Christian Solidarity Worldwide, 29 April 2022 (excerpts)
16 Protestant Christian families, comprising 32 adults, attend a church in Chiapas State, Mexico and belong to the Tzeltal indigenous group. They are being forced to pay an illegal fine for a 4th consecutive year as a consequence of their refusal to participate in an upcoming syncretic Roman Catholic festival, the Santa Cruz Festival, referred to locally as ‘Convivio de Agua’, which is held 3 May.
The first fine was issued in 2016, and since 2019 they have been issued annually to those who do not participate. Six of the families in the community who declined to participate in the festival have been forced to pay an illegal fine of approximately GBP £12 or have their water supply cut off until they were able to pay it. In some years, members of the religious minority community have been without access to water for five months, until they were able to gather the money to pay the fine.
Pastor Miguel Gómez Pérez confirmed that the local authorities have a list at the police station with the names of every member of the Presbyterian church, and that they have visited each individual family to request the payment of the fine. He confirmed that the funds collected through the fines will be used to purchase supplies for the celebration of the festival, including alcoholic beverages.