Some were not interested in losing their power and corrupt privileges. Others preferred to continue their religious life with a “straw God”.
The attacks to evangelical communities are recurrent in Mexico since 2012, but the state government remained silent.
Village leaders cut the water supply and sewage services to thirty evangelical families in Mariano Matamoros, Chiapas State, on 14 June.
The victims expressed in a statement that they have suffered these kind of attacks since 2012, just because they are evangelical Christians, and therefore do not share the same faith as the majority of Mariano Matamoros` population.
“A group of approximately 400 people, men and women, cut the water supply and sewage services around 11:30 am in Inocente Garcia´s house on Sunday, and there are 8 more houses affected since then”, they affirmed.
According to the victims, the authorities blocked the entrances and exits of the community with stones and sticks, to make the cuts.
Appeals for government intervention to protect the victims’ rights in the days preceding the action went unanswered, and nobody tried to do something to stop the attacks.
Luis Herrera, Director of the Coordination of Christian Organisations in Chiapas State, told Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) that village leaders have indicated that the next step will be the confiscation of evangelicals’ private land, and made a public call for their rights to be protected.
Evangelicals in the village belong to three different denominations.
Hostilities against them started in May 2012 and include physical attacks, the illegal confiscation of private property and attempts to forcibly convert them to Catholicism.
In January, the state government negotiated and signed an agreement with the victims which included religious freedom guarantees and a promise that all arbitrarily confiscated land would be returned to the rightful owners.
However, the state government failed to take any steps to fulfil its commitments and in March the village authorities issued a new decree which prohibited all evangelicals from buying or selling in the village.
Despite all the promises made by the Chiapas State Government to resolve severe and ongoing violations of religious freedom to at least seven other communities, only one community, displaced from the village of Buenavista Bahuitz since 2012, has been allowed to return to their homes, but the conditions under which they have done so continue to violate Mexican constitutional protections for freedom of religion or belief.
Another community, a group of families displaced from the village of Los Llanos in 2011, initiated a sit-in last week in the central plaza of San Cristobal de las Casas to protest the state government’s inaction and failure to fulfil its promise to relocate them by June.