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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191 Nations call for an end to the U.S. embargo against Cuba… so should you!

On October 27th, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution titled Necessity of ending the economic, commercial and financial embargo imposed by the United States of America . In the weeks before the voting, there had been speculation that this year the United States would abstain from voting. Since the vote in 2014, President Barack Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro, with the mediation of Pope Francis , have made significant changes in U.S. - Cuba policy. However, the United States didn’t abstain from voting. Instead, it demanded that more recognition of the progress made in Cuban-U.S. relations be included in the text of the resolution by Cuba.

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.

CRLN welcomes back Milton Mejía and Adelaida Jiménez from Barranquilla, Colombia

CRLN members will remember that Milton Mejía and Adelaida Jiménez came to Chicago in 2008-2009 for 2 years of study at McCormick Theological Seminary. Since that time, Milton is now the General Secretary of the Latin American Council of Churches ( Consejo Latino Americano de Iglesias , or CLAI) and Adelaida is Director of the Program of Theology at the Reformed University in Barranquilla.

Milton met with North American denominational and ecumenical leaders to suggest that the Christian churches of Latin America and those of North America might engage in a joint project to define a common identity, a common mission—taking into account and recognizing the diversity of the churches, but trying to find where their unity lies. He encouraged them to start thinking in the hemispheric term of “ las Americas, not creating divisions in our very language between north and south.

Adelaida, a feminist and contextual theologian, spoke at 8th Day Center for Justice on Wednesday. Her talk set the Colombian context: a country in a civil conflict for over 50 years that is in the midst of a Peace Process between the government and the FARC, the largest of the guerrilla groups that has opposed the government during the long war; a country in which a globalized neo-liberal economic model has taken root and been intensified in the US-Colombia Free Trade Agreement 2 years ago; a country with a long history of violence against women, which has often been religiously justified or excused by certain theological interpretations of Biblical passages. She then focused on the positive role of the Reformed University in teaching a theology focused on more central notions of social justice and peace, upholding women’s equal humanity and de-legitimizing violence against women.

2015 Pedal for Peace photos!

Thanks to all of you who rode on Saturday, we collectively raised $10,000 in pledges and contributions for health, education and community organizing efforts in Colombia, El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras! A special joy was having with us Emilio, one of the students who received scholarship support through the Chicago-Guatemala Partnership, tell us about the impact of scholarships on his village in Guatemala.

A special thanks to volunteers Jerry Pendergast and Bob Hearst from Chicago-Cinquera Sister Cities, who staffed and brought snacks for the 12- mile mid-point refreshment table; Mary Naftzger and Pat Wilcoxen from Chicago-Guatemala Partnership, who staffed and brought snacks for the south registration and 24-mile mid-point refreshment table; Marisa Leon Gomez and Kayla, from CRLN and North Park University, who helped with set-up and staffed the north registration site; and Vicki Cervantes, Miguel Vazquez, and Leslie Fiedler from La Voz de los de Abajo and Concern America, who helped with set-up and break-down of the site.

Below are photos from the event.

The Healthy IL Campaign for Healthcare and Immigrant Justice!

Nearly 526,000 undocumented individuals live in the state of IL. Every year hundreds of them are denied basic medical coverage simply because they are undocumented. The Healthy IL Campaign will fight to change this. Expanding health insurance coverage to all Illinoisans not only saves lives; it also benefits the entire state by promoting positive health care outcomes, family financial stability, and a more secure IL economy.

CRLN 2015 Annual Luncheon // Encuentro Anual de CRLN

Testimonios: Roots of National Change in Guatemalan Indigenous Movements

Thursday, November 12, 2015, 12-2PM

Old St. Pat's Church, 700 W Adams

Buy TICKETS here

(Español abajo) We are elated to announce CRLN’s 2015 Luncheon speaker, Lorenzo Mateo Francisco, Q’anjob’al Indigenous leader in Guatemala, member of Prensa Comunitaria, and current director of the Snuq' Jolom Konob community radio station in Huehuetenango. Lorenzo will discuss his community’s use of grassroots media and radio as tools for building Indigenous self-determination and for developing local analyses of and participation in national events. Lorenzo will share stories of Indigenous organizing for territorial autonomy which demonstrate community-led struggles against systems of corruption and privatization. These grassroots struggles have brought Guatemala to a moment of massive change on the national level, culminating in the resignation and indictment of President Otto Perez Molina. Join us! Click here fror tickets . If you're interested in volunteering, contact Marisa Leon Gomez: MLeongomez@crln.org .

The CRLN Stands in Support with the Dyett 12

For over two years, the Chicago Religious Leadership Network on Latin America (CRLN) has been one of the organizations that coordinates a pastoral care program for unaccompanied children arriving at our borders in search of safety and refuge. Many of the children that we meet are undoubtedly among the most vulnerable children on the planet, escaping unimaginable violence and poverty. Just as we have committed to stand by them and to fight for the protection of their basic rights, today we express our full support and solidarity with the community leaders at Dyett who have been on hunger strike for more than two weeks now to save Dyett High School, Bronzeville’s last publicly-operated, open-enrollment, school from closing.

An Historic Moment for Guatemala

Events in Guatemala have moved at a fast pace since April, beginning with the extension of the mandate of CICIG, the UN Commission charged with uncovering and prosecuting Guatemala's clandestine criminal networks, and culminating in the resignation, arrest, and jailing of President Otto Perez Molina and much of his administration, Click here for a timeline of events. Since April, almost all sectors of Guatemalan society have been protesting in front of the national palace, demanding these resignations. For once, legal processes and public protests have reinforced each other.

But what's next? A regularly scheduled national election took place last Sunday in spite of calls to postpone it until after there was time to push through reforms. Many felt that because the corruption is widespread and systemic, they merely will be electing new criminals to replace the old ones. However, the months-long protests appear to have awakened a spirit of public vigilance, and new public officials will have to be on their guard.

Fall membership letter

September 4, 2015

Dear members and friends of CRLN,

It’s been a busy spring and summer! We’ve been responding to the many challenges that are being experienced by our brothers and sisters in Latin America and in immigrant families across our own nation. Thanks to those of you who have already renewed your membership. If you have not, we invite you to renew your membership or become a CRLN member for the first time to support the kind of work we do in response to requests for justice and accompaniment. You may donate online here .

Here are just some examples of the work we’ve been engaged in since our last membership letter:

The fight against deportation and detention continues. Although President Obama announced an executive action last November which would shield certain immigrants from deportation, those protections have been challenged in court and have yet to be implemented. Meanwhile, deportations continue. Every day, the government deports 1,100 immigrants and maintains a Congressionally mandated 34,000 immigrants, (children, mothers, and fathers included) in detention. Since December the CRLN has provided support to five individuals and their families, calling on folks like YOU to sign petitions, make calls to ICE, and to rally in defense of members of our community and undocumented mothers and fathers. The valiant struggles of these individuals have illustrated many things to us, among them the deep disconnect between ICE’s priorities for enforcement, their so-called focus on “felons, not families,” and their actual detention and deportation practices out in the field.

An Immigrant Justice Reflection for the High Holidays

One day, an old Rabbi asked his disciples the question: How do you know when there is enough light to see?... (the disciples offered a number of suggestions)...Then his followers looked at the Rabbi and were silent. Finally the old master raised his eyes, and spoke quietly and with deliberation. “There is enough light to see when you can look into the eyes of another person and understand that he or she is your brother or sister”.

From a Supplement for Days of Awe Services, Jewish Reconstructionist Congregation

Reflection by JRC Member, Tina Escobar

Tuesday, the 25 th of August, at the Chicago Sinai Temple, with our fellow volunteers, CRLN friends and guests, we celebrated the Unaccompanied Children’s Interfaith Ministry. It was a wonderful program. We hugged our fellow interfaith volunteers, now through shared struggle, our friends and community; we enjoyed Middle Eastern treats, and received certificates of appreciation for our work with unaccompanied children; we were both enlightened and touched by Maribel’s courage as she shared with us what her experience as an unaccompanied child migrating from Guatemala to the United States last year has looked like; and we were stirred by Reverend Sara, who demonstrated the paper prayer candles the children “light” and float during our visits. She confronted and challenged us, reminding us that no one can be complacent in the current climate of racism and anti-immigrant sentiment...


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