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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DID YOU KNOW?  CRLN has monthly E-Digests! Get informed about our events, solidarity work, immigration and Latin American news and much more!             

Want to sign up? Email shunter-smith@CRLN.org with "E-digest subscription" in the title or sign up here.

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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. 

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...

Lots of Hope & Work to Come: Colombia 2015 Delegation

On Saturday, August 22nd, Witness for Peace began their delegation hosting people from all over the U.S. in Colombia to investigate the effects of the U.S.-Colombia Free Trade Agreement on workers, Afro-Colombians and Indigenous Peoples. From Chicago, CRLN Public Policy Coordinator Celeste Larkin joined three members of Kuumba Lynx --an arts education and youth development program in Chicago dedicated to cultural empowerment and hip-hop pedagogies, & winner of the Chicago's Teen Slam Poetry Championships for 5 of the last 8 years. Along with us Chicago folks, the delegation also included U.S. organizers from black power movements, labor struggles, international solidarity work, academia, artists & students.

The powerful members of our U.S.-based delegation were able to connect with Afro-Colombians, Indigenous peoples, unionists, youth, artists and Colombian communities whose resistance work reflects the struggles of so many communities in the U.S. We visited the port workers, the humanitarian zone and the displacecd Wounaan people while in Buenaventura; the Memory Gallery of Cali; the rural and African-descendent community of La Esperanza on the outskirts of Buenaventura; African-descendant communities displaced by the internal armed conflict; the Nasa community in Cauca; sugar cane cutters outside of Cali; feminist organizers outside of Bogota...

New Administrative Assistant Joining CRLN!

CRLN welcomes a new staff member! Maria Isabel Leon Gomez (Marisa) joined our office as Temporary Administrative Assistant. Born and raised in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, Marisa grew up with a strong desire to help and fight for social justice in her country. In addition to that, her interest in languages, cultures and people of all walks of life led her to do an internship in UNICEF-Honduras during high school and later to pursue a B.A in Global Studies with an International Development concentration and a minor in French at Salve Regina University in Newport, Rhode Island. While in college, Marisa studied abroad for one year in Lyon, France, worked at Salve’s Regina Office of International Programs and did a thesis on the effects of drug trafficking on the socioeconomic development of Honduras. During her summer breaks, she traveled back to Honduras and volunteered for Educate2Envision, a non-profit helping low-income Hondurans finish their high school education through the creation of their own businesses.

Subsequently, after college, Marisa interned as Latin American Programs Assistant at the Auschwitz Institute for Peace and Reconciliation (AIPR), a non-profit based in New York City focused on genocide and mass atrocity prevention. She traveled with AIPR to Santiago, Chile to aid in the logistical planning of the Raphael Lemkin Seminar for Genocide Prevention, Latin America Edition. During her stay in Chile, she learned of the acts committed by Pinochet’s government (1973-1990) and increased her passion for human rights in our hemisphere. Additionally, she is interested in topics such as development, education, women’s empowerment and rights, controlling drug abuse and trafficking, violence prevention and decreasing military involvement in civil policing. She is delighted to join and be part of CRLN!

Bridges to Community Youth Encounter September 26!

What: Bridges to Community seeks youth who wish to understand the immigrant experience in Chicago and learn about immigration and other related issues.

When: September 26, 2015, 9 AM to 6 PM

Where: TBD

Costs: $100. Includes 2 meals and in-city transportation. Scholarships available.

Sample Activities: Immigration simulation games, hearing stories from undocumented parents, spiritual reflections and collaborative presentations.

Contact Information: Rev. Sara Wohlleb, swohl-leb@crln.org ; or Lissette Castillo, lcastillo@crln.org , 773-293-3680

See attached flyer for more information, comments of previous participants and sample itinerary.


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