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Samuel Ruiz, Mexican bishop who helped mediate peace talks in Chiapas, dies at 86

January 24, 2011 | 11:46 am

Samuel Ruiz, a Roman Catholic bishop famed as a defender of Mexican Indian rights and best known for helping mediate peace talks with the leftist Zapatista rebels in the southern state of Chiapas in the 1990s, has died in San Cristóbal de las Casas, Mexico, from a long-standing pulmonary ailment. He was 86.

Bishop Felipe Arizmendi, who took over Ruiz's diocese, confirmed his death Monday.

Arizmendi says Ruiz's remains will be returned to Chiapas for a memorial service. Ruiz is survived by a nephew.

Ruiz earned the affection of the state's largely Indian population and allowed some aspects of Indian religious practices to permeate his diocese -- irritating conservatives.

A complete obituary will follow at

-- Associated Press

Photo: Samuel Ruiz, bishop of San Cristóbal de las Casas in Chiapas, in 1999. Credit: Janet Schwartz / AFP/Getty Images