Some evangelical groups stated that incidents of religiously‑based abuses and discrimination occurred, and the government either did not respond or did not respond adequately. There were reports of Protestants being forcibly under pressure to convert, displaced, arbitrarily detained, as well as having their property destroyed by local leaders in the States of Chiapas and Oaxaca. Some members of indigenous communities stated local authorities denied them public benefits and utilities service due to their religious affiliation. Government, NGO, and religious representatives stated that enforcement of the constitutional right of religious freedom sometimes conflicted with the constitutional right to autonomy provided to indigenous communities.
Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) reported that in March the village delegate in Chichiltepec, Hidalgo, Jesus Dominguez Hernandez, attempted to force Casto Hernandez Hernandez to renounce his Protestant faith. According to this report, when he refused, and after his cousin Juan Placido Hernandez Hernandez expressed support for him, both were expelled from the village and imprisoned without water for nearly 30 hours. According to local NGO Impulso 18, the individuals immediately filed a case with the Hidalgo State Human Rights Commission (CDHEH) and with the state attorney general in Huejutla de los Reyes. Impulso 18 also reported, despite what they viewed as strong evidence, the case was delayed. Hernandez told CSW that he had received pressured from government officials to drop the case. Officials from the state attorney general’s office said they would make a final decision about whether they would pursue the case on November 5. According to CSW, due to a change of personnel at the state attorney general’s office, the decision was postponed.
NGO lawyer and advocate Luis Herrera, the Director of the Coordination of Christian Organizations (COOC) and the Voice of the Martyrs‑Mexico, stated that in June local government officials and village leaders seized the land of 30 Protestant families in Mariano Matamoros, Chiapas, after cutting off their water and sewage services. International Christian Concern (ICC) reported another incident on October 15, when village leaders raided 15 acres of farmland owned by Protestants, leaving more than two dozen families, including more than 40 children, without access to food. In January the state government negotiated and signed an agreement that stated Protestants would have their confiscated land returned to them; however, CSW reported the agreement was not implemented. In March village authorities signed a new decree preventing Protestants from buying or selling in the village. CSW reported that village authorities announced they would decide whether the Protestant community could continue to live in Mariano Matamoros during a village assembly in December; however, the decision was postponed until January 2016. According to ICC reports, these separate incidents were part of an ongoing effort since 2012 to pressure the Protestants to convert back to Catholicism or leave the area altogether.
ICC released an article stating that Impulso 18 and Luis Herrera said that on December 15, Protestants in Las Margaritas, Chiapas, were asked to present themselves during a village assembly and sign a document confirming they had renounced their faith. Herrera also told CSW that seven Protestants were imprisoned for two days and were ordered to pay a fine for refusing to renounce their faith. Municipal, state, and federal officials were reportedly notified, but an investigation had not yet been opened as of the end of the year. According to Herrera and CSW, a follow‑up meeting of the parties concerned was scheduled for January 2016.
An article released by CSW in September reported local authorities in the village of La Chachalaca, Oaxaca, imprisoned Lauro Nunez Perez, a Protestant, three times since July for refusing to convert to Catholicism. The Oaxaca state ombudsman reported that a member of the local government prevented the children of Nunez Perez from enrolling in the village school. The ombudsman opened an investigation of the case in July, which remained open as of the end of the year.
According to CSW, on July 7, authorities in the village of Tzetelton, Chiapas, arrested and detained Andres Lopez and Virginia Lopez for three days because they converted to Protestantism. The village authorities reportedly arrested, but did not detain, their three minor children for the same reason. Herrera told CSW that a 2014 village covenant prohibited conversion to Protestantism, considering it a crime punishable by a fine, forced labor, or expulsion from the community. Herrera also reported that on July 10 the couple was released from detention and allowed to return to the village after the Chiapas State government negotiated an agreement with village leaders.
ICC estimated over 70 cases of religious freedom violations remained open in the five States of Chiapas, Hidalgo, Oaxaca, Puebla, and Guerrero. The NGO also stated these cases affected communities of between 20 and 100 people.
The federal government stated it promoted permanent dialogue with religious actors to ensure the exercise of religious freedom and to resolve conflicts arising from religious intolerance. On September 1, SEGOB released its annual report, which cited the federal government’s role in adjudicating seven cases of religious intolerance in the States of Chiapas, Mexico, Hidalgo, Michoacan, Oaxaca, and Puebla between September 2014 and July 2015. According to SEGOB, as of September one case in Oaxaca was resolved while the other six cases remained in process.
CONAPRED conducted outreach efforts, facilitated training, and distributed publications designed to combat discrimination based on religion. CONAPRED also received complaints of discrimination based on religious beliefs and assisted in conflict mediation.
In September the Chiapas State government reported offering workshops to educate people on religious diversity and to promote religious tolerance.
The DGAR worked closely with state and local officials on criminal investigations of cases involving religious groups. Municipal and state officials commonly mediated disputes among religious groups; however, officials rarely pursued legal remedies against offending local leaders. There were few investigations and prosecutions related to crimes or abuses motivated by an individual’s belief or practice.
As of the end of the year, the DGAR had registered a total of 8,311 religious associations throughout the country. Most were Christian (8,274, an increase of 250 from 2014), followed by Buddhist (13), Jewish (10), New Expressions (8, a decrease of 4 from 2014), Hindu (2), Islamic (2), and Krishna (2).