Christians Face Imminent Expulsion in Mexico
International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that on November 15, local government officials and community leaders in the village of Mariano Matamoros in Mexico have threatened to expel 158 Christians from the small Chiapas community. The threat comes after years of severe religious freedom violations perpetuated against the Christians, and after a recent farmland raid instigated by community leaders against the small Protestant community which left many without food.
Since 2012, Protestant Christians in Mariano Matamoros have suffered severe discrimination, persecution, and gross abuse of their basic human rights, but the October 15 farmland raid left the Protestant community in an especially desperate situation. According to local ICC sources, Protestants have now been given a November 30 deadline to leave the community for failing to “reconvert” to Catholicism. However, according to Luis Herrera, Director of the Coordination of Council of Christian Organizations, the community delegates are using the threat of expulsion as leverage to extract concessions from the Chiapas State government.
According to Mr. Herrera, the community delegates of Mariano Matamoros have been demanding that the State Government of Chiapas construct a paved road that leads from Mariano Matamoros to larger cities in Chiapas since 2009. Village leaders have also asked the state government to pay a fine of 1.5 million pesos ($90,857 USD) to cover the fees that the Christians have failed to pay for refusing to participate in village festivals.
Furthermore, Mr. Herrera states that authorities at the state level in Chiapas have repeatedly refused to take action in the Mariana Matamoros case. After the recent threat of expulsion by the community leaders, Mr. Herrera placed a call to a high level government official in Chiapas who, upon hearing about the threat, told Mr. Herrera, “Don’t worry, the village leaders will never follow through with their threats.”
Isaac Six, ICC’s Advocacy Director, said “For decades, Mexico has ignored rising tensions among religious communities in rural areas of central and southern Mexico. Thousands have been displaced and left homeless, simply because they belonged to a religious minority and refused to make financial contributions to religious festivals they did not believe in. For the State and Federal governments of Mexico to ignore this impending threat to more than two dozen families in Mariano Matamoros is egregious, and we call on authorities to take immediate action by publically denouncing the threat as unconstitutional, ordering local police forces to investigate these threats, and to prosecute those responsible for previous attacks on this small Protestant community.”
Source: International Christian Concern (ICC) persecution.org