Freedom of Religion Is under Attack in Latin America

Nov. 16 2022

Surveying several countries in Central and South America, Tomás Henríquez notes the various threats to religious believers:

In Mexico, it is illegal for clergy to speak about politics. Since 1917, priests, pastors, and other religious figures have been stripped of their fundamental freedoms by the law that prohibits Mexican citizens who are religious ministers from speaking for or against political candidates or parties. To this day . . . religious leaders are persecuted for what they say from the pulpit, parish radios, and church publications. Simply delivering reflections on the political, social, and cultural circumstances in their country may lead to the termination of a church’s legal personhood—speaking for or against a candidate is a criminal offense.

During the Mexican federal-election period in 2021, Juan Sandoval, Mario Ángel Flores, Carlos Aguiar, and Ángel Espinosa de los Monteros—members of the Catholic clergy—issued, at different times, calls for Catholics to participate in the electoral process and to vote according to their convictions. The priests were denounced by the ruling political party of President López Obrador, tried before an electoral tribunal under Article 130 of the Mexican constitution, and found guilty of “unlawful” politically oriented speech. Not only does the silencing of religious leaders violate their fundamental right to freedom of speech, it is also inherently discriminatory. . . .

In Argentina, there is growing discrimination in access to public office based on religious belief. Judicial officials have been known to question applicants as to whether they are religious believers in order to filter them out. There have also been instances of political impeachment of judges for daring to criticize the tenets of gender ideology underpinning the Argentine supreme court’s decision that liberalized abortion. These are but a few examples of an insidious climate of hostility that has permeated the interplay of faith and civic life in Argentina, threatening the country’s democratic processes at their core.

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Read more at National Review

More about: Argentina, Freedom of Religion, Latin America, Mexico

UN Peacekeepers in Lebanon Risk Their Lives, but Still May Do More Harm Than Good

Jan. 27 2023

Last month an Irish member of the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) was killed by Hizballah guerrillas who opened fire on his vehicle. To David Schenker, it is likely the peacekeeper was “assassinated” to send “a clear message of Hizballah’s growing hostility toward UNIFIL.” The peacekeeping force has had a presence in south Lebanon since 1978, serving first to maintain calm between Israel and the PLO, and later between Israel and Hizballah. But, Schenker explains, it seems to be accomplishing little in that regard:

In its biannual reports to the Security Council, UNIFIL openly concedes its failure to interdict weapons destined for Hizballah. While the contingent acknowledges allegations of “arms transfers to non-state actors” in Lebanon, i.e., Hizballah, UNIFIL says it’s “not in a position to substantiate” them. Given how ubiquitous UN peacekeepers are in the Hizballah heartland, this perennial failure to observe—let alone appropriate—even a single weapons delivery is a fair measure of the utter failure of UNIFIL’s mission. Regardless, Washington continues to pour hundreds of millions of dollars into this failed enterprise, and its local partner, the Lebanese Armed Forces.

Since 2006, UNIFIL patrols have periodically been subjected to Hizballah roadside bombs in what quickly proved to be a successful effort to discourage the organization proactively from executing its charge. In recent years, though, UN peacekeepers have increasingly been targeted by the terror organization that runs Lebanon, and which tightly controls the region that UNIFIL was set up to secure. The latest UN reports tell a harrowing story of a spike in the pattern of harassment and assaults on the force. . . .

Four decades on, UNIFIL’s mission has clearly become untenable. Not only is the organization ineffective, its deployment serves as a key driver of the economy in south Lebanon, employing and sustaining Hizballah’s supporters and constituents. At $500 million a year—$125 million of which is paid by Washington—the deployment is also expensive. Already, the force is in harm’s way, and during the inevitable next war between Israel and Hizballah, this 10,000-strong contingent will provide the militia with an impressive human shield.

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Read more at Tablet

More about: Hizballah, Lebanon, Peacekeepers, U.S. Foreign policy