In the early 1980s, Scarboro missionaries worked in Chiapas, Mexico, and experienced firsthand the plight of the Mayan people. The missionaries were there at the invitation of Bishop Samuel Ruiz Garcia of the Diocese of San Cristobal de las Casas, who stood in solidarity with the Indigenous people.
On January 1, 1994, an uprising drew international attention to Chiapas, Mexico’s southernmost state. The Zapatistas, descendants of the Mayan peoples, were protesting centuries of exploitation. Their rebellion led to the militarization of the area, along with intimidation, assassinations, and a massacre in the village of Acteal. In 1998, a mural designed and painted by members of 12 Indigenous communities in the area was unveiled in the town of Taniperla in Chiapas. The mural depicted Mayan traditions and ideals of community life—peace, harmony, unity, and happiness. In an act of international solidarity, the Taniperla mural was recreated in Argentina, Brazil, Spain, Italy, Ireland, San Francisco, Mexico City, and in Canada when it was painted on the property of Scarboro Missions’ central house in Scarborough, Ontario.