By Joseph DeCaro
Local Mexican leaders recently raided the farmland in the village of Mariano Matamoros, Chiapas State, as part of an ongoing operation to expel a small Christian community from the Catholic-majority country.
According to International Christian Concern, the Oct. 15 raid left 158 Protestants -- including 40 children -- without enough food for the coming months.
Since 2012, Protestants in Mariano Matamoros have been the target of repeated attacks by local leaders to force them to either convert to Catholicism, or leave the village. The attacks have ranged from the confiscation of property to the denial of access to public utilities.
"This latest incident in Chiapas is emblematic of a pervasive climate of religious intolerance that is strangling the life out of rural communities across Mexico," said Isaac Six, ICC's Advocacy Director. "Officials at every level of the Mexican government have either been ignorant of, or willfully turned a blind eye towards religiously based attacks that clearly violate Mexico's own Constitution and international human rights norms. These attacks have also left hundreds homeless and thousands more without access to basic necessities like food, shelter and education, simply because some communities refuse to conform to the religious beliefs of the majority.
"ICC is calling on federal authorities in Mexico to immediately take action to assist the victims of this incident in Mariano Matamoros and for the international community to hold Mexico accountable for these human rights violations. No man, woman, or child should be forced to go to bed at night starving simply because of their religious convictions."