Welcome to the CRLN website

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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DOPA 2014 Report Back

CRLN brings 9 community leaders to meet with Senator Durbin's Chicago staff.CRLN brings 9 community leaders to meet with Senator Durbin's Chicago staff.On Monday, April 14, CRLN organized visits with top staffers of Illinois' two U.S. Senators, Richard Durbin and Mark Kirk, as part of 2014 Days of Prayer and Action for Colombia (DOPA).  Eight CRLN members, each with personal experience in Colombia, presented a framed map of Colombia with "Footprints for a Path to Peace" accompanied by a letter calling for the Senators to offer more visible U.S. support for the peace negotiations now under way to end to the 50-year-long civil war that has generated 100's of 1000s of deaths in Colombia, and over 5 million internally displaced persons.

 

Over previous weekends, CRLN members and their congregations hosted events, led prayers, and crafted "footprints for peace".  In doing so, we reminded each other of Colombia's continuing violent conflict and the power we have as U.S. citizens to lobby our elected officials to convert U.S. military aid into a Peace Fund to support reparations, restitution and reconciliation to the victims of violence who have organized to return to their lands and rebuild their lives.

God’s Response: A Statement of Gratitude from Chicago New Sanctuary Coalition

This week, Jews and Christians remember God's response to the forces of slavery, the forces of domination, and the forces of death.  Those forces seem ever present around us as we see laborers bend under the strain of harsh conditions, family separations, and constant fear.  We witness mothers and fathers shackled to the bus seats by ankles, waist and wrists while awaiting their deportations.  Contrary to the insistence of the public relations team at ICE, we know that the vast majority have never committed a serious crime.

But on a daily basis we witness something even more incredible: God's response.  We witness thousands of people mobilized and taking enormous risks to end the suffering, even for the cause of just one single family.  We witness brothers and sisters rising before dawn to pray, and staying up to the wee hours creating art for social justice.  We witness strangers opening their homes to strangers, the rich and poor marching together, and most importantly the washing away of the fear and separation which have allowed this system to endure far too long.

Thank you for your courage in the face of domination.  Thank you for the times you have allowed your fear to be washed away.  Thank you for being part of NEW LIFE and liberation which can never be restrained.  God's response is alive and active through you.  May God bless your journey this week and every week.

Sincerely,

Sara and Liz

You can support the Chicago New Sanctuary Coalition and the Immigrant Welcoming Congregations by becoming a member of our larger organization, Chicago Religious Leadership Network on Latin America (CRLN).   

 

Reflection of my Journey at CRLN

The last two years as the CNSC Outreach Organizer at CRLN have given me many blessings and I had the opportunity to work with an amazing team of caring and dedicated staff members, board members and CRLN members. Most of the time I didn't consider myself ‘working' but rather following my passion and growing with the challenges that this works brings. The people at CRLN are hard to find, I considered all of the staff not my co-workers but my community, my compañeras/os.  In the past two years I was able to work with our members and in coordination with state and national coalitions to pass Temporary Driver Licenses for our undocumented community members, advocate for a compassionate and comprehensive immigration reform, support individual's anti-deportation campaigns and work to push President Obama to stop family separation in our communities. I do have to say that the most meaningful memories for me were events like Immigrant Welcoming Gatherings where a diverse group of faith leaders and communities members came together to share stories, understand our human connection, discuss the brokenness of our national and international policies  and make a prophetic stance to love all our neighbors. I look forward to hearing about the great work CRLN and the CNSC project will continue to do! Thank you everyone for your support! 

EAD Recap & Your Voices Year-Round

Our CRLN delegation to EAD poses in front of the Capitol Building!Our CRLN delegation to EAD poses in front of the Capitol Building!Read an Ecumenical Advocacy Days recap by CRLN's Public Policy Coordinator, Celeste Larkin and then scroll down to read a brief reflection by one of the CRLN delegates, Ervin Lopez. And check out our facebook album to see a few more photos!:

A little over two weeks ago, CRLN was in Washington DC, visiting 13 offices with 27 people covering 7 different issues and making sure that our members of Congress hear our voices challenging violence, neoliberalism and xenophobia. We were there making sure that our foreign, immigration and trade policies promote real peace and justice in the hemisphere.

 

CRLN talked to our Reps and Senators about Cuba, Colombia, Honduras, Venezuela, the School of the Americas, the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and Immigration Reform. But when I say that CRLN talked to our Members of Congress, I mean to say that two dozen CRLN members-who joined us in the Ecumenical Advocacy Days (EAD) conference, participated in educational and organizing meetings all weekend and then sported their best business casual that Monday-talked to their members of Congress. THEY were the power behind the messages we delivered to our public officials.

Reflection by Lissette Castillo: Stop Deportations Action

When my friends and family found out that I'd partaken in an act of civil disobedience this past Tuesday, their immediate reaction was to flood me with questions about the arrest. A couple of emotions and sentiments were expressed, much of which were either excitement and/or concern. While the civil disobedience act itself allowed me to experience strong feelings of solidarity and oneness, to me the occurrences and processes leading up to the action itself were every bit as important and incredible. 

My experience began with about another 150 people partaking in a pilgrimage walk from ICE Headquarters in Chicago to the Broadview Detention Center. Along our half-marathon walk (13 miles), during our communal lunches and conversations, while were are huddled outside of the Broadview Detention Center, and up to the moments leading up to, and during the civil disobedience act itself, I saw and talked some of the most incredibly inspiring and empowering community leaders I've ever had the pleasure of meeting.

Pilgrimage from Chicago to Broadview Detention Center Demanding a Stop to Deportations

Pic Credit: Jaime Reyes, HOY             

Pic Credit- left: Marcela Hernandez; center: Sara Wohlleb; right: Jaime Reyes, HOY

More than 100 people walked 13 miles from the ICE office in Chicago Downtown to Broadview Detention Center demanding President Obama put an end to family separation and use his executive power to stop deportations. President Obama's Administration reached a record of more than 2 million deportations this month. CRLN members who were part of this pilgrimage included Marcela Hernandez, CNSC Organizers, Liz Castillo, CNSC Organizer and Sidney Hollander, CRLN Board Member. The group chanted "2 million, 2 many," "not1more deportations," across the city and made various stops to engage other community members. One of the stops was at Iglesia Unida de Berwyn UCC, one of CNSC's Immigrant Welcoming Congregations. The walkers held a vigil and press conference there were Pastor Jose Jerez offered a blessing over the walkers and people in deportation procedings shared their stories. The last stop on Monday was at Canaan AME Church in Maywood were the walkers were able to sleep overnight. The next morning, Pastor Joaquin Barry gave a blessing over those continuing the walk and others who joined that morning. Once walkers arrived to Broadview Detention Center they were joined by hundreds of community members from across IL to hold a rally outside of the building. The action culminated with a civil disobedience at a nearby intersection  where participants made a strong  stance against deportations and demanded President Obama use his executive power to stop deportations. Among them was Liz Castillo, you can read her reflection about the action HERE

You can read more about the action at: Deportation Protesters March on National Day of Action (FOX), Protesters want Obama to end mass deportations (WBEZ), Protesters march against Obama deportations policies (ABC), Immigrant Rights Activist Arrested While Protesting Deportations At Broadview Detention Center (Progress Illinois). 

ZunZuneo! U.S. again promotes subversion and regime change in Cuba

ZunZuneo! 

U.S. again promotes subversion and regime change in Cuba

(Expanded excerpt from 04 April 2014 Hemispheric Daily Brief - Photo: The New Yorker)   

 

On 03 April 2014, the Associated Press published a bombshell investigation revealing that the U.S. humanitarian agency USAID used front companies to secretly finance a Twitter-like social media app in Cuba -- called ZunZuneo -- meant to trigger a "Cuban Spring" on the island.   According to Jon Lee Anderson the next day in the New Yorker, "there seems to be little doubt that ZunZuneo functioned as a secret intelligence operation aimed ultimately at subversion.  The AP reported that one of the aims of the program was to help foster a resistance that could stage ‘smart mobs' to protest Castro's rule."  There's a lot to sift through in the AP report, but below are some of the story's highlights, including several gems which merit headlines of their own:

Anibal gets 6 month Extension! Help Us Stop all Deportations!

Thank you for all your support on Anibal's case! ICE gave him a 6 month extension and has removed his ankle bracelet.  He is now free to work and support his family until early September.

Anibal's first thought was about his son: "I am relieved. I get to celebrate my son's birthday." But he said the temporary stay is bittersweet and leaves him in limbo. "But what happens after that? Will I see him grow up?" You keep supporting by singing the petition directed to President Obama urging him to stop all deportations: Si Se Puede DHS Rulemaking.

If you would like Anibal or another immigrant facing deportation to speak at your congregation, contact us at 773-293-3680.  

Salvador Sánchez Cerén Wins Presidential Election in El Salvador; Ask President Obama to Acknowledge the Victory

Farabundo Marti Liberation Front (FMLN) candidate Salvador Sanchez Ceren, who garnered 50.1% of the vote in a close presidential race in El Salvador March 9, was declared the winner by the Supreme Electoral Tribunal March 16.  The right-wing ARENA party candidate vowed not to accept the victory, charged fraud without producing credible evidence, and called on the army to intervene, fortunately without success. So far, the democratic process of the election and its results are being respected.

Nevertheless, CRLN would like to see the US come out quickly to acknowledge Sanchez Ceren's presidency in support of the rule of law.  There is ample evidence of previous attempts by some US officials to intervene in the Salvadoran electoral process in the past. State Department representatives have given speeches in El Salvador, implying that they would seek to cut off remittences sent to families by Salvadorans working in the US if the people voted for FMLN candidates.  Representatives have suggested that Milennium Challenge grants might be sent to other countries instead of El Salvador if people did not vote a certain way or pass US favored legislation.  The  US could reassure El Salvador that it intends not to meddle in these election results by asking President Obama to congratulate the elected President on his victory and to attend his inauguration.