On Saturday, the President-elect of Mexico, Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) promised citizens of the country that the military will never be used against civilians, while at an event paying tribute to students massacred during the Oct.2, 1968 protest. He also proposed to reform the army to guarantee peace and prevent tragedies like the1968 mass murder.
While giving a speech at Plaza Tlatelolco, AMLO said, "In this historical square we commit ourselves never to use the army to repress the people of Mexico. We are going to suppress the State Service (a force meant to protect the president and his family) and create a civil guard that will limit the use of force and guarantee human rights."
50 years ago, the same plaza witnessed a macabre event on Oct. 2, 1986, when armed forces fired on a peaceful demonstration of students, leaving at least 300 unarmed students dead, hundreds injured and more than 1000 detained. The students were protesting against the government of President Diaz Ordaz.
A federal court described the massacre as a genocidal event. A Mexican governmental institution, the Executive Commission for Victims’ Assistance, admitted for the first time last week that the 1968 massacre was a state crime. More recently, Mexico hasfaced a worsening wave of violence with at least 85 people being killed per day on an average.
The army will not, however, be returning to the barracks in the near future since the federal police do not have sufficient resources, and the populace would be left vulnerable, argued AMLO. The new “national civil guard” would be composed of members of the police and two military branches.
The "Civil Guard" would be created at the national level to unify the different security forces such as the Army, Navy and Federal Police.
The president-elect, who will assume his role on Dec.1, said during the rally, "In the investigations of the repression of '68, it appears that the State Service was used" as a shock force against the students.” The details of the massacre have not yet been fully clarified even five decades later.
Obrador also vowed to support Mexican youth and their education by providing a monthly subsidy for students and creating more free public universities. According to him, unemployment and lack of opportunities are the reasons that attract the youth towards “criminal activities”.