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While diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba have been reestablished and some trade and travel restrictions have been changed by executive order, the embargo remains in place and the Cuban people still experience the shortages of crucial medicines and other essential products. Imposed in the early sixties to “bring about hunger, desperation and overthrow of the government” (State Department, April 6, 1960) the U.S. embargo is often called a blockade because of the widespread effects of these policies. CRLN has worked with many other organizations for more than twenty years to end these harmful policies carried out in our name. This work has led to many positive changes in policy. Because these policy changes were made by executive order our current president was able on June 16 to reinstate some of the limits to travel and trade. Action by Congress is required to finally end all the U.S. restrictions including the embargo and this year several bi-partisan bills have been reintroduced in the House and Senate. By working together we can change these harmful policies!
IL Senators Durbin and Duckworth are (or soon will be) co-sponsors of the bills in the Senate, so in Illinois we are focusing on the Illinois Representatives. Call the Capitol Switchboard today at 202-224-3121 to be connected to your Representative. Let them know that now is the time to finally lift these restrictions (sample script below)! Be sure to thank them if they are a co-sponsor already.
✱ The Cuba Agricultural Exports Act (H.R. 525)
Introduced by Rep. Eric A. Crawford (R-AR-1)
This bill seeks to repeal financing restrictions, allowing firms in the U.S. to offer credit to Cuba in connection with exports of U.S. agricultural goods. It also seeks to eliminate restrictions on key federal funding used in agricultural export promotions. Current Illinois representatives co-sponsoring are: Robin Kelly (D- IL 02), Rodney Davis (R-IL 13), Cheri Bustos (D- IL 17), Darin LaHood (R- IL18), Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL-8)
✱ The Cuba Trade Act (H.R. 442)
Introduced by Rep. Tom Emmer (R-MN-6)
This bill would allow businesses in the private sector to trade freely with Cuba, while prohibiting taxpayer funds to be used on promotion or development of a new market. Current Illinois representative co-sponsoring is Darin LaHood (R-IL 18)
✱ The Freedom to Travel to Cuba Act (H.R. 351)
Introduced by Rep. Mark Sanford (R-SC-1)
The bill simply removes the current travel restrictions to Cuba.
Suggested Script for IL Representatives “As your constituent, I want you to know that I strongly support continued U.S. engagement with Cuba. Increased travel and trade with Cuba allows your constituents their right to travel to Cuba, but also helps to improve the lives of the Cuban people.
The U.S. embargo on Cuba has hurt both the Cuban and the American people. I urge you to co-sponsor HR 525, HR 442 and HR 351 to lift the U.S. travel ban and trade embargo on Cuba.” (if they have co-sponsored you can add the thank-you in this paragraph)
Rep. Hank Johnson reintroduced the Berta Caceres Human Rights in Honduras Act in the 115th Congress as House Resolution 1299 (HR 1299) on March 2, the first anniversary of the slain indigenous rights, feminist, and environomental activist. The bill would suspend all U.S. military and police aid to Honduras, including equipment and training, until basic human rights conditions are met. The Honduran police and military have been implicated in hundreds of human rights violations since the 2009 overthrow of the government, and we should not be supporting them with our tax dollars.
We have an amazing opportunity in the two years of the 115th Congress (2017-18) to generate enough support for this bill to get it passed. Already, Representatives Schakowsky, Lipinski, Gutierrez, Rush, and Davis from Illinois have signed on to co-sponsor. Here are three good reasons you might give us permission to sign your name on a letter to your Representative in support of this resolution, which CRLN staff will deliver when we are in DC for Ecumenical Advocacy Days:
For further reading, here are some recent articles on Honduras:
By Berta Caceres’ nephew on the anniversary of her assassination: Click Here
“Berta Cáceres court papers show murder suspects’ links to US-trained elite troops”: Click Here
By Steven Dudley of InSight Crime on Honduran presidents’ link to gangs:Click Here
“Protesters in DC confront Honduran president over Berta Cáceres murder”: Click Here
Three CRLN staff and board members traveled to Honduras February 28 – March 8 together with La Voz de los de Abajo, one of CRLN’s partner groups. Below is a reflection by Sharon Hunter-Smith upon visiting two communities engaged in land recuperation as part of the National Center of Rural Workers.
Our group from Chicago stood staring at the rough wooden table, which held 2-dozen or so spent tear gas canisters plus a couple of bullet shells, collected by the 9th of July community from the area immediately surrounding the place where we stood. The largest one, designed to be fired from a rifle, was stamped “Made in U.S.A.” The connection between U.S. military and police aid to Honduras and the violent persecution of impoverished Honduran farmers was crystal clear in the objects before us.
The original rural community of 28 families has been tear gassed and evicted from their simple hand-built dwellings and cultivated land 26 times by the Honduran military or police. In the last surprise eviction on January 13, 2017, the police followed the fleeing people, even women and children, across the valley, shooting all the way. One man was shot in the leg and a pregnant woman miscarried after running away, panicked, from the “security” forces. They also tore down and burned houses, stole or burned possessions and tools left in and around the houses, and cut down some of the fruit trees and crops. Since then, the women and children, have moved to a nearby community while the men have re-occupied the land.
“Thanks be to God that we continue to live on this land,” said one man. After each violent eviction, the community’s commitment is to return and resettle on the land within 24 hours of being pushed off, rebuilding houses and restoring crops as they are able. The bravery and endurance that this strategy demands is fed by their hope of land ownership. They experience other threats in the form of arrest warrants against them and death threats from the national or military police. “Every time we receive a group of international people who are in solidarity with us, it gives us the strength to keep going on with our struggle,” said another.
This community of formerly landless people, organized by the Central Nacional de Trabajadores del Campo (CNTC–National Center of Rural Workers), settled this abandoned and desert-like land in 2010. They dug trenches and bought plastic pipes to carry water for irrigation and drinking water from a spring 3 kilometers away. They planted fruit trees and other crops to feed their families. A dry hillside turned green and provided a way to make a living. The CNTC works with 203 other communities, like 9th of July, who are reclaiming land and putting it to good use in 14 of the 18 Honduran departments (what in the U.S. would be called states).
The National Agrarian Reform Law provides that idle land fit for farming can be expropriated and awarded to indigent and landless persons by the government, but this does not happen often. To force the issue and obtain the land essential for rural people to support themselves and their families, the CNTC works with landless people to settle and plant on unused, undeveloped or abandoned land. The occupants then file for title to the land under the Agrarian Reform Law with Honduran National Agrarian Institute (INA).
(Photo credit// credito de la foto: Mijente.)
CRLN continues to fight for meaningful and ongoing practices of sanctuary at all levels, from our congregations and neighborhoods to schools and city government. Taking the lead from BYP100 and Mijente nationally, we are working with other Black, Latinx, and im/migrant community organizations in Chicago to expand sanctuary.
Together, we call for real sanctuary that provides protections for ALL communities directly impacted by attacks under the current administration. While Chicago is publicly a “sanctuary city,” we believe that the current Welcoming Cities Ordinance does not go far enough to provide sanctuary for all residents. Chicago has a history of over-policing, racial profiling, and criminalization, which has led to Chicago residents being put in deportation proceedings and in the prison system, even when the police do not directly cooperate with ICE.
As Janae E. Bonsu, National Public Policy Chair for the Black Youth Project stated at last month’s press conference to #ExpanSanctuary:
“Sanctuary – as the city of Chicago had defined it – doesn’t go far enough. Until the mayor and city council shows a real commitment to ending the criminalization of Black and Latinx people in policy and practice, sanctuary will remain an empty word to our people.”
Instead, we imagine a city where communities of color and undocumented communities do not face violence from either the police or immigration agents. We imagine a city that directly challenges the larger systems of criminalization, mass incarceration, deportations and detention. Join us in calling for the city of Chicago to strengthen the ‘Welcoming Cities Ordinance’ AND to vote in favor of the ‘Recommendations to Fraternal Order of Police Contract Resolution.’
To learn more about this campaign, to get involved, or to reach out to your alderperson in support of these policies, please contact the CRLN Immigration Organizer at email@example.com.
Alerta de políticas publics: #ExpandSanctuary en la ciudad de Chicago
CRLN continúa luchando por prácticas significativas de santuario en todos los niveles, desde nuestras congregaciones y vecindarios hasta las escuelas y el gobierno de la ciudad. Tomando la iniciativa de BYP100 y Mijente a nivel nacional, estamos trabajando con otras organizaciones comunitarias, AfroAmericanas y negras, Latinx, y migrantes en Chicago para expandir el concepto de santuario.
Juntxs, pedimos practicas de santuario reales que proporcionen protecciones para TODAS las comunidades directamente afectadas por los ataques de la actual administración. Mientras que Chicago es públicamente una “ciudad santuario”, creemos que la actual ‘Welcoming Cities Ordinance’ (Ordenanza de Ciudades de Acogida) no va lo suficientemente lejos como para proporcionar un santuario para todos los residentes. Chicago tiene un historial de policiamiento excesivo, discriminación racial y criminalización, lo que ha llevado a los residentes de Chicago a ser sometidxs a procedimientos de deportación y al sistema penitenciario, incluso cuando la policía no coopera directamente con ICE.
Como dijo Janae E. Bonsu, Presidenta Nacional de Políticas Públicas para BYP100 en la conferencia de prensa del mes pasado para #ExpandSanctuary:
“Santuario – como la ciudad de Chicago lo ha definido – no va lo suficientemente lejos. Hasta que el alcalde y el ayuntamiento demuestren un compromiso real para poner fin a la criminalización de la gente negra y latina en la política y la práctica, el santuario seguirá siendo una palabra vacía para nuestra gente.”
En cambio, imaginamos una ciudad donde las comunidades de color y las comunidades indocumentadas no se enfrentan a la violencia ni de la policía ni de los agentes de inmigración. Imaginamos una ciudad que desafía directamente a los sistemas más amplios de criminalización, encarcelamiento masivo, deportaciones y detención. Únase a nosotros llamando a la ciudad de Chicago para fortalecer la ‘Welcoming Cities Ordinance’ Y votar en favor de las Recomendaciones a la Resolución de Contratos de la Orden Fraternal de Policía (‘Recommendations to Fraternal Order of Police Contract Resolution’).
Para obtener más información sobre esta campaña, para involucrarse o para comunicarse con su consejo local en apoyo de estas políticas, comuníquese con la organizadora de inmigración de CRLN en firstname.lastname@example.org.
Given Honduras’ human rights situation, CRLN will provide for its members a monthly update on human right issues afflicting the country.
Washington D.C. – Following President Trump’s announcement today aiming to curb Sanctuary Cities, turn away asylum seekers, order the construction of a border wall, and increase harmful enforcement policies mark the start of our resistance. The National Sanctuary movement reaffirms its unwavering support for local jurisdictions with limited detainer policies and continued commitment to protect immigrants and refugees by opening their congregations to those being targeted by Trump’s policies.
Rev. Noel Andersen, CWS National Grassroots Coordinator, said: “The Sanctuary Movement is growing stronger everyday, with more than 800 congregations strongly committed to protecting our immigrant brothers and sisters and standing with them during these trying times. The Sanctuary Movement has a long tradition of civil initiative, holding the government accountable to their own asylum laws. This is another case wherein numerous federal courts have found ICE practices to be unconstitutional when using detainer holds. We encourage all cities to hold true to the 4th amendment in our Constitution and keep their sanctuary policies intact–so that we can protect all members of our communities.”
Rabbi Jonathan D. Klein, Executive Director, Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice: Creating a Just and Sacred Society (CLUE), said: “As the “America First President” and his xenophobic attempts to dismantle the spirit of our nation’s welcoming message, emblazoned on the Statue of Liberty, “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,” people of faith throughout California utterly reject the politics of scapegoating any sub-community. Instead, we pledge Sacred Resistance to policies of divisiveness and solidarity with our fellow community members living in fear. Rabbis, ministers, and other religious leaders have pledged to protect all human beings, regardless of immigration status, from the hate-filled Executive Orders that define this President’s first days as one of the least popular in history.”
Rev. Kenneth Heintzelman, Sr. Minister, Shadow Rock UCC, said: “Shadow Rock UCC welcomes immigrants in need of Sanctuary in the spirit of the values that best represent the United States and our faith tradition. The values of hope, freedom, opportunity and justice support the immigrant story which is ultimately the story of all of us. President Trump’s actions, though draped with a thin cloak of patriotism, actually goes against the narrative of what it means to be a proud citizen that knows our history and what it means to be a person of faith who strives to love God and neighbor.”
Pastor Alli Baker, Wellington Avenue United Church of Christ a congregation who helped pass the Sanctuary city ordinance in Chicago is also currently assisting two asylum seekers added this comment: “On Martin Luther King Jr. day, we remembered his Vietnam speech, when he said, now is the time to ‘move past indecision to action.’ Today we must ask ourselves, before the requests come – what are we willing to risk to truly be a Sanctuary city/church/space?”
When: Sunday, January 15 from 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Where: Willye B. White Park Fieldhouse, 1610 W. Howard Street, Chicago, IL 60626
At the event, 500 people from Chicago and the Chicago-land Area will come together to discuss the important issues facing the community and call on elected officials to make commitments to address those issues. Issues on the agenda include Police Accountability, Living Wages, Immigration Rights, Religious Freedom, and Human Rights for ALL.
Please contact email@example.com if you have any questions. We look forward to seeing you on January 15th!
Celebracion & Llamada a la Accion en honor a Martin Luther King, Jr. 2017
Cuándo: Domingo, 15 de enero de 2:00 p.m. a 4:00 p.m.
Dónde: Willye B. White Park Fieldhouse, 1610 W. Howard Street, Chicago, IL 60626
En este evento, 500 personas de Chicago y el area de Chicago se reunirán para discutir los asuntos importantes que enfrenta la comunidad y para pedir a los funcionarios electos que se comprometan a abordar esos temas. Los temas en la agenda incluyen el control social de la policia, salaries justos, los derechos de inmigración, la libertad religiosa y los derechos humanos para TODOS.
Por favor, póngase en contacto con firstname.lastname@example.org. Esperamos verlx el 15 de enero!
Honduras is the most dangerous country in the world in which to be an environmental activist and one of the most dangerous to be a journalist, union member, or member of a social movement opposed to the current Honduran administration’s policies. Members of the military and police have been implicated in violence against, including assassinations, of members of these groups. 97% of crimes committed in Honduras are left unsolved, with no consequences for the perpetrators.
In this context, we thank you for your signatures supporting the Berta Cáceres Human Rights in Honduras Act (H.R. 5474). They helped CRLN convince 7 out of 10 Democratic Illinois U.S. Representatives to co-sponsor this important legislation introduced by Rep. Hank Johnson. By the end of 2016, the bill, which would suspend U.S. security aid to Honduras pending compliance with international human rights standards, garnered a total of 52 co-sponsors nationwide.
Because the 114th Congressional session ended January 3 and any legislation that did not come to the House and Senate for a vote ended with it, H.R. 5474 will need to be reintroduced in the 115th Congressional session that runs from now through the end of 2018. Rep. Hank Johnson plans to reintroduce this bill.
As soon as that happens, CRLN will contact U.S. Representatives from Illinois to ask those who signed on (Schakowsky, Gutierrez, Davis, Rush, Quigley, Lipinski) to do so again. We will contact those of you in their districts to contact them, identify yourselves as CRLN members, thank them for their co-sponsorship last year, and ask support them to sign on again.
For those of you in districts whose Representatives did not co-sponsor, we will construct new arguments for why they should co-sponsor and will contact you at the appropriate time for signatures again to show support in your district for this bill. In addition, we have a fresh opportunity to speak with Representatives elected in November (Brad Schneider in the10th District, who replaces Bob Dold; and Raja Krishnamoorthi, who replaces Tammy Duckworth—now one of Illinois’ U.S. Senators—in the 8th District).
It is vitally important to people whose lives are under threat in Honduras that the U.S. stop providing weapons and training to the forces under the authority of the current Honduran President, Juan Orlando Hernandez, whose party illegally used and deprived the public of funds designated for the health care system to support his last election and who has just orchestrated a change to the constitution to allow himself to run again for President in 2017. Under his administration, military and police forces have been unleashed to do violene against those who oppose the corruption and anti-democratic maneuvers of many of those currently in power.
If you would like to take part in a delegation to Honduras to commemorate the one-year anniversary of Berta Caceres’ death and visit other groups struggling to defend their land and human rights, click here for more information.