February 22, 1995
His Excellency Jesus Silva Herzog
Ambassador of Mexico
1911 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20006
Dear Mr. Ambassador,
The worsening situation in the State of Chiapas is a matter of grave concern to this Conference. We are especially disturbed at the reports of violence directed against representatives of the Catholic Church, particularly the Bishop of San Cristobal de las Casas, Mons. Samuel Ruiz Garcia, and his pastoral team.
The events of last Sunday, February 19, when the Army Day celebrations in San Cristobal turned into an ugly and violent demonstration against the bishop, have been followed by further calls to violence in these last days by certain political and economic forces in Chiapas. The Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano today described those who .are inflaming the crisis as "the rich landowners and the economic potentates" of the area who are seeking "to sabotage the dialogue and provoke armed conflict."
If it is true, as reported, that the police did nothing to deter the demonstrators last Sunday, may we hope that inaction in the face of mob behavior will not continue? Media and other sources also report that units of the Army are pursuing offensive operations against the EZLN, despite President Zedillo's order to suspend the campaign, causing many thousands of poor villagers to flee their homes because of the military actions.
As friends of Mexico and admirers of the Mexican people, we pray for an early settlement of the several crises that have lately so disturbed your country. We especially commend to your Government the situation of Chiapas, including the very special case of Bishop Ruiz, and we hope that we will soon learn of new and successful initiatives to build a genuine and just peace.
With sentiments of esteem, I am
Most Reverend Daniel P. Reilly
Bishop of Worcester
Chairman, U.S. Catholic Conference Committee on International Policy