program.

Source: National Archives, RG 59, 1970-73
Economic, Box 572, "AID (US) Mexico 1/1/70"

Document 22
June 18, 1971
Training of Mexican Police
U.S. Embassy in Mexico, secret telegram

The U.S. Embassy continues to monitor the press for links between the riots and the international police training program and quips that a recent hurricane in Acapulco has "fortunately-in a sense- . . . taken over front pages."

Source: National Archives, RG 59, 1970-73
Economic, Box 572, "AID (US) Mexico 1/1/70"

Document 23
June 18, 1971
Training of Mexican Police
U.S. Embassy in Mexico, secret telegram

Following two separate conversations with Mexican officials, U.S. Embassy staff expresses confidence that Mexican officials are prepared to take the blame if the press investigates further the link between the Halcones and the police-training program.

Source: National Archives, RG 59, 1970-73
Economic, Box 572, "AID (US) Mexico 1/1/70"

Document 24
June 19, 1971
[Díaz Escobar Sends Family Abroad]
U.S. Embassy in Mexico, secret telegram

The U.S. Embassy reports that Díaz Escobar is sending his family abroad while he remains in Mexico.

Source: National Archives, RG 59, 1970-73
Economic, Box 572, "AID (US) Mexico 1/1/70"

Document 25
June 25, 1971
[Senate Request for Information on Police Training Program]
Senate Foreign Relations Committee, letter

Responding to a report in the Mexican press connecting the Halcones with U.S. training, Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee J. William Fulbright writes the Agency for International Development requesting "a detailed description of AID's police or related training programs involving Mexican nationals for the last five years."

Source: National Archives, RG 286, OPS LATAM Branch
Mexico IPS 1 through IPS 10-2, Box 88, "IPS 2-3 Programs, Mexico"

Document 26
June 25, 1971
Training of Mexican Police
U.S. Embassy in Mexico, secret telegram

After an absence from Mexico City, Mexican Foreign Secretary Emilio Rabasa assures the U.S. that "every possible measure had been taken to prevent publicity on training program in U.S." According to Ambassador McBride, "stiff measures were approved insofar as press was concerned."

Source: National Archives, RG 59, 1970-73
Economic, Box 572, "AID (US) Mexico 1/1/70"

Document 27
June 29, 1971
US Training of Mexican Police
U.S. Embassy in Mexico, secret telegram

In response to a State Department query, the U.S. Embassy says that the Mexican Government will be unlikely to send more police to Washington in August, "wanting no more to do, at least for foreseeable future, with subject training."

Source: National Archives, RG 59, 1970-73
Economic, Box 572, "AID (US) Mexico 1/1/70"

Document 28
June 30, 1971
Group Alleged to be Plotting Ouster of Echeverría
U.S. Embassy in Mexico, secret telegram

According to U.S. sources, a group of conservative politicians, including former Mexico City mayor Alfonso Martínez Domínguez and Col. Manuel Díaz Escobar, have been holding secret meetings to plot the overthrow of President Echeverría who they believe has made too many concessions to leftist interests.

Source: National Archives, RG 59, 1970-73
POL 23-8 Mex, Box 2476

Document 29
July 8, 1971
Congressional Inquiry on Police Training
Department of State, secret telegram

The State Department responds to Senator Fulbright's inquiry concerning the police-training program and the Halcones, outlining the basic facts of the program and emphasizing that the first group of Mexican trainees is not scheduled to return to Mexico until July 9.

Source: National Archives, RG 59, 1970-73
Economic, Box 572, "AID (US) Mexico 1/1/70"

Document 30
July 10, 1971
Mexican Police Training
U.S. Embassy in Mexico, secret telegram

Two days after the State Department responds to Senator Fulbright, the Embassy in Mexico City briefs Mexican Undersecretary of Foreign Affairs José Gallastegui on both the Senator's original letter and the Department's reply. "Gallastegui was visibly upset by news of Senator Fulbright's inquiry and detail contained in Dept's unclassified reply."

Source: National Archives, RG 59, 1970-73
Economic, Box 572, "AID (US) Mexico 1/1/70"

Document 31
July 17, 1971
Police Training
U.S. Embassy in Mexico, confidential telegram

In contrast to Undersecretary Gallastegui's marked concern over Senator Fulbright's inquiry, Secretary Rabasa responds with calm. He admits that "it would be unfortunate if this subject were again raised in the press" but if pressed the Mexican government would "simply note that on June 10, all of the relatively small number of trainees had been in the United States and that the first to return had not come back until a month after these events."

Source: National Archives, RG 59, 1970-73
Economic, Box 572, "AID (US) Mexico 1/1/70"

Document 32
July 19, 1971
Police Training Program
Department of State, secret telegram

Despite the Embassy's initial belief that Mexico would want to abandon the police-training program in the U.S., a "more relaxed GOM attitude" now suggests that they would like the program to continue, a decision that the State Department emphasizes is "entirely in GOM hands."

Source: National Archives, RG 59, 1970-73
Economic, Box 572, "AID (US) Mexico 1/1/70"

Document 33
August 20, 1971
Resignation of Attorney General Sánchez Vargas
U.S. Embassy in Mexico, confidential telegram

Another major resignation in Mexico City, this time of Attorney General Julio Sánchez Vargas, suggests that the political fallout after June 10 continues. Sánchez Vargas had been given the politically impossible task of providing a "full and honest" report on the June 10 events, a job which the Embassy notes was "especially sensitive because Federal Regent Martínez Domínguez before he resigned flatly denied any government connection with the 'Halcones,' because many senior Mexican official and politicians, including the President, were involved in or had knowledge of government support, training and arming of the 'Halcones,' and because the press and the students were generally aware that the government was behind the 'Halcones'."

Source: National Archives, RG 59, 1970-73,
POL 3 Mex, Box 2474

Document 34
August 19, 1971
GOM Anti-"Porra" Campaign
U.S. Embassy in Mexico, confidential airgram

More than two months after the events of June 10, pressure from the public for a legitimate response to the violence leads the Echeverría government to crack down on notorious bands of university thugs known as porras (porra literally means "stick" or "truncheon"). The Embassy speculates that the crackdown is intended not only to quell public outrage about these groups to which the Mexican Government "has given some tacit support," but also to deflect criticism that a promised Attorney General's report on the events of June 10 has yet to appear. "The report has not been forgotten by the students, who are certain to bring the matter up again, but at least the GOM will be able to point out that it has taken vigorous action against other, similar right-wing groups."

Source: National Archives, RG 59, 1970
POL 3 Mex, Box 2474

Document 35
August 30, 1971
Police Training
U.S. Embassy in Mexico, secret telegram

As clamor for an official government report on the June 10 events continues unabated, student leaders release their own analysis of what happened. The Embassy argues that this will only increase pressure on the Mexican government to release the promised report, though its ability move against those it chooses to blame for the incident will be limited. "Since former Mayor, Chief of Police of Federal District and Attorney General have all resigned, GOM will presumably lay the blame at their doors. It probably cannot take any further action against these individuals even if it so wished, because they know too much about the complicity of other senior officials in this affairs."

Source: National Archives, RG 59, 1970-73
Economic, Box 572, "AID (US) Mexico 1/1/70"

Document 36
September 2, 1971
President Echeverría's Report to the Nation
U.S. Embassy in Mexico, limited official use telegram

In his annual state of the nation address to a joint session of Congress, President Echeverría alludes to the Corpus Christi massacre, calling it a "student demonstration in the streets of Mexico City broken up by armed shock-troops." The speech, which was interrupted 81 times by applause, reiterates Echeverría's promise to produce a full and honest report on the massacre while only vaguely suggesting government culpability for events that the President claimed left "dozens of persons injured and several dead."

Source: National Archives, RG 59, 1970-73
POL 3 Mex, Box 2474

Document 37
September 8, 1971
Corona del Rosal on the Halcones
U.S. Embassy in Mexico, confidential telegram

The Mexican newspaper Excelsior helps keep the June 10 story alive with a series of articles on former Mexico City regent Alfonso Corona del Rosal. In the first installment the former regent vehemently denies that he was "ordered to form any repressive or clandestine group" while pugnaciously asking his interviewer "who would have ordered me to do it"? The Embassy remains unconvinced. "Excelsior printed story without comment, probably feeling comment unnecessary. It is doubtful many people will believe Corona's statements."

Source: National Archives, RG 59, 1970-73
POL 23-8 Mex, Box 2474

Document 38
October 29, 1971
June 10: Not Dead Yet
U.S. Embassy in Mexico, confidential airgram

While the State Department has begun to consider the long-term fallout from the June massacre, the Embassy reports that controversy continues to swirl in Mexico. "Ultimas Noticias, on September 28, carried the interesting account of Alvaro Espinosa Aguilar, who was arrested in Guanajuato after beating a young woman while in a state of heavy intoxication. According to the account, the young man forgot why he was arrested and began confessing to his role in the June 10 affair. He reportedly told police that he had been sent to disperse the student demonstration. At the time he had been employed by the Department of the Federal District as a street cleaner."

Source: National Archives, RG 59, 1970-73
POL 23-8 Mex, Box 2476

Document 39
December 21, 1971
Roundup of Recent Political Developments in Mexico-No. 4, 1971
U.S. Embassy in Mexico, secret airgram (extract)

In its summary of the year's events in Mexico, the Embassy reports that the fallout from June 10 has included a number of key resignations and a crack down on Porras at the University but no promised official report. "[A]s time goes on, even though the tragedy is occasionally brought into the public forum by leftist groups and has not been forgotten, the Attorney General's report becomes less and less likely."

Source: National Archives, RG 59, 1970-73
POL Mex, Box 2472

Document 40
December 30, 1971
The First Year of the Echeverría Administration
U.S. Embassy in Mexico, confidential airgram (extract)

In another detailed summary of the year's events, the Embassy concludes that many questions about the June 10 massacre will remain forever unanswered. "Many aspects of the incident are obscure or controversial or both and will undoubtedly remain so. Among them are the actual number of casualties, which by some estimates exceeded 100 persons killed or 'vanished'; whether Echeverría personally knew of or approved the employment of the halcones against the demonstrators; and whether he planned the entire incident so as to create a pretext for the removal of Martínez Domínguez."

Source: National Archives, RG 59, 1970-73
POL 15 Mex, Box 2475

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