News Latin America Concepcion Calvillo, more than a century of light

Concepcion Calvillo, more than a century of light

Conchita Calvillo Alonso, a Mexican activist who died at the age of 105 on May 7 in San Luis Potosi.Xavier Nava (RR SS)

Concepcion Calvillo, Concepcion Calvillo de Nava, Dona Conchita or Conchita, as we affectionately called her, died on May 6 at the age of 105. Days ago, Pablo Gonzalez Casanova, who was 101 and would die on April 18, called her to say goodbye to her. I don’t know what they said. But one day, just as Don Pablo did with her, he said goodbye to her from her immense offspring and also left her. They were tired: they had fought a long battle for democracy in this country.

I met her and the doctor in the 1970s through her nephew, the poet Tomas Calvillo, who at that time was preparing to write a book about the struggles that both had undertaken with the Frente Civico Potosino for the democratization of San Luis Potosi, The paths of dignity. She put me up in her house. Since then I have not stopped visiting her at least once a year. Her warmth, her political wisdom, her humanism, were always a source of light for me. When I was discouraged, that skinny, petite, fragile and at the same time powerful woman would affectionately hold my hand and tell me, “Don’t give up, Javier, never give up.” It wasn’t just advice, it summed up his life experience. Conchita never gave up. Since those difficult and painful years of the 1950s and 1960s, when Dr. Nava and many others were persecuted, imprisoned, tortured, and many others murdered for opposing the chieftaincy of Gonzalo N. Santos and the PRI, Conchita he never stopped fighting, illuminating or pointing a way. Together with thousands of Potosinos, she promoted the vote for women, defended the ballot box, and resisted repression. When, thanks to these battles, Dr. Nava became president of San Luis Potosi in 1982, Conchita, in her role as president of the DIF, created cooperatives in the most marginal neighborhoods, offered free preschool education for the first time , he started nurseries for the benefit of mothers and instituted school breakfasts.

In 1990 he mobilized again. While Dr. Nava, already ill with cancer, headed the March for Dignity to Mexico City, with the purpose of denouncing electoral fraud and demanding respect for the popular will, Conchita and hundreds of women stationed themselves in front of the doors of the Government Palace and prevented, in an act of non-violent resistance, the entry of the imposed governor. Fourteen days later, the governor resigned and was replaced by an interim.

As a result of the Zapatista uprising, in 1994, he was part of the National Intermediation Commission (CONAI), along with Samuel Ruiz, Pablo Gonzalez Casanova, Luis Villoro and Eraclio Zepeda, among others, whose work led to the San Andres Agreements that they were later betrayed by the government.

In 2011, when the Movement for Peace with Justice and Dignity (MPJD) was touring the country in search of stopping the war unleashed by Felipe Calderon and bringing justice to the victims, they received us in San Luis Potosi. There, on the stage, I heard again those words that sum up his life: “Don’t give up.”

In 2019, the MPJD went out again in a long march from Cuernavaca to Mexico City, to demand that Lopez Obrador comply with the agreements he established with the victims to create a Transitional Justice policy that would mark a clear path towards pacification. from the country. Conchita, who was 101 years old at the time, was unable to attend, but sent a letter written in her own hand and in her handwriting through one of her grandsons, Xavier Nava, then Municipal President of San Luis Potosi:

“Respected and dear friend Javier Sicilia. I have known you since you were a teenager with your ideals that endure; I would have wanted to accompany you these days, as I did years before.

It’s not the first time you’ve exposed yourself, that’s what I call sacrifice. Those who accompany you know, like you, that this is the only way to fight. Only with their own effort and with a blind faith to be heard.

If this walk is successful it will be like a breath of fresh air to know that justice still exists.

At my age, I can only give you one piece of advice: don’t give up, don’t give up.

This year she was proposed to receive the Belisario Dominguez medal. She didn’t get it. They preferred to hand it over to Elena Poniatowska. Without detracting from it, Conchita deserved it before she did. Not only was his long fight for democracy more in line with what Belisario Dominguez means in the face of tyrannies, but in these dark times and hard polarization, his political independence, his presence and his word would have been a light in the midst of the darkness through which we pass. I’m sorry.

I last saw her with Tomas Calvillo last year. As always, her lucidity and her memory of him were intact. Also the mastery of her hands that she used to lean on a walker and move around. She was concerned about the course that the country was taking with Lopez Obrador and that threatened to collapse the scaffolding of the democracy in which she had pledged her life. She was worried, but not sad. In the end she invited us to the table. There was a delicious plate with enchiladas potosinas. “I ordered them for you,” she told me, “because I know you like them a lot.” She served us with her own hands. A woman of faith in the Gospel, she showed us that the source of resistance, what had allowed her not to give up and always find an open door for herself and for everyone, lay in love and hospitality, whose symbol was that beautiful house in the Tequisquiapan neighborhood, where one day, when I was 17 years old, he welcomed me and lit a beautiful candle for me whose light has not ceased to illuminate my nights.

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