There were some reports of societal abuses or discrimination based on religious affiliation, belief, or practice, frequently in small rural communities in the south. While religious differences were cited as the ostensible cause of such incidents, the disputes often were reported to have involved other factors, including ethnic differences, land disputes, and struggles over local political and economic power. Members of Buddhist, Jewish, and Mormon communities asserted they experienced little discrimination and few barriers to the practice of their religion, but several evangelical groups alleged that abuses and discrimination were frequent. Drought conditions exacerbated tensions over water rights between Mennonite and non-Mennonite farmers in the north of the country, leading to disputes, some of which turned violent.
In addition, there were reports of conflict between religious and secular communities. On October 18, authorities in Michoacan arrested Cruz Cardenas Salgado, the leader of a religious group in the community of New Jerusalem opposed to secular education. In July members of the group had destroyed public school buildings in the town, stating that their patron saint, the Virgin of the Rosary, told them the devil built the schools and that they should be demolished. Authorities tried to negotiate with the group to allow secular schools in the New Jerusalem community. However, in August the group blockaded teachers and students attempting to attend classes when the new school year started. The National Human Rights Commission (CNDH) announced that the community’s refusal to allow grade school education, compulsory under Mexican law, violated the children’s human rights. On December 3, approximately 50 members of the New Jerusalem community attempted to block the construction of a new school meant to replace the one burned down in July. In response, the government of Michoacan submitted criminal complaints against those who blocked the school’s construction.
In the central and southern regions, some communities reportedly viewed evangelical groups as unwelcome outside influences and economic and political threats. Community leaders reportedly sometimes acquiesced to or ordered the harassment or expulsion of members of Protestant evangelical groups. The evangelical community reported that on June 14, a group of Catholics burned and destroyed 19 houses belonging to indigenous evangelical families in the community of Yashtinin, Chiapas in retaliation for the families’ refusal to give up their evangelical faith and convert to Catholicism.
Members of indigenous communities did not normally pay taxes and, instead, were expected to pay fees to community leaders, who arranged directly with the state to provide services. Because the traditional practice of collecting donations for community works and projects often included contributing to public events associated with the observance of Catholic holy days, some evangelicals in indigenous communities reported they refused to pay and were ostracized from their communities. There were instances of village leaders imposing sanctions on evangelicals for resisting participation in community festivals or refusing to work on Sundays. Evangelicals complained specifically of water and electricity cut-offs, expulsion from their villages and schools, loss of community rights and personal possessions, beatings, death threats, and the burning of their churches and homes.
According to the Central Committee for the Jewish Community in Mexico and the public affairs agency Tribuna Israelita, there were reports of anti-Semitic social media attacks on a number of prominent Mexican Jewish intellectuals and activists.
DGAR stated that as of November, it received 18 new reports of religious intolerance in the country during the year and that these conflicts were being resolved with state and municipal authorities. CONAPRED reported that as of October, it received seven new complaints of discrimination based on religion. With the goal of promoting social harmony, government officials, the president of the CNDH, and interfaith groups continued discussions about incidents of intolerance. The Mexico City Interfaith Council included representatives from a broad spectrum of religious groups. There were also interfaith councils in Chiapas, Nuevo Leon, and Yucatan.
The 2010 National Survey on Discrimination indicated that 29 percent of religious minorities believed that rejection, lack of acceptance, discrimination, and inequality were problems their communities faced. An additional 28 percent stated that the main problem facing their religious groups were intolerance, criticism, and lack of respect. Rejection, lack of acceptance, discrimination, and a perception of inequality regarding religious minorities were strongly perceived in Leon, Toluca and Torreon.