El Halconazo Memorial - Atlas Obscura

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El Halconazo Memorial

An abstract sculpture memorializing a student massacre that took place in 1971. 

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The 1968 Tlatelolco Massacre is almost certainly the best-known case of the country’s government reacting with deadly force to student protests, but it was not the last one. Just three years later on June 10, the Feast of Corpus Christi, a paramilitary group known as Los Halcones (The Hawks) repressed another student protest in Mexico City, with around 120 victims. Due to the date and perpetrators, this would come to be known as both the Halconazo and Corpus Christi Massacre.

As had been the case in the entire country’s modern democracy, and up to 2000, the ruling party was the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI). At the time, the authorities maintained that the Halcones were an independent organization. In the following years however, direct connections were established between the group and the PRI, several institutions of the Mexico City government, and even the CIA, as there have been suspicions that they assisted in their training. This goes to show that, even as a paramilitary organization, the Halcones enacted the massacre under the auspices of the city and national authorities.

Forty years later, this sculpture was installed outside the city’s Escuela Normal (Teaching School) as this was the alma mater of many of the victims of the massacre. Its sculptor, Enrique Carbajal (known as Sebastián), was arrested and held in a military prison in 1968, so his role as the artist behind this piece is symbolic. Additionally, he has often been commissioned for public artworks, usually in a signature monochrome, abstract style.

The 2011 sculpture, which might be officially titled Sangre Derramada (“Spilled Blood”), although this is unclear, represents several elements related to the massacre. At the bottom, a Christian cross ties the monument to the Corpus Christi date. Atop, glyphs similar to those used by the country’s pre-Columbian cultures are piled up to form a 15-meter-tall structure. The monument is completed by a plaque listing the names of 40 of the victims of that day.

Know Before You Go

The Halconazo features prominently in Alfonso Cuarón's semi-autobiographical 2018 film ROMA. The monument is found at the overground entrance to the Normal metro station (line 2/blue), the area can be somewhat rough so it is advisable to visit during daytime.

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