The group, made up largely of [Roman Catholic] landowners and businessmen in the region, also asserted that they have evidence that [ Roman Catholic bishop] Ruiz is the supreme commander of the rebel EZLN, the Zapatista National Liberation Front, .........."
March 18, 1994
By BILL and PATTY COLEMAN Special Report Writers
CUERNAVACA, Mexico - Bishop Samuel Ruiz Garci'a, principal mediator between the army and rebel forces in southern Mexico, received an anonymous death threat nailed to the door of his residence March 9, as well as threats that his home would be burned to the ground.
It was the first death threat received by Ruiz since November. At least two other priests in the diocese received simiIar threats last week.
"Just as Jesus drove the buyers and sellers out of the temple, we are going to drive Samuel Ruiz and his liberation theologians out of San Cristo'bal, said a member of the newly formed Civic Front in San Cristo'bal, Chiapas, the southern state where peasants staged a revolt in early January.
On March 8, the Civic Front promised to burn the episcopal residence to the ground if Ruiz did not resign his diocese in 24 hours. The group, made up largely of landowners and businessmen in the region, also asserted that they have evidence that Ruiz is the supreme commander of the rebel EZLN, the Zapatista National Liberation Front, and that because of him the city has been invaded by national and international journalists, according to local press reports.
"We will destroy those who have invaded our city, they said in a pamphlet printed March 8. We will expel the bishop and his court of admirers and lying clergy. We will close all Catholic churches, and Ruiz must bear the responsibility for this."
In a letter to the editor of La Jornada, Mexico's leading newspaper, Roger Maldonado, the group's coordinator, demanded the expulsion of Ruiz, of all nongovernmental organizations, human rights groups and undesirable foreigners, an end to the dialogue between the government and the EZLN in the local cathedral, and a boycott of Mexico's leading newspapers. The group also demanded the installation of the army and the "White Guards" (the private armies of the wealthy landowners) to bring order to the city.
Fr. David Me'ndez, the diocesan chancellor, responded to the threats.
"This is nothing new for us. Bishop Ruiz has received many threats over many years. We believe that if you do disinterested and authentic pastoral work, these threats will follow."
He also said he believed the rich landowners and business leaders, the same people who have held the Sisters of Charity of Saint Vincent de PauI and their hospital captive for a month, were at the root of the threats and the disturbance.
Meanwhile, the state judicial police have been called in to protect church property and Ruiz, who has been formally nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.
[With picture and following caption] - "CNS- Bishop Samuel Ruiz Garcia of San Cristobal de las Casas, Mexico, blessed a rebel leader holding the peace proposal that could end the uprising against the Mexican government by Indian peasants in Chiapas"
- END QUOTE -