Chiapas: Pueblo Creyente organize a pilgrimage on the seventh anniversary of jTatik Samuel Ruiz

February 3, 2018

Photo @SIPAZ

On January 25, the People of Faith (Pueblo Creyente) organized a pilgrimage to honor jTatik Samuel Ruiz, commemorating the 7th anniversary of his death. According to the newspaper Cuarto Poder, “more than five thousand Catholics of the 57 parishes of the diocese of San Cristóbal” participated in the pilgrimage through the streets of San Cristobal de las Casas before gathering in the Plaza Catedral to celebrate a mass officiated by the new bishop, Rodrigo Aguilar Martínez, who was accompanied by the bishop of Saltillo, Coahuila, Raúl Vera López. Aguilar Martinez stressed in his homily that “we learn from St. Paul and also from so many who in the history of this diocese of San Cristobal de Las Casas have spent their lives preaching with their words and their works the magnificent announcement of God’s love in Christ.”

Pueblo Creyente reaffirmed that we are aware of the reality that we live in, and we are moving in many places and in many ways, we have the firm task to go on struggling for freedom, peace with justice and dignity for the benefit of the people, uniting us in a common struggle and building alternatives; and before the indiscriminate exploitation of the Gifts of Creation, today we are also an example and a proof of organization in defense and care of Mother Earth. “

The banners that they carried during their pilgrimage were painted with texts denouncing social and political conflicts. They reflected the issues presented in thier statement, where they strongly rejected the plunder of Land and Territory and the privatization of natural ressources, the effects of the so called “structural reforms”, the corruption and impunity and the fact that “throughout the country, and particularly in Chiapas, adequate consultations are not carried out when laws are drafted or projects are developed that affect the territories and rights of indigenous peoples”. The large number of pilgrims exceeded the participation of the pilgrimages in the previous years.

For more information (in Spanish):

Realizan peregrinación en honor al obispo Ruiz García (Cuarto Poder, 26 de enero 2018)

Pueblo Creyente peregrina en el séptimo aniversario de la pascua de jTatik Samuel Ruiz (Chiapas Denuncia Pública, 25 de enero de 2018)

For more information from SIPAZ:

Chiapas/International: The Zoque Believing People to Receive 2017 Nobel Peace Prize October 28, 2017

Chiapas: Zoque People Mobilizing against Mega-projects in Chiapas July 3, 2017

Chiapas: Believing People Pilgrimage February 5, 2017

Chiapas: pilgrimage of the Believing People to demand the release of Alberto Patishtán

September 18, 2012

Pilgrimage of the Believing People, September 2012 (@SIPAZ)

On 4 September, more than 3,000 indigenous persons belonging to the Believing People, a process in which thousands from the San Cristóbal de Las Casas diocese participate, made a pilgrimage through this city to demand the immediate and unconditional release of professor Alberto Patishtán Gómez, who has been imprisoned for 12 years and condemned to a sentence of 60 years.  Due to his activism from within the very prisons in which he has been held, Patishtán has been transferred to different prisons, including one in Guasave, Sinaloa, from where he was returned to Chiapas just a month ago, following ten months of national and international protest.

The pilgrimage ended in the Cathedral Plaza where there was held a “Liberatory Mass” as presided over by Marcelo Pérez Pérez, a priest from Simojovel.  The Believing People from the Tsotsil zone noted in a communique that “Today as a church we newly are present to express our solidarity with our brother Alberto Patishtán and to tell him that he is not alone, that we will not tire until he is enjoying his full liberties.  We would also like to demand that the federal and state governments in the name of the omnipotent God put an end to the injustices against us as indigenous people.  End to sentences full of injustices, end to the suffering being experienced by our brother Alberto Patishtán.”

For more information (in Spanish):

Católicos exigen libertad para Alberto Patishtán (La Jornada, 5 de septiembre de 2012)

Exigen indígenas la liberación del maestro Alberto Patisthán (Proceso, 4 de septiembre de 2012)

Peregrinarán por libertad de preso (Cuarto Poder, 4 de septiembre de 2012)

Comunicado del Pueblo Creyente del equipo tsotsil, Diócesis de San Cristóbal de las Casas(4 de septiembre de 2012)

Comunicado de las Abejas de Acteal en la Peregrinación de Pueblo Creyente zona tsotsil en SCLC. (Denuncia Pública, 4 de septiembre de 2012)

For more information from SIPAZ (in English):

Chiapas: Return of professor Patishtán to Cereso no. 5 (16 August 2012)

Chiapas: Letter from Patishtán, 12 years following his imprisonment(10 July 2012)

Chiapas: Actions in favor of the liberation of Alberto Patishtán, 12 years after his incarceration (25 June 2012)

Chiapas: Some thousand persons march for the liberation of Alberto Patishtán (4 June 2012)

Chiapas: Beginning of the “Week for Global Struggle for the Release of Patishtán and Sántiz López: To Tear Down the Walls of the Dungeon”(21 May 2012)

Chiapas: Forum against political prison and for the release of Alberto Patishtán Gómez (21 May 2012)

Chiapas: Assembly is held in El Bosque to demand the release of Alberto Patishtán (25 March 2012)

Chiapas: Demand for release and return of Alberto Patishtan (22 March 2012)

Mexico: Denunciation by Alberto Patishtán from prison in Sinaloa (7 March 2012)

Chiapas: presentation of the jTatic Samuel jCanan Lum Award during the assembly of the Believing People

March 7, 2011

On 22 February 2011, several organizations that coordinate the jTatic Samuel jCanan Lum Award presented said award to the plenary during the Assembly of the Believing People, a representation that received the award during the presentation-ceremony held in San Cristóbal de Las Casas in January 2011.

Notably, in a manner close to that called for by the award, the objective of the assembly on this occasion was to “continue to remember and share the memory of jTatic to care for the life of our people, as believers, from the spirit of jTatic Samuel, and with the example of Jesus.”

We were present at the plenary at which the work-groups that were distributed according to the zones that form the San Cristóbal de Las Casas diocese shared their words with respect to “how their hearts are, and how the hearts are in their communities” following the death of Don Samuel.  The comments signaled both sadness for his departure and the necessity of continuing to work for peace, justice, and the poor, with the conviction that “the spirit of Don Samuel continues with us.”

The Believing People received the jTatic Samuel jCanan Lum Award with joy and a commitment that motivates them to continue being “collaborators with the search for a new dignified life for the people.” They affirmed that they “commit [themselves] to carry forward the care-taking of our peoples as well as of our Mother Earth.  This is the task we set for ourselves as Believing People so as to continue with our mission to transform all the signs of death into signs of life […]. Don Samuel oriented us, raised us, and continues to inspire us to carry forward with this award.  Our work often meets with pain and misunderstanding, but also with the profound hope to live to see new lands and new skies.  When we began we did not know how to walk.  Now we know some, but much remains to be walked.”

Before watching a video on the life of Don Samuel, the presentation of the award closed with two minutes of silence during which everyone present could “listen to and speak with Don Samuel,” according to the expression of a member of the Believing People.

For more information (in Spanish):

Memoria Viva 01 jtatic Samuel (informative bulletin distributed among the Believing People, February 2011)

For more information from SIPAZ (in English):

Chiapas: Presentation of the jTatic Samuel jCanan Lum Award to the Coordination of Indigenous Social Organizations XI’NICH (25 February 2011)

Chiapas: celebration and presentation of 2011 jTatic Samuel jCanan Lum Award (31 January 2011)

Chiapas: visit to Alberto Patishtan to observe 2011 call for “jTatic Samuel jCanan Lum” Award denied (2 August 2010)

Chiapas: Sixth Meeting of Builders of Peace and Reconciliation

November 26, 2010

Between the 16th and 19th of November 2010, the Sixth “Meeting of Builders of Peace and Reconciliation” took place in the community of San Salvador, autonomous municipality of Francisco Villa. The event was organized and facilitated by brothers and sisters from the area of Zapata, in the Estrella region of Ocosingo, with the support of the the Commission of Support for Unity and Community Reconciliation (CORECO). It brought together 268 people (220 men and 48 women) arriving from 74 communities and 17 municipalities in Chiapas, such as Tenejapa, Ocosingo, Bachajón, Chamula and the autonomous municipalities of Francisco Villa and San Manuel. The participants belonged to 26 different civil and social organizations, including Pueblo Creyente (Community of Faith), the Other Campaign, the Organization of Relatives of Prisoners of Ocosingo, the Rural Association of Collective Interest – Independent and Democratic (ARIC-ID) and the Rural Association of Collective Interest – Historical (ARIC-Historical).

The event served as a forum for reflection for women and men that are engaged in conflict mediation and peacebuilding activities in their communities. The participants valued as a key result of the previous meetings the exchange of knowledges and stories that they are able to share in their communities afterwards. To know that ‘they are not alone in the struggle for a fairer world and that, on the contrary there are many people organized in different regions of Chiapas” helped to cheer them up to go on with this struggle. As mentioned by Jose Alfredo Gordillo Martínez from Comitan: “I participate in this meeting for the first time and I came alone from my community, but arriving here I do not feel alone at all.” “Learning from other’s work helps us to organize ourselves better”, said Joan Santiz Hernández, president of the Organization of Relatives of Prisoners of Ocosingo: “The meeting helps to open up the thinking, because we are still a bit lost [… ] it teaches us many ideas. ” Another important result is the increased participation of women in the meetings. In the first event of this kind 6 years ago only men participated. Now women and men participated not only in the preparation of the event, but also in its realisation.

The cultural values of their ancestors was a recurring theme in the working groups and plenary sessions. Many people expressed concern about the loss of these values and the desire to recover them. During a plenary session, the group from the Highlands of Chiapas shared: “Just as our ancestors built the peace by peaceful means, the builders of reconciliation now build the bridge that leads to peace, a place where problems can be solved peacefully.” The recovery of local varieties of maize, traditional medicine and respect for Mother Earth in the same way as their ancestors did were also valued as necessary.

To draw attention to the situation in prisons, a member of the Organization of Relatives of Prisoners of Ocosingo, on the second day, shared the contents of a letter sent on September 30 to the State Government stating their concern about the problems within the prison of Ocosingo. The organization calls for a respectful manner to treat visiting relatives and fair legal proceedings for the prisoners.

During a pleany session, Jorge Santiago, president of the CORECO, suggested five steps to follow to move forward in building peace. He emphasized that in Chiapas the core of the conflicts are government programs. He also mentionned that we need to analyze what are the interests of the different parties in the conflict, including our own: “Sometimes we can be clear about what the others want, but we do not know what we want. Taken into account our own position, it is important to ask ourselves what are our interests? ” Similarly, he stressed the richness that comes from the diversity of peoples, languages, cultures and religions: “The difference between us is an asset. The challenge is to see how we join together our differences to make a single force. “

Aside from the working groups and plenary sessions that took place, there were also spaces for community activities. To cheer us up in times of fatigue, several creative dynamics, songs and short exercises were proposed. Every day the meeting began with a prayer before the Mayan Maya which was assembled during the welcoming ceremony the first day. Meal times were opportunities for people to talk and exchange experiences, and at night, the bodies and souls could relax dancing with live music. Matthew Mendoza Díaz, a member of the organizing committee was happy with the way the event developed: “I am pleased with the participation of people, all were very active. The difference from 2007 when the event was in this same region Estrella is that there is now much more participation of women, and young men and women. We leave here with the heart stronger”.

For more information:

Realización del Sexto Encuentro de Constructoras y Constructores de Paz y Reconciliación

More information from SIPAZ:

Fifth Meeting of Builders of Peace and Reconciliation – Beyond stressing the need for peace,let us construct it!(SIPAZ Report, March 2010)

Chiapas: Meeting of Organization of Relatives of Prisoners of Ocosingo (OFPO) (October 6, 2010)

Chiapas: “Pueblo Creyente” Pilgrimage in Venustiano Carranza Brings Together 850 People

December 11, 2009

“We can live without gold, without water we will die.”
“The Pueblo Creyente is aware.”

On December 6, 2009, the “Pueblo Creyente” (Community of Faith) held a pilgrimage to “express [their] feelings in favor of life, respecting the rights of organizations in order to develop out communities together.” Eight hundred fifty individuals—most of them belonging to the San Bartolomé Apóstol parish in Venustiano Carranza, Chiapas—made the two hour pilgrimage to the church at Venustiano Carranza singing and denouncing the mining companies as well as the lies and abuses of power surrounding the current situation.

In November, the Mexican national daily La Jornada had made public pieces of the report published by the State Attorney General’s Office titled, “The Prevailing Situation in the Municipality of Venustiano Carranza.” The report is an intent on documenting the existence of a “subversive network” that is supposedly planning destabilizing acts for the year 2010 and whose focal point is said to be Jesús Landín, a catholic priest in Venustiano Carranza. The report also appears to have “justified” the harassment denounced in recent months by the diocese and other social activists.

In late November, several priests and members of religious orders from the Southern Zone made a public declaration stating: “Instead of slander, harassment and persecution, we hope that the governor will join the people in defending the holy land of Chiapas, lungs of the nation, and serve as an example of respect for the rights that are clearly delineated in the constitution and that defend the treaties signed by Mexico before the international community.” In the communiqué distributed during the recent pilgrimage, the Pueblo Creyente also clarified: “Our role as the Church is to promote and defend life, a life with justice and dignity in order to realize peace in our communities and not to create acts that provoke instability and more suffering for the community.”

After the pilgrimage—in a church so full of people that many were seated on the floor—the parish priest Jesús Landín gave mass and called for unity in “these violent times.” In a prayer, a sister asked God to “[liberate them] from the abuses of power, from the companies that destroy nature, […] and that [they be granted] peace, peace and justice.” “Padre Chuy,” who has received all types of threats in the past months, ended by thanking the people for the show of solidarity and care received by the parish workers.

A representative of the Pueblo Creyente from the parish in Chicomuselo came in solidarity with the message of the pilgrimage and invited all of those present to Chicomuselo on Dec. 22.

For More Information (in Spanish):

Comunicado de la Peregrinación del Pueblo Creyente (6/12/2009)

Declaración de los sacerdotes y religiosas de la zona Sur de la diocesis de San Cristobal (noviembre 2009)

Católicos se solidarizan con sacerdote Landín (artículo del Cuarto Poder, 7/12/2009)

Marchan en Carranza en apoyo a sacerdote “acechado” por el gobierno (artículo del blog “Observatorio CIudadano” 6/12/2009)

Peregrinaciones y misas en apoyo a Jesús Landín (artículo de La Jornada 7/12/09)

More From SIPAZ:

Journey of the “Community of faith”: Reflection and Action on a Changing Reality