The Young People

I am honored that Elena Poniatowska has given me permission to translate and print an article she wrote for the Mexico City newspaper “La Jornada.”

You may or may not know that Elena Poniatowska is Mexico’s premier writer and journalist. She has won countless national and international awards but she claims her greatest joy is her family. On her 80th birthday she was asked if she would keep writing, “Oh yes, I have to…” she said,” I want to dedicate a book to each of my grandchildren!”

 Elena is the author of “Massacre in Mexico”, the chronicle that gave voice to the victims of the 1968 tragedy at Tlatelolco. She loves Mexico and says that the spontaneous student movement, begun on May 11,th  has filled her with new hope and energy.

 She wrote this article: “The Young People” for all the #Yo soy 132 supporters – those who are young and those who are young at heart.

 ¡Viva México!



One Sunday, fifty years ago, I went to Los Remedios with my son Mane and the engraver Alberto Beltran. We had to climb over a small hill and I could see that for 5 year old Mane, this required a great effort. I stretched out my hand. “Leave him alone, he has to learn to do it on his own,” said Alberto Beltran. At the time I worried that my son would fall. I didn’t get it then, but now I understand and I am thankful.

I am telling this little story because of the student movement that began on May 11th with  jeering, whistling and yelling aimed at the PRI candidate Enrique Peña Nieto.

This movement has released the spirit of Mexican people, and for this very reason, it is important that we not take advantage of the young people. They must not be used, and what they had the ability to start – all on their own, without help from any political party or figurehead, must not be taken away from them.

The #Yo soy 132 movement has already won some victories:

  • They have been heard throughout the country and no one has shut them down.
  • They have forced the national television stations to comply with Article 62 of the Federal Radio & Television laws and commit to broadcasting the second presidential debate.
  • The students have obliged the Secretariat of State and Immigration to remove the barricades that impeded public access.
  • They have demanded that Televisa and TV Azteca answer their questions.
  • Their actions caused Enrique Peña Nieto to declare that he will not speak at any more universities.
  • The students have asked for political charges to be leveled against Calderon, Peña Nieto and Elba Ester Gordillo.
  • But perhaps in the long run, their greatest achievement will have been to unite the private and public university students.

Working class guys from the public high schools and stylish girls from exclusive Ibero are all # 132.

The young people have put our election in the world’s eyes. Now we are seen as more than news about the drug wars. The Guardian, The New York Times, The Washington Post, etc. are all watching Mexico’s youth.

The letter written by the Rector of the Ibero, José Morales Orozco, stipulates that he will protect his students because they are free, intelligent beings.

At conferences I am commonly asked about the differences between the young people of 1968 and those of today. I perpetually answer that youth is always the same. Now they have shown that this is true.

Today’s students, like those of ’68 are willing to stand up for Mexico, and they don’t need anyone to tell them how to do so.

PS: I am doubly pleased to print this article today because it is my 400th post. I did not plan it this way, it just happened… one of México’s lovely serendipitous surprises.


Filed under Guest Bloggers, Vida Latina, Writing

13 responses to “The Young People

  1. Sinc

    Hello. I’ve seen some information on Wikipedia regarding to the “Yo Soy 132” movement. It is worth noting that the recent news in The Guardian (Computer files link TV dirty tricks to favourite for Mexico presidency) and Proceso (Confirma The Guardian plan de promoción entre Televisa y EPN) can be quite useful as references to give additional support to the Wikipedia information (and, perhaps, to the “Yo Soy 132” movement in general). My humble advice is to integrate these links ASAP in Wikipedia. I have two reasons for not doing it:
    1) I’m not a non-partisan person and, therefore, not a “Yo Soy 132” follower,
    2) I don’t know how to post for Wikipedia :).
    Best Regards!

    • Thank you. I have seen the reports from the Guardian and read Wikipedia as well. I have reported on the #Yo soy 132 movement because I think it is important for the English speaking community to know about it. However I am not a member of the group or spokesperson for them. Although I obviously sympathize with the movement and applaud their activism, I would not feel it my place to post anything anywhere but on my own blog. I appreciate your ideas though and I am sure someone in the organization will do as you suggest… they seem to be pretty on the bit

  2. Hello love your translation thanks, I would like to say there’s one big difference from the 1968 movement to this 2012 movement, lets not lie to our self people learn from history and the fact is that a lot of the 1968 students are now the Parents of this “YO SOY” movement, well just my humble opinion Thanks again!

    • You have a point. I think our children (who are now part of #yo soy 132 ) grew up listening to our stories of ’68. Even though the country did not change at that time… no one has forgotten. Now the young people have the historical perspective they grew up with. They also have communication with the whole world and that same mass communication (by means of social networks etc.) will help to keep them safe

  3. Maggie

    Fabulous article and translating job. I believe everyone in this country (minus a few politicians of course!) are truly happy with the fact that this movement was started and fueled by the students that are sick of being shut down. It is a glimmer of hope that just maybe, great changes are on the way for this beautiful country we call home.

    • Thank you Maggie… I agree that this movement is the most important thing that’s happened in decades. I am so proud of Mexico’s young people and so hopeful that necessary change will finally begin

  4. Lee

    If this had been your 132nd post, now THAT would have been serendipity! Thank you for going through the trouble to translate this historic and important article.

    • Yes! That would have been even more serendipitous. As it was, I had been thinking about what I’d write about for #400 when Elena sent me her article… I knew it would be perfect. Translating the piece was my pleasure. Her style is crisp and easy to transcribe into English. Thanks for commenting on her important message.

  5. What great recognition from one of our country’s most beloved authors. I would sure like to have it in the original Spanish (or at least the URL where it’s found). How about it, Joanna?

  6. I’m so pleased to see that many are noting the importance of the youth voice. Elena Poniatowska’s thoughts, given her in-depth knowledge of history and lifespan, are particularly interesting. Thank you.

    • I agree. Elena Poniatowska is perhaps the most well qualified person in Mexico to speak about socio-political movements. Her 1971 book about the student massacre at Tlatelolco is considered to be the Movement of 68’s definitive record. She has a sensitivity to the pulse of the nation, and especially to the young people’s needs. She is very supportive of the Yo Soy # 132 movement. Her plea for non-interference in the movement is very valid; at this point the young people are doing an amazing job without the older generation’s intervention.

  7. That was a great post. I really enjoyed it very much. Thanks so much for sharing.

    Enjoy writing? We would love for you to join us!

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