Welcome to the homepage of the Chicago Religious Leadership Network on Latin America (CRLN).

Mission: The Chicago Religious Leadership Network on Latin America (CRLN)  builds partnerships among social movements and organized communities within and between the U.S. and Latin America. We work together through popular education, grassroots organizing, public policy advocacy, and direct action to dismantle U.S. militarism, neoliberal economic and immigration policy, and other forms of state and institutional violence.We are united by our liberating faiths and inspired by the power of people to organize and to find allies to work for sustainable economies, just relationships and human dignity.  

Misión en español: La Red de Líderes Religiosos de Chicago para Latinoamérica (CRLN) construye alianzas entre movimientos sociales y comunidades organizadas en EE.UU. y entre los pueblos de las Américas. Trabajamos juntos por medio de la educación popular, la organización de base comunitaria, la promoción de políticas públicas, y la demostración no violenta pero energética para desmilitarizar nuestras sociedades, crear alternativas a la economía neoliberal y desmantelar la política de inmigración de EE.UU, y otras formas de violencia institucional y de Estado. Estamos unidxs por nuestras fes liberadoras e inspiradxs por el poder de la gente para organizar y encontrar aliadxs para trabajar por economías sostenibles, relaciones justas y la dignidad humana.

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CRLN gratefully acknowldges the support of the following Foundations: Crossroads Fund, Helen Brach Foundation, Landau Family Foundation, Pierce Family Charitable Foundation and Woods Fund of Chicago. 

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

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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.

CRLN at the #SOA2015

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This year, CRLN joined thousands of people down at Ft. Benning Georgia to build connections with organizers and activists from all over the world engaged in the struggles against state violence, forced migration, neoliberal economics and imperialism. CRLN worked with Witness for Peace and Colombia’s Congreso de Los Pueblos (The People’s Congress) to make several Colombia-focused panels possible. We were fortunate to have as part of our CRLN delegation Juan David Lopera, a Colombian organizer formerly part of Congreso de Los Pueblos now living in Chicago. Juan met with his Colombian counterpart Lenoardo Luna in Ft. Benning where they gave workshops about the Peace Process in Colombia. They stressed that, while the talks in Havana are crucial, real peace means economic models that serve the people instead of stealing their lands for the benefit an elite economic class. Juan and Leonardo also shared the work of Congreso de Los Pueblos to build autonomous movements of people power from the grassroots in Colombia to continue shifting power towards the grassroots.

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.

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.


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