Home Feature “October 2nd, 1968, a memory ‘imprinted on my skin and brain'”

“October 2nd, 1968, a memory ‘imprinted on my skin and brain'”

by Sofia Navarro
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Myrthokleia Adela González Gallardo, one of the 10 women of the National Strike Council (CNH) and the host of the rally at the Plaza of the Three Cultures, and according to reports from the DFS (Federal Security Directorate), “deeply involved” in the Student Movement, recounts to Excélsior what she experienced in Tlatelolco 55 years ago.

Myrthokleia Adela González Gallardo says that the memory of what she lived through 55 years ago at the Plaza of the Three Cultures in Tlatelolco and its consequences “is imprinted on my skin and in my brain.”

González Gallardo is a survivor of the student massacre of October 2, 1968. She was on the balcony of the third floor of the Chihuahua building, along with the four scheduled speakers; she was the host of the rally, narrowly winning over Marcia Elena Gutiérrez Cárdenas, the representative of dentistry at UNAM.

Myrthokleia was wounded by shrapnel in her left hand. She was shaken and threatened with death.

She was detained in an apartment on the ground floor of the Chihuahua building with the group of “special cases” who were “wanted alive.” She was taken to the Red Cross in Polanco, where she was left in a gown and was then transported to a facility of the Attorney General’s Office and from there to the offices of the Federal Security Directorate (DFS) on Juárez Avenue. She was taken to the holding cells at Tlaxcoaque – where she stayed for several days. Later, she was transferred to the Traumatology Hospital in Balbuena, where a nurse named Ana María Monroy, along with a group of doctors and nurses, rescued her, as well as many other students. She was in various places until October 25, 1968, during the closing ceremony of the 1968 Mexico Olympics. Disguised and with the help of people supporting the student movement, she broke through the police cordon against the students and managed to escape the reach of the law, heading to Guadalajara.

At the beginning of the first political alternation in Mexico in 2001, Professor Myrthokleia Adela González went to the National Archive (AGN) to find her file. She found it, and it was a report from DFS agent number 69, Carlos A. Gutiérrez, which among other things accused González Gallardo of being “VERY INVOLVED (in capital letters) in the student movement.” It lied about her being taken to Military Camp Number One and stated, “DFS concludes that, based on the analysis of collected documents, this person (González Gallardo) is ‘very involved’ in the student movement…” and mentioned the contents found in the bag that the young woman lost in her attempt to escape the repression in the Chihuahua building.

González Gallardo, who started her remembrance this way:

“On October 2nd (1968), I went to Zacatenco to deliver two boxes of medicines. Then, my fellow students started saying that there was an assembly at ESIME (Superior School of Mechanical and Electrical Engineering) in Zacatenco, so I went to the auditorium, and the one leading the assembly mentioned that women were also fighting side by side with them. He said it was a woman’s turn to be the master of ceremonies for the rally that day and mentioned Elena Marcia (Gutiérrez Cárdenas) from the University’s dentistry program and me, Myrthokleia Adela González Gallardo, from the Polytechnic.

“I became the master of ceremonies for the rally, and then they mentioned four more colleagues as speakers: Florencio López Osuna (who would speak about the political situation at the time), and three others (José González, who would discuss the various struggles to follow; David Vega, who would talk about the brigades, and Eduardo Valle, the famous ‘Búho,’ who would address the hunger strike). We went to a room, prepared ourselves, then went to eat, and from there, we went to Tlatelolco.”

González Gallardo recalled that since she was already working and had money, she entered the store in the Chihuahua building with the group of young people who arrived at the Plaza of the Three Cultures. “I bought cigarettes for them; I didn’t smoke. Then, the store clerk asked us, ‘Where are you heading, guys?’ and we said, ‘Up to the Chihuahua building’s terrace,’ and she said, ‘Be careful because the Army is nearby on Violeta Street.’ We turned around and said, ‘We’re not going to do anything wrong.’ We left the store and went up to the third floor.”

Professor González, the only woman in her class 55 years ago, said that she lost track of time and that she couldn’t recall when she was taken out of that apartment on a stretcher headed for an ambulance.

“And then, other men arrived and told the ambulance driver, ‘We won’t take her because we have an arrest warrant.’ He argued with them, ‘No, you won’t interfere with the wounded… we have to take her.’ They were arguing while I was on top of the ambulance, and I said, ‘Where do you want me to get off? I can’t see.’ So, they took me to another ambulance and transported me to the Army’s Red Cross. Doctors examined me there, and I don’t know how long I stayed. They tied my feet and hands, probably to prevent me from escaping. Then, agents took me and delivered me to the Attorney General’s Office, which was on Tres Guerras Street (near the Ciudadela). They dropped me on a sofa there, and I spent the entire night without sleep. In the morning, another man arrived and asked me, ‘What are you doing here?’ because I only had on a hospital gown, as they took away our clothes, shoes, everything. So I said, ‘That’s what I’d like to know, why am I here?’ Then, two more men grabbed me and took me to the parking lot, where they handed me over to the Federal Security Directorate (DFS) located on Juárez Avenue, on the second floor.

“They kept asking me questions there, showed me photographs, and wanted me to give them names, but we agreed not to memorize names, only the schools. So they couldn’t get anything out of me, and I acted like I didn’t understand. They offered me juice, gave me pills, but I pretended to be unwell and rejected everything; I didn’t take anything because my dad had told us about the ‘truth pill’ and the ‘truth injection’ when we were kids. I don’t know how long I stayed there, but then they took me to the Tlaxcoaque holding cells. There, I had to make a statement using my middle name, and they put me in a cell, number 18. I don’t know, I was there for several days. When I saw that nobody was getting me out of there, I started rolling on the floor, pulling my hair, and screaming, and the agents would look and say, ‘Let this damn woman die…’ Then, another man arrived, opened the padlock, and took me out. I thought, ‘I’m in trouble; they’re going to fingerprint me, and I’ll have a record.’

Without knowing the date, González Gallardo remembers that her acted “crisis” helped get her out of the police holding cells and taken to the Balbuena Traumatology Hospital.

“The agents told a doctor, ‘We brought her here for an injection, and we’ll take her back.’ So the doctor asked me, ‘Why did they bring you here?’ I said, ‘I don’t know; I was passing by Tlatelolco, and they grabbed me.’ He said, ‘What if I admit you?’ I said, ‘As you wish, Doctor,’ and then he called a nurse, who took me to a small room, checked my blood pressure, age, and other details.

“The next day, the prosecutor arrived to take my statement and asked me about my leisure activities, what kinds of books I read, whether I carried weapons, whether I knew how to make Molotov cocktails. So, I shouted, ‘Take this damn woman away; she’s going to drive me crazy. Take this old lady away; she’s going to drive me crazy.’ They removed her, and the doctors told her, ‘Until she calms down.’ Then, they moved me to another floor, and there, I covered myself up to my head so they couldn’t see me. I don’t know how many days I stayed there.

“One day, as dawn was breaking, a nurse came and said, ‘Are you the young lady who can’t walk?’ I said, ‘Yes,’ and she continued. Another nurse came and said, ‘Now or never.’ I asked, ‘What do I have to do?’ She said, ‘Follow me,’ and I did. She locked me in a bathroom for hours.

“And when she came for me, she said, ‘See that hallway…’ I saw it as endless; ‘You’re going to run over there.’ We both ran. We were heading for the exit behind the hospital, and then we got out. She hailed a taxi that had just dropped off a patient, and she told the taxi driver to take us away. But the driver said, ‘Look at how closely the hospital is guarded by the military,’ and indeed, we managed to get out of there. That nurse took me to some young people who collected cardboard and such, and they bought me milk and took care of me all day. Then she said, ‘I’ll go back to the hospital to see how things are.’ She returned until the evening. The strange thing was that she came back with my clothes, and she gave me her clothes, so I got dressed there. She thanked the young people, and we hopped on a truck; by then, it was nighttime, and it took me to another nurse’s house. I stayed there for three days. On the third day, someone rang the doorbell, and the lady told me, ‘Without moving the curtain, see if you recognize that man or not.’ I said, ‘Yes, I know him; he’s the family doctor’s driver.’ So she opened the gate, popped the trunk, and I got in. They drove me to the State of Mexico, to another family that supported the movement and took in whoever needed help. I stayed there; they bought me clothes, fed me, until a private doctor came to remove the bullet fragments from my hand and prescribed nerve pills.”

Myrthokleia Adela González Gallardo stayed in that residence until October 25, 1968, the day of the closing ceremony of the 1968 Mexico City Olympics. It served as a pretext to escape the police siege that had been set up against the young protesters. “They disguised me, gave me long hair, and took me out of the city, heading towards Guadalajara. They took me to another house, and that’s how it went…”

TYT Newsroom

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