Pedro Faro, advocate defending indigenous peoples

He would have liked to be a poet or a writer. But his father made him understand that we did not live on it. So Pedro Faro studied law, “Because I had this ideal of justice. My father, as a lawyer, volunteered to defend those who could not pay him. My grandfather had participated in the agrarian reform which guaranteed land to the peasants. “ It was the time of the Mexican revolution, then of the law which allowed, as early as 1910, a group of twenty people to obtain a common land.

12 days of a murderous war in 1994

Pedro Faro opted for the defense of the natives. In Mexico, they constitute 12% of the population, grouped into 68 peoples and speaking one of the 325 identified languages. At 22 years old, the law student witnessed the emergence of Zapatistas in San Cristobal, the historic capital of Chiapas. These natives had just been hunted down by the Mexican army after 12 days of a deadly war in the early days of 1994.

He then observed the mediation action carried out by Bishop Samuel Ruiz Garcia, the one that everyone in Chiapas today calls Daddy Samuel, (the father of all in the Tzotzil language). The bishop creates in particular the human rights center Fray Bartolomé de las Casas – Frayba – named after another bishop of Chiapas, Dominican, famous for having defended the rights of the natives at the beginning of the Spanish colonization in the XVIe century.

“We were a racist people”

Pedro Faro joined Frayba in 2003. “In 1994, we Mexicans of European origin were a racist people. The natives could not sit on the same benches as our ancestors. If you were one of the people of good will, as was the case in my family, you would dedicate yourself to teaching Spanish to these natives, so that they could access what we considered to be progress. Their culture was denied ”, explain Pedro Faro.

Wearing a felt hat, invariably dressed in black, the man is discreet but known to everyone in San Cristobal. This lawyer prefers the long-term, detailed investigation, carried out on the ground, to pleading in the courts. As soon as he has a minute, visiting an indigenous community, he writes on a corner of the table the administrative letter or request necessary for one or the other in his efforts.

“A single individual cannot build anything”

“A single individual cannot build anything. Nothing can be done without the collective, the community ”, he explains. Frayba supports the defense of the rights of indigenous peoples, their access to justice, to land, the fight against violence often fueled by drug trafficking networks. “The meaning of our fight is to increase human dignity by freeing it from a system that alienates it. You free yourself when you think collective. “

This is the whole spirit of “Believing people”, this believing people, brought together by Tatic Samuel in 1991, and which unites the indigenous people around the same faith. “The root of this movement is found in the Gospel and in a Church for the poor” emphasizes Pedro Faro. “But, it was also necessary to understand how these indigenous peoples sought God from their own cultures. “ Tatic Samuel used to say: “In every being who seeks God, God is present. This is what allows us all to meet. ” Frayba “Is part of this believing people”, concludes the defender of human rights.

The question of social programs

Pedro Faro, on the other hand, criticizes the policy led by Mexican President Andrès Manuel Lopez Obrador. For two years, it has increased individual aid to farmers who plant citrus fruits, single mothers, young people “Building their future”. In San Cristobal, the natives can be seen lining up in front of the banks to collect their monthly aid. Pedro Faro believes that “Fragments the collective life of the natives and transforms them into assisted individuals. “

Mexico is inspired by the policies put in place by Luis Inacio Lula da Silva in Brazil and Evo Morales in Bolivia. “These models are based on the idea of ​​necessary progress. However, it is this progress which leads to the destruction of the planet. We must stop this system ” says Pedro Faro, in a soft voice.

For him, the indigenous peoples are the witnesses, on this earth, “That another world is possible” as the world social forums affirmed in the 2000s, in which Frayba participated with the support of CCFD-Terre Solidaire. “At the end of the day, we all come from native peoples who respected the ‘tierra madre’, mother earth. They believed in the community meaning of life. All our ancestors, at one point, were aware of this. “

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Tatic Samuel, le “Father of all”

In February 2016, Pope Francis, on a trip to Mexico, gathered at the tomb of Don Samuel Ruiz Garcia, the former bishop of San Cristobal de Las Casas, who died in 2011. The natives call him “Tatic” Samuel, the “father of all”, in the Tzotzil language.

Bishop Samuel Ruiz Garcia was bishop of San Cristobal for 41 years, from 1959 to 2000, transforming it in depth. Various measures made it possible to adapt Catholic cults and celebrations to the cultures of the indigenous peoples. He appointed more than 400 deacons, most of them married.

Known as an advocate of liberation theology, in 1994 he invited the Zapatista National Liberation Army (AZLN) and the Mexican government to dialogue. His mediation action was criticized by some who saw it as a gesture in favor of a movement. “Marxist”.

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