The National Security Archive: Mexico's 1971 Corpus Christi Massacre, Fifty Years Later

Malcolm Byrne's picture

Stymied prosecution of ex-President Echevarría, described in U.S. Embassy cables, exemplified elusive pursuit of accountability


U.S. ambassador in 2002 hoped “images of a former president being hauled in to testify” would mark “victory for those who seek a more transparent and accountable government”


Edited by Megan DeTura


Washington, D.C., June 10, 2021—Fifty years ago today, a group of pay-for-hire thugs known as the “Halcones” or “Falcons” swarmed the streets of Mexico City in a coordinated attack against some 10,000 student demonstrators. Wielding rudimentary weapons including chains and bamboo sticks, the Halcones violently dismantled the protest in a bloody clash that left dozens of students dead and more than one hundred injured in the Corpus Christi Massacre, or Halconazo.


Marking the 50th anniversary of this massacre, today the National Security Archive is publishing additional records to expand upon our previous set of 40 documents made public in 2003. These new documents provide a glimpse into the complex judicial and political battles surrounding efforts to prosecute President Luis Echeverría Alvarez and his interior secretary, Mario Moya Palencia, for their alleged responsibility. The records also demonstrate how unprepared the government-appointed Special Prosecutor Ignacio Carrillo Prieto was to achieve justice in these cases and how his unorthodox decision to pursue genocide charges precluded a single conviction in this case.


As survivors and families of the victims continue to seek justice, and as Mexico’s current president Andres Manuel López Obrador weighs the possible creation of a new truth commission, the documents published today offer additional insight into how the impunity that shrouded the 1971 attack has been able to persist to this date.