World Premiere of La Lucha Sigue a new film about Honduran land defenders followed by a panel discussion with Bertha Zúniga Cáceres and Miriam Miranda

In Honduras, the most dangerous place in the world to be a land defender, the Lenca and Garífuna people are not backing down. They are fighting to uphold their rights and Indigenous and Black cultures in the face of state backed megaprojects and narco-traffickers who seek to assassinate them, destroy their lands, and erase their existence. Register to watch the WORLD PREMIERE of La Lucha Sigue at 2:00 pm CT Saturday March 20 as part of the Building Movements in Defense of Life, a free bilingual film festival featuring true stories of resistance to industrial capitalism.  Stay after the film for a panel featuring the protagonists of the film, Bertha Zúniga Cáceres and Miriam Miranda on Saturday at 3:30 PM CT.

On Sunday at 3:30 PM CT Bertha and Miriam will join a panel with all the women featured in the film festival. You will need to register for the Sunday panel separately and select large group discussion.  See the whole schedule and register at:




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Rep. Hank Johnson (D-GA) has reintroduced the Berta Caceres Human Rights in Honduras Act (H.R. 1574) into the 2021-2022 session of the House of Representatives. This is the fourth session of Congress in which it has been assigned to a committee. We need your voice to make sure it passes out of committee this time so that the House has the chance to vote on it. A sample script for an email and phone call to your Representative, asking them to co-sponsor H.R.1574, follows the description of the bill below.

The bill calls for the suspension of all U.S. aid to Honduran security forces and for the U.S. to vote no on all loans from multinational development banks to Honduras, until the following conditions are met:

– Pursued all legal avenues to bring to trial and obtain a verdict of all those who ordered and carried out (1) the murder of Berta Cáceres, (2) the killings of over 100 small-farmer activists in the Aguán Valley, (3) the killings of 22 people and forced disappearance of 1 person by state security forces in the context of the 2017 postelectoral crisis, (4) the May 3, 2016 armed attack on Félix Molina, and the November 26, 2018 shooting of Geovany Sierra,  (5) the July 18, 2020, forced disappearances of 4 Garifuna community leaders from Triunfo de la Cruz who were taken from their homes by heavily armed men wearing bulletproof vests and police uniforms; and (6) the December 26, 2020, killing of indigenous Lenca leader Felix Vasques in La Paz, and the December 28, 2020, killing of indigenous Tolupan leader Adan Mejia in Yoro;

-Investigated and successfully prosecuted members of military and police forces who are credibly found to have violated human rights, and ensured that the military and police cooperated in such cases, and that such violations have ceased;

-Withdrawn the military from domestic policing, in accordance with the Honduran Constitution, and ensured that all domestic police functions are separated from the command and control of the Armed Forces of Honduras and are instead directly responsible to civilian authority;

-Established the effective protection of the rights of trade unionists, journalists, human rights defenders, the Indigenous, the Afro-Indigenous, small-farmers, and LGBTI activists, critics of the government, and other civil society activists to operate without interference; and

-Taken effective steps to fully establish the rule of law and to guarantee a judicial system that is capable of investigating, prosecuting, and bringing to justice members of the police and military who have committed human rights abuses.

Instructions for your call and email: Call the Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121 and ask to be connected to your Representative. When you are connected to their office, ask to speak to the foreign policy staffer. Be sure to get the name and email address of the foreign policy staffer so you can follow up with your message in writing. If the foreign policy aide is not available, ask to leave a message on their voice mail. After you leave the message, send an email to the aide with your message.

Sample script: “My name is _____. I am a constituent from
Rep. ___________’s district. I am calling (or writing) to ask Representative _____ to co-sponsor the Berta Caceres Human Rights in Hondurasa Act, H.R. 1574. The bill calls for the suspension of security aid to Honduras until human rights violations by Honduran security forces cease and the perpetrators have been brought to justice. Have you seen the bill? Would you bring it to the attention of Representative _______ ? Can I count on Representative _____________to join as a cosponsor?  Please call me this week at (your phone number) to let me know if you have seen the bill, and if Representative _____ will support it. For more information or to co-sponsor the bill, please contact Chelsea Grey ( in Rep. Johnson’s (GA) office.”

Note: Please do not contact Chelsea Grey yourself. Ask your Representative’s staff person to do this.

Please contact Sharon at when you send your message and call, especially if you get a response.     

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Our network has been seeking a pathway in the Senate to press for human rights and anti-corruption measures in Honduras ever since the 2009 coup in Honduras. Last week, it finally materialized, as Senator Jeff Merkley of Oregon introduced the Honduras Human Rights and Anti-Corruption Act of 2021 (S. 388). Senators Bernie Sanders (VT), Patrick Leahy (VT), Ed Markey (MA), Elizabeth Warren (MA), Dick Durbin (IL), Sheldon Whitehouse (RI) and Chris Van Hollen (MD) joined as initial cosponsors. See full press release here (which includes a link to the full text of the bill). See article in the Guardian here.

The legislation includes the following provisions:

  • Sanctions for President Hernández, and for top officials who have committed gross violations of human rights and/or acts of corruption.
  • $2 million for the Honduras office of the United Nations High Office on Human Rights.
  • A new MACCIH anti-corruption commission, to be negotiated by the United Nations, and strengthening of UFERCO, the special prosecutor’s office.
  • Prohibition of US munitions sales to the Honduran police and military.
  • A call for justice, including successful prosecution of all material and intellectual authors of numerous emblematic human rights cases, including the murder of Berta Cáceres.
  • Suspension of (1) US funds for Honduran security forces and (2) US support for funds from multilateral development banks to Honduran security forces until a series criteria have been met, laid out in the bill.

Now we need you to send an email and call your two Senators to either thank them for co-sponsoring this bill or to urge them to do so.

Call the Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121 and ask to be connected to your Senator (repeat for your second Senator). When you are connected to your Senator’s office, ask to speak to the foreign policy aide. Be sure to get the name and email address of the foreign policy staffer so you can follow up. If the aide has not seen the bill, send a copy of the bill in an email. If the foreign policy aide is not available, ask to leave a message on their voice mail. After you leave the message, send an email to the aide with your message.

Sample script: “My name is _____. I am a constituent from (your town/city) in (your state). I am calling (or writing) to ask Senator _____ to co-sponsor The Honduras Human Rights and Anti-Corruption Act of 2021. The bill number is S. 388. The bill calls for the suspension of ‘United States support for the Government of Honduras until endemic corruption, impunity, and human rights violations cease, and their perpetrators are brought to justice.’ Has Senator _______ seen this bill? Can I count on him/her to join as a cosponsor?  Please call me this week at (_____) to let me know if you have seen the bill, and if Senator _____ will support it.  For more information or to co-sponsor the bill, please contact Caroline Kuritzkes and Matt Squeri in Senator Merkley’s office.”

Please contact Sharon at when you send your message and call, especially if you get a response.     

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The Honorable Joseph R. Biden, Jr., President-Elect Office of the President Elect 1401 Constitution Ave., NW Washington, DC 20230

January 15, 2021

Dear President-Elect Biden,

Congratulations on your electoral victory.  As you prepare to take office, we wish to share our thoughts and suggestions on an area of foreign policy that you have identified as being a top priority:  U.S. policy towards Central America.

We are a broad coalition of groups that work on Central America.  Many of us have close partners in the region that defend human rights and the environment, often at great risk to their lives.  We care deeply about the people and future of Central America, and the impact of U.S. policy there.

We’ve been heartened to hear that you are committed to working to improve the quality of life of the peoples of Central America and that your administration plans to turn the page on the bullying and demonization of Central Americans that has taken place under President Trump. We support and will hold you to your commitment to reverse the Trump administration’s draconian immigration policies and respect the human rights of migrants.

It is with great interest that we examined the summary of your “Plan to Build Security and Prosperity in Partnership with the People of Central America.”  While we and our partners share the goal of improving security and economic conditions in the region, we are concerned that the Plan doubles down on policies that have contributed to poverty, inequality and violence in Central America.

For far too long, the United States has treated Central America as its “backyard,” exerting an inappropriate level of interference in the political and economic affairs of the region. Approaching U.S. relations in the region as a partnership, as you promise to do, is a welcome change. But achieving a real partnership will require a fundamentally different approach to U.S. foreign policy that we hope you will consider.

Prior to the Trump administration, the U.S. government used aid toward Central America as both a carrot and a stick, increasing funding for U.S. programming in the region on the condition that governments there meet human rights standards, promote democratic governance and fight corruption. Unfortunately, this approach has failed to accomplish its stated goals. One has only to look to Honduras, where a repressive, corrupt regime linked to drug-trafficking networks remains deeply entrenched and thousands are now on the brink of starvation.

To promote meaningful progress in Central America, the United States must turn away from this approach and instead respect the self-determination of the peoples of Central America and invest in strengthening multilateral institutions that focus on addressing human needs rather than playing politics. Doing so would also demonstrate a significant turn away from the unilateralism that the Trump Administration espoused, inflicting incalculable damage.

In a spirit of constructive criticism, we would like to underscore what we consider to be problematic aspects of past and current U.S. policy towards the governments and peoples of Central America. Drawing from our own observations and experiences, as well as those of our Central American partners, we also wish to offer our recommendations as to how we believe U.S. policy toward the region can be improved.

Protect the Human Rights of Migrants

The Trump administration’s treatment of Central American migrants can only be described as barbaric. Migrants have been criminalized and detained in inhumane conditions and many, including children, have died in the custody of Customs and Border Control and ICE.  Under Trump’s “zero tolerance” policy, thousands of young children were separated from their parents.  Through a combination of incentives and threats, the Trump administration has also promoted an assault on migrants’ human rights by Central American and Mexican security forces.

Though the nature of Trump’s attacks on migrants are without precedent in our country’s recent history, some troubling aspects of his policies pre-date his administration. For instance, family separation took place on a large scale under President Obama, with tens of thousands of undocumented migrant parents forcibly separated from their U.S. citizen children and deported. U.S. support for the repression of Central American migration also increased under the previous Democratic administration, through the U.S. government’s support for Plan Frontera Sur, which involved the deployment of Mexican security forces to forcibly prevent Central Americans from traveling to the U.S. border as well as Congress conditioning U.S. assistance on the action of Central American governments to block the movement of their own citizens.

These policies lead to the inhumane and deadly treatment of migrants from across the globe, including with particular impacts to the thousands of African and Black migrants that face anti-Blackness and racism as they transit through the region on their journey to seek refuge and asylum the U.S.

We call on your administration to:

  • End all forms of separation of migrant parents from their children, an act that is illegal under the UN Convention for the Rights of the Child.
  • End the practice of deporting asylum seekers to Mexico, their countries of origin, or countries to which they have no connection at all. Immediately rescind the “Remain in Mexico Program” and the “Third Safe Country” agreements with Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador.
  • Terminate policies that support the militarization of borders and U.S. cooperation with and training of security forces involved in violating the human rights of migrants.
  • Terminate all for-profit immigrant detention services and make the detention of immigrants a measure of last resort.
  • Restore TPS for U.S. residents from Honduras, Nicaragua, El Salvador and other non-Central American countries and extend TPS protections to U.S. residents from Guatemala. This measure is more critical than ever in light of the immense devastation caused by hurricanes Eta and Iota.
  • Support the appropriate use of the Center for Disease Control’s public health powers, allowing the agency to repeal the March 2020 order that prevents migrants at the southern border from seeking protection in the U.S. (CDC officials have acknowledged the order was driven by pressure from the White House, not legitimate health concerns).

Re-think US Security Policy

For many decades, the U.S. has provided support to Central American military and police forces through training, technical assistance and logistical support.  During the period of armed conflict in the region – in the 1980s and early 1990s – U.S.-backed wars and military and paramilitary forces committed widespread human rights atrocities that left hundreds of thousands dead and fueled a first wave of Central American migration to the U.S.  Since then, the U.S. has continued to provide assistance to regional security forces, citing the need to combat drug-trafficking and to “enhance citizen security” as reasons for doing so.  While U.S. agencies claim to prioritize the promotion of human rights, police and military forces – many of which are infiltrated by organized crime groups – continue to engage in countless abuses, including targeted attacks on activists, violent repression of protests and the forced displacement of communities.

Over the last ten years, hundreds of millions of dollars of U.S. security assistance have been channeled to the region through the Central America Regional Security Initiative (CARSI).  There is little transparency around the end-use of these funds and no conclusive public assessments of the impact of CARSI programs..  In addition, the State Department has systematically certified Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador as having complied with human rights conditions attached to U.S. assistance through an opaque process, despite rampant egregious abuses perpetrated by the security forces of these countries.

We urge you to:

  • Perform a full review of U.S. security assistance to the region with input from human rights defenders, land rights defenders, and indigenous leaders from recipient countries.
  • Suspend all security assistance to Honduras and vote no on multilateral security-related loan programs with the government there in light of widespread corruption and human rights abuses promoted by Honduran state actors. Consider a similar suspension of security assistance to Guatemala and El Salvador in light of ongoing abuses by security forces in those countries.
  • Revoke the State Department’s certification of Honduran, Guatemalan and Salvadoran compliance with human rights conditions attached to U.S. assistance.
  • End U.S. training of Honduran, Guatemalan, and Salvadoran militaries, police, and other security forces as well as U.S. financing of such training by the Colombian military and/or police through the U.S.-Colombia Action Plan or other programs.
  • End U.S. weapons sales to security forces and private brokers without clear end use controls, to prevent U.S. arms from reaching state and private entities with documented histories of serious human rights violations or collusion in other criminal activities.
  • Increase transparency around end use of CARSI funding and mandate reporting requirements assessing progress or lack thereof in meeting CARSI benchmarks and goals.
  • Increase transparency around Leahy Law vetting of security forces that receive U.S. assistance and training, with clear identification of the units for whom assistance is withheld.

End support for extractive and exploitative development models

Despite the region’s enormous human and economic potential, Central America has among the highest levels of poverty in the region, due in large part to extremely unequal wealth distribution. In most Central American countries, the dominant economic actors are national and international corporations focused on natural resource extraction and worker exploitation.  They frequently carry out projects that damage the environment and displace or negatively affect indigenous and small farmer communities, while receiving funding support from multilateral development banks (MDBs) as well as from illicit sources, including drug trafficking organizations.  While these projects are generally promoted as ‘economic development,’ in reality they often only benefit local elites while negatively impacting communities, further contributing to inequality and concentration of wealth in the hands of elites and thus further fueling migration.  Furthermore, communities and workers that attempt to resist these projects are often subjected to violent attacks, with the complicity or involvement of state actors.

The U.S. government plays a role in perpetuating this predatorial development model by greenlighting multilateral development bank (MDB) funding that ends up in the hands of corporations that fail to meet basic environmental and labor standards and disregard the rights of local communities.  Further, the U.S. has supported investment treaties and has promoted private-public partnerships that elevate the interests of corporations above people and the public good.  Finally, the U.S. has generally failed to act when governments don’t enforce their own countries labor laws, as required under the Dominican Republic – Central America Free Trade Agreement (DR-CAFTA), signed by the U.S.

We call on your administration to:

  • End aid, subsidies and incentives to, and oppose MDB funding for corporations that cause environmental damage, violate labor laws, disregard community land rights (including ancestral Indigenous land rights), and/or increase private sector participation in the delivery of essential public services such as water, electricity, and health care.
  • Refrain from promoting pro-corporate economic policy agendas in the region, including private-public partnership initiatives and the privatization of public services and natural resources that decrease access to basic needs for the most vulnerable sectors.
  • Support multilateral initiatives that increase transparency regarding anonymous companies to identify and clamp down on the channeling of funds from criminal organizations to business enterprises.
  • Pursue strict enforcement of DR-CAFTA labor protections by member countries and conduct a review of trade agreements to examine and address their impact on indigenous rights.
  • Support a major issuance of IMF Special Drawing Rights to help Central American countries address the economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic and the devastation caused by recent tropical storms.
  • Commit to directing higher levels of economic and humanitarian assistance through multilateral institutions that have a proven track-record in the region, such as agencies within the United Nations. This would allow the United States to support development in the region while limiting assistance to governments that have demonstrated systematic corruption and impunity.

Adopt a non-ideological approach

Observers have noted that U.S. policy in Latin America, including in Central America, remains influenced by Cold War ideological paradigms that have resulted in inconsistent and counterproductive policies. For instance, while the U.S. has quickly condemned election fraud in countries where it does not agree with the re-election of a president, it blatantly ignored credible allegations of election fraud in Honduras in 2017, quickly recognizing the re-election of Juan Orlando Hernández despite widespread allegations of fraud. The continued backing and protection of corrupt right-wing actors with questionable democratic credentials has contributed to human rights abuses and inequality in the region. The U.S. should put an end to this ideologically biased approach.

Going forward, your administration should:

  • Adopt and uphold consistent, non-ideological standards for democracy and good governance as a basis for policy decisions.
  • Limit U.S. government influence over domestic policy decisions in Central America; the role of an ambassador is not to govern.
  • Refrain from imposing economic sanctions, which negatively impact whole populations and, in particular, low-income communities of color.
  • Appoint ambassadors who have experience working with civil society organizations and who are not tied to military or financial interests.
  • Approach hemispheric bodies, such as the Organization of American States and the Inter-American Development Bank, as an equal partner with other countries in the region, rather than as a dominant power.
  • With regard to elections: refrain from adopting unilateral positions determined by political preferences.

The widespread devastation caused by hurricanes Eta and Iota has made abundantly clear how precarious life is for so many people in Central America and how urgent it is for the U.S. government to re-work its regional policies and respect the will of the peoples of Central America moving forward. Central America deserves the opportunity to thrive in its own right; not just in order in order to deter Central Americans from migrating.

Under your leadership, the United States has the opportunity to write a new chapter in our hemispheric relations but doing so requires taking a hard look at U.S. policies that have contributed to the current reality in which millions face a daily struggle for survival. The answer is not to continue doing more of the same but to envision a new direction that respects the political and economic self-determination and dignity of our Central American neighbors.

We would welcome the opportunity to work with your Administration to implement our recommendations and to provide insight and feedback from civil society organizations in the region to ensure that the U.S. government’s methods are helping to further the goals of shared prosperity and a dignified life for all.


ActionAid USA

Alliance for Global Justice

American Friends Service Committee

Americas Program

Cameroon American Council

Center for Economic and Policy Research

Center for Gender & Refugee Studies

Central American Resource Center, Los Angeles (CARECEN-LA)

Central American Isthmus Graduate Association (CAIGA), UCLA

Chicago Religious Leadership Network


Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador (CISPES)

Denver Justice and Peace Committee – DJPC

Fellowship of Reconciliation – FOR

Franciscan Network on Migration

Friendship Office of the Americas

Global Exchange

Global Health Partners

Global Ministries of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) & United Church of Christ

Guatemala Solidarity Project

Haitian Bridge Alliance

Hispanic Federation

Honduras Solidarity Network

Inter Religious Task Force on Central America and Colombia

International Migrants Alliance – USA

Just Associates (JASS)

Just Foreign Policy

Justice for Muslims Collective

Leadership Conference of Women Religious

National Day Labor Organizing Network (NDLON)

National Immigrant Justice Center

National Network for Immigrant & Refugee Rights

National TPS Alliance

Network in Solidarity with Guatemala (NISGUA)

Partnership for Earth Spirituality

Pax Christi USA

Presbyterian Church USA

Project South

Quixote Center

Sanctuary DMV (Washington, DC, MD, VA)

SHARE Foundation

School Sisters of Notre Dame Cooperative Investment Fund

School of the Americas Watch

Sisters of Mercy of the Americas – Justice Team

Sister Parish, Inc.

St. Louis Inter-Faith Committee on Latin America

United Church of Christ, Justice and Witness Ministries

Unitarian Universalist Service Committee

Win Without War

Witness for Peace Solidarity Collective

Witness at the Border

Religious Organizations

Carmelite Sisters, VEDRUNA

Chicago chapter, Benedictines for Peace

Community Council, Servants of Mary, US/Jamaica Community

Congregation of Our Lady of Charity of the Good Shepherd, U.S. Provinces

Congregation of Sisters of St. Agnes

Congregational Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation Office – (Incarnate Word Sisters)

Disciples Refugee & Immigration Ministries

Dominican Sisters of Racine, WI – Leadership Team

Dominicans Sisters of Sinsinawa Office of Peace and Justice

Holy Spirit Missionary Sisters, USA-JPIC

IHM Sisters Justice, Peace and Sustainability Office

Illinois Women Religious Against Human Trafficking (IWRAHT)

Immaculate Heart Community Immigration Commission

Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Loretto Latin America/Caribbean Committee

Mercy Ecology

National Advocacy Center of the Sisters of the Good Shepherd

Office of Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation (Oldenburg)

Religious of the Sacred Heart of Mary, Western American Area

Sisters, Home Visitors of Mary

Sisters of Mercy

Sisters of the Most Precious Blood-Committee on Immigration

Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, Scranton, PA

Sisters of the Humility of Mary

St. Paul’s Monastery, St. Paul, MN

Strangers No Longer, St. Michael Catholic Community, Michigan

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December 9, 2020

Dear CRLN members and friends,

“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.” Isaiah 43:1-3

The end of another year approaches, and what a year it has been.  Many public voices have expressed the view that 2020 will go down as one of the most difficult years in recent human history, certainly in the memory of the majority of us alive today.  We have indeed been through the waters and the fire this past year. 

In my opening comments at our 30th Anniversary Celebration in 2019, I expressed my view that at the heart of our work and mission was bringing hope amidst a world of suffering and death, oppression and denial of human rights, maintaining light in the darkness.  Perhaps for most of us, that light was never as necessary as it was this past year, as we struggled to maintain that hope in the face of a global pandemic and the rise of right-wing authoritarianism globally and right here at home. 

Those challenges even affected our Annual Gathering this year, as we had to meet through the medium of our computer screens rather than face to face.  But the fact that we refused to let these obstacles prevent us from gathering and celebrating our important work and the significant accomplishments of the last year demonstrates that the light and hope remains bright, unextinguished, even in these most difficult of times.

We refused to let the pandemic or right-wing authoritarian governments here and abroad stop us from pushing forward with our mission, as you can read in the enclosed insert that lists CRLN’s major activities in 2020. Both our sanctuary efforts and our solidarity with communities in Latin America, especially Cuba, grew and expanded this past year.  Our legislative activity was likewise robust, with several significant developments.  And we took several public actions, including helping to shut down the infamous plans to open an “ICE Citizens’ Academy” in Chicago. See details in:

So much of what we have been through this past year and the things we have accomplished were captured in the words of our guest speaker at this year’s Annual Gathering, Sister María Magdalena Silva Rentería. The founder and Director of CAFEMIN, a shelter for immigrants located in Mexico City, she joined our event from Mexico.  We turned the challenge of COVID, which limited our face-to-face interactions, into the advantage of a virtual gathering, making it easier to have our friends from abroad join us.  Sr. María Magdalena shared with us her stories of providing shelter and support for immigrants, as well as her analysis of the issues underlying the crisis of migration and action suggestions for how we can respond in this critical moment.  Her experiences were very relevant to our sanctuary efforts, our work with migrants’ rights and our solidarity work with communities in Central America and beyond. If you missed our Annual Gathering, you can watch it on YouTube in English at or in Spanish at

The year ended, as we all know, on a hopeful note.  The most authoritarian, anti-immigrant and anti-refugee president in our lifetime was defeated.  But regardless of the outcome of the presidential or Senate races, the election revealed something we cannot ignore. We must face the fact that there is a deep moral crisis we must address in our nation, when many of our fellow citizens are OK with racism, misogyny, xenophobia, calls to violence, attacks on democracy and flirtations with authoritarianism.  I do not mean this to be a condemnation. I must continue to hope that most human beings have the capacity for love and compassion and, when presented with the impact of their choices on their fellow human beings, will act humanely. But whether out of fear, greed, selfishness, or ignorance born out of the misinformation promoted by powerful interests that profit from the ignorance of the many, far too many of our neighbors have embraced a system of beliefs that is contrary to our values and the values of our faith traditions.

This moral crisis in our nation makes our work more important than ever.  It is left to us to build links of solidarity at home and abroad.  It is up to us to promote the values of peace and justice.  It is up to us to continue to lift up the voices of the oppressed and those struggling for liberation. This is our mission, our moral and material revolution, compassion in action, the only way to overcome the waters and fire that surround us.  Thank you for being a part of this work.  I am filled with great anticipation for working with all of you to build a new world in the coming year.

This work cannot be sustained without your help.  CRLN receives no corporate and/or government   funding.  We rely completely on our organizational, congregational and individual friends and members, along with some small grants from a few foundations.  We call on you to demonstrate your support by making a holiday contribution, an end of the year commitment to struggle for justice, peace, and human rights. With your support and solidarity, we will continue to walk through the fire and remain unburnt, as we enter what I believe will be a time of new beginnings and renewed hope.    


Claudia Lucero

Executive Director

P.S. Please make your checks payable to CRLN. You may also make an online donation at Your contributions are tax-deductible. In addition, please consider remembering CRLN in your will. Our legal title is: Chicago Religious Leadership Network on Latin America.

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Thank-you to everyone who joined us for Building Bridges, Connecting Communities!

Watch Building Bridges, Connecting Communities

Don’t forget to click here for the Program Book  to use as a guide for the event.

Read articles and reflections and see a list of our wonderful sponsors

and the activists they honored.

You can click here for the lyrics to the Rebel Diaz performance!


In difficult moments we are tempted to give in to despair. This year, we have faced profound challenges across the globe. From homes to hospitals to cities and towns, the current health crisis and calls for racial justice have touched us all, but they also made more apparent the flaws of our societies. However, it is now that we must remember that we are a people of justice united by a common thread of hope. It is hope that unites us in our calls and emails to elected officials, in our protests on the streets. It is hope that connects us to our brothers and sisters in their struggles thousands of miles away. It is hope that connects us to neighbors in solidarity when we struggle. Our keynote speaker Sr. Maria Magdalena embodies this hope and reflects what CRLN’s friends, members and allies strive to live out every day. It is this hope that brings us together to commemorate another year of work for justice and to push toward the next.

Sister Magda

Responding to the Causes and Challenges of Forced Migration

Sister María Magdalena Silva Rentería – Originally from Zacatecas, she moved to Mexico City in 1982 to join the Josefina Sisters. During the earthquake in Mexico in 1985, she coordinated the shelters for affected people. She is a member of the national team of the Human Mobility Pastoral of the Mexican Episcopal Conference. Currently, she is the Director of CAFEMIN (House for Shelter, Training and Empowerment of Migrant and Refugee Women), as well as the Coordinator of REDODEM (Network of Organizations Documenting and Defending Migrants).


2020 Honorees

The Sanctuary Working Group/ Chicago & the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Center/ Havana

Music by Rebel Diaz

We are Rebel Diaz. Somos hermanos- RodStarz and G1- who grew up in Chicago and came up in The South Bronx. Somos hijos de political refugees from Chile who fled a CIA-funded dictatorship in the 1970s. Revolution raised us, and the culture of Hip-Hop provided us our own Nueva Cancion. We’ve been doing rebel rap since the Clinton era, sharing our story and those of our people; el barrio, the hood, the poor, los inmigrantes. Our bilingual sound has been shaped by pieces of South American folk, house, and latin percussion gettin down with boom-bap breaks and 808s. Hip-Hop and a vision for liberation have taken us around the world. With DJ Illanoiz and our band, we’ve rocked stages in front of thousands at festivals, and in front of dozens in squat house living rooms. We learned about tomas in our international tours, then came back to The Bronx, took over an abandoned building and started a community center, The RDACBX. We’ve given lectures at Ivy League schools but are college dropouts. We went from rapping about being ‘periodistas de la esquina’ to actually hosting a television news program on the global network Telesur English. We’ve been blessed to open for the likes of Public Enemy, Calle 13, and Rage Against the Machine. The New York Times, Washington Post, and NPR among others, have featured our work and words. Educators across the world use our music and videos as learning tools. Today, we continue in la lucha with our families and in our community through our music and multimedia work.

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¡Gracias a todos los que se unieron a nuestro evento: Construyendo Puentes, Conectando Comunidades!

Ver Construyendo Puentes, Conectando Comunidades

No olvide revisar el programa digital para usarlo como guía para el evento. El programa contiene artículos, reflexiones, una lista de nuestros patrocinadores y de los activistas que han solicitado que honremos.

Haga clic aquí para el programa digital. 

Haga clic aquí para ver la letra de las canciones de Rebel Diaz


Los momentos difíciles nos tientan a rendirnos a la desesperanza. Este año, hemos enfrentado retos profundos en todo el mundo. De hogares a hospitales, de ciudades a pueblos, la actual crisis de salud y las llamadas por la justicia racial nos han tocado a todos. También han hecho más evidente los defectos de nuestras sociedades. Sin embargo, es ahora que debemos recordar que somos un pueblo de justicia unidos por un hilo común, la esperanza. Es la esperanza que nos une en las llamadas y cartas a nuestros funcionarios públicos y en las protestas en las calles. Es la esperanza que nos conecta a la lucha de nuestras hermanas y hermanos a miles de millas de distancia. Es la esperanza que nos conecta en solidaridad con nuestros vecinos en nuestras luchas. Nuestra presentadora de este año, la Hermana María Magdalena personifica esta esperanza y refleja lo que los amigos, miembros y aliados de CRLN buscan vivir cada día. Es esta esperanza que nos une para conmemorar otro año de trabajo por la justicia y que nos impulsa hacia el próximo.


Respondiendo a las causas y los retos de la migración forzadaSister Magda

Hermana María Magdalena Silva Rentería – Oriunda de Zacatecas, migró a la Ciudad de México en 1982 para ingresar a la Congregación de las Hermanas Josefinas. Después del terremoto de 1985, coordinó albergues para personas afectadas por el sismo. Ella es miembro del equipo nacional de Pastoral de Movilidad Humana de la Conferencia del Episcopado Mexicano. Actualmente, es directora de CAFEMIN (Casa de Acogida Formación y Empoderamiento de la Mujer Migrante y Refugiada), así como la coordinadora de REDODEM (La Red de Documentación de las Organizaciones Defensoras de Migrantes).






Homenaje 2020
Grupo de Trabajo de Santuario / Chicago
Centro Memorial Dr. Martin Luther King / La Habana


Música de Rebel Diaz 

Somos Rebel Diaz. Somos hermanos, RodStarz y G1, crecimos en Chicago y en el sur del Bronx en Nueva York. Somos hijos de refugiados políticos chilenos que huyeron de una dictadura financiada por la CIA en la década de los años 70. La revolución nos formó y la cultura del Hip-Hop nos proporcionó nuestra propia Nueva Canción. Hemos estado haciendo mٙúsica rap rebelde desde la era Clinton, compartiendo nuestra historia y la de nuestra gente; el barrio, el barrio, los pobres, de los inmigrantes. Nuestro sonido bilingüe ha sido moldeado por piezas de música folk, house y percusión latina de América del Sur con ritmos con boom-bap y 808. El hip-hop y una visión de liberación nos han llevado por todo el mundo. Con DJ Illanoiz y nuestra banda, hemos tocado escenarios frente a miles de personas en los festivales de música y frente a docenas en las salas de casas okupas. Aprendimos sobre los tomas en nuestras giras internacionales, después regresamos al Bronx, tomamos posesión de un edificio abandonado y fundamos un centro comunitario, El RDACBX. Hemos hecho ponencias en las escuelas de la Ivy League, pero hemos abandonado la universidad. Pasamos de rapear de ser “periodistas de la esquina” a presentar un noticiero de televisión en la red global, Telesur English. Hemos tenido la suerte de abrir para grupos como Public Enemy, Calle 13 y Rage Against the Machine. The New York Times, Washington Post y NPR, entre otros, han presentado nuestro trabajo y nuestras palabras. Maestros de todo el mundo utilizan nuestra música y videos como herramientas de enseñanza. Hoy, continuamos en la lucha con nuestras familias y en nuestra comunidad a través de nuestro trabajo multimedia y musical.


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This year we chose the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Center, our partner in Cuba as one of the 2020 CRLN Honorees.  Their work to build bridges and connect communities internationally has inspired us for more than twenty years.  Despite the many barriers caused by U.S. policy, the Center has worked to welcome delegations from around the world to Cuba to learn from Cubans and to share in international visions for liberation. 

The Center is a macroecumenical association of Christian inspiration. It supports the Cuban people and their Churches in solidarity and prophetically through sociotheological reflection and training, popular education, communication, comprehensive service to the community and the promotion of international solidarity.

Part of their work on international solidarity is welcoming delegations from around the world and creating opportunities for delegates to hear directly from the Cuban people about their reality. 

They have welcomed many delegations from CRLN, Witness for Peace and other organizations. Most recently CRLN’s summer intern, Daisy Hernandez, participated in a delegation at the Center and created a three part webinar series available on our website.   The experiences delegates have on these visits strengthens their ability to advocate for an end to harmful U.S. policies toward Cuba.   

The Center was founded on April 25, 1987 as an initiative of the Ebenezer Baptist Church of Marianao (IBEM) and the work of Pastors Raúl Suárez Ramos and Clara Rodés, as well as other close collaborators.

Today the Center has a leadership team made up of Executive Director Joel Suárez, Reverend Izett Samá, Kirenia Criado Pérez and Marilín Peña and it continues to live out its values of:

  • an emancipatory ethic of Christian inspiration;
  • the conscious, rebellious and prophetic commitment to the Cuban people, the Revolution and socialism;
  • the defense of a full life for all human beings as a centrality, without exclusions or discrimination, linked to respect for the rights of nature.
  • generational diversity, gender, skin color, origin, sexual options, occupations, knowledge and beliefs, with an ecumenical sense of social justice.

While the pandemic has made delegations to the Center impossible, it continues to work in its many other areas and is connecting virtually through webinars such as the recent webinar organized by Cuban and US religious organizations. 

We are inspired by all the work of the Center and want to deeply thank them for welcoming us into their communities. 

To learn more about the work of the Center please visit their website at:

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