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CRLN has been trying to get co-sponsors on HR1945, the Berta Caceres Human Rights and Honduras Act. Representatives Rush, Lipinski, Garcia, Quigley, Danny Davis, Schakowsky, and Foster have already signed on. If your rep. has not signed on, please respond to the following action alert. 

Currently, Honduras has erupted in reaction against calls for further privatization of health and education. Our friends at SOA Watch have issued a call to action and thorough report on the situation which we re-post here:

Take action: (From SOAW – complete article follows)

  1. If your Representativeis not a co-sponsor of HR 1945, which would suspend US security aid to Honduras, please ask him/her to do so. Call the Congressional Switchboard – 202-224-3121, ask for your Representative’s office, and then the foreign policy aide.  Ask that the staffer request your Representative co-sponsor HR 1945, the Berta Caceres Human Rights in Honduras Act, and to let you know when they decide to do so.
  2. Call your Senators (Capitol Switchboard: 202- 224-3121) and ask them to oppose continued US backing of the Honduran regime and take the next opportunity to cut US military and security aid to Honduras.

 

Since late April, teachers, doctors, and medical workers in Honduras have been demonstrating against the privatization of education and medical services. The demonstrations in defense of public education and health services have grown into massive and ongoing national mobilizations demanding the resignation of Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez.

US-backed economic policies – such as privatization policies promoted by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) – are at the heart of the current crisis in Honduras. Furthermore, it is US political, economic, and military backing of the Hernandez regime that enables him to maintain his grip on power. Honduran social movement leader Carlos H Reyes recently said, ”The United States government is too brazen in the case of Honduras, throwing a lifeline to a dying regime. If it were not for them, the regime would have already fallen.”  With massive demonstrations ongoing against the regime, the US Embassy in Honduras recently announced the arrival of nearly 300 US Marines and others with the US Southern Command’s rapid response force to Honduras and surrounding countries.  The US Marines will conduct ‘training and security cooperation’ with the Honduran security forces, which routinely fire live bullets at teachers and other civilians during demonstrations.

Read more about the US and IMF role in the current situation in Honduras here.

As Honduran economist Hugo Noé Pino and sociologist Eugenio Sosa wrote in a recent article: “The current conflictive situation in the education and health sectors in Honduras has its background in social policies since 2010. The budgets of both sectors have decreased during current decade. For example, spending on education by the central government was 32.9% of the total in 2010 and in the approved budget for 2019 it is 19.9%. Health spending was reduced from 14.3% to 9.7% in the same period.” Notably, this startling decline in education and health spending occurred following the 2009 coup d’etat carried out by SOA graduates. During this same period ‘security’ and defense spending have increased.

The situation in public hospitals is notoriously disastrous due to lack of equipment, medicine, and supplies. In fact, it is so bad that doctors report operating by the light of cell phones and there have been reports of newborn babies having to be placed in cardboard boxes or two per bassinet. There are schools that are falling down and in disrepair.

The dramatic reductions in social spending combined with the increased cost of living is one of the factors that leads thousands to leave Honduras in hopes of working in the United States. Ironically, the head of the IMF Mission that recently visited Honduras celebrated that Honduras’ GDP grew in 2018 ‘supported by private consumption, which was driven by an important growth of international remittances’.  Indeed, there is no denying that the IMF and US-backed neoliberal policies of privatization and reducing public spending benefit the economic elite and result in migration of the general population, leading to increased remittances upon which the economy will increasingly be based.  One must wonder if this is actually their unstated goal for improving the economy — make the situation so bad people leave and then they’ll send home remittances.

Another source of indignation is the corruption and criminal groups that pervade the Honduran government. President Hernandez’s brother, Tony Hernandez, was arrested by the US in 2018 and is currently awaiting trial in New York for drug trafficking. Court documents recently filed in that case revealed a US Drug Enforcement Agency investigation of President Hernandez and others close to him, including SOA graduate Security Minister Julian Pacheco. Numerous public corruption scandals have rocked the country, but Hernandez and his inner circle have remained untouched. Meanwhile, those who speak out and defend the rights of the population are shot at, criminalized, and threatened with death. Read more here.

Take action:

  1. If your Representative is not a co-sponsor of HR 1945, which would suspend US security aid to Honduras, please ask him/her to do so. Call the Congressional Switchboard – 202-224-3121, ask for your Representative’s office, and then the foreign policy aide.  Ask that the staffer request your Representative co-sponsor HR 1945, the Berta Caceres Human Rights in Honduras Act, and to let you know when they decide to do so.
  2. Call your Senators (Capitol Switchboard: 202- 224-3121) and ask them to oppose continued US backing of the Honduran regime and take the next opportunity to cut US military and security aid to Honduras.

Thank you,

SOA Watch 

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WBEZ has decided to end Jerome McDonnell’s “Worldview” program at the end of August. We are in shock. Where else can we regularly hear interviews with such a diverse group of people—activists, academics, artists, cultural critics– from all over the world, talking about important issues from perspectives that are not usually broadcast on other programs.

Please sign the change.org petition found at this linkhttp://chng.it/gKBw45JF-to keep “Worldview on the air.

Jerome has interviewed many of the guests from Honduras, Colombia, Guatemala, El Salvador and Cuba that CRLN has invited to speak in Chicago, amplifying their voices to reach many more people than could possibly be reached otherwise with their on-the-ground analysis of what is happening in their countries. We don’t want to lose this valuable resource in Chicago.

We think the petition will need over 10,000 signatures to have an impact on WBEZ decision makers.
Please forward the link–http://chng.it/gKBw45JF—to your friends.
Many people love this show and will sign if they learn about the plans to end it.

Featured in the Photo is Jerome and interviewee Alex Escobar, a Guatemalan Environmental Activist and Becky Kaump

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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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Join Rev. Milton Mejía, President and General Secretary of the Latin America Counsel of Churches, and Rev. Atahualpa Hernández, President of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Colombia, for lunch and dialogue about the current situation in Colombia. What can churches do to promote peace and reconciliation in Colombia?

Date: Monday June 3rd, 2019

Time: 12 Noon

Location: Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago – 1100 E 55th St, Chicago, IL 60615.

Check at Main Desk for Room Number

RSVP to shunter-smith@crln.org

Co-sponsored by Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago, McCormick Theological Seminary, and CRLN. 

 Rev. Atahualpa Hernández

 Rev. Milton Mejía

 

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The Illinois governor shall be faced with either signing or vetoing the bill to block the privatization of immigration centers across the state of Illinois. Read about it in a recent article published on May 18, 2019 by the Chicago Tribune:

https://www.chicagotribune.com/news/breaking/ct-met-immigration-ice-private-detention-center-bill-illinois-20190517-story.html

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CRLN gathered on May 23, 2019 with advocates and faith communities in support of Pastor Betty Rendon and her husband, Carlos Hincapie outside of ICE’s Chicago office two weeks after Pastor Betty, Carlos, a relative, and their daughter, Paula Hincapie were swept up by ICE agents at gunpoint in their Chicago home. Requests for a stay of removal were made by the couple’s attorney, and public light dawned on the case of Paula’s denied protected status by ICE, as the intent was to arrest and deport her until public light was brought upon the case.

Paula is a recipient of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, and her 5 year old daughter, Layla, witnessed the traumatizing home raid. While Paula and Layla are reunited, Layla “cries for her grandparents, wondering when they are coming home,” said Paula. They remain in ICE detention at Pulaski County Jail in southern Illinois. Attorneys from the National Immigrant Justice Center (NIJC) through the City of Chicago’s Legal Protection Fund represent the couple.

Emmaus Evangelical Lutheran Church in Racine, Wisconsin, where Betty is a student pastor, has facilitated requesting the halt of their deportation to Colombia and release from detention through a petition which already has over 113,000 signatures, and over 65 organizations have submitted letters in support.

Points were made by Christine Neumann-Ortiz, the Executive Director of Voces de la Frontera, and Reverend Paul Erickson, Bishop of Greater Milwaukee Synod, ELCA. The militaristic style operations attacking Dreamers, a Pastor, and a family call upon people of all faiths to unite and protect people from the perpetual campaign of terror and family separation. The plans to arrest and detain families across major US cities are, as Erickson pointed out, a disappointment “that our government would choose to use their powers in a way that sows fear and tears families apart. We are calling on our leaders to adhere to a higher law, one that respects the right of individuals to flee from violence and honors the dignity of each person.”

The United Nation’s World Refugee Day landing on June 20th has been called a national day of action by Voces de la Frontera, the Racine Interfaith Coalition and Lutheran religious leaders to again gather for a national vigil outside of ICE’s Chicago office. CRLN asks all of its members to join us on June 20th at 11AM in front of the Chicago ICE office at 101 W. Congress St.

 

See more of the event in our Gallery

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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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(From the director of the Guatemala Human Rights Commission/USA, Sept. 5, 2018)

Dear Friends,

Guatemala is at risk of a coup, and it looks like once again with the support of the U.S. government.

The threat of an auto-coup has been in the air since President Jimmy Morales convoked a press conference on August 31 to announce he would not renew the mandate of the United Nations sponsored International Commission Against Impunity (CICIG).  He stood amidst dozens of fatigue clad military officers and CICIG’s offices were surrounded with military jeeps.

 

The next day U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo tweeted, “Our relationship with Guatemala is important. We greatly appreciate Guatemala’s efforts in counter-narcotics and security,” widely perceived as a show of support for Morales.

 

On September 3, the National Immigration Directorate announced that CICIG’s commissioner, Ivan Velasquez, would not be allowed to reenter Guatemala, in defiance of a May Constitutional Court ruling that the Migration Directorate could not bar Velasquez’s entry. On September 4, the Secretary General of the United Nations announced that the UN would continue to recognize Ivan Velasquez as the Commissioner of CICIG, conducting his functions from outside of Guatemala.  A few hours ago, a group of representatives in the Guatemalan Congress that have been promoting the creation of a new constitution released a communication asserting that the Constitutional Court has repeatedly exceeded its constitutional mandate.  As the Executive and the Judiciary defy the Constitutional Court, a technical coup or auto coup may be in progress.

 

The United States Department of State must clearly communicate that the US firmly stands with the Guatemalan Constitutional Court against any attempt to undermine its independence. The Constitutional Court may well be called on to decide the fate of CICIG and its commissioner Ivan Velasquez.  CICIG has been the most successful effort to end impunity and clean up the justice system in the region.

 

Please, call – (202) 224-3121- or write your Representative and Senators to ask that they demand that the State Department affirm its commitment to the rule of law in Guatemala, particularly to safeguarding the ongoing independence of the Constitutional Court.  You can also contact their district office to find out which staff people would follow issues in Guatemala and develop ongoing correspondence with them.

 

Evoking memories of military coups, Jimmy Morales announced he intends to end CICIG’s mandate
amidst dozens of fatigue clad military officers in what looked like the threat of an auto coup.

 

On August 10, CICIG and the Public Ministry presented an impeachment request against Jimmy Morales for not reporting over $1 million cash that was given to voting table monitors from Morales party on the day of the national election.  On August 23, the Guatemala Supreme Court found that the impeachment of Morales could proceed, and on August 28 the congressional commission overseeing the impeachment was formed by lottery.

The top concern now is securing the safety and ongoing independence of the Guatemalan Constitutional Court.   Many questions have been raised about the legality both of President Morales’ communication to the United Nations while he is under impeachment and of the bar on Ivan Velasquez’s entry to Guatemala.  Both of these questions will eventually be decided by the Constitutional Court.

There is currently tremendous pressure on the Constitutional Court. President Morales’ administration is essentially threatening an auto-coup, through images and military deployments.  This has been in the air since Friday when military surrounded not only the CICIG installations but also offices of leading human rights organizations, and President Morales gave his press conference amidst approximately 50 fatigue clad military officers, conjuring up memories of the press conferences in the 1970s and 1980s that announced new military juntas had grab control of government. It is a message received loud and clear even without stating anything directly.

 

On Monday the Guatemalan Constitutional Court ruled that the operations of the San Rafael gold mine will remain suspended until a consultation of the indigenous communities affected by the operation had been completed.  This was a highly charged decision that challenged the interests of the economically powerful sector aligned with President Morales.   In May the State Department urged the Constitutional Court to re-open of the San Rafael mine, prioritizing the economic interests of one US mining company over rule of law and the economic well-being of an entire region. That confrontation is still fresh in the public conscience in Guatemala.


The State Department must make it clear that the United States firmly stands with this Constitutional Court against any attempt to undermine its independence, particularly now as the Constitutional Court may well be called on to decide the fate of CICIG and its commissioner Ivan Velasquez.

 

Please, call – (202) 224-3121- or write your Representative and Senators to ask that they demand that the State Department affirm its commitment to the rule of law in Guatemala, particularly to safeguarding the ongoing independence of the Constitutional Court.  You can also contact their district office to find out which staff people would follow issues in Guatemala and develop ongoing correspondence with them.

You can also contact their district office to find out which staffpeople would follow issues in Guatemala to develop ongoing correspondence.

Many Thanks,

Annie Bird

 

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