Seven Christian families who were forced from their homes in a village in the western Mexican state of Jalisco because of their faith are now living in a cramped wine cellar.
According to persecution watchdog World Watch Monitor, the seven families were evicted from their homes in January based on the results of a popular vote in which almost 2,000 residents elected to evict them for religious reasons.
Nearly a year later, they have been surviving in various temporary shelters provided for them by the state government. The families are currently housed in a cramped wine cellar that provides little space for 30 people to cook, eat and sleep.
Rosa Blanca Vázquez de la Rosa recalled the horrific day she and her two children (a nine-year-old girl and a three-year-old boy) were taken out of their house and expelled from Tuxpan de Bolaños.
"They threw stones at the house where we were sleeping. They left holes in the door and the roof...They put us in the vans and abandoned us right there outside the village, at Las Banderitas crossing, with nothing at all but the clothes we had on when they came," she said..
Her husband, Victor de la Cruz González, wasn't at home when the indigenous chiefs came to his house and took his family away.
"He was out working," de la Rosa said. "He works at the school as a primary teacher. He's still there, he comes to see us when he has money... I just want us to be together again."
WWM notes that so far, authorities have failed to address the issue that led to the expulsion of these families from their communities in the first place. In 2008, the Baptist Convention of Guadalajara, the state capital, with help from the US Baptist Convention, fought successfully for the families' legal right to remain in the village. But the village council later ruled that they must leave.
Christian charity Open Doors' Latin America analyst Dennis Petri said this happened for "religious reasons" and said that because they are Christians, they are deemed "incompatible" with the culture and traditions of the indigenous people.
She said: "The big question is whether [this vote was] legal. The indigenous chiefs claim it was, since they have the authority, as protected by the federal constitution, to govern based on their indigenous uses and customs. At the same time, the federal constitution also guarantees freedom of religion and human rights - you can't just force someone out of his home, for whatever reason, including religious reasons. This is what is at stake here: a conflict between contradictory rights that need to be balanced.
"The state government does not know what to do because if it rules that the group must return to their homes, they violate indigenous autonomy, but if they don't, they violate human rights and religious freedom. For this reason their strategy is just to wait, trying to gain time, and probably hoping the group may lose hope and just move on to somewhere else."
Christianity is the dominant religion in Mexico, representing about 82.7% of the total population as of 2016, according to statistics. However, the country is placed 41st on Open Door USA's World Watch List of 50 countries where it is most difficult to be a Christian due to organized corruption and crime.