The Revolutionary Indigenous Clandestine Committee-General Command (CCRI-CG) of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN) issued a public statement on 26 January after nearly 2 years of total silence regarding the death of the bishop emeritus of San Cristóbal de Las Casa, Don Samuel Ruiz García, which occurred on 24 January.
Signed by Insurgent Lieutenant Colonel Moisés and Subcomandante Insurgente Marcos in the name of the CCRI-CG of the EZLN, the Zapatista command expressed its condolences regarding the death of Don Samuel, who for 40 years had served as bishop of the diocese of San Cristóbal, which also corresponds to the Lacandon jungle in which was founded and developed the EZLN, which appeared on the public stage on 1 January 1994. “Although our differences, disagreements, and distances were neither few nor superficial, we would today like to emphasize the commitment and trajectory not only of an individual but of an entire current within the Catholic Church.” The authors of the communiqué recognize Ruiz García’s work in favor of peace in Chiapas following the Zapatista uprising and remember the harassment and death-threats against the bishop on the part of politicians in the 1990’s, in addition to the assassination-attempt carried out against the bishop in 1997 at the hands of the paramilitary group “Paz y Justicia.”
They denounce that “today these attacks have not ceased. The Fray Bartolomé de Las Casas Center for Human Rights receives continuous death-threats and harassment. Besides having been founded by Don Samuel Ruiz García and having a Christian inspiration, ‘Frayba’ has the ‘aggravated crime’ of believing in the indivisibility of human rights, respect for cultural diversity and the right to self-determination, wholesome justice as a precondition for peace,and the development of a culture of dialogue, tolerance, and reconciliation, with respect to cultural and religious plurality.”
Referring to differences between the Catholic hierarchy and believers, the authors say that “now would be a good time to look below to find those, like Don Samuel before them, defied and continue to defy Power. Because those Christians believe strongly that justice should reign also in this world, and they also live that out, in word, thought, and action. Because if there are indeed Marciales and Onésimos in the Catholic Church, there have also been and continue to be Roncos, Ernestos, Samueles, Arturos, Raúles, Sergios, Bartolomés, Joeles, Heribertos, Raymundos, Salvadores, Santiagos, Diegos, Estelas, Victorias, and thousands of believers and non-believers who, being on the side of justice and liberty, are on the side of life. In the EZLN, Catholics and non-Catholics, believers and non-believers, not only today honor the memory of Don Samuel Ruiz García.” The communiqué ends thusly: “Don Samuel leaves, but many others remain, many others who for faith in Catholicism work for an Earthly world that is more just, freer, more democratic–that is, for a better world. Health to them, because from their nightly efforts will be born the morning.”
For more information (in Spanish):
- Communiqué of the CCRI-CG of the EZLN regarding the death of bishop Don Samuel Ruiz in full (26 January 2011)
- La Jornada: The weight of the EZLN regarding the death of Don Samuel, a “special Catholic” (27 January 2011)