1968 was the year of student rebellion, with protests against authority erupting all over the world. The image of revolutionary Che Guevara was seen on t-shirts worn on campuses throughout the globe and nowhere more so than in Mexico.
However, the student revolt in Mexico City was unique, and can neither be classified as a chain reaction to global student agitation, nor as a simple left-wing challenge to a conservative, authoritarian government.
The movement began in late July 1968 with confrontations between students of two vocational high schools and the much-hated city riot police. Unrest soon spread to other higher education institutions in the capital, including the University Nacional Autonoma de Mexico (UMAM) and Instituto Politecnico Nacional (IPN). As students voiced their anger at the government and law-enforcement agencies, authorities hardened their stance. By late August, the campuses of the UNAM and IPN were occupied by police and a bazooka attack was launched on the San Idelfonso school, inside which striking students had barricaded themselves. Some 400 students were injured and 1,000 arrested in that attack.