COMMUNIQUÉ FROM THE CLANDESTINE REVOLUTIONARY INDIGENOUS COMMITTEE – GENERAL COMMAND OF THE ZAPATISTA ARMY OF NATIONAL LIBERATION MEXICO
TO THE PEOPLE OF MEXICO:
The Indigenous Revolutionary Clandestine Committee – General Command of the Zapatista National Liberation Army expresses sadness and regret at the death of Bishop Emeritus Samuel Ruiz García.
In the EZLN there are people of different religious faiths and people of no faith at all, but the stature of this man as a human being (and of those who, like him, are walking alongside the oppressed, the dispossessed, the forgotten and the despised), calls for our word.
Although our differences, disagreements and distances were neither few, nor superficial, today we want to recognise a commitment and a path that is not only that of an individual, but forms a whole current within the Catholic Church.
Don Samuel Ruiz García not only practiced Catholicism for and with the dispossessed, his team also trained a generation of Christians committed to the practice of Catholicism. He was not only concerned about the condition of poverty and marginalization of the indigenous peoples of Chiapas, he also worked, along with a heroic pastoral team, to improve their inhumane conditions of living and dying.
Those whom the governments deliberately forgot, in order to cultivate death, were given memory by life in the diocese of San Cristóbal de Las Casas.
Don Samuel Ruiz García and his team not only insisted on peace with justice and dignity for the indigenous people of Chiapas, they also risked, and are still risking, their lives, liberty and property on this path made hazardous by the arrogance of political power.
Even long before our uprising in 1994, the Diocese of San Cristóbal suffered harassment, attacks and threats sometimes from the Federal Army and sometimes from the state governments.
At least since the time of Juan Sabines Gutiérrez (remembered for the slaughter of Wolonchan in 1980) and through the time of General Absalón Castellanos Dominguez, Patrocinio González Garrido, Elmar Setzer M., Eduardo Robledo Rincón, Julio César Ruiz Ferro (one of the perpetrators of the Acteal massacre in 1997) and Roberto Albores Guillén (better known as “croquetas”), the governors of Chiapas attacked people in the diocese of San Cristobal who were opposed to their killing and running the state as if it were a hacienda from the time of Porfirio Diaz.
Since 1994, while working at the National Mediation Commission (CONAI), in the company of the women and men who formed that body of peace, Don Samuel came under pressure, harassment and threats, including attempts on his life by the paramilitary group so badly named “Peace and Justice.”
And, as president of CONAI, Don Samuel also suffered, in February 1995, the threat of imprisonment.
Ernesto Zedillo Ponce de León revived the war against the Zapatista indigenous communities, as part of the strategy of distraction (which is still in operation now), aimed at hiding the serious economic crisis in which he and Carlos Salinas de Gortari had left the country.
At the same time as launching a major military offensive against the EZLN (which failed), Zedillo attacked the National Mediation Commission.
Obsessed with the idea of doing away with Don Samuel, the former president of Mexico, and now transnational employee, took advantage of the alliance which, under the auspices of Carlos Salinas de Gortari and Diego Fernández de Cevallos, had been forged between the PRI and the PAN.
At that time, in a meeting with the Catholic Church leadership, the then Procurator General of the Republic, Antonio Lozano Gracia, a PANista and fanatic of spiritualism and witchcraft (like that of Chambon), held a document in front of Don Samuel Ruiz García, with instructions for his arrest.
They say that the Procurator, a graduate of Occult Sciences, was confronted by the other bishops, including Norberto Rivera, who came to the defence of the holder of the Diocese of San Cristobal.
The PRI-PAN alliance (which was later joined by the PRD and the PT in Chiapas) against the progressive Catholic Church did not stop there. Since then federal and state governments have fathered attacks, slanders and attacks against members of the Diocese.
The Federal Army was not far behind. While financing, training and equipping paramilitary groups, they were promoting the idea that the diocese was sowing violence.
The argument then (still repeated by idiots writing for the left) was that the diocese had formed the grassroots supporters and the leaders of the EZLN.
An example of the wide range of these ridiculous arguments was when a general showed a book as proof of the links of the Diocese with the “lawbreakers” (“transgresores de la ley”).
The title of the incriminating book was “The Gospel according to St Mark” (San Marcos).
Today, these attacks have not ceased.
The “Fray Bartolomé de Las Casas” Human Rights Centre continually receives threats and harassment.
In addition to being having been founded by Don Samuel Ruiz García, and having a Christian inspiration, the “Frayba” commits the “aggravated offences” of believing in the Integrity and Indivisibility of Human Rights, in respect for cultural diversity and the right to Self-Determination, in justice as a prerequisite for peace, in the development of a culture of dialogue, tolerance and reconciliation, and in respect for cultural and religious diversity.
Nothing could be more annoying than these principles.
And this discomfort reaches as far as the Vatican, who are manoeuvring to split the diocese of San Cristóbal de Las Casas in two, so as to dilute the alternative option, that of, for, by and with the poor, in an agreement where money washes consciences. Taking advantage of the death of Don Samuel, they are reactivating this project of control and division.
Because up there they understand that the option for the poor will not die with Don Samuel. It lives and breathes in the whole section of the Catholic Church which has decided to follow the path that he preached.
Meanwhile, the pastoral team, and especially the deacons, ministers and catechists (indigenous Catholics from the communities) suffer slanders, insults and attacks from the neo-lovers of war. Power still longs for his days of dominion and sees the work of the Diocese as an obstacle to reinstating his “knife and fork” regime.
The grotesque parade of figures from local and national politics beside the coffin of Don Samuel is not to honour him, but to check, with relief, that he is dead; and the local media simulate sorrow when they are actually celebrating.
Above all these ecclesiastical attacks and conspiracies, Don Samuel Ruiz García and Christians like him, had, have and will have a special place in the dark heart of the Zapatista indigenous communities.
Now that it is fashionable to condemn the entire Catholic church for the crimes, excesses, commissions and omissions of some of their superiors…
Now that the so-called “progressive” sector delights in making fun of and deriding the whole of the Catholic church…
Now that everyone is encouraged to see in every priest a potential or active paedophile…
Now it would be good to turn around and to look towards those from below and find there those who, as they did before Don Samuel, challenge and defy Power.
Because these Christians believe strongly that justice should reign also in this world.
And in this way they live and die, in thought, word and deed.
Because if it is true that there are Marcials and Onésimos in the Catholic Church, there also have been and are Roncos, Ernests, Samuels, Arthurs, Raúls, Sergios, Bartholomews, Joels, Heribertos, Raymundos, Salvadors, Santiagos, Diegos, Estelles, Victorias, and thousands of other religious and lay people who, being on the side of justice and freedom, are on the side of life.
Among the EZLN, Catholics and non-Catholics, believers and nonbelievers, today we not only honour the memory of Don Samuel Ruiz Garcia.
Also, and above all, we salute the commitment of Christians and believers in Chiapas, Mexico and the World, who do not remain silent against injustice, nor remain inactive against war.
Don Samuel is going, but there remain many, many others who, in and for the Catholic Christian faith, struggle for an earthly world that is more just, more free, more democratic, that is to say, better.
Good health to all of them, because from their efforts tomorrow also will be born.
From the mountains of the Mexican southeast
For the Clandestine Indigenous Revolutionary Committee – General Command of the EZLN
Lieutenant Colonel Insurgente Moisés, Subcomandante Insurgente Marcos
Mexico, January 2011