Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Broadview Prayer Vigil June 14, 2013

 On Friday, June 14 at 7 am. an ecumenical gathering of church people gathered at the Broadview Detention Center near Chicago.  On Fridays the immigrant detainees are put white busses and taken to Ohare airport and returned to their country of origin.

 In addition to providing accompaniment for those being deported the vigil was the opening event of the Illinois Conference of the United Church of Christ.  It also honored the memory of Rev. Bob Sandman.  His wido, Olgha Sandman is here addressing the gathering.
After the vigil some of the activists gather for breakfast at a local restaurant.

Here is some coverage of the event from the Chicago Sun Times;

Thursday, March 28, 2013

From Guatemala

Update on Kidnapped COPIISCO Xinca Leader 
My apologies for the delayed note.   After a few days with other commitments, I was unable to inform you about don Roberto Ucelo.  Following is an update from our Communication Dept. Coordinator  Mayra Ramirez:

Brother and Sisters,

Yesterday, March 18th, in the late evening, Roberto González Ucelo was taken and abandoned in the department/state of Chimaltenango, Guatemala.    Mr. González Ucelo is president of the Xinca parliament and active leader of the North Eastern Region of Popular, Indigenous, Church, Union and Peasant Coordinating Organization, (COPIISCO).

Thanks be to God that he was found alive and although threatened to death, he continues and is committed to the defense of the natural territories.  We inform you that Rodolfo López y Rigoberto Aguilar were able to escape and we regret the extrajudicial execution of Mr. Exaltación Marcos, Xinca Parliament Secretary at Santa María Xalapán.

The four active indigenous leaders were kidnapped on Sunday March 17th after returning from a community consultation.  

We ask that everyone maintain the necessary security measures, in particular those who are at the forefront of the struggle and defense of our natural goods and assets.

Mayra Rodriguez, Communication Dept. Coordinator
Ecumenical Christian Council of Guatemala

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Postville 5th Anniversary

Postville raid: Five years later
Public invited to remember tragic event May 10, in Cedar Rapids

A gathering commemorating the fifth anniversary of the Postville immigration raid is Friday, May 10, in Cedar Rapids.

The purpose of the event is to remember the 389 persons who were arrested May 12, 2008; to reconcile with those who contributed to the injustices; and to advocate for the reform of immigration policies.

The event will begin at 12 p.m. with a remembrance ritual at the park across from the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Iowa, 111 7th Ave. SE in Cedar Rapids.

A "Walk for Justice" at 12:30 p.m. to Immaculate Conception Church, 857 3rd Ave. SE, will follow. Here an interfaith prayer for reconciliation and a call for reform of our immigration policies will take place at 1:15 p.m.

The assembly is being planned by a wide coalition of those involved in the response to the raid as well as those affected. It will include immigrants, who were part of the 2008 raid, church representatives who ministered to the immigrants and their families, lawyers who saw the injustice of the system, as well as others who are concerned about immigration reform.

Five years ago on May 12, 2008, the largest single-site immigration raid at the time in the history of the United States occurred in Postville.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials raided Agriprocessors, the main producer of kosher meat in the United States, handcuffed immigrants and bused them to the National Cattle Congress in Waterloo.

Most detainees were charged with identity theft and were shipped to prisons across the country where they spent five months before being deported. Immigration charges against the CEO of Agriprocessors were dropped.

In a matter of hours on that fateful day, Postville lost a significant amount of its population and worse yet, hundreds of families were torn apart.

The location in front of the federal Count was chosen both because of the court's role in the raid as well as because of the significance of the event to the on-going national conversation about immigration.

For more information about the fifth anniversary commemoration and call for the reform of our immigration policy, as well as for resources for organizing events in communities or congregations to coincide with this commemoration, contact Rockne Cole at rocknecole@gmail.com or 319-358-1900 or Sister Mary McCauley, BVM, at mmccauley@bvmcong.org or 563-583-8989.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Funding Appeal Underway

The Illinois Maya Ministry is conducting its annual funding appeal at this time.  We have received about $2,800.00 in donations already.  Thank you to faithful friends of this ministry in Chiapas, Mexico and Guatemala.

The main use of the funds received is to support our partners, particularly INESIN in Chiapas, and ACG in Guatemala.  We also use this to support a partnership of IMM and SiPaz!

If you wish to contribute make the check payable to: "Illinois Conference UCC."  Write "IMM" in the memo line.  Send the check to: Rev. Michelle Prentice-Leslie, 1221 Clearwater Drive, Yorkville, IL 60560.

Thank you.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

IMM Meetings

On October 1, 2012, the Maya Ministry group met at Michelle's home in Yorkville, IL.  Here we are at lunch.  One of the key elements of the meeting was to plan the annual meeting schedule.  Some of the meetings will be face to face.  Others will be conference calls or electronic conferences over the internet.  The character of each meeting has not yet been determined, but here is the schedule:

  • Thursday, October 18, 2012.  1:00 pm  Web-X meeting.
  • Monday, November 12, 2012.  9:00 am.  With Felix Ortiz in Indianapolis.  Face-to-face.
  • Friday, December 7, 2012.  7:00 am.  at Broadview Detention Center, Broadview, IL.  (This is the weekly prayer vigil.  Will meet for breakfast afterward.)
  • Thursday, January 24, 2013.  Conference Call.
  • Thursday, February 21, 2013.
  • Thursday, March 21, 2013.
  • Thursday, April 18, 2013. Conference Call, 10:30 am
  • Thursday, May 16, 2013. Meet at Yorkville, 10:00 am
  • June 2013 - Meet at the Illinois Conference Meeting.
More information will follow about the time and character of the 2013 meetings.  The days are correct.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Report from Denise - continued

This photo was taken in Morelia, a Zapatista caracol (which I always liken to a county seat).  We're standing in front of the Office for Good Government.  The Zapatista leaders were inside discussing how they would answer the questions we brought - all young, mostly women, many of whom speak only their indigenous languages (there were language groups present - so the meeting was quarto-lingual (is that a word?!), with Spanish sometimes serving as the common language).  When we met with them after a long wait, we were quite impressed with the way leadership was shared among the group, especially the way women and those with no facility in Spanish were encouraged to take a substantial role in the conversation.  There they were, putting their slogan into action right before our delighted eyes:  creating a world were all worlds fit.  In the UCC we talk (and sometimes even practice!) a good game of multi-culturalism.  We could take lessons from the Zapatistas in this!

Friday, August 31, 2012

Rev. Denise Griebler reports from Chiapas

(One of the partners of IMM and of Global Ministries is SiPaz.  Denise Griebler represents IMM on the Board of Directors of SiPaz.  Travel for this international board is expensive, and thus they meet intensively once each year in San Cristobal de Las Casas.  Here is Denise's report of that meeting.)

Chiapas Report

August 14 – 21 I was in Chiapas, Mexico for the annual SiPaz (International Service for Peace) board meeting. It’s always a privilege to accompany this amazingly faithful organization as they accompany communities and processes working toward establishing a true and lasting peace in Southern Mexico. NAFTA and the various other free-trade agreements combined with organized crime, the war on drugs, impunity and government corruption are enough to overwhelm. But SiPaz just keeps plugging along to defend human rights, educate toward peace, support people’s efforts to organize and have a say over their own lives and communities.

We were blessed to go to the countryside to visit with a Zapatista community – indigenous Mayan folk who are staking their claim to define, organize and govern themselves. It was inspiring to see women who speak only their indigenous language of Tzeltal emerging as leaders of the community. There are about 371,000 people in Chiapas who speak this language. Many speak no Spanish. And it's just one of the Mayan language groups in Chiapas!  80% of the people who live in Chiapas are Mayan, which is to say, Native American, indigenous, 1st Nations.  Everyone else is an immigrant!

After the interview with the community leaders, they invited us to have lunch with them – a cup of thick sweet rice water called “atole”. We felt so honored to share a meal and informal conversation with these people who say that what they are working for is a world where all worlds fit. I like that. The big mining companies who want what’s beneath their land do not. I pray the Zapatistas hold their ground.

The rest of the week was solid meetings back in San Cristobal de las Casas. We engaged in analysis of the current situation and strategized about how our little organization has and could make a difference on behalf of human rights
and peace. We committed to goals for this year. SiPaz board members are from France, Costa Rica, Germany, Colombia, Holland, Switzerland and the US.

- Denise
SiPaz Board