Wednesday, February 19   Sign in or Register
Evangelical Focus
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • Google +
  • Instagram
  • Soundcloud

Newsletter, sign up to receive all our News by email.

Should Christians join social protests?



Latin America

Killings, kidnapping target Christian leaders in Mexico

Drug cartel suspected in the killing of one pastor. The head of an evangelical shelter for refugees was kidnapped while interfering with a drug ring’s efforts to kidnap Cuban immigrants.

AUTHOR Morning Star News MEXICO DF 04 SEPTEMBER 2019 17:27 h GMT+1
Pastor Alfrery Líctor Cruz Canseco, here with wife Rosita, was killed on August 18, 2019. / Facebook via Morning Star News

A Roman Catholic priest and an evangelical pastor in Mexico were killed this month, and another pastor was kidnapped, according to published reports.

The Rev. José Martín Guzmán Vega was killed on Aug. 22 in Matamoros, Tamaulipas state, in northeast Mexico, according to the Catholic Multimedia Center (CCM). The priest of the Cristo Rey parish in the San Adelaida area of Matamoros was stabbed several times at about 10 p.m. inside his parish building, according to CCM, citing neighbors who heard cries within. He was 55.

His death brings to 27 the number of priests killed in Mexico since 2012, according to CCM. The state attorney general’s Investigative Police officers were still looking for a motive and the assailant(s) at this writing. In recent years drug rings have targeted both Protestant and Catholic leaders for their opposition to trafficking in illegal substances.

“So far this year, various incidents against priests and other clergy have been recorded, such as the case of a priest wounded by gunfire in Cuernavaca, Morelos [state], and the death threats against various priests in various areas of Veracruz,” CCM reported.



On the other side of the country, in southwest Mexico’s Oaxaca state, pastor Alfrery Líctor Cruz Canseco was shot to death in Tlalixtac de Cabrera on Aug. 18, shortly after leading a worship service at his Fraternidad Cristiana (Christian Brotherhood) church, according to local news reports. Authorities were reportedly still investigating a motive for the gunman approaching the Protestant pastor and shooting him in his car outside the church site.

Church members reportedly managed to apprehend the suspect and turn him over to police. Pastor Cruz Canseco died en route to the hospital.



Authorities and Mexican media have noted an increase in violence in the area, with a drug ring called the Cartel of Oaxaca issuing threats on social media to carry out more executions in southern Mexico. Officials report more than 180 assassinations in the Oaxaca’s southeastern isthmus area so far this year.

A second cartel called Nueva Plaza has also reportedly appeared in the area. With high-caliber weapons, bullet-proof vests and covered faces, members have threatened other criminal groups, police and government officials.

In Tamaulipas, pastor Aaron Méndez Ruíz, head of a shelter for refugees, was kidnapped on Aug. 3 while interfering with a drug ring’s efforts to kidnap Cuban immigrants, workers told Spanish news agency EFE.

Erbin Ortiz, a worker for the Casa del Migrante AMAR in Nuevo Laredo, told EFE that armed men from an organized crime ring entered the shelter intending to kidnap Cuban immigrants but took him when he tried to stop them. State and federal police are reportedly searching for Pastor Méndez Ruíz without success, and workers fear that even more immigrants could be kidnapped in spite of police guards around the shelter.

The shelter designed for 100 people has been serving 120 migrants, and reached 450 in earlier immigrant flows. Cuban immigrants are targeted by crime rings as their relatives have a reputation for paying ransoms quickly, Ortiz told EFE.



Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) Chief Executive Mervyn Thomas said in a press statement that the Mexican government must protect civilians.

“We are deeply concerned for the well-being of Pastor Méndez Ruiz and for the welfare of migrants residing at the Casa del Migrante AMAR migrant shelter,” Thomas said. “We urge the Mexican government to ensure security for civilian populations in areas with a strong influence of criminal groups, and to develop strategies to support religious leaders and other civil society actors who are under threat.”

Last year 10 religious leaders were killed in Mexico, the 10th consecutive year the country has ranked as one of the most dangerous in the world for Catholic priests, according to CSW.

“The expansion of violent criminal groups in the country and the pervading climate of impunity surrounding such crimes has led to an increase in violence against religious leaders,” CSW’s statement read. “Many criminal groups view church leaders, both Catholic and Protestant, and their influence, as a threat to their power. Religious leaders continue to be threatened, kidnapped and killed, and a lack of proper investigation means perpetrators are not brought to justice.”

The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom’s 2017 annual report noted that organized crime gangs such as Los Zetas and Knights Templar target Catholic priests and other religious leaders with death threats, extortion, and intimidation.

“In some cases, these targets ultimately are killed,” the report states. “Religious leaders are targeted because they speak out against the gangs and/or because they refuse to include gang spiritual mythology in their sermons.”

Mexico ranks 39th on Christian support organization Open Doors’ 2019 World Watch List of the 50 countries where Christians experience the most persecution.




    If you want to comment, or


YOUR ARE AT: - - Killings, kidnapping target Christian leaders in Mexico
Julia Doxat-Purser: 25 years of EEA office in Brussels Julia Doxat-Purser: 25 years of EEA office in Brussels

An interview with the socio-political representative of the European Evangelical Alliance about how evangelical Christians work at the heart of the European Union.

Ruth Valerio: A lifestyle that cares about creation Ruth Valerio: A lifestyle that cares about creation

Are Christians called to make a difference in environmental care? What has creation care to do with "loving our neighbours"? An interview with the Global Advocacy and Influencing Director of Tearfund.

Lars Dahle: Nominal Christianity, a mission field for the church Lars Dahle: Nominal Christianity, a mission field for the church

An interview with Lars Dahle, of the Steering Committee of the Lausanne Movement Global Consultation on Nominal Christianity held in Rome.

Testimony: Wildfires near Athens Testimony: Wildfires near Athens

Nico Spies, a Christian worker in Athens, gives details about the wildfires in Greece.

Photos: European Week of Prayer Photos: European Week of Prayer

Christians joined the Evangelical Alliance Week of Prayer in dozens of European cities as local churches came together to worship God. 

Photos: Students at ‘Revive Europe’ Photos: Students at ‘Revive Europe’

Photos of the student conference that brought together 3,000 European Christians in Germany. ‘Revive our hearts, revive our universities, revive Europe’.

Min19: Childhood, family and the church Min19: Childhood, family and the church

The first evangelical congress on childhood and family was held in Madrid. Pictures of the event, November 1-2.

What is Paul's main message in Galatians? What is Paul's main message in Galatians?

“God the Father, the Son and the Spirit are at work in our lives, through the gospel, to bring us into a relationship with theTrinity”, Peter Mead, Director of Cor Deo, says.

Why are some Christians opposed to higher education? Why are some Christians opposed to higher education?

“I can understand why people are cautious about higher education, but we need to understand that education in itself is not the danger”, says Daryl McCarthy.

Christian candidacies in Taiwan increased by 40% in 2020 election Christian candidacies in Taiwan increased by 40% in 2020 election

Many hope their effort will inspire a new generation of political representatives with a strong Christian faith. “God has a long-term plan”.

Video: Highlights of ‘Revive Europe’ Video: Highlights of ‘Revive Europe’

A video summary of the student conference that gathered 3,000 in Karlsruhe, Germany. 6 days in 6 minutes.

Follow us on Soundcloud
Follow us on YouTube

EVANGELICAL FOCUS belongs to Areópago Protestante, linked to the Spanish Evangelical Alliance (AEE). AEE is member of the European
Evangelical Alliance and World Evangelical Alliance.

Opinions expressed are those of their respective contributors and do not necessarily represent the views of Evangelical Focus.