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Rights Activist Says Mexico 'in Denial' Over Christians Forced Out of Homes for Their Beliefs

World Watch Monitor
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December 6, 2016
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Twelve of the 30 evangelical Christians evicted from the village of Tuxpan de Bolaños in Jalisco in January. (World Watch Monitor)

Pedro Faro Navarro, director of the Fray Bartolomé de Las Casas Human Rights Centre, accused the government of "making up the figures" of people forcibly displaced because they have left the 'traditionalist' Church, which blends aspects of indigenous paganism and popular Catholicism.

He said that the scale of the problem is hard to gauge. "Unfortunately, there are no records that we can use to officially count the number of cases because the Mexican state has never recognised the problem of forced internal displacement," he said.

According to the Mexican Commission for the Defence and Promotion of Human Rights, a non-governmental organisation, more than 287,000 cases of forced internal displacement took place in the last five years. But the UN-accredited National Human Rights Commission puts the figure at around 35,000.

Faro disputes both figures. "There are some who speak of more than a million people," he said. "For the time being, what we know for definite is that the lowest number is always the official one." Many families have to leave their homes and nobody comes to count them, he added.

In 2015, World Watch Monitor reported that 12 evangelical Christian families were allowed to return home five years after they were forced out by village elders. But many other families remain isolated, without access to schools or medical facilities.

Thirty families from the Tuxpan de Bolaños community in western Mexico were forced out of their homes in January 2016 because, they say, they were attracting other villagers to evangelical Christianity, posing a threat to their ancestral traditions.

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