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Turning Points


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Turning Points


     Migration has sparked a vast range of nationalist responses both in Mexico and in the United States. The most dramatic recent example north of the border took place in California in 1994, where voters were asked on Proposition 187 whether stateless migrants—those lacking certain documents—should be permitted access to public education, health care, and other public facilities. In a bitter election campaign in which Mexican migration was the central theme, Californians voted to deny access to these migrants in a decision the courts subsequently overturned. 

       In this section we present visual images of formative events that have shaped the current atmosphere of rethinking nation and history in Mexico and "Greater Mexico."
The Los Angeles Times photograph of an anti-187 rally in Los Angeles is striking for the presence of Mexican national flags waved by so many people as they took part in an American election. David Gutiérrez discusses the development of new nationalisms among Mexicans and Americans of Mexican ancestry.
The turning point in modern Mexican history, argues Carlos Fuentes in his latest novel, Laura Diaz, came on October 2, 1968, when the state's bosses ordered troops to fire on protesting students in Mexico City's Plaza de las Tres Culturas, killing over a hundred. In this event, memorialized as the Massacre at Tlatelolco, Fuentes argued, the traditional Mexican political "system showed that it had no responses to the demands of young men and women that were educated in the ideals of democracy and freedom and participation." With the state no longer able to incorporate or to contain movements for political democracy those movements soon blossomed into transnational movements for democracy and human rights. Sergio Aguayo, Time's "man of the year in Latin America" last year, discusses his own evolution from a nationalist to a leading transnational champion of human rights.
The most traumatic recent challenge to the core national identity of Mexico came on January 1, 1994, when the new Zapatista Army of National Liberation occupied parts of the Chiapas province in southern Mexico and demanded that the national government recognize rights and needs of poor Indians. Popular sympathy for that revolt, as Carlos Monsivais argues, represented the first development of a "national conscience" in Mexico as it questioned the official construction of Mexico as an egalitarian melting pot. The revolt's leader, Subcommander Marcos, presented many declarations, on behalf of poor Indians. See also the Zapatista declaration of war and conversations with Ilan Semo.