By Elio Henríquez
San Cristobal de Las Casas, Chiapas
This Tuesday, with a pilgrimage and a mass, more than three thousand Catholics from the Diocese of San Cristobal, most of them indigenous, remembered Bishop Samuel Ruiz Garcia, 11 years after his death.
In a statement, they spoke out against megaprojects and denounced “the abuses and injustices experienced by our peoples and communities, especially the insecurity, violence and territorial disputes caused by organized crime, in the face of which authorities of three levels of government are overwhelmed, and complacent and complicit in the system of control exercised in the national territory.”.
The group called Pueblo Creyente, organizer of the activities to commemorate the 11th anniversary of the death of the so-called jTatic (father) Samuel and the 62nd anniversary of his episcopal consecration, rejected “political corruption, influence peddling, impunity, migrant trafficking and the militarization of the towns.”
The Catholics began the pilgrimage in the west and east divided into two groups that later joined together and arrived in unison at the center of the city, where the auxiliary bishop, Luis Manuel López Alfaro, celebrated a mass, which was attended by several priests and nuns who worked with Ruiz García.
“The land is not for sale, it is to be loved and defended,” “no to the privatization of water,” “mining companies OUT of Chiapas,” “no more forced displacements,” “no more alcoholism in our town,” and “stop the harassment against Father Marcelo,” Pérez Pérez, they chanted during more than an hour of walking.
Before the mass began – which included indigenous rites – on the side of the Cathedral, which has not been reopened since the earthquake of September 7, 2017, the group Pueblo Creyente argued that “the pandemic has brought as consequences in our country the rise in the price of the basic food basket, L.P. gas, gasoline and other indispensable services. The price of combi fares to the communities has gone up, which has increased the price of agricultural products.”
He asserted that “the disappearance of people, girls, boys, men and women of different ages, has become more evident in the last year. And for fear of reprisals and the failure to exercise the rule of law, people do not file complaints,” in addition to the fact that “it also provokes the power struggle of organizations manipulated by political parties, caciquismo and businessmen.”
He stated that “the neoliberal system seeks to control territory and resources, at all costs, in order to obtain maximum profit. We continue to observe the uncontrolled logging and trafficking of trees, without the corresponding authorities doing anything.
He went on: “As a Pueblo Creyente ( People of Faith) It is increasingly difficult for us to raise awareness of this in our communities, but we will remain steadfast in doing so.”
After committing as a group “to co-responsibility in the search for community security,” he made “a call to all people, regardless of their religious creed, to recognize the importance of community life, inherited from our grandfathers and grandmothers, to commit and organize ourselves to defend life in our villages, seeking to recover our values and the path of faith that God shows us to live in a world of brothers and sisters”.
López Alfaro said in his homily that “62 years ago JTatic Samuel arrived to this land and walked with our peoples for 40 years. Eleven years ago he walked to the Father’s house and today as People of Faith we unite to continue walking as he walked: sowing peace, justice and hope in our people”.
The Tsotsil priest, Marcelo Pérez Pérez, expressed that the greatest legacy of Ruiz García “is that the people walk, but in a broad sense, not only in this pilgrimage, but that they seek and build peace, that they seek their liberation, that they are subjects in their journey, in evangelization and in the construction of their history.”
This article was published in La Jornada on January 26th, 2022. https://www.jornada.com.mx/notas/2022/01/25/estados/recuerdan-a-obispo-samuel-ruiz-a-11-anos-de-su-muerte/ English translation by Schools for Chiapas.