Welcome to the homepage of the Chicago Religious Leadership Network on Latin America (CRLN). Mission: The Chicago Religious Leadership Network on Latin America (CRLN) stands in solidarity with those oppressed by poverty, violence and exclusion in this hemisphere working together for the respect of human dignity and empowerment of all peoples.  An interfaith network of individuals and communities, CRLN equips and mobilizes religious leaders, communities and individuals to advance peace, justice and human rights in our hemisphere.

 
 
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Guatemalan Ex-Military Leaders Arrested for Crimes Against Humanity

The recent arrests of 18 former Guatemalan military officers has set in motion the formal court proceedings of decades-long delay of justice involving countless human rights violations. The violations, during the country’s thirty-six year long civil war, took place between 1960 and 1996, officially “ending” with the signing of the 1996 Peace Accords. The corruption within the country’s infrastructure, however, is much more deeply rooted. So is the vast gulf between rich and poor, racism directed against the majority indigenous population, and the need for land reform, all issues that remain unresolved after the Peace Accords.

In a country of roughly 15 million, there are roughly 6,000 homicides within Guatemala each year, yet only 2% of those go to trial. Additionally, the success of organized crime in perpetuating this violence--during the civil war and in recent years--has been possible in part because of government and military involvement in it. For example, former president Otto Pérez Molina, formerly a general during the civil war, was arrested last year just hours after his resignation from the presidency for accusations of corruption and fraud.

Closing Guantanamo Bay: A Call For Executive Action

CHICAGO-- (Español abajo) Just twenty four hours before President Barack Obama was scheduled to take the stand to deliver his last ever State of the Union address, religious and nonreligious people alike gathered in cities across the nation (Chicago, Miami, DC, New York, and many more) to call for the final and immediate closure of Guantanamo Bay Detention Camp, a U.S. military prison located in Cuba containing people picked up in the early days of the “war on terror.” Many were captured in war-torn Iraq or Afghanistan, turned in by others after the U.S. offered cash rewards, raising major doubts about their actual participation as combatants. The detention center, now in its fourteenth year of business since the Bush Administration’s claim to end the “war on terror” in early 2002, still holds 93 prisoners, who have complained of being subjected to abuse and torture, which is against international law and always immoral.

Obama’s Parallel Brutality: TPP, Immigration Raids and the #SOTU

By Celeste Larkin Ramovic, CRLN’s Public Policy Coordinator, Organizer Against the TPP, clarkin@crln.org

Last month, two days before many celebrated Christmas, the Washington Post published an article leaking the Obama Administration’s plan to start 2016 with immigration raids targeting Central American families who had previously been ordered deported. With these raids as the backdrop to last night’s speech, Obama also plugged the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal during his State of the Union address, urging lawmakers to pass it through Congress before he leaves office. The cruelty of these parallel efforts by the same administration is not lost on us here at CRLN.

CRLN and many other organizations in the field of human rights have been working to place in the center of public awareness and discussion the realities of undocumented immigrants, many of whom are some of the millions of people displaced after the passage of disastrous ...

Report on Honduras’ Current Human Rights Issues, Corruption and Violence

2015 has been a year of discouraging occurrences for the small Central American country of Honduras. Among the many hardships for the country’s eight million people, are major human rights violations, corruption by the current government, impunity, large scale violence and a severe economic crisis. The president Juan Orlando Hernandez refuses to accept a United Nations Commission Against Impunity to be called CICIH, similar to the CICIG in Guatemala which catalyzed the resignation of former Guatemalan president, Otto Perez Molina. Honduras is affected by corruption within government, elite families and private businesses. A business magnate family in the country was accused of money laundering and drug trafficking by the United States government, resulting in the closing of well-known businesses that left 11,000 people unemployed. Additionally, former Honduran president Rafael Leonardo Callejas who had been accused, tried and pardoned in seven cases of corruption during his term in the early 1990s, and who aspires to a second term of presidency for 2018, has been accused of corruption within the international soccer league FIFA . Honduras and its people are constantly being exploited by its own government, elite families and transnational corporations, which in the vast majority of cases, are backed up by the United States and other countries in the Global North.

MEDIA ADVISORY: Faith Leaders Condemn Immigration Raids, Ask for Relief instead

Media Contact:

Lissette Castillo,(312) 770-0350

lcastillo@crln.org

Local faith community condemns immigration raids, urges local ICE Director to desist from use of “inhumane” and “immoral” tactics against immigrant community

Will deliver an open letter to Director Ricardo Wong, containing over one hundred signatures from faith leaders of multiple faiths and denominations, stressing the role and responsibility of local office in providing “protection, not persecution.”

WHO: Local faith leaders, members of the Chicago Religious Leadership Network on Latin America (CRLN) and its "Immigrant Welcoming Congregations," Red de Oracion, and other faith-based organizations

WHAT: Local faith community united in condemnation of immigration raids will deliver faith leader letter to Chicago ICE Field Director Ricardo Wong. The letter was signed by faith leaders across Illinois, Indiana, and Wisconsin, as well as several heads of denomination, who all call on Dr. Ricardo Wong to exercise his power of discretion to refrain from further implementation of immigration raids in areas falling under his jurisdiction. Faith leaders will also urge larger faith community to take steps to inform immigrants of their rights and to continue to organize against raids and indiscriminate detention and deportations.

WHEN: Thursday, January 28 at 10 AM, Chicago ICE Office (101 W. Congress)

WHY: Just two days before Christmas, the Washington Post published a story detailing plans by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to start 2016 with mass, nationally coordinated, immigration raids. On January 2nd, local Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE) began moving forward with these plans. Since then multiple raids across the country, including some in Illinois, have resulted in the detention of at least 121 immigrants.

Solidarity Over Vilification

Presidential debate season is upon us. And it’s ugly. Violent, in fact. In the past several months, unless you’ve been blissfully disconnected from mainstream media and U.S. politics, you’ve probably heard some deeply xenophobic and racist comments coming from some Presidential candidates, then recycled time and time again through mainstream media. Whether or not we take said candidates seriously, we must acknowledge the implications of their public speeches and glean lessons for the ongoing work we’ve dedicated ourselves to.

CRLN stands in solidarity with those refugees, many of whom are Muslim, who are simultaneously fleeing from and blamed for U.S. funded wars in the Middle East. We express our solidarity with those continuing to organize around the important issues of refugee resettlement, who are combatting Islamophobia and White Supremacy by exposing exploitative political lies and spreading truth about communities in need of compassion. The CRLN also stands with Black and immigrant communities and women who have similarly been the victims of divisive and violent rhetoric and state violence. CRLN works on this solidarity by continuing to support folks fleeing U.S.-sponsored, low-grade warfare, legacies of genocide, and economic violence throughout Latin America who are then subjected to xenophobia, racism and sometimes even detention and deportation here in our country.

Second Illegal and Forced Eviction of El Tamarindo Community in Colombia

Peasant farmers of the El Tamarindo community established themselves on 120 hectares of land on the outskirts of Barranquilla, in northern Colombia, in the search for a safe haven from the long-running civil war taking place in the country. The community of 130 families had been violently displaced from their former homes in other parts of Colombia. However, in 2007, the new area in which the El Tamarindo community had settled was declared a duty-free zone, granting tax exemptions on income tax and import and export duties and making the land very attractive to businesses. Ever since then, local businesses have been claiming ownership over the land and harassing the community. The first forced eviction occurred in 2013. In this eviction, a portion of the community’s houses were destroyed by bulldozers and their crops damaged. Additionally, families had to leave their animals behind, losing their livelihood. The community, which continuously becomes smaller with each eviction, was relocated to an area known as El Mirador.

On December 9 th , 2015, the community began to be forcibly evicted again.

Criminalization of free speech and freedom of the press is 2015 Luncheon theme

180 people gathered at the 2015 CRLN Annual Luncheon to hear guest speaker Lorenzo Mateo Francisco, an indigenous Q’anjob’al radio journalist from Santa Eulalia, Huehuetenango, Guatemala. Lorenzo spoke about official suppression of Guatemalan Indigenous communities’ rights to free speech and freedom of the press. He also pointed out how the Guatemalan government criminalizes leaders in the movement to provide community radio stations, which broadcast in Indigenous languages, preserving and deepening cultural ties, providing momentum for community organizing, informing people of their rights and responsibilities as citizens, and covering events that affect their communities.

One year after the executive annoucements, what's really happening with immigration?

Last Friday, November 20 was the one year anniversary of President Obama’s immigration executive action announcements. It was also the one year anniversary of the Priorities Enforcement Program (PEP) encouraging police/ICE collaboration. On that day--just hours after the DOJ finally filed a request with the Supreme Court for reconsideration of the 5th Circuit Court’s recent decision to rule against the executive actions and to continue to withhold relief from millions of undocumented immigrants--Organized Communities Against Deportations (OCAD), a partner organization, led a press conference outside of the Chicago ICE Office. I was there, listening to the testimonies of undocumented immigrants who one year after the announcements were sharing their stories to move the conversation away from the executive actions and back to the ongoing detention and deportation crisis. An undocumented grandmother, who was denied necessary medications while in detention, reminded us of the negligent and miserable conditions that immigrants continue to endure in detention centers; a young father of US citizen children and longtime resident noted that the executive actions don’t go far enough, explaining that if and when implemented they still won’t cover for the majority of the undocumented community and that they will not shield people like him--who have convictions on their records, in his case a DUI from several years ago--from deportation.

Reflection During Thanksgiving Season / Reflexión Durante los Días de Gracias

(Español abajo)

While many in the CRLN community get ready for family gatherings, warm food, and time off of work, it’s important for us to recognize the history of the Thanksgiving holiday and the mythology that has us celebrating gratitude on Indigenous land that (if you’re in Chicago area) was robbed from the Mascouten, Michigamea, Miami, Potawatomi, Wea, Piankeshaw, and other Indigenous Peoples.

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