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Thursday, June 29, 2006

Peace and All Good, Dear Bishop Ruiz

Tatik (meaning “father” or “elder”) is an affectionate Tzotzil title for Bishop Samuel Ruiz, who flies home tomorrow after a 10 day visit in Vancouver. Bishop Ruiz is the beloved and distinguished retired Bishop of San Cristobal de las Casas, Chiapas (Mexico) known for the prophetic ministry of reconciliation and accompaniment he practiced for more than 50 years.

Bishop Ruiz led a delegation from Mexico at the World Peace Forum. Thousands of Vancouverites and international visitors participated in workshops, spiritual gatherings, festivals and panels organized by the “Times of Struggle” Tour. The delegation also included human rights activists from Mexico City and four indigenous leaders from the southern state of Oaxaca.

During the Times of Struggle tour, the indigenous leaders occupied the Mexican consulate of Vancouver three times, in response to acts of state violence against striking schoolteachers and their supporters.

“These are dangerous times for community organizations in Mexico— federal, state, and local governments have been complicit in horrific violence against communities in the build up to the July 2nd federal elections; Canadians can’t continue to ignore the violation of basic human rights in communities across Mexico” Said Emilie Smith, a Vancouver-based organizer of the tour.

Tonight at the Vancouver Aboriginal Friendship Centre on East Hastings Street, Times of Struggle participants came together one last time to receive the Bishop’s blessing, and to give him ours. He returns to Mexico to advocate peace among the peoples of Oaxaca. He has been invited by the school teachers to lead a commission to mediate between themselves and government authorities.

In a celebratory atmosphere, Indigenous peoples and activists from the north and south danced, shared stories, networked and made plans to continue in la lucha (the struggle), together.

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