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Mexico: 150 evangelicals pressured to accept illegal displacement agreement

Christians who were forced to leave their homes and are now penalised in a decision that violates human rights protections under Mexican law.

FUENTES CSW AUTOR 5/Evangelical_Focus HIDALGO 23 DE MAYO DE 2024 15:58 h
Native Christian communities in Mexico.

Over 150 evangelicals in the municipalities of Coamila and Rancho Nuevo in the Mexican state of Hidalgo, who were forced to leave their homes, denounced that local authorities pressured them to sign an illegal agreement.

Pastor Rogelio Hernández Baltazar and church leader Nicolás Hernández Solórzano recently explained in a press conference, that the agreement would allow those responsible for the displacement to fine the victims 150,000 Mexican Pesos (approximately 8327 Euros ).

Furthermore, it bans three families from returning, and permits the other families to come back but with the same severe restrictions on freedom of religion that they have suffered since 2016.

For CSW’s head of advocacy Anna Lee Stangl, “the position of the municipal government is indefensible”.

“By pushing this illegal agreement, they make themselves complicit in the ongoing, egregious violations of freedom of religion or belief in Coamila and Rancho Nuevo. This is unacceptable in a democratic country like Mexico”, added Stangl.


Displaced and attacked

The evangelicals faced all kinds of harassment, as well as attacks, for over a month, and on 26 April, they were forcibly displaced from their houses, after village leaders cut off their electricity.

The inhabitants of Coamila and Rancho Nuevo also vandalised and blocked access to the Fundamental La Gran Comisión (Fundamental The Great Commission) Baptist church, to which the displaced evangelicals attend, and to some of their homes.


Humanitarian aid from other churches

Hernández Baltazar said that they will not accept the agreement, which violates human rights protections under Mexican law.

He also complained that the the initial aid provided was grossly insufficient to meet their needs, and now the local government is no longer providing food or water to the group, which includes 75 children.

Right after the forced displacement, they sheltered the evangelicals in the Municipal Presidency building, but soon moved them to another location, where they said they received humanitarian aid and food from other local churches.


More complaints

In December 2022, a church member was hospitalised in critical condition after being tied to a tree and beaten by village leaders, according to an earlier CSW report.

International media have reported that some community members have faced arbitrary arrests, beatings, denial of medical care, job dismissals, blocked access to burial sites and confiscation of land. They have reported that since 2018, religious minority children have been banned from attending local school.

Open Doors USA cited drug cartel violence, traditionalist Catholic practices and discrimination by anti-Christian groups as incidents that have increased persecution in Mexico, which is why it has been upgraded on its 2024 World Watch List.


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