A Mexican Protestant recently detained for the third time by local authorities has now seen his three children banned from attending the local school and his home cut off from the village’s water and electricity services.
His crime? Attending an Evangelical church.
The state Ombudsman in Oaxaca has publicly condemned the treatment of Lauro Núñez Pérez and his family, reports Christian Solidarity Worldwide. But his case is far from an anomaly.
In June, World Watch Monitor reported the return of 12 families to their village home in the neighbouring state of Chiapas, after five years in exile for leaving the ‘traditionalist’ church, which blends aspects of indigenous paganism and popular Catholicism.
It was the same story for Fidencio Jiménez and Petrona Díaz a year earlier.
The first article of Mexico’s constitution forbids discrimination on religious grounds. But Mexico has trouble enforcing this, particularly in the southern states of Chiapas, Oaxaca, Puebla, Hidalgo and Guerrero, where Mexico’s indigenous communities are given significant autonomy.
This autonomy is “meant to be exercised in line with the fundamental human rights protections”, reports CSW. “However … local leaders frequently try to enforce community uniformity in terms of religious practice and belief, compelling members of the community to participate in the religious activities of the majority or face punishment.”