González Casanova becomes Comandante Pablo Contreras

Visibly moved, Doctor González Casanova responded to hugs from the Zapatistas. Photo: Daliri Oropeza

By: Luis Hernández Navarro

San Cristóbal de Las Casas, Chiapas

Starting yesterday, Doctor Pablo González Casanova, 96, is “Comandante Pablo Contreras” of the Indigenous Revolutionary Clandestine Committee of the Zapatista National Liberation Army (CCRI-EZLN, its initials in Spanish).

The naming was made public in the midst of a prolonged and emotive ovation from attendees at the roundtable discussion “Looks, listens and words: prohibited thinking?” which is being held at the Indigenous Center for Integral Training Fray Bartolomé de Las Casas-Universidad de la Tierra (Cideci-Unitierra) in San Cristóbal de Las Casas, convoked by the Zapatistas.

The rebel agreement was announced to the ex rector of the Autonomous National University of Mexico (UNAM) by Comandante Tacho. For being Zapatista –the Tojolabal assured– one must work and he has worked for the life of our peoples. He has not tired, has not sold out and has not given in.

Previously –in a beautiful and basted intervention in which he made an evaluation of the campaign of the spokeswoman of the Indigenous Government Council, María de Jesús Patricio, for obtaining the registry as an independent candidate to the Presidency of the Republic– the writer Juan Villoro narrated how last February 11, on the esplanade of the Palace of Fine Arts in Mexico City, don Pablo celebrated his number 96 birthday, in the final act of support for the indigenous Nahua.

Rector of the left

González Casanova, Villoro remembered, is the only rector of the left that the UNAM has had. That day at Fine Arts, he added, he gave us a lesson in youth and rebellion and showed himself as an authentic dean and man of judgment.

Preparing the surprise, Subcomandante Moisés narrated how the Zapatistas are trained as organizers giving and y supervising tasks. If things go well, the commander said, the Zapatista is rewarded with more work.

It was then when Comandante Tacho spoke and began to explain, in the third person, the merits and virtues of don Pablo. Juggling the numbers he concluded that, despite the age difference, the Zapatistas and González Casanova are contemporaries. In passing he remembered the name with which almost one year ago, during the seminar “The walls of capital, the cracks on the left: the hourglass and the organized world of the fincas,” he was baptized by the rebels “Pablo Contreras.” And already put on track, he announced his naming as part of the CCRI-EZLN and finished: the gift that we are going to give him is more work…

One year before, during the gathering “The walls of capital,” Subcomandante Galeano presented him as a man of critical and independent thought, who is never told what to say or how to think, but who is always on the side of the peoples. That’s why, he explained, in some Zapatista communities he is known as Pablo Contreras. And he added that one of the rebel municipalities was baptized with his name.

Immediately after Tacho’s words announcing the naming of the new comandante, the members of the command and the CCRI present in the presidium stood up and started to salute don Pablo militarily with the left hand and to give him a warm hug, while the crowd applauded standing for about 10 minutes and unexpectedly started to chant: “Goya, goya, cachún, cachún, rah, rah, rah! Goooooooya! Universidad!”

Don Pablo, who began his speech at the seminar greeting the audience in Tzotzil and explaining that greeting is to recognize the other and he continued vindicating Zapatismo as a universal contribution to the struggles for liberation, responded to the military salute and the hugs, visibly moved, with more greetings and hugs.

Just last March 1, at the presentation of a work of his in the International Book Fair of the Palace of Mining, González Casanova answered the question of what his recipe is for living with so much intellectual force: “Struggling and loving.” This April 21, now as a comandante of the CCRI-EZLN, he reaffirmed his vocation to struggle and love.


Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada

Sunday, April 22, 2018


Re-Published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee

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