Source: Contra Costa Times
Wire Service: AP
On June 17, 2004 the Associated Press reported, "Thousands of children have been forced to leave their schools as a new form of segregation takes root in rebellion-racked southern Mexico, with conflicts in Indian communities pitting Catholics against Protestants and traditionalists against the political opposition. Yoriko Yasukawa, a UNICEF representative in Mexico, estimates that 184,000 children in the state of Chiapas have left school, many of them as a result of political or religious discord. The Associated Press recently visited a half-dozen predominantly Catholic towns where Protestant children had been expelled from schools: State officials refused to say how many Protestant children had received such treatment. The expulsions go beyond religious friction -- they sometimes involve politics or even debates over bilingual education. Often, the government tries to build alternate classrooms for children expelled because of their parents' beliefs. But some are left with substandard, improvised classrooms, or no school at all. Most of the better-equipped schools remain in the hands of 'traditional' Catholics, so named because they practice a form of mixed Indian and Roman Catholic rites, require community members to serve in ritual posts and support Mexico's former ruling party. Those expelled are called 'evangelicals,' a term applied to both Protestants and anybody who supports a different political party."