MEXICO: Displaced Protestants Pressured by Government to Accept Illegal Agreement

28 May 2024

Source: Christian Solidarity Worldwide

Representatives of a group of more than 150 Protestant Christians forcibly displaced from their communities because of their religious beliefs on 26 April have complained that they are being pressured by government officials to sign an agreement that violates human rights protections under Mexican law.

In a press conference held on 15 May, Pastor Rogelio Hernández Baltazar and church leader Nicolás Hernández Solórzano said that they do not want to accept an agreement pushed by the municipal government of Huetutla de los Reyes in Hidalgo State to resolve the situation. The agreement would allow the leaders responsible for the mass forced displacement from the villages of Coamila and Rancho Nuevo to fine the victims, ban three families from returning, and permit the other families to return but with the same severe restrictions on freedom of religion or belief (FoRB) that have been imposed on the religious minority group since 2015.

The group, all of whom belong to the Great Commission Baptist Church, was initially sheltered in the Municipal Presidency building. They were subsequently moved to another location, where they say they have been dependent on humanitarian aid and food provided by local churches. The municipal government is no longer providing food or water to the group, which includes 75 children and infants, and the initial support that was provided was grossly insufficient to meet their needs.

The total number of displaced Baptists has grown to over 150, with a number of individuals who were working outside the villages at the time of the displacement not permitted to return home.

Human rights violations linked to FoRB have been ongoing and severe in the neighbouring villages of Coamila and Rancho Nuevo since 2015. Local authorities have repeatedly attempted to force members of the religious minority to participate in other religious customs. Despite detailed documentation of the case dating back to 2015, the municipal government continues to deny that the incidents in Rancho Nuevo and Coamila are linked to FoRB.


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