By Mark Ellis
Senior Correspondent, ASSIST News Service
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"We had some most distressing news of renewed persecution of Indian believers in Mexico," says David Kietzman, executive director of Latin American Indian Mission (LAIM).
There had been strained relations in the community of Pahuatlan, Hidalgo, about 175 miles northeast of Mexico City. "Mostly it had taken the form of pressure on the evangelical pastors, who would be called in, roughed up a bit, and possibly spend the night in jail," Kietzman notes.
"The complaints always focused on the fact that they were breaking the harmony in the community by introducing this 'new' religion that did not respect the old customs, and particularly did not support the village fiestas."
On December 17 the conflict escalated. At a community meeting to appoint delegates to the fiesta for the coming year, all the evangelicals in attendance were arrested.
"Not only were 52 of them carted off to the very small jail, but also guards were sent to all the exits from the town, so that word of this illegal action could not get out to state officials," Kietzman notes.
"Those in jail were kept without food and water (and access to sanitary facilities), the pastor was kept bound to a chair, and the g roup was repeatedly told they could not leave until they signed a renunciation of their new religion."