Richard ‘Dick’ Heidkamp (May 9, 1931 – March 12, 2022)
Ann R. Heidkamp (Dec 27, 1930 – Feb 28, 2021)

Remembering Dick & Ann

A Reflection Written for the March 18, 2022 Celebration of the Lives of Dick and Ann Heidkamp

by Sharon Hunter-Smith

CRLN has been truly blessed to have the active participation of Dick Heidkamp as a member, Board member, and volunteer. “A life of service,” while an accurate description of Dick’s values and actions, just doesn’t begin to capture the exuberant experience we all had around Dick. Yes, he offered service to our organization, but everything he did with seriousness of purpose and dedication to peace and justice also felt much more like a dance party or a night at a comedy club, especially when he showed up with his wife Ann, the straight person in their comedy routine.

Dick was a skilled fundraiser and a terrific FUN-raiser, as Ann herself once said. As a fundraiser, Dick served on our Board’s Development Committee and coordinated CRLN’s 25th Anniversary Campaign. He accompanied us on visits to potential donors and taught us his craft. He taught us that we could do more than we thought we could and that people appreciated the opportunity to hear about and support our programs. Dick also threw himself into planning for CRLN’s 20th Anniversary Celebration, securing the venue, finding vendors to provide the beer, and helping to do set up and then welcoming people to the event.

Then there were the days when he and Ann came into the office to help with mailings. Putting labels and stamps on envelopes, folding and inserting letters and reports—not exactly everyone’s idea of a good time—but if Dick and Ann were coming, everyone looked forward to participating. They always insisted on bringing treats with them, and their banter with each other and funny storytelling changed the mailing workdays into a party. Pretty soon, they would have us all laughing.

Dick attended our educational events, showed up for our demonstrations against militarism and for human rights in Latin America, and went on our delegations to Cuba (pictured here), El Salvador, and Guatemala. He would often bring others along with him—he was like the Pied Piper for CRLN events. At the 25th Anniversary of Archbishop Oscar Romero’s assassination, he was with us on a delegation to El Salvador. The large outdoor area where the commemoration events were going to take place was filled with people inspired by Archbishop Romero, both from El Salvador and from many other countries. Salvadoran folk music was playing to give people something to listen to while they waited, and suddenly, in the crowd behind us, we saw a circle of people forming, laughing and clapping. Guess who was in the middle? Dick Heidkamp with a wide smile, dancing with a someone he had pulled from the crowd. He was a one-man ambassador, evoking friendship and joy.

Dick had a passion for travel and willingness to let us honor him by creating the Heidkamp Travel Scholarship Fund in his honor. He understood the importance of travel, not as a tourist but to listen to the voices of those whose words do not often make it into U.S. news media and to carry their words back to our legislators. He often accompanied us on visits to members of Congress to do just that. In 2012 Rep. Jan Schakowsky honored Dick’s activism in a statement read on the floor of the House of Representatives.

Dick was an outsized personality with extraordinary energy and an outsized heart for adults; for children; for those suffering from poverty, oppression or discrimination; and also for cats and for his backyard vegetable garden. His love for Ann and hers for him was often expressed in teasing each other mercilessly, always with huge smiles on their faces. We miss them greatly already, but are so thankful we were able to walk together on the same path for so many years.


In a 2015 interview for Story Corp Dick and Ann recounted how they first met and fell in love. You can access that interview HERE.

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CRLN has worked with other organizations on a workshop for Ecumenical Advocacy Days called Crisis and Hope: Activists Organizing for Rights in Guatemala and Honduras for Wednesday April 27 from 10:00 – 10:45 am CDT

In Guatemala, brave activists, judges, and prosecutors confront a
rapidly-closing space to defend rights and the rule of law. They are being jailed, threatened, and
forced into exile by corrupt actors in government, security forces, and the private sector. In
Honduras, after a dozen years in which corrupt and abusive governments committed grave abuses and
restricted space for civil society to organize, a newly-elected government working with social
movements offers hope. Corruption and human rights abuses are major factors driving massive
migration from these countries.

This workshop will teach the audience about the immediate human rights
situation in Guatemala and Honduras, featuring leading activists from each country. It will also
answer the question, What is the U.S. role and how can you encourage our government to support,
rather than undermine, the activists working for positive change?

Speakers: Claudia Samayoa from the Guatemalan human rights group UDEFEGUA (confirmed) and Miriam
Miranda
or other Afro/indigenous leader from Honduran Garifuna organization OFRANEH (to be
confirmed); Lisa Haugaard, Latin America Working Group (confirmed);

Moderator, Giovana Oaxaca, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (confirmed).

Time: Wednesday, April 27 10:00-10:45 CDT

Sponsored by: Latin America Working Group, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Chicago
Religious Leadership Network on Latin America, Mennonite Central Committee U.S.

Interpreter: Kathy Ogle (confirmed). Language: Spanish to English, English to Spanish for
speakers.

Monitor: Yadira Sánchez-Esparza (confirmed)

Claudia Virginia Samayoa is human rights defender and a lay leader committed to justice in
Guatemala. She is the founder and president of the Unidad de Protección a Defensoras y Defensores
de Derechos Humanos – Guatemala (UDEFEGUA, the Unit for the Protection for Human Rights Defenders –
Guatemala) and Vice President of the Executive Committee of the World Organization against Torture
(OMCT). She is widely considered as an expert on human rights in Guatemala and the Central American
region, having received various international awards for her work. She spends most of her time
researching and supporting human rights defenders and organizations in Latin American by
strengthening their skills for self-protection. She is an active member of the Archdiocesan Commission of The Social Ministry of the Archdiocese of Santiago de Guatemala. She has completed postgraduate work in public policy and theology, as well as authored several books.

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by Claudia Lucero, Executive Director

For everything, there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven… Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

CRLN is undergoing a time of transition. All of the CRLN staff and I know all of you are sad that we will no longer have Sharon Hunter-Smith as one of our core staff. I am sure for many of you Sharon practically is CRLN. She has been a central part of the organization for over 16 years. It is difficult for us to imagine CRLN without Sharon playing such a significant role in our day-to-day work. Yet at the same time, we feel much joy at being present for the next stage of Sharon’s life, a much-deserved break from the duties she has so faithfully carried out each day for more than a decade and a half. I am purposely avoiding words of farewell here as they are so inappropriate in this case, as we know Sharon will remain a part of the extended CRLN family. On behalf of the CRLN staff and membership, I offer a collective message of deep gratitude for so many years of service to the mission of CRLN. They have born great fruit.

Just like most transitions the closing of one chapter is also the opening of a new one. As we mark Sharon’s departure we welcome aboard our new Latin America Program Coordinator, Jhonathan Gómez. I know many of you already know Jhonathan, but for those who do not, I wanted to offer a few words on his background. Jhonathan F. Gómez is a human rights defender, documentary photographer, artist, educator and father from Guatemala City. Jhonathan has worked with community and human rights organizations in Guatemala and the United States for nearly 15 years. Both his professional and personal work combine arts, multimedia and technology for the defense of human rights with a focus on immigrant and indigenous rights. Jhonathan, his partner, and their two children returned to Chicago in May of 2021 after living in Guatemala for 10 years. In Chicago, Jhonathan has worked as an arts youth educator and as a day laborer organizer with Union Latina de Chicago (Latino Union of Chicago). In Guatemala, he worked as the Coordinator of the Communications and Technology area for the Human Rights Observatory Unidad de Protección a Defensoras y Defensores de Derechos Humanos de Guatemala (Human Rights Defenders Protection Unit of Guatemala, UDEFEGUA). Jhonathan is not new to CRLN, in 2007 he participated in the formation of the Chicago New Sanctuary Coalition (CNSC) and has continued to support CRLN ever since. He is delighted to join the team and be part of CRLN’s legacy work of solidarity with Latinomérica. We are very excited to welcome Jhonathan to our staff and look forward to the great work we will do together to further both his personal and our organizational mission of defending the human rights of all “Americans”, including those within our national borders and those across the hemisphere.

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CRLN is looking for a part-time Administrative Assistant to join our staff of four that coordinate an interfaith education, action, and advocacy network. Please share this announcement with your networks and communities.

For over 30 years, CRLN has worked to open spaces for the voices of those in the Americas affected by U.S. policies and has worked in solidarity with movements for social justice and human rights. Through educational events, delegations, speaker tours, and regular issue updates, CRLN educates and mobilizes to empower people to advocate for positive changes in U.S. policy in the Americas with elected city, state and federal officials.

CRLN is an equal opportunity employer, dedicated to a policy of nondiscrimination in employment on any basis including race, creed, color, age, sex, religion, sexual orientation, ability or national origin. Women and people of color are encouraged to apply.

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We share with you the open letter in Spanish by the 20 member organizations of the Alianza Americas network, that CRLN signed together addressed to the President of México Andrés Manuel López Obrador, where he is urged to implement humane migration policies.

Compartimos la carta abierta dirigida al presidente de México Andrés Manuel López Obrador, la cual fue realizada por las 20 organizaciones de la red Alianza Americas a la cual CRLN miembra, donde se le pedide que implemente políticas migratorias humanas.

Download the letter in Spanish here.

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[Comunicado en español después del ingles]

Download the statement in English here. | Descargue el comunicado en español aquí.

#EyesOnHonduras
CRLN is a member of the Honduras Solidarity Network and are committed to the work for justice with the people of Honduras. We are concerned on the increased violence happening now prior to the elections and commit to keep our eyes on the elections. Below is the statement by the solidarity network.

CRLN es miembrx de la Red de Solidaridad de Honduras y estamos comprometidxs con el trabajo por la justicia con el pueblo de hondureño. Estamos preocupadxs por la violencia que esta sucediendo ahora antes de las elecciones y nos comprometemos a mantener la mirada en las elecciones. Adjunto el comunicado de la red de solidaridad.

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Our partners at Guatemala Human Rights Commission, GHRC, are asking individuals and human rights organizations to support a Dear Colleague letter initiated by Representative Raul Grijalva as another step Congress can take to support human rights defenders and the rule of law in Guatemala. We are asking that you call or email your representative in the House. GHRC has an action page where you can e-mail your representative and get the phone number to their office. Click here to see who your representative is.


The letter highlights the following: 

• The current Guatemalan amnesty law that would prevent justice for crimes against humanity carried out during the internal armed conflict,

• The impacts of Decree 4-2020, which allows the executive branch of the State discretionary powers to dissolve NGOs if their activities might “alter the public order,” and to prosecute their directors,

• The threats that democratic institutions, such as The Human Rights Ombudsman’s Office, are undergoing,

• Cases of persecution against human rights defenders, such as the Bernardo Caal Xol case; and

• The corruption case of Juan Francisco Sandoval, former head of the Special Prosecutor’s Office Against Impunity (FECI) and leading anti-corruption prosecutor.

Please help us work for the defense of human rights defenders, judges, and others who are under increasing attacks.



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CRLN and some of Rep. Quigley’s constituents from Third Unitarian Church will send the following letter to him. If you are a constituent in Illinois’ 5th Congressional District, please click here to authorize us to sign your name, too.

September 21, 2021

Rep. Mike Quigley, Congressman, IL-5

Dear Rep. Quigley,

We are meeting today with your Legislative Assistant, Marshele Bryant. The purpose of our meeting is twofold:

1) To request that you co-sponsor two House resolutions on Honduras: the Berta Caceres Human Rights in Honduras Act (H.R. 1574) and the Honduras Human Rights and Anti-Corruption Act (H.R. 2716)

2) To request that you support a pathway to permanent protections for DACA recipients, TPS holders, farmworkers, and other essential workers.

H.R. 1574 would prohibit U.S. assistance to the police and military of Honduras and direct U.S. Representatives of multilateral development banks to vote against providing loans to the Honduran police or military. We thank you for co-sponsoring this legislation in the previous three sessions of Congress and ask that you do so again.

H.R. 2716 would also suspend U.S. assistance to the Honduran police and military until corruption, impunity, and human rights violations are no longer systemic and the perpetrators of these crimes are being brought to justice. In addition, it will impose sanctions on the Honduran president for corruption and human rights abuses and suspend U.S. security assistance and export licenses for covered defense articles and munitions items to the Honduran police and military, among other provisions.

Our organization is in touch with many human rights groups in Honduras, and what they tell us is alarming. Honduras has become a narco-state, as high level Honduran officials use the police and military to protect drug traffickers and their routes in exchange for bribe money. Some Honduran government and security officials are themselves trafficking drugs. Officials also use the police and military to stay in power, directing them to violently put down peaceful protests over election fraud, government corruption, and theft from public funds. Military and police have carried out targeted assassinations against human rights defenders and those who stand up against corruption—there is evidence of death squads within their ranks.

All of this is more than a case of a few bad apples: democracy, the rule of law, public safety, and life itself are being undermined, as evidenced by the large numbers of people leaving Honduras as migrants. The U.S. is currently pretending that by funding the military and police, we are increasing security. We are not. Please do your part to shut down this funding until corruption and impunity for human rights violations cease.

We also wanted to reach out and ask you for your consistent support of immigrants and for your continued support of legislation to provide a pathway to permanent protections for DACA recipients, TPS holders, farmworkers, and other essential workers. 

We know that a pathway to permanent protections is vital to the long term success of our economy, communities and families and an important component to building back better. The public strongly supports a pathway to permanent protections and believes that Congressional action is long overdue. We are confident that enacting these reforms via reconciliation is the best way to finally get it done this year.  

On behalf of the millions of immigrant workers and families, many who have been locked out of the ability to earn a pathway to permanent protections, including DACA recipients and TPS holders who have been essential to our communities’ response and recovery from COVID-19, we urge you to seize this  historic opportunity.

Sincerely,

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