Samuel Ruiz and the Zapatistas 1 Favorite 



Dec 1 1994


Chiapas, Mexico

Samuel Ruiz and The Zapatistas

The Catholic Church has traditionally been linked to the right and the conservative politics, especially in Latin America. However, there are a few examples in which this apparently conceptual bond has been challenged.

Samuel Ruiz García, a Mexican priest born in 1924, was one of the Zapatista´s movement most prominent allies. In the late 1950´s, Samuel diocese´s named him bishop of San Cristobal de las Casas in Chiapas, one of the most poor and marginalized places in Mexico, with a strong indigenous presence. Father Samuel Ruiz was known for his fight for social justice, equality and his deep commitment with those excluded –either for economical or ethnic reasons- from the benefits of Mexican reality.

When the Zapatista conflict emerged in the area during the last decades of the 20th century, Samuel Ruiz was considered an important ally of the insurgent movement and ended up being accused of “instigation of a violent doctrine” by Ernesto Zedillo, the Mexican President at that time. This accusation was followed by Ruiz´s relocation to another dioceses in 1999, far away from the communities related to the Zapatista insurgency.

Nevertheless, Samuel Ruiz continued to work in defense of human rights, peace and minorities –particularly the indigenous population in Mexico until his death in 2011. He received several awards such as UNESCO´s Simón Bolivar recognition and the Nuremberg International Human Rights Award in 2001.

Samuel Ruiz continues to be one of the most powerful symbols of the fight for social justice in Mexico. His life, dedicated to those less privileged, showed a more humane facet of the Catholic Church, and served as an example for other members of that community which is one of the biggest and most strong communities in Mexico.

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