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Cameraman tales: Jan Borg Tlatelolco massacre 1968

Jan Borg

Ten days before the Mexico Olympics, in Mexico City on October 2, 1968, UPITN’s man, Jan Borg, had managed to get up on the balcony of an apartment building overlooking the Three Cultures Square (Plaza de las Tres Culturas) from which student leaders would address thousands of protesters, continuing their protest against the Mexican Government of President Gustavo Diáz Ordaz.  Halfway through the first speech a green vary light was fired from the roof of the Foreign Ministry next door. Immediately heavily armed soldiers from the army stormed into the square and immediately opened fire on the crowd.

There was complete panic among the terrified demonstrators. While the attack on defenceless students continued, a helicopter flew into the square and started firing at the balcony where Jan Borg was filming.  All those present threw themselves, face down, on the concrete floor while snipers in the helicopter continued to attack selected targets in the apartment building. Many people were hit, receiving painful wounds. After half an hour the sound of gunshots and screams from the wounded on the balcony, and in the square below, ended, there was silence.

Effigy of President Gustavo Diaz Ordaz during ...

Effigy of Gustavo Diaz Ordaz during Tlatelolco 1968 march (Photo credit: -Chupacabras-)

The concrete floor of the balcony was now covered with a large patches of blood. Then the door to the staircase was opened by soldiers and the bodies of those who had been killed near the door were dragged down to waiting trucks.

Then came the turn to the wounded. The famous Italian journalist and author Oriana Fallaci, hit by bullets no less that three times, was dragged down the stairs by her hair. The Mexican security forces dropped her into a truck together with the dead.  Borg, was one of the very few not hit by the snipers’ bullets.  He got a rifle butt rammed into his head and back while he was trying to get up from the floor.  Then, with great pain to his head, he was thrown down the stairs.  He managed to escape from the soldiers and found his way to UPIs newsdesk from were his eyewitness account made the front page in all the major newspapers worldwide.

mexican students on a burned bus

Mexican students on a burned bus (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It is unclear how many people were killed on the balcony of the apartment building, There were, probably, only three four survivors, all the leaders of the demonstration were killed, while, in the square, several hundred demonstrators lost their lives that night.

© Terence Gallacher and, 2013.  Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Terence Gallacher and with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

For more articles in the Cameraman tales series click here.

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