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.
THE YOUNG PEOPLE
BY: ELENA PONIATOWSKA
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.
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.