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Find the recap on Youtube:

Take Action to Urge the Administration and Congress to Lift Sanctions! https://www.votervoice.net/PCUSA/Campaigns/73235/Respond

Thanks to the Presbyterian Church (USA) Office of Public Witness for creating this alert.

Resources to learn more:

Excerpt from the 2001 OXFAM report Going Against the Grain about the effects of the Special Period on food supply and agriculture

Read the entire Oxfam report here

Torricelli Act – (H.R.5323 – Cuban Democracy Act of 1992)

Helms Burton Act – (Cuban Liberty and Democratic Solidarity (Libertad) Act of 1996)

Summary of changes to U.S. Policy during the Obama Administration created by the Latin American Working Group

2019 Cuba Advocacy Toolkit created by the Latin American Working Group has an excellent timeline from 2014 – 2019 showing the improvements to relations and the Trump rollback. Additional negative policy changes continue to occur.

Links to the next two webinars:

  1. July 30US-Cuba Relations, Cooperatives, and Community: https://crln.org/uscubarelationscooperativescommunity/
  2. August 6Healthcare System: Clients or Patients?: https://crln.org/healthcaresystemclientsorpatients/

For additional resources contact Marilyn McKenna at mmckenna@crln.org or Daisy Hernandez at dhernandez@crln.org

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CRLN’s 30th Anniversary Celebration speaker, Miriam Miranda, spoke of the retaliation against Garifuna communities for their struggle to protect their land from being taken by the government and given to palm oil plantations or tourist development corporations. Last year,16 members of Garifuna communities were assassinated.

Last Saturday, a group of Garifuna men were abducted by men wearing Honduran police investigative unit vests and driven away in unmarked cars. Click bit.ly/snidercenteno2 to learn more and contact your U.S. Representative and Senators to notify the State Department and Embassy to urge Honduran officials to find and return the men to their community.

For reporting on the incident: Nina Lakhani, “Fears growing for five Indigenous Garifuna men abducted in Honduras https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2020/jul/23/garifuna-honduras-abducted-men-land-rights

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No ICE Citizens’ Academy Two Sign-On Letters: one to legislators & another to the ICE Field Office Director

Google Forms

I’ve invited you to fill out a form: CLICK THE LINK BELOW

No ICE Citizens’ Academy Two Sign-On Letters: one to legislators & another to the ICE Field Office Director

The Chicago Religious Leadership Network on Latin America (CRLN) & The St. Louis Interfaith Committee on Latin America (IFCLA) and Organized Communities Against Deportations (OCAD) are circulating these organizational sign-on letters directed to local, state and federal authorities to put an immediate stop to the implementation of ICE’s ‘Citizens Academy’ set to start in Chicago on September 15, 2020.

Reach out at JCHernandez@crln.org if you have any questions.
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The Chicago Religious Leadership Network on Latin America (CRLN) and the St. Louis Interfaith Committee on Latin America (IFCLA) and Organized Communities Against Deportations (OCAD) are circulating these organizational sign-on letters directed to local, state and federal authorities to put an immediate stop to the implementation of ICE’s ‘Citizens Academy’ set to start in Chicago on September 15, 2020.

Reach out at JCHernandez@crln.org if you have any questions.
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To:

As you know, at a time when the nation is being forced to grapple with systemic police violence, ICE has invited civilians in Chicago to engage “in scenario-based training and exercises conducted in a safe and positive environment, including, but not limited to defensive tactics, firearms familiarization, and targeted arrests.” These actions by ICE are making the current environment even more frightening for immigrants and have raised alarm with local organizations and advocates across the country who see these types of training as potentially encouraging vigilantes to profile and target people in their communities.

The Trump administration’s power relies on the campaign of terror waged against migrants at the border and increased ICE raids at homes, on the street, at courthouses, and in workplaces. The administration has used escalated ICE presence in cities with policies that limit police collaboration with ICE, such as Chicago and New York, to threaten and intimidate these Cities. Of additional concern to the organizations is that ICE ERO is planning to hold this initial Academy in Chicago and include “scenario-based training and exercises” on firearms familiarization when just three years ago ICE agents shot an individual in Chicago during a raid.

We do not need citizens who feel empowered to further intimidate the most vulnerable in our communities. Additionally, we see this plan as an attempt by ICE to blur the public perception of the agency in order to get sympathy and erase the ways the agency has played into categorizing immigrants as dangerous criminals and justifying violent responses. These academies are part of strategies used by law enforcement to normalize violence and spread propaganda under the guise of improving community relations. Law enforcement agencies like ICE can’t improve community relations when they are part of the problem.

We believe that all people have inherent dignity and are deserving of basic human rights, including the freedom to live free from fear. The planned Citizens’ Academy will contribute to hostility towards immigrants, refugees and asylum seekers in the Chicago area.

We applaud the actions of Congressional representatives who are trying to cut off funding for this program. In recent days, the House Committee on Appropriations, successfully included an amendment to prohibit funding for this program in the Fiscal Year 2021 Homeland Security funding bill. Although these are positive moves in the right direction, the ‘Citizens Academy’ is still set to launch in Chicago this September. If allowed to move forward, the program would dangerously increase fear and discrimination against immigrant communities and lead to increased violence and racial profiling.

We call on the federal, state and local authorities to:

Prevent this academy: Private citizens should not feel empowered to fill in for police, ICE, or other authorities.

We, the undersigned, ask that you respond to our demand.

Letter 2

Letter to Robert Guadian

To: Robert Guadian, Field Office Director
Chicago.Outreach@ice.dhs.gov

Immigration and Customs Enforcement
101 W. Ida B. Wells Drive, Suite 400
Chicago, IL 60605

RE: Enforcement and Removal Operations Citizens Academy

Director Guadian:

We, the undersigned, write to you today to express our concerns and ask you to put an immediate stop to the implementation of the agency’s new Enforcement and Removal Operations Citizens Academy (ERO-ECA) in Chicago. As local and national organizations supporting immigrant communities across the region, we are deeply troubled at the agency’s plan to provide scenario-based training “including, but not limited to defensive tactics, firearms familiarization, and targeted arrests.” These actions by ICE are making the current environment even more frightening for immigrants, during a time when the nation is being forced to grapple with systemic police violence and racial injustice.

We are outraged by the prospect of ICE holding this training in Chicago and continue our commitment to protecting our undocumented neighbors. We denounce this plan to to recruit vigilantes in our communities. We do not need citizens who feel empowered to further intimidate undocumented people. Historically, Chicago ICE agents have used violence towards the people they target and use deceitful tactics to carry out raids in the area. The agency has also played into categorizing immigrants as dangerous criminals and justifying violent responses.

We believe that all people have inherent dignity and are deserving of basic human rights, including the freedom to live free from fear. The planned ‘ICE-ERO Academy’ will contribute to hostility towards immigrants, refugees and asylum seekers. We call on you to stop the implementation of the ICE Enforcement Citizen Academy. Private citizens should not feel empowered to fill in for police, ICE, or other authorities. If allowed to move forward, the program would dangerously increase fear and discrimination against immigrant communities and lead to increased violence and racial profiling.

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Susana Prieto Terrazas, a labor rights lawyer, was arrested in earlier June with charges of inciting a riot, threats, and coercion. CRLN joined in on the action to demand the Mexican Consulate to press for her release. We delivered this message right outside of the Chicago Mexican Consulate. See the recaps below:

& On our Facebook! Click HERE

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CRLN is proud to share this piece on Tackling the Root Causes of Immigration to the US from Honduras written by our own former Staff member, Maria I. Leon Gomez Sonet! Please find the very important, informative article below!

Opinion-–-Tackling-the-Root-Causes-of-Immigration-to-the-US-from-Honduras

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This liturgical guide was put together by Matthew Broeren who was an intern with us during the summer of 2019. Members of CRLN’s Immigrant Welcoming Congregations helped support the effort. The guide is meant to provide a structure for congregations of any faith who wish to hold a special service to call attention to immigrant justice issues. Please feel free to shape it to your group’s needs. Click on the link below

CRLN Devotional Worship Resources

 

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Protect Colombian Human Rights Defenders During COVID-19

 

Dear Colleague,

 

We invite you to join us in sending a letter to Secretary of State Pompeo on the urgent need to protect Colombia’s human rights defenders and to identify and prosecute those who carry out threats, assaults, disappearances and murder against them.

 

Colombia is the most dangerous country for human rights defenders https://www.theguardian.com/law/2020/jan/14/300-human-rights-activists-killed-2019-report. The Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights in Colombia described as “staggering” the number of rights defenders murdered in 2019 https://news.un.org/en/story/2020/01/1055272. Those targeted include Afro-Colombian and indigenous leaders, environmentalists and land rights activists, local community and social leaders, campesinos and trade unionists, peace communities, women, journalists and human rights advocates.

 

The Duque Administration and Attorney General’s Office have failed to provide the level of protection needed to safeguard the lives of these defenders, prosecute the intellectual authors of these attacks, dismantle the structures that benefit from this violence, or fulfill their obligations under the peace accords to safeguard these individuals and communities and establish a state presence in conflict regions. As a result, violent actors continue to act with impunity.

 

The coronavirus pandemic and Colombia’s quarantine have only increased the vulnerability of these valuable civic leaders: 23 social leaders were killed between March 15 and April 24, the initial period of Colombia’s pandemic lockdown. At the same time, recent media investigations revealed that Colombian Army intelligence units compiled detailed dossiers on the personal lives and activities of at least 130 reporters (including U.S. journalists), human rights defenders, politicians, judges, union leaders, and possible military whistleblowers https://www.hchr.org.co/files/comunicados/2020/press-release-intelligence-May-2020.pdf.

 

To sign onto the letter, or for further information, please contact Cindy Buhl (Rep. McGovern) at cindy.buhl@mail.house.gov or Leslie Zelenko (Rep. Pocan) at leslie.zelenko@mail.house.gov.

 

Sincerely,

 

James P. McGovern

Member of Congress

 

Mark Pocan

Member of Congress

 

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Dear Secretary Pompeo,

 

As the coronavirus pandemic exposes and magnifies existing problems in each of the countries it ravages, we are particularly concerned that it is affecting the safety of Colombia’s brave human rights defenders and social leaders who are putting their lives on the line to build lasting peace.

 

We write to ask you to urge the Duque Administration to recommit to implementing the historic 2016 peace accords and protecting Colombia’s endangered human rights defenders whose vulnerability has only increased during the COVID-19 quarantine.

 

Colombia is now the most dangerous country in the world for human rights defenders. Over 400 human rights defenders have been murdered since the signing of the peace accords – a loss of committed and valiant civic leaders that Colombia cannot afford. The Colombian government’s slowness in implementing the peace accords, its failure to bring the civilian state into the conflict zones, and its ongoing inability to prevent and prosecute attacks against defenders have allowed this tragedy to go unchecked. This appears to have intensified as illegal armed groups take advantage of the pandemic while the government fails to respond, further increasing the vulnerability of targeted rights defenders and local leaders.

 

For example, on March 19, three armed men entered a meeting where farmers were discussing voluntary coca eradication agreements and killed community leader Marco Rivadeneira. He promoted peace and coca substitution efforts in his community, represented his region in the guarantees working group to protect human rights defenders, and was a member of the national human rights network Coordinación Colombia Europa Estados Unidos. Afro-Colombian, indigenous, and poor farming communities like the San José de Apartadó peace community continue to suffer and are even more vulnerable from the unchecked presence of illegal armed actors in their territories.

 

Marco Rivadeneira was one of 23 social leaders killed between March 15 and April 24, during the first weeks of Colombia’s pandemic lockdown. According to the Colombian NGO, Instituto de Estudios para el Desarrollo y la Paz – INDEPAZ, in the first three months of 2020, 71 social leaders and defenders were killed in Colombia.

 

To stop this tragedy, we ask you to urge the Duque Administration to:

 

  • Improve protection of human rights defenders and social leaders, starting with effective investigations of attacks and threats against them, identifying those who ordered these crimes and publicly presenting the outcomes of these investigation.

 

  • Develop a road map for protection in consultation with defenders in the guarantees working group, including for pandemic-related challenges such as the need for personal protective equipment.

 

  • Fund and implement collective protection measures with differentiated ethnic and gender approaches in consultation with communities through the National Protection Unit. Collective measures agreed to with Afro-descendant and indigenous communities’ authorities must be guaranteed. The self-protection mechanisms of the San José de Apartadó peace community and similar humanitarian zones should be respected, including the support provided by international accompaniers, even during the pandemic.

 

  • Dismantle the paramilitary successor networks involved in drug trafficking, which fuel much of the violence against human rights defenders and social leaders. The government must honor its commitment to regularly convene the National Commission of Security Guarantees, which was established by the accords to develop and implement plans to dismantle illegal groups and protect communities, social leaders, and ex-combatants.

 

  • Effectively investigate, prosecute, and present results about these paramilitary and criminal networks through the Attorney General’s special investigative unit. We welcome the new agreement between the Colombian Attorney General’s Office and the Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights in Colombia to train prosecutors and investigators in aggressively addressing these human rights crimes. It is critical the State end impunity in the murders, disappearances, assaults and threats against human rights defenders, social leaders, land rights and environmental activists, journalists, trade unionists and other defenders.

 

  • Swiftly hold accountable Colombian Army intelligence members, including at the highest ranks, who ordered and carried out mass surveillance on 130 journalists (including U.S. reporters), human rights defenders, political leaders, and military whistleblowers. The U.S. should also ensure that U.S. security and intelligence assistance does not assist, aid or abet such illegal surveillance, now or in the future.

 

  • Vigorously implement the peace accords, including by adequately funding the transitional justice system, fully implementing the Ethnic Chapter, delivering on commitments for protection for ex-combatants and productive projects to reintegrate them into civilian life, and honoring commitments for truth, justice, reparations, and guarantees of non-repetition for victims of the conflict.

 

We urge you, Mr. Secretary, to ensure that all agencies of the United States speak with one clear voice to condemn these ever-escalating murders and to press the Duque Administration to take the necessary steps to identify and prosecute the intellectual authors of these crimes and dismantle the criminal structures that protect them.

 

Finally, we urge you to continue to provide valuable U.S. assistance to Colombia to implement the peace accords, provide humanitarian assistance for Venezuelan refugees and refugee receiving communities, and address the health and food security crisis of the COVID-19 pandemic. The U.S. should also take advantage of opportunities provided by the peace accords to carry out sustainable and lasting eradication of illegal crops by working with communities to replace coca with legal livelihoods and dismantling trafficking networks.

 

Thank you for your attention to these important concerns in this difficult time.

 

 

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