Chiapas: “Sowing autonomy” for 32 years

November 21, 2015

@Paisà García

On 17 November, the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN) observed the thirty-second anniversary since its founding. Its creation occurred after the arrival of the National Liberation Forces (FLN) to the Lacandon Jungle and following the indigenous congress of 1974, as well as within the context of a struggle over land, upheaval by indigenous and campesino social organizations, as well as the ecumenical work of the San Cristóbal de Las Casas diocese in accordance with liberation theology and the preferential option for the poor, as endorsed by Vatican Council II. It was not for another 10 years of a clandestine accumulation of strength that on 1 January 1994 the EZLN rose up in arms against the Mexican Army, demanding work, land, housing, food, health, education, independence, freedom, democracy, justice, and peace.

Several groups released pronunciations congratulating the EZLN for its more than 32 years of struggle, such as the General Confederation of Work (CGT) Chiapas and the Network against Repression and for Solidarity (RvsR). In this way, several collectives organized events to celebrate the date, both at the national and international levels.

For more information (in Spanish):

RvsR: Feliz cumpleaños EZLN: 32 años mirando un horizonte (Enlace Zapatista, 17 de noviembre de 2015)

CGT celebra el aniversario del EZLN. 32 años sembrando autonomía. (CGT Chiapas, 17 de noviembre de 2015)

EZLN: 17 de noviembre de 1983 (Rebelion, 17 de noviembre de 2012)

Las FLN-EZLN 42 años después (Alainet, 2 de octubre de 2011)

Declaración de la Selva Lacandona (EZLN, 1993)

For more information from SIPAZ (in English):

Chiapas: Death-threats and physical attacks against the BAEZLN in the Tzakukum community (13 September 2015)

Chiapas/National: EZLN announces second level of the Zapatista School (10 September 2015)

Chiapas: Risks to the lives of Zapatista support-bases (BAEZLN) (3 July 2015)

Chiapas: Denunciation of paramilitary attack on the El Rosario community, pertaining to the La Garrucha caracol (30 June 2015)

Chiapas: La Garrucha Good-Government Council (JBG) denounces two paramilitary attacks (17 May 2015)

National: Inauguration of the First World Festival of Anti-Capitalist Resistance and Rebellion (30 December 2014)

Chiapas: Update regarding forced displacement of EZLN support bases belonging to the La Garrucha caracol (2 September 2014)

Chiapas: Forced displacement of EZLN support-bases belonging to La Garrucha caracol (29 August 2014)

Chiapas: EZLN pays tribute to murdered Support-base and announces organizational changes (10 June 2014)

Chiapas: EZLN communiqué “Pain and rage” (18 May 2014)

Chiapas: Vatican lifts ban to ordain deacons in the Diocese of San Cristobal de las Casas

June 9, 2014


On May 24, Pope Francis, through the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, overturned the prohibition to ordinate permanent deacons in the Diocese of San Cristobal de la Casas, Chiapas. During the pontificate of John Paul II, 14 years ago, such ordinations had been prohibited.

Bishop Felipe Arizmendi Esquivel celebrated this news, acknowledging that “taking into account the shortage of priestly vocations, deacons are a good choice for the Catholic Church because they can perform marriages, baptisms, proclaim the Gospel, preside at funerals, although they are not authorized to forgive sins and to consecrate. Deacons are not priests, so they can be married or unmarried; priests on the contrary commit to celibacy. Vatican II restored the diaconate ministry in the Catholic Church. “

Bishop Arizmendi recalled that in 2000 the Vatican prohibited the Diocese of San Cristobal to order more permanent deacons, “because it had serious reservations about the large number of them, compared with the relatively small number of priests. It was feared that to have many deacons and few priests did not correspond to a more comprehensive ecclesiasticism, as proposed by the Second Vatican Council. “

For more information (in Spanish):

Arizmendi: Roma autorizó ordenar más diáconos permanentes, La Jornada, 25 de mayo de 2014

Levanta el Papa prohibición de ordenar diáconos en San Cristóbal de las Casas, La Jornada, 26 de mayo de 2014

Santa Sede levanta prohibición de ordenar diáconos permanentes a la diócesis de San Cristóbal de Las Casas, El Observador, 28 de mayo de 2014

Vaticano aprueba “Directorio del Diaconado Permanente de los Pueblos Indígenas”, chiapasparalelo, 13 de diciembre de 2013

Chiapas: Authorities hand over land in dispute to Catholics in Puebla Colony. “This is not the priority solution for the displaced,” note Las Abejas

March 2, 2014

(@Radio Pozol)

(@Radio Pozol)

On 26 February 2014, there was held an act to hand over the land on which was found the chapel of the Puebla ejido, Chenalhó municipality, as performed by the ejidal commissioner, Agustín Cruz Gómez, transferring it to the San Cristóbal de Las Casas diocese, as represented in the event by bishop Enrique Díaz Díaz.  This came after the General Direction of Religious Associations of the Secretary of Governance decided that the land under dispute “is federal property in use and administered by the San Cristóbal de Las Casas diocese.”

It should be recalled that the dispute over this land between Catholics and Evangelical residents led by the ejidal authorities led to the displacement of 17 families (98 persons) who have taken refuge in the Acteal community since August 2013.

At the event was also present Secretary of Governance Eduardo Ramírez Aguilar and Subsecretary for Religious Affairs Víctor Hugo Sánchez Zebadúa, who considered themselves witnesses of honor.  The Secretary of Governance decalred that the Evangelicals and Catholics “are here to do good,” such that he called on the Evangelical community to respect the decision made by the Secretary of Governance.  He affirmed that the state government will continue working to resolve the pending issues.

On that same day, 26 February, the Las Abejas Civil Society (to which the majority of the displaced pertain) challenged in a communique that the government “does not speak of justice.”  It noted that “the human-rights violations began with torture, harassment, displacement, robbery of possessions, destruction of the chapel, burning of houses, fabrication of crimes regarding the poisoning of the water, accusing 3 people (Juan López Méndez, Mariano Méndez Méndez, Luciano Méndez Hernández, son of Mariano Méndez Méndez), who were transferred to the Public Ministry to be arrested without any evidence that the water had in fact been poisoned […].  Comrades from civil national and international organizations, this is not the priority solution of the displaced.  They lack other things such as the construction of the chapel, reparation for the burned houses, and compensation for robbed possessions, in addition to the application of justice for the presumed responsible persons who committed these rights-violations.”

For more information from SIPAZ (in English):

Determinan autoridades que ejido Puebla, en Chenalhó, es propiedad federal (La Jornada, 27 de febrero de 2014)

Boletín del gobierno del estado “Entregan evangélicos predio a católicos de Puebla, Chenalhó”(ICOSO, 27 de febrero de 2014)

Entregan evangélicos de Chenalhó predio a católicos que expulsaron (Milenio, 26 de febrero de 2014)

Comunicado de la Sociedad Civil Las Abejas (26 de febrero de 2014)

For more information from SIPAZ (in English):

Chiapas: Those displaced from the Puebla Colony, Chenalhó return to Acteal (13 February 2014)

Chiapas: Those displaced from the Puebla ejido do not find conditions for return (3 February 2014)

Chiapas: those displaced from the Puebla ejido return to their community to harvest coffee (22 January 2014)

Chiapas: Those displaced from the Puebla Colony announce return for coffee harvest (15 January 2014)

Chiapas: Solidarity requested for those displaced from the Puebla Colony (16 September 2013)

Chiapas: After attempting to return, the displaced of the Puebla Colony transfer themselves to Acteal (13 September 2013)


Chiapas: First anniversary of the death of Bishop Samuel Ruiz García; third award of the Jtatik Samuel jCanan Lum recognition (2012)

February 8, 2012

@ SIPAZOn 24 January was the one-year anniversary of the death of the bishop emeritus of San Cristóbal de Las Casas, Don Samuel Ruíz García, known as Jtatik (father, in Tseltal) by indigenous peoples, those to whom he dedicates his life and work for 40 years as leader of the San Cristóbal diocese.

Days before the anniversary there were held various activities in observation of the date, such as the anniversary of his ordination as bishop on 25 January.  A service ended with an ecumenical act on 24 January, after Bishop Raúl Vera López celebrated a mass in the San Cristóbal cathedral.  Anotehr was held on the 25th in the presence of hundreds of believers (including a strong presence of Tzotzil, Tseltal, Ch’ol, and Tojolabal indigenous persons), priests from 42 municipalities, the bishops of San Cristóbal, Feliipe Arizmendi Esquivel and Enrique Díaz Díaz, as well as Raúl Vera López, present bishop of Saltillo, Coahuila.

Gonzalo Ituarte, a Dominican priest and at one point the Vicar of Justice and Peace for Don Samuel Ruiz García, expressed that “Your face, dear friend, of shepherd and bishop, continues among us.  After a year we are newly together with you, to celebrate the gift of your service, to renew your reconversion, and to celebrate your person.”

During the afternoon of 25 January was awarded the jTatic Samuel jCanan Lum recognition (Our Father Samuel, Protector of the Peoples) to three communities and collectives from Chiapas that have demonstrated their service and trajectory “in their liberatory work for the true causes of the people.”  The first group was the coordinators of the so-called “Meetings of Builders of Peace and Reconciliation,” comprised of men and women–among them lay persons, Christians, and Catholics–who support and develop positive resolutions of conflict, dialogue, reconciliation, and peace in the indigenous regions of Chiapas.  The second recognition was granted to the Ejido Nuevo Tila, located in the municipality of Tila, which is constituted in its majority by indigenous Ch’ol individuals.  They were recognized “for their work for over thirty years in defense of their land, for their participation in communal actions to conserve the land, for their election of authorities and encouragement of the participation of women.  They have met with harassment and incarceration for their expressions of solidarity with displaced families in the community Viejo Velasco Suárez, as well as other communities in the region.”  The third award was given to the Mission of the Saintly Trinity, known as Mission Arena, from the Palenque municipality.  “They are women and men (secular and religious) who work from inside indigenous and campesino communities in the jungle.”

The last recognition was given posthumously to Felipe Toussaint Loera, ex-Vicar General of the San Cristóbal diocese, collaborator with Don Samuel, and founder of Coreco.

For more information (in Spanish):

En Chiapas, reconocen a ‘herederos’ de la labor del obispo Samuel Ruiz, CNN, 24 January 2012

Con rezos y oraciones, recuerdan primer aniversario luctuoso de Samuel Ruiz, Proceso 25 January 2012

La huellas de ‘Tatic’ recorren el mundo y están vivas: obispo Vera, La Jornad, 25 January 2012

Conmemoran aniversario luctuoso de Samuel Ruiz, El Universal, 25 January 2012

Palabra de Alberto Patishtán en la entrega del jCanan Lum 2012.

(Comunicado)En memoria de Don Samuel Ruiz García, EPR-PDPR, 25 January 2012

For more information from SIPAZ (in English):

Chiapas: presentation of the jTatic Samuel jCanan Lum Award during the assembly of the Believing People (7 March 2011)

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 observe 2011 call for “jTatic Samuel jCanan Lum” Honor denied (30 July 2010)

Chiapas: burial of Samuel Ruiz in the cathedral of San Cristóbal de Las Casas

January 31, 2011

On 26 January was buried Don Samuel Ruiz, bishop emeritus of San Cristóbal de Las Casas who died in a hospital in Mexico City on 24 January; he was laid to rest in the altar of the cathedral of San Cristóbal.  Following the arrival of his body to the city in the early morning of the 25th, the same day on which was to be celebrated his fifty-first year of service, thousands of people of all ages, social classes, and skin color bid farewell to their jtatic or jtotic (“Father” in the indigenous languages of tseltal and tsotsil, respectively).

To the celebration of his burial came thousands of ecclesiastical and political authorities, indigenous individuals, rights-defenders, social and political activists, and members of society in general who nearly filled the “peace” plaza in front of the cathedral.

From various parts of Mexico and the world came expressions of condolences and recognition of Ruiz Garcia’s contributions as regards human rights and peace in local, national, and international settings.

In the cathedral plaza, the Las Abejas Civil Society read a communiqué that perhaps expressed the feelings of many of those present: “Thank you Jtotik Samuel, who was granted by our Father-Mother God 86 years of life.  God gave you a large soul and heart.  You were never afraid of struggling against the powerful.  You were never afraid of arms.  You overcame all the obstacles emplaced by the powerful.  You go to the place that Father-Mother God calls you to, but your spirit and the work you taught us and shared with us here will remain here in our communities and in our thought and heart […].  Jtotik Samuel, you go, but you remain in our hearts.  You go, but the fruit of your labor continues here, where it will bear more fruit still.  The organization Las Abejas is an example of the fruits of your work.  Thanks to you Jtotik Samuel, we no longer walk hunched-over.  We no longer bow our head to ‘the powerful,’ thanks to you.”

For more information (in Spanish):

Ruiz receives the best homage: that of the Indians (La Jornada, 26 January)

The work of the “bishop of the poor” could not be stopped even by the Vatican (La Jornada, 26 January)

The Vatican commemorates the “bishop of the poor” (El Universal, 26 January)

They come from the mountains to say farewell to “Tatic” (El Universal, 26 January)

Farewell to Samuel Ruiz in San Cristóbal de las Casas (Milenio, 26 January)

We will defend ourselves as you taught us, the indigenous tell the Tatic (La Jornada, 27 January)

The weight of the EZLN regarding the death of Don Samuel, a special Catholic (La Jornada, 27 January)

EPR: he never denied shelter to the unprotected (La Jornada, 27 January)

The indigenous sing to “Tatic” in his final resting-place (El Universal, 27 January)

“Don Samuel awakened solidarity with the oppressed” (El Universal, 27 January)

Jtotik Samuel, God gave you a grand heart and soul (Communiqué of Las Abejas, 25 January 2011)

Communiqué of San Cristóbal de las Casas regarding the death of Mons. Samuel Ruiz (Conference of Mexican Churches, 24 January)

Para más información de SIPAZ:

Chiapas: Burial of Don Samuel Ruiz and presentation of the Jtatic Samuel Jcanan Lum Award (31 January 2011)

Mexico: Bishop Samuel Ruiz Garcia dies (26 January 2011)

Chiapas: Call announced for the 2011 “ jTatic Samuel jCanan Lum” Honor (2 August 2010)

Chiapas: Presentation of the “JTatic Samuel JCanan Lum” Honor (26 January 2010)

Mexico: Bishop Don Samuel Ruiz Garcia dies

January 26, 2011

During the morning of 24 January, Don Samuel Ruiz García, bishop emeritus of San Cristóbal de Las Casas, Chiapas, died due to complications related to diabetes mellitus, a condition he had suffered for several years.  A mass is planned for Monday at 2:30pm in the installations of CUC in Mexico City, as well as mass in the cathedral of San Cristóbal at 7pm the same day.  Mass will also be celebrated at 12 and 7pm, and the burial will be carried out this Wednesday 26 January at 12pm.

For more information (in Spanish):

Bishop Samuel Ruiz dies (El Universal, 24 January)

UN-HR highlights Samuel Ruiz’s commitments (El Universal, 24 January)

Samuel Ruiz, bishop emeritus of San Cristóbal, dies (La Jornada, 24 January)

Lamentable news: Don Samuel Ruiz Garcia dies (Fray Bartolomé de Las Casas Center for Human Rights, 24 January)

Diocese announces funeral program for Samuel Ruiz (La Prensa, 24 January)

Chiapas government laments death of Don Samuel Ruiz (La Prensa OEM, 24 January)

For more information from SIPAZ (in English):

Chiapas: Call announced for the 2011 “ jTatic Samuel jCanan Lum” Honor (2 August 2010)

Chiapas: Presentation of the “JTatic Samuel JCanan Lum” Honor (26 January 2010)

San Cristóbal de las Casas: Meeting of 250 women of Southeastern Mexico

August 30, 2010

From 19 to 21 August, in San Cristóbal de Las Casas, there was held the 15th Meeting of Women, organized by the Coordination of Campesina and Indigenous Women of Southeastern Mexico.  The event, which involved the participation of 250 women from Yucatán, Oaxaca, Veracruz, Tabasco, and the diocese of San Cristóbal de Las Casas, was held under the slogan “Despite poverty and injustice, women continue to build a dignified life with hope.”

In the meeting’s final pronouncement were emphasized the following successes:  the denunciation of all types of violence against women, the strengthening of women’s rights through training in literacy, gender, and communal organization; in addition, there was shared an analysis of reality from the perspective of “how we are affected as women.”  During the press-conference, some of the participants shared their proposals to continue advancing in their position as women.

For more information (in Spanish):

Final Pronouncement of the Meeting of Women of the Coordination of Campesina and Indigenous Women of Southeastern Mexico (20 August)