Cultura de impunidad en México, parte 2: Años perdidos y oportunidades perdidas

La semana pasada, el Oficial de Defensa de América Latina de CSW detalló la cultura de impunidad que obstaculiza la protección y la promoción de la libertad de religión o de creencias (LdRC) en México. En este post le ponemos una cara humana a los efectos de la respuesta inadecuada del gobierno a las violaciones de LdRC, para mostrar lo que le sucede a las personas cuando las autoridades retrasan o descuidan sus responsabilidades de proteger a las minorías religiosas.

Un caso que ilustra la cultura profundamente arraigada de la impunidad que rodea los ataques a las minorías religiosas en México es el de la comunidad de Yashtinin en el municipio de San Cristóbal de las Casas en el estado de Chiapas.

Todo comenzó en 2012, cuando varias personas se convirtieron a otra religión diferente a la mayoritaria. Algunos miembros de la comunidad temían que esta nueva religión dañara sus costumbres y tradiciones y afectara negativamente a sus hijos. El 10 de junio de 2012, un grupo numeroso de la comunidad fue a la casa de Santiago Hernández Vázquez, uno de los hombres que se habían convertido.  Se llevaron a todos los que se encontraban allí y los metieron en prisión, en medio de insultos, amenazas con violencia; incluso consignas de muerte en el proceso.

Después de encarcelar a 16 hombres y niños en un espacio normalmente destinado a albergar a una sola persona, los maestros locales empleados por el gobierno falsificaron un documento que afirmaba que las familias habían decidido voluntariamente abandonar la comunidad. Las víctimas fueron obligadas a firmarlo y se les dio tres días para irse. Tras la expiración del ultimátum, 12 familias fueron expulsadas después de que los aldeanos destruyeron todas sus casas y propiedades. Para el año 2015, un total de 28 familias habían sido expulsadas de la misma comunidad.

LEE MÁS

Mexico’s Culture of Impunity Part 2: Lost years and missed opportunities

Last week, CSW’s Latin America Advocacy Officer detailed the culture of impunity that hinders the protection and promotion of freedom of religion or belief (FoRB) in Mexico. In this post we put a human face on the effects of the government’s inadequate response to violations of FoRB, showing what happens to individuals when authorities delay or neglect their responsibilities to protect religious minorities.

Click here to read this post in Spanish.

One case which illustrates the deep rooted culture of impunity that surrounds attacks on religious minorities in Mexico is that of the community of Yashtinin in San Cristóbal de las Casas Municipality in Chiapas State.

Everything began in 2012, when several people converted away from the majority religion. Some members of the community were afraid that this new religion would damage their customs and traditions and negatively affect their children. On 10 June 2012 a large group from the community went to the house of a Santiago Hernández Vázquez, one of the men who had converted, and took everyone that was meeting there to prison, insulting them and threatening them with violence and even death in the process.

After imprisoning 16 men and boys in a space normally meant to hold a single individual, local teachers employed by the government falsified a document stating that the families had voluntarily decided to leave the community. The victims were forced to sign it and given three days to leave. Upon the expiration of the ultimatum, 12 families were expelled after villagers destroyed all of their homes and property. By 2015, a total of 28 families had been expelled.

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Mexico’s Culture of Impunity Part 1: Mediation in lieu of justice

While Mexico’s drug trade is far from vanished, President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) recently stated that “there is no longer a war.” He has a new strategy. The president says they are no longer trying to arrest drug lords, but instead want to look at the causes of violence.

“We have not detained the bosses [of criminal gangs] because this is not our main function. The government’s main function is to guarantee public security…What is important to me is lowering the number of homicides, robberies, that there are no kidnappings. This is what is essential! Not the spectacular, because we lost a lot of time in this and it resolved nothing.”

To achieve this, AMLO appears to be looking to religious groups.

Continue reading “Mexico’s Culture of Impunity Part 1: Mediation in lieu of justice”

‘Renounce your faith or leave’: The Ultimatum facing a number of Protestant families in Mexico

While the Mexican constitution provides strong protections for freedom of religion or belief (FoRB), moderate to severe violations of this right are regular occurrences in many parts of the country, particularly the states of Chiapas, Hidalgo and Oaxaca. Often these violations take the form of local authorities attempting to enforce conformity on religious minorities, for example, by denying access to basic services to Protestant families in majority Catholic villages.

CSW’s latest fact-finding visit to Mexico revealed a number of cases where Protestant families have been presented with an ultimatum to either renounce their faith or leave their village before a specific deadline.

To take one example, last year in Colonia Los Llanos in the San Cristóbal de las Casas Municipality, Chiapas, several Protestant families were forced to leave their village after they defied orders to renounce their religious beliefs. CSW also found evidence of similar experiences in two more communities in Chiapas and another in Oaxaca during the visit.

These ultimatums do not come out of nowhere and tend to follow years of religious tension.

Tensions include but are not limited to threats, cutting off basic services and attempts to force minority groups to pay fines or participate in religious activities. In another example, just last month community leaders in another part of Chiapas refused to allow the burial of a Protestant woman in the village cemetery and her family were forced to bury her in a nearby city.   The Mexican government regularly fails to act to reduce such tensions or to stop the deliverance of ultimatums. A culture of impunity surrounds the local authorities responsible for these violations of FoRB.

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Mexico: Protestants Cut Off From Basic Services

Chiapas, Oaxaca and Hidalgo are all home to some of the largest and most varied indigenous populations in Mexico. Unfortunately, this diversity sometimes provokes division, and the three states have some of the highest numbers of documented violations of freedom of religion or belief (FoRB) in the country, with the number of documented cases highest in Chiapas.

In Mexico, state and federal governments have a designated office to deal with religious affairs, a responsibility to address violations of religious freedom and to actively mediate a solution to religious conflicts. However, the officials are almost always distinctly under-resourced and lack training in human rights – especially religious freedom.

At best, state and municipal governments are unable or unwilling to protect the religious freedom of their citizens and to address these human rights violations. At worst, they are passively or actively complicit in the violations. A particularly concerning way FoRB is violated in these states is through the cutting off of basic services, like water and electricity, to Protestant families by the local authorities – as is often the case, the violation of one right leads to others

One of the most striking aspects of the cases Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) has profiled in its latest report is the lack of official intervention to resolve them – apart from a few exceptions, for most of the people affected, little has changed.

Continue reading “Mexico: Protestants Cut Off From Basic Services”