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On Monday, June 2, 35 people gathered at the Lutheran School of Theology in Chicago (LSTC) to share lunch and dialogue with Milton Mejía, General Secretary and President of the Latin American Council of Churches; Atahualpa Hernández, Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Colombia; and Nidiria Ruíz Medina, an African-descended community organizer, land defender, and women’s peace activist from the Naya River area in Cauca, Colombia. The event was sponsored by LSTC, CRLN, and McCormick Theological Seminary.

The guests asked those gathered to get involved in advocacy efforts to rally support by the U.S. government for implementation of the Colombian Peace Accords. They also encouraged U.S. church members to restart the Days of Prayer and Action for Colombia, join accompaniment missions to seek to protect human rights defenders, and to find other ways to work for peace and reconciliation in Colombia.

Their message was sobering. While Peace Accords were signed by the Colombian government and the guerilla group FARC in November 2016 and later ratified into law, the government has not complied with its obligations under the Accords. FARC members were supposed to receive housing, education, and jobs to reintegrate them into society, but the current administration is reneging on those promises. In addition, the government was supposed to provide resources to encourage rural people to stop growing coca and start growing other crops. Instead, the U.S. has pushed the Colombian government to restart fumigation of coca crops first, without providing alternative means for families to earn an income and survive.

Finally, and most seriously, human rights violations, including assassinations, have actually increased. Since the peace deal was signed, around 700 activists and community leaders have been killed, and more than 210,000 people displaced from their homes amid the continuing violence. Thousands more have received credible threats against their lives, including Nidiria, who expressed some fear about returning to Colombia after receiving threats a couple of weeks ago.

Nidiria said that much of the violence happens in order to displace people from their lands, either so that large corporations or large landowners can increase their landholdings or so that narcotraffickers can have unimpeded access to their routes. Violence is also used to terrorize the population, so that people will not raise their voices to call for needed changes in social conditions.

The 3 spoke in New York and Washington, DC, before coming to Chicago.

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Enough is Enough — Stop all US and Canadian support for dictatorship in Honduras. Support the Honduran people in resistance. Call and/or email your Congress Representative, Senator or Parliamentarian today (May 31). Tell them you want them to take a position against the human rights violations in Hondurans and against US funding and support for Honduran security forces that are being used against the people. 

Click for Info on Senators  Click for House of Representatives

 

The Honduran people are in the streets by the thousands again facing US financed, armed and trained Honduran Police and Military. A two day national action and strike for May 30-31 was originally called as a  protest in defense of public education and public health in the face of new attacks on public services by the regime of Juan Orlando Hernandez (JOH). Today’s protests covered the entire country and not only defended public services but once again called massively for the end of the illegitimate government of JOH — a government that has been imposed and sustained by US and Canadian support. There are marches, highway take-overs in the rural areas, occupations of public schools by parents and students, mobilizations of teacher and health care worker unions, campesinos, indigenous communities, taxi drivers and university students. The protests are becoming a non-violent uprising of the people against the dictatorship but are being met with violence, tear gas and live ammunition from the regime. One teacher was assassinated in his home the night before these national actions began, another teacher and a student were wounded today by police.

 

Since the most recent electoral crisis of November 2017 in which JOH was imposed on the people through fraud and violence, security forces have killed more than 20 people and many more, including at least 15 ? journalists have been assassinated by death squad style killings. Since the 2009 coup, also heavily backed by the US and Canada, hundreds of Hondurans have been killed by security forces and paramilitary type groups. Many hundreds more have been killed by narcotics cartel linked violence while the ruling party politicians, including JOH himself and his brother have been either charged or are under investigation for being part of the narcotics cartels. Link to article

 

Enough is Enough — Stop all US and Canadian support for dictatorship in Honduras. Support the Honduran people in resistance. Call your congress representative, Senator or Parliamentarian today (May 31). 

Click for Info on Senators  Click for House of Representatives

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1989 Dec 01     El Salvador:  Bishop Medardo Gómez, Lutheran Church of El Salvador

                                                Also:  Senator Paul Simon

 

1990                No Luncheon in 1990

 

1991 Mar         Guatemala:  Bishop Rodolfo Quezada, President Guatemala Catholic Bishops Conference & Peace Negotiations Convener

 

1992 Feb 13     El Salvador:  Fr. Charles Beirne SJ, Central America University (UCA), San Salvador

                                               Also:  Senator Alan Dixon

Sep 24      Guatemala:  Rigoberta Menchu, Guatemalan Indigenous Leader & Author

 

1993 Feb 11     Nicaragua:  Rev. Gustavo Parjon, Baptist pastor & Director of CEPAD

Oct 29      Guatemala:  Fr. Ricardo Falla, SJ, Guatemalan priest, anthropologist, writer, and human rights advocate

 

1994 Oct 25     Guatemala:  Sr. Argentina Cuevas, VP, CONFREGUA Conf Men & Women Religious

 

1995 Oct 31     Guatemala/USA:  Jennifer Harbury, attorney & human rights advocate

 

1996 Oct 23     Cuba:  Rev. Raimundo Garcia, Presbyterian pastor from Cardenas, Cuba

 

1997 Mar 20    Nicaragua:  Fr. Xabier Gorostiaga SJ, President, Central America University, Managua

Oct 23      SOA:  Jack Nelson Pallmeyer, Professor & Author of “The School of Assassins”

 

1998 Nov 5      Chiapas:  Ricardo Carvahal, Director, SiPaz Mexico

 

1999 Oct 28     Colombia:  Agustín Jiménez, President, Committee in Solidarity with Political Prisoners

 

2000 Oct          Colombia:  Ricardo Esquivia, Vice President, Colombia Evangelical Council of Churches

 

2001 Oct 25     Vieques:  Rev. Wilfredo Estrada, Ecumenical Council Pro-Vieques, Church of God

 

2002 Oct 24     Cuba:  Rev. Raul Suárez, Ebenezer Baptist Church – Visa was Denied

 

2003                No Luncheon in 2003

 

2004 Apr 22     CAFTA:  Lori Wallach, Director, Global Trade Watch, Washington, DC

Oct 13     Colombia:  Hector Mondragon, Human Rights Leader, Colombia – Mennonite

 

2005 Oct 26     Colombia:  Zulia Mena, First Afro-Colombian Congresswoman elected in Colombia

 

2006 Nov         Guatemala:  Bishop Álvaro Ramazzini, Diocese of San Marcos & President of Guatemala Catholic Bishops Conference

 

2007 Nov 6:      Venezuela:  Sr. Jenny Russián, Vice president of the ecumenical FUNDLATIN & Lisa Sullivan, SOA Watch Latin America                                          Coordinator

 

2008 Nov 6:     Colombia:  Elizabeth García, Indigenous Woman & Attorney for Black Communities Process

 

2009 Oct 22:    Mexico:  Laura Carlsen, Director of the Americas Program of Center for International Policy

                                       Also:  General José Francisco Gallardo, former prisoner of conscience

 

2010 Nov 04    Honduras:  Fr. Ismael “Melo” Moreno, SJ, Director, Radio Progreso

                                           Also:  U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky

 

2011 Nov 03    Honduras:  Miriam Miranda, Director, Black Fraternal Organization of Honduras (OFRANEH)

 

2012 Nov 14    El Salvador:  Br. Domingo Solis, Director, The Franciscan Office of Justice, Peace & Integrity of Creation, Central America                                      Province

 

2013 Nov 6      Mexico:  Javier Sicilia, Founder, Movement for Peace with Justice and Dignity

                                       Also:  Walter Boyd, Executive Director, St. Leonard’s Ministries

 

2014 Nov 6      Honduras:  Karla Lara, Feminist, song-writer, performer, justice activist

 

2015 Nov 12    Guatemala:  Lorenzo Mateo Francisco, Q’anjob’al Coordinator, Snuq’ Jolom Konob

Community Radio Station and member of Prensa Comunitaria

 

2016 Nov 9      Chicago:  Reyna Wences and Berenice Alonzo, members, Organized Communities Against Deportations

 

2017 Oct 24     Colombia:  Carol Rojas, member, Feminist Antimilitarist Network

 

2018 Nov 1       Chicago: Rev. Dr. Marilyn Pagan-Banks, A Just Harvest

“Sanctuary for All”

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2019: After almost 3 years in detention in Texas, Salvadoran asylum seeker Yesica Jovel is finally released from prison to join the rest of her family. CRLN and Immigrant Welcoming Congregation Lake Street Church held vigils, rallied in Federal Plaza and secured the support of members of Congress, circulated petitions, got news coverage, and found a pro bono lawyer. These combined efforts finally led to her release.

 

2018: In response to Honduran military violence used against participants in massive street protests following vote counting fraud in the November 2017 presidential election, CRLN sent 4 members on an Emergency Faith Delegation to Honduras to accompany those continuing the protests. While 30 people were killed in post-electoral violence, no one was harmed in protests accompanied by the delegation.

 

2017: At the 30th anniversary of CRLN’s annual event, Pedal for Peace Bike-a-thon, bikers raised $21,564 for health, education and community organizing projects in Colombia, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Chicago.

 

2016:  In response to the announcement by the Department of Homeland Security that they would target undocumented Central American families, who had fled life-threatening violence in their home countries, with mass, nationally coordinated immigration home raids, CRLN sends a faith leader letter with 100 signatures to the Regional ICE Director condemning raids as an immoral and inhumane tactic. While they happened in other places, no large scale raids happen in Illinois.

 

 2015:  CRLN initiates the Cozette Human Rights Action Fund to honor founding director, Gary Cozette. The fund will support urgent or emergency requests, for which the operating budget does not provide.

 

2014: CRLN turns out 200 people in front of Rep. Quigley’s office to protest his support for the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade agreement, educates CRLN membership about the likely negative consequences of portions of the agreement, and engages in a successful campaign to keep it from coming to a vote.

 

2013:  CRLN coordinates with the Network in Solidarity with the People of Guatemala to find Chicago speaking engagements for Anselmo Roldán Aguilar of the Association for Justice and Reconciliation. He speaks about the historic genocide trial that brought former dictator Ríos Montt to trial for genocide.

 

2012: CRLN initiates the Heidkamp Travel Scholarship Fund to honor long-time Board member, Dick Heidkamp. The fund will provide partial scholarships for people to travel with CRLN on delegations.

 

2011: In response to the 2009 coup d’etat in Honduras, CRLN compiles a list of post-coup assassinations in order to publicize the gravity of the human rights abuses happening in that country and invites Miriam Miranda, Director of the Garifuna rights group OFRANEH, to speak at the Annual Luncheon. Attendees signed a petition to the Special Prosecutor for Human Rights calling for an end to state sponsored violence against campesino communities seeking land rights.

 

2010: CRLN’s Congregations in Solidarity with Latin America introduce a resolution at the national Presbyterian Church(USA)’s General Assembly seeking an end to U.S. military use of seven Colombian bases initiated in 2009. The resolution directed the Stated Clerk to petition the Obama Administration to instead support a negotiated peace in Colombia.

 

2009: CRLN gathers 34 people to attend Ecumenical Advocacy Days in DC. In 16 meetings with policymakers in the House, Senate and State Department, CRLN members called for immigration reform, ending the travel ban to Cuba, and the support of Internally Displaced Persons in Colombia. CRLN merges with long-time allies, Chicago Metropolitan Sanctuary Alliance, under the CRLN name and takes on CMSA’s immigrant justice work.

 

2008:  CRLN arranges for a 2-year sanctuary stay in the U.S. for Milton Mejia, General Secretary of the Presbyterian Church of Colombia, his wife, and 2 sons. He had been receiving death threats for his human rights work. Gary Cozette receives Presbyterian Peacemaker award.

 

2007:  CRLN partnered with DePaul University’s Center for Latino Research to present a photo exhibit documenting the tragic effects of U.S. travel restrictions on Cuban-Americans.

 

2006:  CRLN and the Chicago Presbytery inaugurate a Covenant Partnership to create 10 Presbyterian “Congregations in Solidarity with Latin America” with a delegation of 11 Presbyterians to Colombia for the 150th anniversary of the Presbyterian Church in Colombia.

 

2005: The World Council of Churches (WCC) gives CRLN its “Blessed are the Peacemakers Award” for “inspiring, courageous and faithful efforts to build a just and peaceful world” as part of the WCC 2001-2010 Decade to Overcome Violence.  CRLN was nominated for this award by Rev. David Anderson, Executive Director of the Illinois Conference of Churches.

 

2004:  After educating CRLN constituents and members of U.S. Congress about the adverse impact of the Central America Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) on labor rights, the environment, & family farmers, CRLN secures two, face-to-face meetings with undecided U.S. Rep. Rahm Emanuel seeking his commitment to oppose CAFTA and support a Fair Trade Benchmarks Bill.

 

2003:  As a result of several visits by key Afro-Colombian leaders to Chicago organized by CRLN, 8 African-American leaders from Chicago join the historic 25-member Witness for Peace July delegation to Afro-Colombian communities under siege in Colombia.

 

2002:  CRLN organizes a 40-member delegation from Illinois for the National Colombia Mobilization in Washington DC that fans out to meet with key policy staffers of all 20 U.S. Representatives and both Senators from Illinois to urge an end to U.S. military aid and poisonous chemical fumigation in Colombia.

 

2001:  After a powerful 7.6RS earthquake in El Salvador displaces 20% of the population, CRLN raised over $21,000 in emergency and reconstruction aid, channeled to 4 highly-effective grassroots organizations working on the ground.

 

2000:  Illinois Conference of Churches (ICC) director, Rev. David Anderson, and four ICC board members are among the 16-member delegation to Cuba organized by CRLN with ICC to examine the impact of the U.S. trade embargo against Cuba, and then report back to U.S. policymakers.

 

1999:  Nine Democrats and six Republicans from Illinois vote with a first-ever House majority to defund the U.S. Army School of the Americas after years of calls, letters, and visits by CRLN members to their U.S. Representatives.

 

1998:  The Presbytery of Chicago of the Presbyterian Church/USA establishes an official partnership with the Presbytery of Havana as a result of a 20-person delegation visit to Cuba organized jointly by CRLN and the Presbytery of Chicago.

 

1997:  U.S. Senator Richard Durbin of Illinois introduces first-ever Senate legislation to close the U.S. Army’s notorious School of the Americas after talking with 11 denominational leaders in a meeting organized by CRLN.

 

1996:  CRLN organizes over 200 signers to place a full-page ad in the Christian Science Monitor calling for declassification of all U.S. documents on human rights abuses in Guatemala since 1954, including the torture of Ursuline Sister Dianna Ortiz, three months after a 12-member CRLN delegation met in Washington with President Clinton’s Intelligence Oversight Board investigating CIA misdeeds in Guatemala.

 

1995:  A CRLN luncheon head table letter to GAP regarding sweatshop abuses in El Salvador resulted in a Chicago meeting between 11 CRLN leaders and high level GAP executives, who two days later went on to sign an accord accepting independent monitoring in El Salvador.

 

1994:  CRLN organizes 35 accredited election observers, one of which is now the foreign policy aide to a member of Congress from Illinois, to join in the 500-member U.S. Citizen Election Observer Mission for comprehensive elections in El Salvador mandated by the UN mediated peace accords.

 

1993:  After meeting with CRLN luncheon speaker Nicaraguan Baptist pastor Gustavo Parajón, the Chicago Tribune published an editorial calling for the release of $50 million of withheld development aid to Nicaragua; the editorial was then circulated to all members of Congress by U.S. Rep. Luis Gutierrez of Illinois.

 

1992:  After listening to CRLN luncheon speaker Rev. Charles Bierne, a Jesuit priest who had replaced Rev. Ignacio Martín Baró, one of the six Jesuit priests slain in El Salvador, U.S. Senator Alan Dixon of Illinois commits for the first time to oppose all further military aid to El Salvador.

 

1991:  Through CRLN organizing efforts, CRLN luncheon speaker Bishop Rodolfo Quezada, Guatemala’s early peace mediator, meets with Cardinal Bernardin resulting in the first U.S. Catholic Bishops delegation to Guatemala in support of the peace process.

 

1990:  Chicago Lutheran Bishop Sherman Hicks leads CRLN’s first delegation to Washington DC with 26 clergy and lay leaders seeking an end to U.S. military aid for El Salvador and a negotiated peace to the war.

 

1989:  Only days after the murder of six Jesuit priests by the military in El Salvador, CRLN holds its first luncheon with Salvadoran Lutheran Bishop Medardo Gomez, U.S. Senator Paul Simon of Illinois, and 300 religious leaders calling for an end to U.S. military aid to El Salvador and a negotiated peace to the war.

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30 people gathered on the evening of May 16 to hear from Rabbi Brant Rosen and Rabbi Lynn Gottlieb about their participation in the March 2019 People of Faith Root Causes Pilgrimage to Honduras sponsored by SHARE-El Salvador, the Interfaith Movement for Human Integrity, the Leadership Conference of Women Religious and the Sisters of Mercy. This interfaith group of 72 people formed a “reverse caravan,” on a mission to find out why so many Hondurans are leaving their country behind and journeying en masse to settle in other countries.

Rabbi Gottlieb emphasized the U.S. role in creating the root conditions causing people to migrate. She pointed to more than a century of U.S. corporate economic exploitation of the country. U.S. companies have bought up Honduran agricultural land and used Hondurans as cheap labor to plant and harvest crops for export. While once bananas were the primary commodity, today it is palm oil, grown on plantations which destroy the biodiversity of the land.

Today, both Honduran large landowners and transnational corporations are stealing land and water from indigenous people in order to expand large agricultural enterprises and to build mines and hydroelectric dams. Their actions are enforced by Honduran military and police forces, who use violence against people protesting the theft of their land and water. These are further causes of migration, as people who have been targeted by such violence or who have lost land or access to water sometimes leave if they no longer feel safe or no longer can support themselves.

Rabbi Gottlieb picked up a tear gas canister made in Pennsylvania, which was lying on the ground at the Lenca indigenous communities she visited. She scooped up some water in a bottle from the river sacred to the Lenca people, a river threatened by plans to build a dam, which the people had been protesting. Later, in front of Heidi Fulton, Chargé d’Affaires of the U.S. Embassy in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, Rabbi Gottlieb performed a cleansing ceremony in which she poured the water over the tear gas canister and demanded that the U.S. stop sending such weapons to Honduras to terrorize people.

Rabbi Rosen pointed to the U.S.-supported 2009 coup in Honduras, which supplanted a democratically elected President, Manuel Zelaya, as a root cause of mass migration. Zelaya had supported progressive social reforms, but the coup consolidated the power of the right-wing National Party, whose candidates have “won” every Presidential election since, although each time amid allegations of fraud. The OAS, during the last election in 2017, declared that there were so many irregularities in the vote counting process that no one could be sure who won the election.

Under the National Party, protest has been criminalized by laws with overly expansive definitions of “terrorism,” free speech has been threatened through selectively enforced defamation laws, social goods like education and health services have been privatized, land reform measures have been reversed, and social security and pension funds have been looted. These political realities are another root cause of migration, because many people no longer feel that they can change the conditions that oppress them through peaceful means without getting injured or killed by the government.

Nevertheless, both rabbis emphasized that many people continue to stay in Honduras and non-violently resist the current Honduran administration. Members of social movements in Honduras actively resist oppressive government policies and demand that the illegal administration of President Juan Orlando Hernandez step down, despite his ongoing attempts to silence their voices through ordering security forces to attack their demonstrations with tear gas and live bullets.

For reports from this delegation, see https://www.presbyterianmission.org/story/delegation-examines-firsthand-the-root-causes-of-migration-in-honduras and https://www.paxchristi.net/news/honduras-pax-christi-co-president-marie-dennis-returns-root-causes-delegation-honduras/7250

For photos from the delegation, see https://www.google.com/search?rlz=1C1GCEA_enUS842US843&q=2019+SHARE+delegation+to+Honduras&tbm=isch&source=univ&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwjh_f700K3iAhUPiqwKHeRJC1gQsAR6BAgJEAE&biw=1680&bih=858

Three groups within the national Honduras Solidarity Network—Alliance for Global Justice, La Voz de los de Abajo, and Code Pink– also sponsored an emergency delegation to Honduras March 25 – April 2. Their complete report can be found at https://drive.google.com/open?id=1alBO_-Z6sIrbUUuT89FX3K5CMKVMLvL1.

 

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In 2019, CRLN supports the following Latin America- and immigration-related bills, all of which are still in Committee. Has your member of the U.S. Congress from Illinois introduced or co-sponsored any of them? If not, call your Senators or Representative and ask them to co-sponsor. You can be connected to their office by calling the Capitol Switchboard at 1-202-224-3121.

Check out the chart below for your member of Congress’ name and current record:

U.S. SENATORS FROM ILLINOIS ON CENTRAL AMERICA AND IMMIGRATION

Senator – political party

S.428

 Freedom to Export to Cuba Act of 2019

 

S.716

Guatemala Rule of Law Accountability Act

S.874

DREAM Act of 2019

no bill number yet

 SECURE Act

S.80

John S. McCain III Human Rights Commission

Sen. Richard Durbin – D

 

Co-sponsor Introduced Co-sponsor
Tammy Duckworth – D

 

S.428 – Freedom to Export to Cuba Act of 2019: To lift the trade embargo against Cuba.

S.716 – Guatemala Rule of Law Accountability Act: To impose sanctions under the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act to combat corruption, money laundering, and impunity in Guatemala, and for other purposes. The bill was proposed in response to President Jimmy Morales’ expulsion of the International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala and to the charges of corruption against him and other government officials.

S.874 – DREAM Act of 2019With some conditions, this bill would give lawful permanent residency to any immigrant who entered the U.S. before turning 18, who has had continuous physical presence in the U.S. for 4 years, is law-abiding, and is enrolled in high school or higher education or already has been granted DACA status.

SECURE Act of 2019: Would provide a pathway for people from countries granted Temporary Protected Status (in Latin America, that would be people from El Salvador, Honduras, and Nicaragua), who have been ordered by the current administration to leave the U.S. by specific dates, to apply for lawful permanent residency.

S.80: To create the John S. McCain III Human Rights Commission in the Senate, a counterpart to the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission in the House, to serve as a bipartisan forum for discussion and promotion of human rights and awareness of human rights violations.

 

U.S. REPRESENTATIVES FROM ILLINOIS ON LATIN AMERICA AND IMMIGRATION

Representative

 Party

H.R. 1945

 Berta Cáceres Human Rights in Honduras Act

 

H.R. 1630

Guatemala Rule of Law Accountability Act

H.R. 6

 American Dream and Promise Act

H.R. 1898

 Cuba Agricultural Exports Act

 

 
Rep. Bobby Rush (IL-01)

 

D

Co-sponsor

Co-sponsor

Co-sponsor

reviewing

 
Rep. Robin Kelly (IL-02)

D

Co-sponsor

 
Rep. Daniel Lipinski (IL-03)

D

Co-sponsor

Co-sponsor

Rep. Jesus “Chuy” Garcia (IL-04- new member of Congress)

 

D

 Co-sponsor  

Co-sponsor

 
Rep. Mike Quigley (IL-05)

D

Co-sponsor

Co-sponsor

Rep. Sean Casten (IL-06 – new member of Congress)

 

D

Co-sponsor

 

 
Rep. Danny Davis (IL-7)

 

   D

Co-sponsor

 

Co-sponsor

   
Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (IL-08)  

     

   D

reviewing

reviewing Co-sponsor

reviewing

 
Rep. Jan Schakowsky (IL-09)

 

   D

Co-sponsor

Co-sponsor Co-sponsor

 
Rep. Bradley Schneider (IL-10)

 

   D  

Co-sponsor

Rep. Bill Foster (IL-11)

 

   D

Co-sponsor

Co-sponsor

Rep. Mike Bost (IL-12)

 

   R
Rep. Rodney Davis (IL-13)

 

 

   R
Rep. Lauren Underwood (IL-14- new member of  Congress)

 

   D  

Co-sponsor

Rep. John Shimkus (IL-15)    R
Rep. Adam Kinzinger (IL-16)

 

   R
Rep. Cheri Bustos (IL-17)

 

   D  

Co-sponsor

Co-sponsor

Rep. Darin LaHood (IL-18)

   R

 

H.R. 1945 – Berta Cáceres Human Rights in Honduras Act: prohibits funds from being made available to Honduras for the police or military (including for equipment and training) and directs the Department of the Treasury to instruct U.S. representatives at multilateral development banks to vote against any loans for the police or military of Honduras until the Department of State certifies that the government of Honduras has ended impunity, protects human rights defenders, and taken the military out of domestic policing.

 H.R. 1630 – Guatemala Rule of Law Accountability Act. Companion bill to S.716 to impose sanctions under the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act to combat corruption, money laundering, and impunity in Guatemala, and for other purposes. The bill was proposed in response to President Jimmy Morales’ expulsion of the International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala and to the charges of corruption against him and other government officials.

H.R. 6 – American Dream and Promise Act: Companion bill to S.874 and SECURE Act of 2019 to provide a pathway to lawful permanent residency for those currently covered by DACA or other immigrants who were brought here as children who meet the DACA requirements AND those for who had Temporary Protected Status as of a certain date.

H.R. 1898 – Cuba Agricultural Exports Act:  would modify the prohibition on United States assistance and financing for agricultural exports to Cuba.

 

 

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CRLN has reported on Guatemala’s constitutional crisis already, with concern about President Morales’ defiance of Constitutional Court rulings and military backing for his attempts to oust the International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala. This is especially problematic this year, with Guatemala’s presidential and Congressional elections scheduled in June. There are already indications that the current Guatemalan administration is trying to manipulate the outcome.

In addition, in the past months, the Guatemalan Congress has prepared a law granting amnesty for those who perpetrated war crimes. The amnesty would be granted retroactively to those few who have already been convicted and jailed, wiping away decades of painstaking work to get justice for the victims who were tortured, raped, and/or murdered. There was an international outcry against the legislation, and on the day the vote was to take place, enough members of Congress walked out that there was no quorum, and the vote was postponed. However, CRLN is concerned that it will come up for a vote again.

Those who are guilty of these crimes still wield a great deal of power, and they are trying various ways to sneak amnesty for themselves into other legislation. For example, Congress, under the guise of finding a solution for the problem of overcrowding in Guatemalan prisons, also has drafted a bill that would set free anyone over 70–those in command during the Guatemalan Civil War would all be over 70.

State-sponsored violence and criminalization against human rights defenders has been on the rise in Guatemala in the last few years.The Worldwide Movement for Human Rights (fidh) reports that in 2018, 26 human rights defenders were murdered, the majority of them Indigenous people defending their lands from mining and other extractive projects. Guatemalan human rights organization UDEFEGUAreported 493 attacks against human rights defenders in Guatemala in 2017.

For all of these reasons, CRLN will ask members of Congress from Illinois to suspend funding for Guatemala until democratic process, rule of law, and protection for human rights is a reality.

For more information on the constitutional crisis, click here

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