Mexico City: A Roman Catholic bishop famed as a defender of Mexican Indian rights has died at the age of 86.
Mexican Bishop Samuel Ruiz, who mediated an end to the Zapatista rebel uprising and was seen as a candidate for the Nobel Peace Prize in 1995, died in hospital on Monday, his family said.
Ruiz was credited with ensuring the bloody revolt in the southern state of Chiapas in 1994, in which 150 people died, was short-lived, eventually pushing the government and rebels to agree ceasefires and piecemeal peace accords that helped stifle the conflict.
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton paid tribute to Ruiz during a one-day visit to Mexico on Monday. "I have been told by my colleagues that he was a tireless mediator," Hillary told a news conference in the city of Guanajuato.
Mexican President Felipe Calderon also praised Ruiz, who died of a respiratory infection in Mexico City.
Masked Zapatista leader Subcomandante Marcos launched the armed struggle for indigenous rights on January 01 1994, emerging from a jungle lair to briefly capture the attention of the world's media with his signature black ski mask and pipe.
The Zapatistas have lost much of their influence inside Mexico, while Marcos has turned to writing romantic fiction. But the movement still inspires leftist groups in Europe.
First Published: Tuesday, January 25, 2011, 09:27