Mexico facts & history in brief
Tlatelolco today is the Plaza of the Three Cultures.
(It should be four according
to our tour guide and some of
the material I studied
for this article.
Scholars are still uncertain and
the Jury is still out.
I have trouble reconciling the
conflicting stories, dates and spelling.
I will recount as best I can.)
Tlatelolco has a number of claim to
fame and history, I will return to these later.
The Plaza of the Three Cultures
contains the excavated ruins of
the great pyramid, second largest
in the city, and one of the oldest
colonial churches, dedicated to
Santiago (Saint James), patron
saint of the conquistadors, and
it is surrounded by modern office
buildings and government-built housing projects.
Under the excavated ruins, according to
scholars, archaeologist and our tour
guide is another set of ruins.
The best I can find out the Toltecs,
came before the Mayans,
who seemed to be the forerunners of the Aztecs.
The Toltecs built cities as large
as any in Europe at that time.
They built Teotihuacan (Sun and
Moon Pyramids NE of Mexico City)
and Tenochtitlan, which is
today's Mexico City.
The Toltecs ruled the Mexico Valley
some time between first
and eight centuries A.D.
The Aztec civilisation who ruled
a mighty empire in Mexico during
the 1300's and early 1500's centred
on the Valley of Mexico, a huge,
oval basin about 2,300 metres above
Its high altitude gave it a mild climate.
Their religion demanded human sacrifices.
The city of Tenochtitlan the capital
of the Aztec empire was built on
some islands in the middle of a
large lake, (Texcoco) canals and
aqueducts criss-crossed the city
and the islands were connected with
causeways and linking each other
and the mainland.
In 1519, the Spanish conquistador,
Hernando Cortés landed on the east coast
of Mexico and marched inland to
Tenochtitlan (Today's Mexico City).
He and his troops were joined by many
Indians who had been conquered by the
Aztec and resented their heavy taxes.
Montezuma II did not oppose the advancing
Spaniards, possibly because he thought
Cortés represented the god Quetzalcoatl.
According to Aztec legend Quetzalcoatl
had sailed across the sea
and would return someday.
Cortés entered Tenochtitlan and
made Montezuma a prisoner.
In 1520, the Aztec rebelled and
drove the Spaniards from the city.
Montezuma died from wounds
received in the fighting.
Cortés reorganised his
army and began a bloody
attack on Tenochtitlan and Cuauhtémoc,
the new Aztec leader in early 1521.
The siege lasted seven months.
Tenochtitlan was cut off from external
food supplies, the aqueduct supplying
the city with water was destroyed.
The Spaniards destroyed the city,
because the only way to hold any
part of the city for Cortés was to raze it.
The Aztecs, hungry, thirsty and stricken
with smallpox, made their last stand at
the former great market
place of Tlatelolco.
Cuauhtémoc was captured, ending the
Aztec resistance and empire.
The Spaniards destroyed most of
the previous civilisation's pyramids,
temples and houses and built their
own churches and buildings from
There are inscribed stone
monuments at the Plaza.
One describes the pre-Columbian
history of Tlatelolco, which was an
independent Aztec city until it was
absorbed by Tenochtitlan in
the 15th century.
The second tells of
The third, erected in 1993,
concerns the events of Oct. 2, 1968.
Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons
in Latin America and the Caribbean
(The Treaty of Tlatelolco)
The 'Treaty of Tlatalolco' was
signed at Mexico, Federal District,
on 14 February 1967 and came into
force on 22 April 1968.
In the name of their peoples and
faithfully interpreting their
desires and aspirations, the Governments
of the States which sign the treaty for
the Prohibition of Nuclear
Weapons in Latin America
The Tlatelolco Massacre
Mexico's tragedy unfolded on the
night of October 2, 1968, when a
student demonstration ended in a
storm of bullets in La Plaza de
las tres Culturas at Tlatelolco, Mexico City.
The extent of the violence stunned the country.
When the shooting stopped, hundreds of people
lay dead or wounded, as Army and police
forces seized surviving protesters and
dragged them away.
Although months of nation-wide
student strikes had prompted an
increasingly hard-line response
from the Diaz Ordaz regime, no one
was prepared for the bloodbath
that Tlatelolco became.
More shocking still was the cover-up
that kicked in as soon as the smoke cleared.
Eyewitnesses to the killings pointed
to the President's "security" forces,
who entered the plaza bristling
with weapons, backed by armoured
But the government pointed back,
claiming that extremists and
Communist agitators had
initiated the violence.
Who was responsible for Tlatelolco?
The Mexican people have been
demanding an answer ever since.
By Kate Doyle,
Mexico Documentation Project.
Many of the students and wounded
found refuge in the church.
Hui Chin and I was very pleased
that we have visited Mexico, especially
There was a lot of work was going
on road and services around town
and around our hotel.
Mexico city wasn't the first one,
where we have seen this either.
Much the same as usual, we went
for a city sightseeing tour.
During our sightseeing tour we were
taken to the 'Our Lady of Guadalupe'
Next day we returned for another
day to participate in a couple of
masses, that we walked in during
There are two main Basilicas and
many churches and chapels in the
complex. You really need most of
a day to see everything around here.
We also went to see the Pyramids
at Teotihuacan. (The Pyramids of San Juan
The place is about 30-35 kilometres from
Mexico City and the drive there was
very interesting and entertaining.
We stopped at an 'artisans collective
souvenir shop', with interesting
demonstrations, stories and souvenirs>
A large number of developments going
on outside the city to house
the expanding population.
We were told an interesting story
about the hills along the our road.
Large numbers of rural people come
to Mexico City all the time attracted
by jobs and the fast
pace of city life.
These poor people build themselves a
shack on the side of the hills,
which are government property,
adding to it as time goes by.
Once they spent five years on the property,
it becomes theirs, by Mexican law.
Another exciting day, although an
incident at our lunch break did
spoiled it for us some.
The lunch break was part of the
tour, but we had to pay for it individually.
Hui Chin and I were running low
on cash and we did ask the restaurateur
before we sat down,if they accept
Visa, because Visa isn't very popular,
by our experience in Latin America.
Yes, he told us.
When it came to pay, of course,
they did not accept Visas or any
other credit cards from anybody,
we had to borrow the price of our
meals, from another couple from
I did complain too.
Quiet strongly too.
Wasn't really a fair play.
It wasn't cricket, Mate, If you
happen to read this.
We happened to forget the name of
I would like to name them, to warn
I would appreciate if someone could
let me know.
(Their excuse was, that business
was very slow, and they can't afford
the commissions on the credit cards).
Returning to our Mexican experiences,
did anybody noticed the Mexicans
liking for green.
Thousands of green Volkswagen Beetle
Taxis running around the city.
Buses, some bridges are the same
We spent a couple of days exploring
the city on foot.
There was a free, very noisy and
colourful concert going on the Plaza
front of the Cathedral, one day when we visited.
We returned the next day for another look.
We are looking forward to visit
Mexico again soon.
You can click on these photos for an enlargement.
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