Monday, Jun 1, 2020

Mexico’s Persecuted Protestants Lack Simple Coronavirus Defense

They asked to be excused from contributions and community work linked to Roman Catholic festivals and activities. Now, they are no longer members of the community and must walk half a mile to access water.

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As COVID-19 spreads, dozens of Protestant converts are still denied access to clean water in Catholic-controlled villages in four states.

While many people around the world are reaching for soap, water, and antibacterial hand gel to prevent the transmission of the new coronavirus, Angelina does not have that luxury.

Her family and a neighboring family had their access to water and sewage services cut off by local authorities in January 2019. Fifteen months later, they still have no access.

All in an attempt to force them to renounce their Protestant faith.

As of April 2, Mexico had reported more than 1,500 cases of COVID-19, with 50 confirmed deaths. Just three days prior, the government announced a national health emergency, suspending non-essential activities, banning gatherings of over 50 people, and encouraging the population to “stay at home for as much time as possible.”

Angelina, 50, with her three adult children, lives in the central state of Hidalgo, which reports 26 confirmed cases, 3 deaths, and a further 65 suspected cases. With this number all but certain to climb in the coming days, her family and others like them lack access to one of the first lines of defense against this invisible threat.

Article 4 of the Mexican constitution states: “Everyone has the right to access, disposal, and treatment of water for personal and household consumption in sufficient measure, safely, acceptably, and affordably.” However, this right is not enjoyed by all people. Nor is the right to freedom of religion or belief.

Mexico is currently on a monitoring list for the US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), having previously been considered a Tier 2 country. Moderate and severe violations of religious freedom remain common, particularly in the states of Hidalgo, Chiapas, Oaxaca, and Guerrero. [Editor’s note: From 2015 to …

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