Manuela Garín's two children

In her first year in the School of Physical-Mathematical Sciences Manuela Garín had Raúl Alvarez as a fellow student in some courses given jointly to mathematics and physics students. He was intending to obtain a physics degree at that time but later changed to engineering. They shared left-wing political views and soon became close friends. After completing her studies, Manuela Garín married Raúl Alvarez Encarnación on 19 October 1940. They had two children, Raúl Álvarez Garín and Tania Álvarez Garín.

1. Raúl Álvarez Garín.

Raúl Álvarez Garín was born in Mexico City, Mexico, on 9 August 1941. He was soon made aware of all the political issues that were so important to his parents. His mother said in an interview:-
... in the simple dining room of our apartment I never stopped talking and discussing politics: the railways, university autonomy, Vietnam, Cuba, dictatorships, students. Our son Raúl Álvarez Garín, as a child and adolescent, never stopped listening.
Othón Salazar Ramírez (1924-2008) organised the Revolutionary Teachers Movement in 1957 which supported the struggles that teachers were having. It held protests in 1958 which Raúl Álvarez took part in. The government suppressed the demonstrations. Also in 1958 there were railway strikes led by the leaders of the railway unions, Valentín Campa Salazar and Demetrio Vallejo. Raúl Álvarez was active in supporting these strikes and, a little later, married María Fernanda Campa, daughter of the railway leader Valentín Campa.

Raúl studied mathematics in the Faculty of Sciences of the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) and then began both working and studying mathematics at the National Polytechnic Institute of Mexico (IPN). He was elected as the representative of the National School of Physics and Mathematics on the National Strike Council which included students from UNAM, IPN, as well as workers in many other professions.

We quote from Raúl Álvarez's own description of the events in the article by David Bacon, 'Tlatelolco and its Meaning: Reflections by Raúl Álvarez Garín', nacla (2 October 2018):-
The 1968 movement was against government repression. It grew very large, but ended tragically with the events of 2 October. That culminated in the arrest of many students and professors. ... In July 1968, the government detained part of the Communist group and student opponents of the government. They did not want protests and marches during the Olympics. The student groups continued to call for marches. ... The government conducted preventive detentions of many students who had done nothing wrong. There were deaths, but nothing is documented. The National University was invaded on 18 September and confrontations took place at the Polytechnic University on 23 September and 2 October.
The events that took place in the Plaza of Tlatelolco [on 2 October 1968] were very complex and all of us there have our personal view of them. Students who had the most privileged view of the day were the ones in the meeting on the third floor of the Chihuahua building. They saw what was happening in the Plaza only for a few seconds. It was a peaceful meeting and when they saw the massacre begin to unfold, they were immediately apprehended. They saw the police on the third floor begin to randomly shoot down towards the plaza, at the military and students alike. Everyone dropped to the floor.
I was in the Plaza and I observed police shooting down on us as the military approached from behind. The first reaction of some students was to try to advance to the third floor and assist our friends there, because we couldn't see them anymore. We were denied access by government agents. They were shooting, and we retreated again to the plaza. Students ran toward Manuel Gonzalez Street, which was then the only exit from the Plaza. Some of us ran inside the church, where we were later surrounded and apprehended. Each person had only a very partial view, because none of us could see the entire event.
The first shooting started at 6:10 p.m. and ended at 8:30. There were two and a half hours of continuous shooting by hundreds of firearms. The operation lasted a long time. It wasn't something that happened only once and very quickly, like an explosion or a single gunshot. It was two and a half hours of an extensive military operation. They had sufficient time to make decisions one way or another. The actions they took were planned. It was not out of their control. It was very well planned out.

The time from the moment the shooting started until the Plaza was empty, except for the bodies of the dead and wounded, was not more than two minutes. From there on, action proceeded at the Chihuahua building, where there were snipers on the third floor. ...

When the shooting started, David Vega was talking. We were in the corner by the mural and the convent. The soldiers were a few metres away. I left immediately and when I turned I saw a group of people where I had been standing, who were injured or dead, including a child. At that moment I couldn't stop and reflect. It was different at the military detention centre where we were all taken. For the first few days, I was under the impression that all of our fellow students on the third floor of the building had been killed. Fortunately, that was not the case.

I was detained in Tlatelolco. All of my fellow students in the Chihuahua building were immediately taken to the military detention centre as a group. I was taken with another group to Santa Martha. They then realised that I was to have taken part in a meeting with them. They transferred me to the military detention centre, but isolated from the group. The other students didn't know I was detained there and vice versa. We knew we were political prisoners and we would not be liberated immediately.
Manuela and her husband had no idea what had happened to their son. They posted several pieces in the newspaper El Día asking anyone with information about their son to contact them. They eventually found that he had been transferred from the military detention centre to Lecumberri prison. He was accused of nine crimes: weapons collection, attacks on communication routes, damage to the property of others, dispossession, homicide, invitation to rebellion, injuries against agents of authority, sedition and criminal association, and theft. He was found guilty and sentences to 19 years in prison. In fact he was released after two years and seven months. This came about since Luis Echeverría Álvarez became president of Mexico in 1970 and, although he certainly didn't want to pardon political prisoners, he wanted the problem of holding them to go away. Raúl's mother Manuela Garín de Alvarez told in an interview of her visits to the prison and her attempts to have her son set free:-
I think that sometimes you have to present yourself as very strong, right? Although things are not going so well inside, my heart was affected after all the problems of 1968 where I seemed like a very heartless mother, because I presented myself as very tough and I never asked anyone in jail for a favour, nor anyone anywhere because, Raúl and I agreed on that, it was a matter of dignity. They told me do not get involved, I did not get involved; but yes it can happen, well it did happen. But please understand, I never ever asked them for anything. I lived through very tough situations, for example when the Secretary of the Interior Mario Moya Palencia called us to offer a solution for the boys to get out of jail. I happened to be the one to receive the offer from the secretary and manage their release from jail. He summoned me to go to the Ministry of the Interior. We [myself and my brother-in-law] arrived. "Nice to meet you, ma'am', 'sir'," Moya Palencia said. I never called a graduate, or a minister, or anybody: sir. Then he told me: "Well, look, ma'am, there is a solution to solve this problem and that is for the boys to say that they are going to study abroad, we let them leave, and then I don't know who and I don't know how many … My brother-in-law and I - my husband was not in Mexico - said nothing. He started again: "Look, if they go abroad, I don't know who." When he was going to repeat it for the third time, I told him: "Look, sir, I can't decide anything, nor can my brother-in-law, because we are not the prisoners, those who are in jail are the ones who have to leave and those who are going to study abroad, or if they don't want to, then no. They are the ones who have to decide. "Well, look, ma'am - that was Monday - go talk to your son and propose that he make me a list of those who accept this proposal and then we'll arrange things so that they can go abroad." "Well, I'm going to tell him tomorrow because today I don't have to go to jail." "No ma'am!"- he picked up the phone and spoke to the prison director - "Mrs Manuela Garín de Alvarez can come in at any time."
I knocked on the front door. Come in and they took me to the centre there in Lecumberri prison and they called Raúl and it was Raúl, Gilberto Guevara Niebla and I don't remember who else of the boys from the wing were there. Bety Gispert and I spent more than ten days trying to get the visa, because they wanted to go to Chile, where Allende was. But the Chilean ambassador in Mexico would not give the visa, despite the fact that we had managed to get him to speak to the then president of Chile, Allende, who agreed. On the other hand, he had to arrange the passports of all those who were going out; some had an identity card, others did not have a card like my son, in short, lots of irregularities were committed, just like they were committed to put them in jail, the same.
After exile in Chile, Raúl returned to Mexico and began working at the Federal Electricity Commission. Later he became a professor of economics at the UNAM. He continued to be very involved with political causes, was a founding member of the Party of the Democratic Revolution, and served in the government.

In 2014 he was awarded the 2014 Amalia Solórzano Prize "in recognition of his commitment to social struggles, democratic freedoms, truth and justice." He was too ill to receive the prize in person but it was accepted by his wife María Emilia. His mother Manuela Garín was present at the ceremony and said, " I am very excited and proud." Raúl Álvarez Garín died from cancer on 26 September 2014.

2. Tania Álvarez Garín.

Tania Álvarez Garín was born in Ensenada early in 1943.

In an interview on 4 May 2015, when she was 101 years old, Manuela Garín spoke about her daughter:-
Tania said that she wanted to study philosophy and so I told her, "Well daughter, it's a very nice degree, but I have the idea that to get into philosophy, first you must study another career so that you have a university education, an education in some branch, and then you go into philosophy and then you will see things more easily." Then she said, "Well, I'm going to study astronomy." I told her, "Well, I think it's very nice that you study astronomy and then if you want, go on to philosophy," but then to study astronomy she had to enter as a mathematician and so she began to study mathematics. It was very easy for her, but she was always crazy about dancing, so when she was in her second year, she was doing pretty badly at school and then I told her, "Well, look, my daughter, if you spend the year with me, I'll send you to study dance at wherever you want, I'll send you on vacations." Then the year passed and she went to Cuba, she stayed there for three months, and they invited her to stay in Alicia Alonso's ballet, but she was very young and that's when the call was made to form the Classical Ballet of Mexico in Fine Arts; she took the examination, she was approved and she left the Faculty of Sciences and she dedicated herself completely to ballet. She still continues in ballet.

Last Updated June 2023