Welcome to the homepage of the Chicago Religious Leadership Network on Latin America (CRLN).  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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Info Sessions on Immigration Changes Launched! Sesiones Informativas de Inmigracion

Espanol Abajo

The first in a series of free informational sessions offered through CRLN’s Immigrant Welcoming Congregations took place on Jan. 18 at St. Nicholas Parish in Evanston.  The event brought together leaders from other member congregations, most notably Immigration Attorney Scott Pollock of the Jewish Reconstructionist Congregation.  Over 100 participants in the session heard an overview of the benefits in Obama’s Administrative Relief, were able to ask questions in a safe, community atmosphere, and also reviewed important “Know Your Rights” information.  As the application materials become available, the Immigrant Welcoming Congregations will be responding to the need for trusted legal support for applicants.

Wed, 1/21 is National TPP Day of Action: Remember Ayotzinapa

Wednesday, January 21st is a national call-in day to oppose Fast Track legislation. Don’t let the U.S. Congress or Obama reward the corrupted members of the Mexican oligarch, police and armed forces with more power through the Trans Pacific Partnership. Make your voice heard this Wednesday and read below for analysis on the connections between Ayotzinapa and the TPP.

Cuban and U.S. Religious Leaders Celebrate the Dawn of a New Relationship

On December 17, 2014 President Obama and President Castro announced historic steps toward the normalization of relations between the United States and Cuba including establishing embassies, increasing opportunities for trade and information flow, relaxing some of the U.S. restrictions to travel and exchanging prisoners. The presidents of both countries thanked Pope Francis for helping to bring them together to begin to build a new relationship.

Guatemala Genocide trial postpones justice for Mayan communities again

On January 5, the Ixil Mayan people received another setback to their search for justice through the trial of General Efraín Ríos Montt, now 88 years old, and former military intelligence director José Mauricio Rodríguez Sánchez on charges of genocide and war crimes.  Set to resume on January 5, the trial’s defense lawyers pulled out their bag of tricks and again tried to delay the trial.  After their gambit that Ríos Montt was too old and sick to show up in court failed to sway the judges, they made a motion to recuse one of the judges on the grounds that she had written her dissertation on genocide.  That attempt was successful, and the trial has been postponed until another tribunal can be formed.

Click on the links to read more at the following sites:

Center for Justice and Accountability

Network in Solidarity with the People of Guatemala (for a timeline of events pre-dating the January 5 court date)

Denver Post (for photos from January 5)

Accountability is a Two-Way Street

In his national address on immigration on November 20, 2014, and in speaking engagements across the country, President Obama has been harshly critical of undocumented individuals who "broke immigration laws." He has said that those who "flout the rules"--who do not migrate the "right way" or who "cut line"--must be "held accountable." President Obama's persistent use of the word "accountability" in his speeches and even in the names assigned to the programs created under his "Immigration Accountability Executive Actions," is interesting. With a majority of undocumented individuals (nearly 7 million) excluded from the President's relief, it's not clear that there is a true understanding of what that powerful word means. Add to this the continued perpetuation of misguiding and erroneous rhetoric on immigration and this country's failure to accept responsibility for the migratory consequences of foreign policy abroad, and almost instantaneously any discourse on immigration and accountability is immediately problematic.

First, it's interesting that our President will acknowledge that our immigration system is broken and yet do nothing to dismantle the misconceptions which have contributed towards keeping it broken for so long. On the contrary, in 2014 our President and many other influential leaders are still talking about "waiting in line" and going to the "back of the line"as if legal migration were readily possible and average waiting periods were actually reasonable.

Equally confusing is to hear our President uplift the importance of accountability when he seems to take little issue with the use of misguiding rhetoric. Obama's rhetoric claims that "deportations of criminals are up 80 percent" and which stresses that priority is placed over "felons, not families, criminals, not children, gang members...not moms".  This is not only misleading and overly simplistic, but in fact just plain inaccurate and erroneous. Community groups working directly with undocumented communities will openly tell you that even though immigrant and communities of color aresubject to over-policing and over-criminalization, Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE) still uproots families, deporting hard-working mothers and fathers, all the time. There's a disastrous gap between what the President says ICE should do and what ICE actually does. Case in point: Noe Adan, an undocumented father of a US citizen child, whose deportation the community had to actively work to stop, despite him being a "low-priority" for removal under the new enforcement priority guidelines which President Obama released alongside his executive actions.

Profits or prophets?

From November 21-23, thousands gathered at the gates of Ft. Benning to call for the closing of the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (WHINSEC)-formerly known as the School of the Americas (SOA).  However, the gathering was also about much, much more-making common cause with other movements and making clear the underlying connections between them. 

Sunday, November 23, we commemorated in a solemn funeral procession the 25th anniversary of the murder of 6 Jesuit priests, their housekeeper and her daughter in El Salvador by graduates of the SOA. Vigil participants remembered them by name-Elba Ramos, Celina Ramos, Ignacio Ellacuria, Ignacio Martin Baró, Segundo Montes, Armano López, Joaquin López y López, Juan Ramón Moreno-along with the names of thousands of others killed by SOA graduates. We placed crosses with their names on the fence separating protesters from the school. We affirmed their presence with us still, chanting "Presente!" after each name, keeping alive their memory and the historical memory of what was done to them by recipients of US military training and aid.

The Best Holiday Gift Ever

The day before Thanksgiving, we received a call from one of our Immigrant Welcoming Congregations.  They needed help with releasing someone from detention- is there any way we could step in?  

Globalizing the Struggle, From Ferguson to Colombia: State Violence and Racialized Oppression Know No Borders

Article by CRLN staff member, Celeste Larkin and Chicago organizer, Martin Macias, published on truthout about a mostly people of color delegation to Colombia to visit African descendant communities organizing for their autonomy, land and lives. Celeste and Martin report back from their trip and explore what it means to be in solidarity with the communities they met in Colombia. Click here to read the full article.

Globalizing the Struggle, From Ferguson to Colombia: State Violence and Racialized Oppression Know No Borders

Jumping Rope in Buenaventura: Children from the community of La Playita play across from the site of where paramilitaries would torture and brutally dismember residents. Residents tore it down and built a community center next door.Jumping Rope in Buenaventura: Children from the community of La Playita play across from the site of where paramilitaries would torture and brutally dismember residents. Residents tore it down and built a community center next door.For decades, Afro-descendant communities in Colombia have fought for autonomy and self-determination as a response to government policies that produce multiple forms of violence in their communities. Fully aware of, and in solidarity with, mobilizations in Ferguson, Afro-Colombians recognize the common dreams of movements for racial justice for people of color people across the hemisphere. Two members of a delegation that visited these communities in August 2014 reflect on their own solidarity process and explore the ways that transnational solidarity manifests (or doesn't) in movements. How can we move beyond allyship and towards a practice of co-struggling?

One week after Michael Brown was murdered in Ferguson, nine US-based activists and artists of color and one white woman traveled to meet racial justice movement leaders in Colombia. Our delegation was led by Proceso de Comunidades Negras (PCN, Black Community Process), a collective of African-descendant Colombian groups focused on cultural and political power for Colombia's black population. The history of dispossession is a long one for African descendants in Colombia and across the diaspora i.e. European colonial conquests, subsequent violent and dehumanizing economies of enslavement, the state's denial of social services and reparations. With the energy of the #BlacksLivesMatter mobilizations flowing through our hearts and minds, we began our weeklong human rights delegation throughout the Southwest Valle de Cauca region of Colombia.

2014 CRLN luncheon singer melds personal and political

Over 200 people gathered on November 6 at CRLN's Annual Luncheon, "Un Pueblo Que No Calla: Voices from the Resistance Movement in Honduras," to hear Honduran singer Karla Lara perform some of her songs.

No Fast Track! Carolers deliver hundreds of signatures to Rep. Quigley

CRLN joined roughly twenty members of the Illinois Fair Trade Coalition (IFTC) and constituents of Illinois' 5th Congressional district at Congressman Mike Quigley's office to deliver a holiday package and sing altered holiday carols expressing frustration that the Congressman has failed to come out against Fast Track legislation for the Trans-Pacific Partnership Free Trade Agreement (TPP). Rep. Quigley was unable to receive the crowd but the group was met with several of the Congressman's staffers who, on the Congressman's behalf, accepted the holiday package filled with over 1,500 messages and signatures from voters urging that that he come out against Fast Track legislation, which many expect will come up for a vote in January.

Check out CRLN's Facebook page for pictures and video of the action!

Sung to the tune of Jingle Bells, the crowd filled up the Congressman's district office lobby, belting, "The TPP will let / Any corporation sue / Any government / For putting people first (no no no no!) / You can't let this pass / We want sovereignty / Oh please Mike Quigley just say no / don't Fast Track TPP!" "What does the Congressman say about Investor State Dispute Settlements which have allowed corporations to sue sovereign nations for protecting environmental and public health at the expense of corporate profits?" asked IFTC member Lyle Hyde of Quigley's staff. The staff wasn't able to answer the question due to its specificity. 

Interested in getting involved in this organizing work? Contact Celeste at clarkin@crln.org!


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