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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31st Annual Pedal for Peace Bike-a-thon!

 Supporting community health, education,

 & organizing projects in 

Latin America and Chicago

Sunday, September 30, 2018

  1:00pm – 5:00pm 

 

Sponsors:                          Chicago Religious Leadership Network on Latin America (CRLN), Chicago- Cinquera Sister Cities, Chicago-Guatemala Partnership, Concern America,             La Voz de los de Abajo, and the Autonomous Tenants Union

 

Schedule and Route

1:00 Gather and Ride!          Meet at the registration table at Lincoln Park Grove 13 (west side of Lake Shore Drive on the grassy area next to the Barry Ave. underpass to the                      Lakefront Bike Path) or at the Dog Water Station (55th Street and Bike Path).

Choose the 12- or 24-mile loop and ride along the beautiful Chicago Lakefront Bikepath.

 

3:30 Fiesta & Program!        Relax, enjoy food and conversation at the main site (Grove 13) and stay for a short program.

 

Riders Receive:                  Refreshments on the ride, food at the post-pedal fiesta, and a free T-shirt!

 

Registration Fees:             Please register online at this site and indicate the t-shirt size you’d like: https://www.crowdrise.com/o/en/2018-pedal-for-peace-bike-a-thon

$10 student/low income; $15 after September 9, 2018

$20 adult; $25 after September 9, 2018

Children 12 and under free

There is an option on the website to mail a check to CRLN, and you can select your t-shirt size.

 

Bring with you:  bike, helmet, cell phone, collected pledges

 

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If you cannot ride, please send an email by September 9, 2018, to shunter-smith@crln.org with your name, email address, and phone number if you can support Pedal for Peace in any of the following ways:

  • prepare a dish of food to share at the fiesta
  • request a food donation from a restaurant for the fiesta
  • ask for a contribution to support the event from a business in your community
  • make a contribution to support another biker or to support the event in general

 

Pledge Form

 

  1. Tell your friends, relatives, neighbors and co-workers that you are riding in a bike-a-thon to raise money for health, education, and community organizing projects.  Ask them to sign up below and pledge an amount for the miles you plan to ride.  Course distances are 12 or 24 miles.
  2. Ask your pledgers to make their checks payable to CRLN.  All proceeds will be divided among the beneficiary groups in support of the projects. You may also go to https://crln.org, click on the Events tab on the top, “2018 Pedal for Peace Bike-a-thon under “Events” on the right hand side of the webpage for a complete description of the groups and projects funded.
  3. Collect the donations before September 30, and turn them in at the registration table on the day of the event.

 

Sponsor’s Name                    Address                                  City , State, Zip                       Total Pledged

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Send any pledges collected after the event to:  CRLN, 4750 N. Sheridan Road, Suite 429, Chicago, IL 60640 by October 9. 

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Ocho miembros del personal, junta de directores y miembrxs de CRLN viajaron a Washington, D.C. del 21 al 24 de abril para la conferencia anual de

Ecunemical Advocacy Days

y días de lobby para participar en la sección de América Latina: Claudia Lucero, Sharon Hunter-Smith, Linda Eastwood, Ann Legg, Dawn Condill , Frank Schneider, Ed Osowski y Lora Burge. El tema para el  2017, “Confrontando el Caos, Forjando la Comunidad: Desafiando el Racismo, el Materialismo y el Militarismo”, encaja bien con la declaración de la misión de CRLN, actualizada en 2016:


La Red de Líderes Religiosos de Chicago para Latinoamérica (CRLN) construye alianzas entre movimientos sociales y comunidades organizadas en EE.UU. y entre los pueblos de las Américas. Trabajamos juntos por medio de la educación popular, la organización de base comunitaria, la promoción de políticas públicas, y la demostración no violenta pero energética para desmilitarizar nuestras sociedades, crear alternativas a la economía neoliberal y desmantelar la política de inmigración de EE.UU, y otras formas de violencia institucional y de Estado. Estamos unidxs por nuestras fes liberadoras e inspiradxs por el poder de la gente para organizar y encontrar aliadxs para trabajar por economías sostenibles, relaciones justas y la dignidad humana.

Los talleres nos informaron sobre los desafíos para lograr una paz real y duradera en Colombia después de la aprobación de los Acuerdos de Paz con el mayor grupo guerrillero, la FARC; Nos informaron sobre las causas fundamentales y las necesidades de protección de los migrantes y los solicitantes de asilo que llegan a los Estados Unidos desde América Central; Y sobre el estado de las relaciones actuales entre los Estados Unidos y Cuba. La directora del CRLN, Claudia Lucero, y Mary Campbell, miembro de CRLN, de la Iglesia Evangélica Luterana en América (ELCA), conformaron 2/3 del panel en el taller centroamericano de migración.


Resaltando el mensaje de un solo orador, el colombiano

Luis Gerardo Acero Barrios

es víctima del conflicto colombiano. Nació en las montañas en 1950, debido al temor al conflicto por parte de sus padres, ya que no estaban alineados ni con grupos paramilitares de derecha ni con bandas criminales de izquierdas. Durante su vida, repetidamente ha tenido que esconderse de uno u otro de estos grupos ilegalmente armados y ha sido desplazado varias veces de su tierra. Él nos dice lo que piensa que debe suceder para que el Proceso de Paz tenga éxito:

  1. Los Estados Unidos apoyaron las negociaciones del gobierno colombiano con la FARC. También es necesario apoyar el proceso paralelo de paz con el ELN, el segundo grupo guerrillero más grande de Colombia.
  2. Apoyo internacional para la aplicación de los Acuerdos de Paz.
  3. El gobierno colombiano necesita desmantelar a los grupos paramilitares. A medida que miembros de la FARC se alejaban del territorio que controlaban, los grupos paramilitares se instalaron e impusieron sus propias reglas. Ellos han matado a 51 líderes de movimiento social hasta ahora este año.
  4. Purificación de las instituciones gubernamentales de la corrupción y la influencia paramilitar.
  5. Presencia de sistemas gubernamentales de salud, educación y aplicación de la ley en las zonas rurales. Todos estos servicios en su mayoría existen en las ciudades y no en el campo.

Hasta que el gobierno establezca presencia en las zonas rurales, las comunidades colombianas se han unido con organizaciones sociales para resistir el desplazamiento de los paramilitares y tratar de crear la paz con justicia social. Cuando son atacados, la denuncia internacional de la violencia paramilitar y los llamados al gobierno colombiano para desmantelar grupos armados ilegales son muy útiles.

La delegación de CRLN también participó en una Vigilia de Oración en el Pentágono; Escuchó a  oradores sobre los principios del proceso de resolución del presupuesto, la seguridad alimentaria mundial, la superación de la inversión de los Estados Unidos en la cultura blanca y el impacto mundial del militarismo estadounidense; La delegación participó igualmente en los servicios de culto animados con poderosa predicación.


En D.C. , visitamos 9 oficinas del Congreso para reunirnos con el personal de la Política Exterior (7  de la Cámara de Representantes y 2 oficinas del Senado) y dejamos carpetas con artículos de fondo y cartas que describen algunas de las peticiones legislativas de CRLN para esta sesión del Congreso:

1) Legislación que suspenda la ayuda militar y policial a Honduras (HR1299); 2) Proporcionar fondos en el proceso de Asignaciones de Ayuda Extranjera para implementar los Acuerdos de Paz de Colombia, e impulsar al gobierno colombiano a desmantelar a los paramilitares; 3) Promover legislación para poner fin al bloqueo y restricciones de viajes a Cuba. También dejamos carpetas con estas solicitudes en otras 5 oficinas que no pudieron reunirse con nosotrxs.

¡Una semana después de nuestro regreso a Chicago, 2 representantes más de Illinois firmaron la legislación HR1299! Estamos manteniéndonos en contacto con las otras oficinas y nos pondremos en contacto con usted si usted vive en uno de esos distritos con maneras de apoyar este esfuerzo.

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