Monday, December 10, 2018

Dow sinks 500 points as Britain’s Brexit mess fuels investor angst

The Dow Jones industrial average suffered another steep drop Monday, following on an ugly week of losses. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
U.S. markets deepened their losses Monday as Britain’s political crisis around Brexit clouded investors’ outlook. British Prime Minister Theresa May put off a key parliamentary vote on her country’s exit from the European Union.
Investors are also on edge about developments in the U.S.-China trade dispute.
The Dow Jones industrial average dropped more than 500 points — or 2 percent — in morning trading, dragged lower by banks and Apple. The iPhone maker was ordered by a Chinese court to stop selling some of its late-model phones in the country after a ruling that it had infringed on patents held by Qualcomm.
Kenny Polcari of ButcherJoseph Asset Management said the latest brouhaha over Brexit piles on to the worries that have beset markets in recent weeks.
“The market has been focusing on all the negative stories,” Polcari said. “As long as the tone is negative, any negative story is going to cause a market overreaction. Brexit is certainly one of them. All of a sudden, Brexit has hit a real speed bump. That’s what’s going on.”
Tensions over the U.S.-China trade dispute pitched higher over the weekend, too. U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said Sunday on “Face the Nation” that March 1 is “a hard deadline” to reach a deal.
“The way this is set up is that at the end of 90 days, these tariffs will be raised,” he said. “If [a deal] can be done, the president wants us to do it. If not, we’ll have tariffs.”
Another flash point in the U.S.-China trade relationship was the arrest last week of Meng Wanshou, the chief financial officer of China’s Huawei Technologies. Meng was detained Dec. 1 in Vancouver, Canada. The United States wants to extradite Meng on charges of violating U.S. sanctions on Iran.
Lighthizer attempted to separate the trade debate from the arrest, calling it “a criminal justice matter.” But it has darkened the cloud over trade talks.
China has demanded Meng’s release, and has summoned the U.S. Ambassador Terry Branstad to China to register its unhappiness with the arrest. The Chinese government has also threatened “further actions” on the matter, according to a posting on a Chinese government website.
JPMorgan Chase was down nearly 3 percent Monday, followed by American Express down 2.3 percent and Goldman Sachs down 2 percent.
The Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index fell 1.8 percent and Nasdaq Composite down 1.2 percent.
The declines follow a miserable week that saw all three major indexes drop by more than 4.5 percent. Both the Dow and S&P 500 are in negative territory for 2018. The Nasdaq is barely treading positive for the year, up about one half a percent in mid-day Monday trades.
British Prime Minister Theresa May on Monday postponed a crucial parliamentary vote on her government’s Brexit legislation. Her announcement comes just months before the British are scheduled to leave the European Union and has thrown her government into disarray.
Uncertainty surrounding Britain’s exit from the European Union has roiled the economies of Europe and Britain.
The British Pound dropped 1.8 percent Monday, which is the currency’s lowest level since April 2017.

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

‘Roma’ Review: Alfonso Cuarón’s Masterpiece of Memory

The climactic family road trip in Alfonso Cuarón’s “Roma,” which stars Yalitza Aparicio, center, as a middle-class Mexico City family’s maid.CreditCarlos Somonte/Netflix
The climactic family road trip in Alfonso Cuarón’s “Roma,” which stars Yalitza Aparicio, center, as a middle-class Mexico City family’s maid.CreditCreditCarlos Somonte/Netflix
NYT Critic's Pick
Directed by Alfonso Cuarón
2h 15m

  • In “Roma,” the Mexican director Alfonso Cuarón uses a large canvas to tell the story of lives that some might think small. A personal epic set in Mexico City in the early 1970s, it centers on a young indigenous woman who works as a maid for a middle-class white family that’s falling apart. Cuarón uses one household on one street to open up a world, working on a panoramic scale often reserved for war stories, but with the sensibility of a personal diarist. It’s an expansive, emotional portrait of life buffeted by violent forces, and a masterpiece.
    Few directors tell large-scale stories with as much sensitivity as Cuarón, whose filmmaking style has grown more exhilarating as the expressive realism of his breakout movie, “Y Tu Mamá También,” has been channeled into the restrained ostentation of his fantasies “Children of Men” and “Gravity.” In “Roma” he has further refined his style by marshaling various narrative strategies, including cinematic spectacle. Many directors use spectacle to convey larger-than-life events while reserving devices like close-ups to express a character’s inner being. Here, Cuarón uses both intimacy and monumentality to express the depths of ordinary life.
    “Roma” shares its name with a neighborhood in Mexico City where families live behind locked gates, and where maids, cooks and drivers busily keep homes running. In one such house, Cleo (the newcomer Yalitza Aparicio) lives with and works for a multigenerational brood that scarcely seems capable of doing anything without her. In the morning, she wakes the children; at night, she puts them to bed. From each dawn and until long after dusk, she tends to the family and its sprawling two-story house. She serves meals, cleans away dog droppings and carries laundry up to the roof, where she does the wash in view of other maids on other roofs with their own heavy loads.
    2:03Trailer: ‘Roma’
    A preview of the film.Published On
    The movie opens in 1970 with scenes that establish Cleo’s everyday routine and, by extension, the parameters of her life. Much of the movie takes place inside the house (a re-creation of Cuarón’s childhood home), which is flanked by a gated, open-roofed passage filled with bicycles, plants, caged birds and an exuberant, underloved dog named Borras. Cleo and her friend Adela (Nancy García), the family cook, live at the end of the corridor in a tiny, cramped upstairs room. The women are from the same village in the southern state of Oaxaca and fluidly slip between Spanish and Mixtec, their native tongue, as they share gossip and sober news from home.
    A series of catastrophes slowly upends the stability of this world, starting with a business trip the father takes that proves calamitous. There’s also an earthquake, a shattered window, an unexpected pregnancy, death and betrayal. In one of the most astonishing sequences, Cleo and the family’s grandmother, Señora Teresa (Verónica García), watch a student demonstration turn into a police riot through the window of a furniture showroom. Cuarón doesn’t identify the incident — known as the Corpus Christi Massacre of 1971 — but fills in that day with visceral, harrowing flashes of chaotic violence, including a pietà-like image of a woman crying for help while cradling a dying man.
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    Cuarón served as the director of photography for “Roma,” and his work here is astonishing. He shot the movie in black-and-white, large-format digital, creating images that have extraordinary clarity, detail and tonality, with entire rainbows of gray, black and white. Like Cleo, the camera is often mobile, anticipating and following her movements like a faithful companion. Cuarón is conversant in Hollywood storytelling but here he also makes expressive use of the kind of tableau staging — arranging people in the frame — that is more familiar from art cinema. By letting a scene play out without much editing, he lets us see how each of these characters inhabits these specific spaces.
    Although “Roma” is autobiographical, Cuarón doesn’t explicitly announce it as such. The family’s four children — a girl and three boys, one presumably based on the director — tend to blur into a cacophonous, charming little mob and you catch their names only in passing. The father (Fernando Grediaga) first appears onscreen in a series of cubistic close-ups — a pack of cigarettes and a lighter, two hands casually holding a car wheel — that suggest he isn’t wholly present or knowable. The lumbering Ford Galaxy that he meticulously coaxes into the narrow corridor, inching forward and back, a car mirror nearly brushing a wall, suggests his isolation from a family that he soon abandons.
    From left, Yalitza Aparicio, Diego Cortina Autrey and Marina De Tavira in a scene from “Roma.”CreditCarlos Somonte/Netflix
    From left, Yalitza Aparicio, Diego Cortina Autrey and Marina De Tavira in a scene from “Roma.”CreditCarlos Somonte/Netflix
    The mother, Sofía (Marina De Tavira), is more present, though still less so than Cleo, the children’s surrogate parent. Sofía is unfairly berated by her husband and she, in turn, rebukes Cleo, a chain of exploitation that Cuarón represents coolly, occasionally letting a camera movement — a pan of the immaculate house — comment for him. “Roma” doesn’t have a strong story; there are no inciting incidents or mysteries to solve. Instead, in scene after scene, Cuarón creates a fine-grained vision of a woman and a world shaped by a colonialist past that inexorably weighs down the present, most conspicuously in a surreal interlude filled with guns, servants and a conflagration.
    Cuarón’s authorial voice becomes progressively more conspicuous through his visual choices, his staging and camerawork. Much happens, but in fragments that slide together as the family and larger sociopolitical forces come into focus. In an early meal scene, one of the boys casually mentions seeing a soldier fatally shoot a kid who was throwing water balloons at an army jeep. He begins speaking over a close-up of Cleo’s hands as she prepares a plate of food, an image that makes the brutality feel quotidian. In another scene, Cuarón punctuates a shot of the parents and children watching TV with one of Cleo seated next to them on the floor, a child’s arm draped on her body.
    Cuarón wrote as well as edited “Roma”; he folds just enough exposition into ordinary-sounding conversations to keep you tethered and doesn’t step on the story by overcutting it. You don’t necessarily know who the children in lederhosen are in one sequence, but their outfits, casual wealth and taxidermy menagerie could fill volumes. Mostly, he speaks through his visuals, particularly the camerawork that alternately articulates his and Cleo’s points of view. You see what she sees and also view her from a distance, but at times — as in a scene in which she wades into violently crashing waves, the camera steadily moving parallel with her — the movie seems to embody her being.
    This is a stunning sequence that’s viscerally terrifying and emotionally overwhelming. Yet it also invokes the oceanic feeling of a being at one with the universe that dovetails with a climactic family road trip. You feel both Cuarón’s presence and Cleo’s in this vision of her determinedly pushing against the threatening waves, an image he has dredged from the past and made alive through memory. “Roma” is dedicated to Liboria Rodríguez (“for Libo”), the woman who raised him in a house like the one in this movie, where every so often you can see a jet passing overhead, a vision that points to a distant, peripatetic future, even as it suggests that Cuarón never left this place, its women and its love.
    Rated R. In Spanish, with English subtitles. Running time: 2 hours 15 minutes.
    A version of this article appears in print on , on Page C1 of the New York edition with the headline: Lives Magnified by Memory. Order Reprints | Today’s Paper | Subscribe

    Monday, November 19, 2018

    Elijah Cummings endured two painful years. Soon he’ll be more powerful than ever.

    When the word of the Lord came to Elijah, it arrived on a slip of paper tucked in a stranger’s bra.
    In 2017, Rep. Elijah E. Cummings (D-Md.) had been laid up in a Johns Hopkins Hospital bed for two months, crippled by pain after a difficult recovery from a heart valve replacement, when an interloper came bursting through the door, calling his name.
    “She reaches into her bosom and pulls out a note,” Cummings said recently. “She says, ‘The Lord has been waking me all night. . . . It was so important I thought I’d write it down. It says: He don’t mean you no harm, he’s just trying to get your attention. He wants you to know he ain’t finished with you yet.’ ”
    Cummings, 67, recalled this story in an interview from his district office in Baltimore. His head: freshly shaved. His eyes: puffy. His large hands: swollen by gout. He wore big-platformed Velcro sneakers, which he had been shuffling around in all day with the help of a walker.
    If God was trying to get his attention, he wasn’t being subtle about it.
    This month, Democrats triumphed in elections across the country, winning back the House of Representatives. In doing so, Cummings returns to Congress hobbled physically but more powerful than ever. Armed with a gavel and subpoenas, he is the soon-to-be chairman of the House Oversight Committee.
    For Cummings, this is the culmination of two years riddled with painful moments, some beyond his control and others that he walked into himself. He’d tried to work with President Trump only to have it blow up in his face. He’d been ignored by his Republican colleagues on the committee time and again. And he just couldn’t seem to stay out of the hospital.
    With a healthy heart, and in control, Cummings has limitless possible targets: hush money paid to a porn star on Trump’s behalf, citizenship questions on the census, security clearances revoked from the president’s critics, and dozens of other oh-yeah-remember-thats that slipped out of the churning news cycle unanswered.
    The difficulty won’t be finding things to look into. It will be figuring out what’s worth looking into. Cummings knows by now the risks that come with opening wounds voluntarily. After he recovered from heart surgery, he checked back into the hospital for another procedure — this time on his knee. But something went wrong. The knee got infected, and Cummings spent another three months at Hopkins.
    He emerged more aware than ever that there’s only a finite amount of time in this world.
    It will be up to him to make the best use of it.

    In the past two years, Cummings has been hospitalized for several months. He says he is healthy and was itching to get back. (Salwan Georges/The Washington Post)
    “Elijah Cummings was in my office,” Donald Trump told the New York Times in April 2017. “And he said, ‘You will go down as one of the great presidents in the history of our country.’ ”
    It’s a prophecy that Cummings said he never actually offered, and one that, if he does his job well as Oversight Committee chairman, will almost certainly not come true.
    But early in Trump’s presidency, while many Democrats were angst-ridden, Cummings believed there was an opportunity for some good to come of it. He attended the inauguration and chatted with the president at the luncheon afterward about the need to lower prescription drug prices, an issue he’d long championed.
    “These drug companies are getting away with murder,” Cummings said the president told him. “We’ve got to do something about this.”
    Later, Cummings accepted an invitation to the Oval Office to discuss a bill he co-wrote that would do just that, and he was heartened by Trump’s continued enthusiasm.
    As Cummings recalls, he offered the president advice: If you stop trying to divide the country and work on issues that can unite them, then you could go down in history as a great president. He honestly believed it.
    Cummings: The administration's policy has created 'child internment camps'
    Rep. Elijah E. Cummings (D-Md.) says the United States should be "better" than keeping children away from their parents in "internment camps." (Reuters)
    The president had his base locked up no matter what, if Trump really believed shooting someone on Fifth Avenue wouldn’t make them stray, so then what would the risk be to work with Democrats? He used to be a Democrat, a little voice kept reminding Cummings.
    “Perhaps if I knew then what I know now, I wouldn’t have had a lot of hope,” Cummings said. “He is a man who quite often calls the truth a lie and calls a lie the truth.”
    A week after their meeting, Trump called Cummings to let him know he hadn’t forgotten about the issue and still planned to take action on it. Cummings never heard from Trump again.
    Does Cummings’s belief that he could work with Trump make him unbelievably naive or a man of unshakable faith?
    Cummings grew up in Baltimore the son of two former sharecroppers from South Carolina who moved to Baltimore and became preachers. He didn’t learn to dance until prom because his parents thought it was a sin. He still doesn’t know how to play cards.
    And it was his parents who drove him into public service, his own form of ministry. He rarely gives a speech without mentioning his mother and how she used to soak her feet in epsom salts, singing her prayers, each night after cleaning houses. When his father died of a heart attack, shortly after giving a sermon at a women’s detention center, Cummings arrived at the morgue to sort through his belongings. He found in his father’s wallet a note that Cummings had written him years earlier, folded and refolded so many times over the years that it had holes in the paper.
    “Did you know that you’re my hero, and everything I’d like to be,” the note said, quoting the song made popular by Bette Midler. “I can fly higher than an eagle because you are the wind beneath my wings.”
    Cummings’s spirituality can border on hokey like that, certainly earnest in a way that most politicians are not.
    At an election night watch party this year, he quoted a Garth Brooks song (“This ain’t comin’ from no prophet, just an ordinary man”). His eyes well up when he talks about his favorite musical, “The Lion King.” He meditates before each committee hearing, he said, picturing himself running down a long road, people in need of his help alongside him.
    There have been stumbles. Early in Cummings’s political career, he faced financial strains. According to a 1999 Baltimore Sun article, he owed more than $30,000 to the Internal Revenue Service (which he paid), and five times creditors took him to court to get him to pay $24,000 in overdue debts. Cummings told the paper he lacked money partly because of a major surgery that drained his bank account and because he helped support three children: a daughter he had with his then-estranged wife and two children he had with other women.
    “I have a moral conscience that is real central,” Cummings told the Sun then. “I didn’t ask the federal government or anyone else to do me any favors.”
    He remarried in 2008 (his second wife, Maya Rockeymoore Cummings, a policy consultant, withdrew a bid for Maryland governor while Elijah was in the hospital). He has lived in the same inner-city house for three decades and, before serving 22 years in Congress, spent 14 years in the Maryland House of Delegates.
    He learned his moral code in the pews and, perhaps equally important for someone going into politics, he learned the art of public speaking there, too. The first testimony he remembers giving in front of the congregation was thanking God for the integration of a local pool, which came after numerous marches where he was beaten by segregationists. He couldn’t have been more than 9.
    He used to run home from Sunday church service to lie on the floor and listen to Martin Luther King Jr.’s speeches on his transistor radio. He’s been thinking a lot about one of them.
    It was on the “interruptions of life.”
    “What he was saying was, don’t let yourself get distracted because you may never get back to what you were doing,” Cummings said. After two years of Twitter tantrums from the president, wild news conferences, attacks on the media and other smokescreens, the lesson, Cummings said, is clear.
    “Trump, apparently was listening to Martin Luther King,” he said.
    The president, he said, certainly knows the power of a good distraction.

    A staffer watches Cummings on TV during a hearing on Capitol Hill. (Salwan Georges/The Washington Post)
    Another excerpt from the Book of Elijah:
    “We’re in a storm,” he said from his office atop Capitol Hill. “And it’s a rough one. It’s not a question of whether the storm will end but when it will end. How much of our democracy will be saved?”
    Cummings had just finished his first Oversight Committee hearing since election night, one of his last as ranking Democrat. For six years, he has sat beside the chairman, just out of reach of real power. He’s had his microphone cut off by Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.). He was told he could not put a woman on a panel addressing contraceptives. In the past two years, he has had 64 subpoena requests ignored by Chairman Trey Gowdy of South Carolina.
    The storm has been raging. But now Cummings can do something about it.
    “I’m going to try and make people realize that in order to live the life they are living,” he said, “they need to have democracy, and it’s being threatened.”
    He’s no longer asking for answers; he’s demanding. Of course, that doesn’t mean the Trump administration will comply. Its officials have been known to be difficult, sometimes even with fellow Republicans.
    “I sent letters and subpoenas to the Trump administration and got no response,” Jason Chaffetz, the Oversight Committee’s Republican former chairman told The Washington Post this month. “I was stymied every step of the way. What makes you think Elijah Cummings will get a response?”
    Cummings admits that this is a concern.
    He also knows that his best bet to get anything done is to be focused, not to, as he told George Stephanopoulos on ABC’s “This Week,” hand out subpoenas “like somebody’s handing out candy on Halloween.”
    Cummings has been on the other side of high-profile hearings that felt to him like a sham.
    There was Operation Fast and Furious, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives program that tried to track illegal weapons sales. He was the ranking Democrat of the Select Committee on Benghazi, a Republican-led effort to investigate the 2012 attack on the U.S. Consulate in Libya.
    Those investigations were derided by Democrats as politically motivated and, of course, Republicans will say the same about anything Cummings decides to investigate
    Cummings says he wants to be judicious, but is that possible? How do you not try to peek at Trump’s tax returns, or figure out who exactly has been staying at Trump International Hotel in Washington, or determine how former Environmental Protection Agency administrator Scott Pruitt was able to get away with buying so many first-class airline tickets on taxpayers’ dime?
    “I can’t imagine anyone better qualified and more passionate about oversight than Elijah,” Gowdy said in an interview.
    But, even if Cummings is open and transparent and does everything by the book, there’s at least one Republican who won’t see it that way.
    “If the Democrats think they are going to waste Taxpayer Money investigating us at the House level, then we will likewise be forced to consider investigating them for all of the leaks of Classified information, and much else, at the Senate level,” Trump tweeted recently. “Two can play that game!”

    “We’re in a storm,” Cummings said from his office atop Capitol Hill. “And it’s a rough one. It’s not a question of whether the storm will end but when it will end. How much of our democracy will be saved?” (Salwan Georges/The Washington Post)
    Is it possible that Democrats are getting carried away? Can Cummings really be the hero they need to stand up to Trump? After all, Cummings may want to maintain the moral high ground, but is that even possible in a fight with the president? Is it the best way to win — to bring a Bible to a knife fight?
    Leana Wen, the new president of Planned Parenthood, said it’s not for her to say, necessarily, but she knows a fighter when she sees one. She worked with Cummings during her time as the Baltimore health commissioner. She loved him so much that she named her first child after him.
    “When he was in the hospital, I tried not to think . . . about what could happen,” she said. “As a physician, I know a lot about the worst-case scenarios because I’ve seen it.”
    The day she saw him for the first time out of the hospital, he looked tired. She told him it was good to see him.
    “He said, ‘It’s good to be seen and not viewed, if you know what I mean,’ ” she recalled. “To me, that meant he was back.”
    Cummings tends to downplay his time in the hospital. It was just a little shortness of breath. Then a simple heart procedure that should have him home within three days. Then a gout flare-up and rehabilitation to gain back muscle tone lost from weeks unable to move.
    Yes, it was excruciatingly painful, he’ll say. But, no, he never really thought his life was in danger. He was always itching to get back.
    “If he were to slow down too much,” his younger brother James Cummings said, “it would probably kill him.”
    In that case, the next two years may be the healthiest of Elijah Cummings’s life.

    Friday, October 5, 2018


    50 Years After a Student Massacre, Mexico Reflects on Democracy

    Mexican army soldiers crouch with weapons ready in Mexico City's Tlatelolco district, on October 2, 1968.CreditCreditAssociated Press
    MEXICO CITY — Mexico’s student movement erupted so suddenly in the summer of 1968 that it seemed to catch even its followers by surprise.
    The protests began as Mexico City was preparing to host the Olympics that October — an event intended to showcase a modern nation with a growing middle class at the forefront of emerging economies.
    By taking to the streets just months before the inauguration of the games, students cracked that veneer, revealing a generation’s latent anger against the country’s repressive rule as the world looked on.
    Ten weeks after the first street protests, the government crushed the movement in a spasm of violence beyond anyone’s worst fears. On Oct. 2, students who had gathered in a plaza for an evening meeting were picked off by government snipers perched on rooftops. Chaos broke out. The soldiers at the edge of the plaza, whose mission was to disperse the crowd, instead began to shoot into it.
    When the carnage ended, dozens lay dead and hundreds were shoved into vans, many of them to be tried and imprisoned. Twelve days later, President Gustavo Díaz Ordaz opened the Olympic Games.
    President Gustavo Díaz Ordaz of Mexico, second from right, and his wife, Guadalupe Diaz Ordaz, are escorted into the opening ceremony of the XIX Olympic Games.CreditAssociated Press
    The massacre at Tlatelolco, named for the vast housing development where the students were meeting, decimated the student movement 50 years ago. But for those who experienced it, those heady initial weeks marked the first time that a mass movement confronted the authoritarian control exerted by Mexico’s one-party state.
    Tlatelolco shattered the bargain that the government imposed on Mexicans: political acquiescence in exchange for stability. It also gave rise to a wave of activists determined to seek new paths of resistance: a few took up arms in guerrilla movements and many more turned to social organizing, fanning out to impoverished city neighborhoods and forgotten mountain villages.
    “Mexico’s political stability was broken and 100, 200, different political youth movements arose which spread out across the country,” said Gilberto Guevara Niebla, one of the movement’s leaders and chroniclers. “Mexico never returned to being the same Mexico.”
    The students’ manifesto encompassed basic liberties and rights: free speech, a halt to state violence, accountability for police and military abuses, the release of political prisoners and the beginning of a dialogue with the government.
    The movement’s explosive power lay precisely in the nature of its demands, said Sergio Aguayo, a professor at the Colegio de México who participated in the movement and has written extensively about the massacre.
    “It was an agenda that could be adopted by all the sectors of Mexican society: left, center, right,” Mr. Aguayo said.
    Fifty years later, the city is reliving those weeks with exhibits, lectures and marches spread across the same streets and campuses where soldiers battled students. Many people cite 1968 as a starting point for Mexico’s long transition to democracy.
    That tidy narrative is almost certainly too simple an interpretation. Mexican democracy, still a work in progress, has evolved in the churn of internal and external pressures.
    Paratroopers toss a young demonstrator into an army truck after his arrest in Mexico City’s during a crackdown on students protesters in July 1968.CreditAssociated Press
    A Mexican paratrooper beats a student demonstrator in Mexico City on July 29, 1968.CreditAssociated Press
    A paratrooper holds a bazooka that was used to break down the door of a school in Mexico City where students had gathered.CreditJesus Diaz/Associated Press
    Even before 1968, there were convulsions among miners and railroad workers, students and teachers. A rural guerrilla movement was forming in the western mountains. But the attack at Tlatelolco was a powerful symbol. The surge of political and social engagement that followed, and the demand for responsive government, has endured.
    Participants “started to create the institutions that gradually weakened the foundations of authoritarianism,” Mr. Aguayo said. “What united us was the desire to change the regime peacefully in different ways.”
    Seven decades of single-party rule by the Institutional Revolutionary Party ended in 2000, with the election of a conservative opposition president. And in July, voters swept out Mexico’s political establishment and handed a landslide presidential victory to Andrés Manuel López Obrador, who has promised an administration dedicated to overcoming Mexico’s deep inequalities.
    One thing has not changed: The Tlatelolco massacre remains unpunished. To many Mexicans, impunity for that crime echoes the state’s failure to bring justice to countless other victims of murder and disappearance.
    “Tlatelolco became a symbol of the collective desire to obtain justice,” said Mr. Aguayo.
    The university rector, Javier Barrios Sierra, center, university officials and students marching to protest police actions.CreditAssociated Press
    In the most acute expression of that impunity, the murder and disappearance of tens of thousands of Mexicans since the government declared war on organized crime in 2006 are unsolved.
    “It is very easy to produce cadavers in Mexico,” said Elena Poniatowska, a journalist and writer whose 1971 book, “The Night of Tlatelolco,” compiled witness accounts of the massacre. “It is very easy to die here.”
    In the summer of 1968, during the first days of the movement, there was little thought of risk, participants said. It was a time of social ferment. Mexico’s students watched Paris roiling, the American civil rights movement taking hold and the opposition to the Vietnam War explode into demonstrations. They too felt that change was possible and reveled in a new sexual and cultural freedom that challenged Mexico’s strict hierarchies.
    The upheaval began on July 23, when the police cracked down on a fight between students. Three days later, two marches set off days of street battles that ended when the army used a bazooka to break down the 18th-century door of the high school where students had taken refuge.
    Military policemen fire a volley into the air in Mexico City.CreditJesus Diaz/Associated Press
    Watched by police officers, two reporters call their newsrooms at a phone booth while the police and students battled nearby.CreditJesus Diaz/Associated Press
    A bleeding student being arrested by the police.CreditJesus Diaz/Associated Press
    Within a week, the government’s harsh response unleashed a suppressed desire for political change. The rector of the Autonomous National University of Mexico, Javier Barros Sierra, supported the movement, marching with the students on August 1. Students organized themselves into a National Strike Council, published a list of six demands and backed them up with marches throughout August.
    The students never threatened to overthrow the government. Still, an exhilarating sense of possibility filled the young protesters.
    Sergio Zermeño, a sociology student at the national university, was part of a group that took over the university printing press to roll out the movement’s newspaper and then sell copies to raise money.
    “You go from being a nobody, a student like me, to being someone who in 15 days had economic power,” and the freedom to speak publicly through a newspaper, recalled Mr. Zermeño, who has written about the movement.
    Students went to public spaces, markets and factories to collect donations and spread their message.
    “When they say that the people did not support us, that is a lie,” said Ana Ignacia Rodríguez Márquez, who was a law student at the national university.
    The movement grew through August, culminating in an enormous student march to Mexico City’s central square, the Zócalo. The government saw it as a metastasizing threat.
    Demonstrators gather in the Zócalo, or Constitution Square, in the heart of Mexico City.CreditJesus Diaz/Associated Press
    In his annual state of the nation speech on Sept. 1, Mr. Díaz Ordaz, a close ally of Washington at the height of the Cold War, assailed the movement.
    Everything has a limit, the president said, adding, “And we can no longer allow the legal order to be irrevocably broken.’’
    Mr. Díaz Ordaz then issued an ultimatum, saying that he would use the “totality of the permanent armed forces” to restore order.
    On Sept. 18, the army occupied the university campus. Five days later, soldiers retook the National Polytechnic Institute.
    But it was not enough to contain the students. With the Olympics imminent and foreign reporters arriving to cover the games, the government had decided to end the demonstrations and control the image foreigners would get of Mexico.
    The government knew the dissidents were meeting on Oct. 2 in the Plaza of Three Cultures at the Tlatelolco housing development. The officers prepared to arrest the student leaders, who were speaking from the windows of a third-floor apartment.
    Mr. Guevara Niebla, one of the organizers, was among them. About an hour into the meeting, he heard a roar as the first shots were fired into the crowd from snipers.“It was a cry, a collective voice, a terrible thing, but of fear,” he said.
    Then soldiers with their bayonets drawn advanced from the avenue bordering the plaza.
    That was followed by the thunder of many weapons being fired simultaneously, he said. Peeking out a window, he could see soldiers shooting into the crowd from windows on either side of him. Two or three hours later, soldiers burst in to arrest him.
    Troops arresting a student after a night of battles between the army and protesters.CreditAssociated Press
    Army troops take cover in Tlatelolco Plaza during fighting on the night of Oct. 2, 1968.CreditBettmann, via Getty Images
    What exactly happened at Tlatelolco remained a mystery for many years. The government blamed the shootout on anti-national and foreign agents.
    Even the number of dead is uncertain. Official estimates initially claimed that seven people had been killed. Eventually a consensus was reached that as many as 300 people had died, based on reporting by foreign correspondents.
    Working from Mexican archives opened after 2000, Kate Doyle of the National Security Archive in Washington, an independent organization, and Susana Zavala, a Mexican researcher, counted 44 victims, 34 of them by name.
    What was clear after the violence of that night was that Mexico’s government was willing to go to extreme lengths to maintain control.
    Mr. Guevara Niebla’s arrest was followed by torture and 31 months in prison. It still haunts him. “I have fought to survive and overcome my own traumas,’’ he said. “My only way to survive is to acquire more clarity about what I have lived through.’’
    Mexican troops guard young men arrested after a night of protests on Oct. 2, 1968.CreditAssociated Press
    A version of this article appears in print on , on Page A6 of the New York edition with the headline: Mexico Reflects on the 50th Anniversary of a MassacreOrder Reprints | Today’s Paper | Subscribe