HISTORY OF IFCLA
The St. Louis Inter-Faith
Committee on Latin America (IFCLA)
is a non-profit organization founded in 1982 with a mission to accompany the people of Latin America in their struggles for human rights and social justice.
We work to foster a sense of community both locally and across international borders, building bridges between cultures and faith traditions, through educational programs and networking with organizations and faith-based groups in the region.
We advocate and do direct action, provide material aid and accompaniment of the poor and marginalized of Latin America, and encourage immersion experiences.
We educate and advocate in the US for a change in US policies which affect immigration, economic justice, environmental justice, health, education and militarization.
We achieve our goals through the generous service of committed individuals and faith communities, student interns, and Social Work practicum students.
To accompany the people of Latin America in their struggles for human rights and social justice and to educate and advocate in the U. S.
- A community that reaches across economic, political and social borders by putting a human face on issues of injustice in Latin America.
- A community in which self-determination brings people together to achieve justice in our world.
- A community rooted in a commitment to non-violence, defense of human rights and support of sustainable models of growth.
- A community where environmental perspectives and policies ensure a future for the planet and its people.
GOALS FOR 2013
- Work for just policies and laws so that Latin Americans find welcome in St Louis (and the US). Challenge prejudice and promote respect and dignity through education and advocacy in St Louis.
- Promote transparent free trade agreements with environmental protections by educating and advocating with legislators and to pass Sweatfree Communities resolutions in metro St Louis.
- Protect human rights by challenging militarism, social prejudice, environmental exploitation, and political repression in Latin American countries.
- Build bridges of friendship and solidarity to connect people of the US and Latin America with projects of social justice and sustainable living.
- Create and implement a plan for organizational transition and sustainability.
IFCLA addresses immigrants' rights, comprehensive
immigration reform legislation, closing the SOA/WHINSEC, fair trade
and the problems with free trade agreements/sweatshop labor.
IFCLA works with national and international
groups advocating peaceful and just resolutions to violent conflicts
and supporting self-determination by the majorities in Latin American
IFCLA has people-to-people relationships with
the communities of Guarjila, El
Salvador, Chajul, Quiche, Guatemala, and the Limay Valley in Nicaragua.
IFCLA organizes delegations, leads immersion experiences for students,
and advocates with these communities for human rights and global
IFCLA organizes the St. Louis community to become
educated about issues impacting Latin American peoples and to advocate
for systemic change through its quarterly publication, the Inter-Faith
Witness (IFW), its webpage, email alerts, and through its various
projects and committees.
History of IFCLA
The Inter-Faith Committee on Latin America began
as the Greater St. Louis Latin America Solidarity Committee (LASC)
in 1977 with pot luck suppers at Friedens UCC in Hyde Park (North
St. Louis). The first members were Chilean refugees, Latin American
students, and folks interested in the area based on personal experience
or commitment. We responded to disappearances and human rights cases
in Chile and in Argentina by sending letters and making phone calls,
increased our knowledge and awareness of issues, and supported each
other in our efforts to be in solidarity with our sisters and brothers
to the south.
We held events alone and with others: LUCHA
(a women's vocal group from Washington, DC), Isabel Morel Gumucio
de Letelier, the widow of Orlando Letelier (assassinated with Ronni
Moffit in DC in 1976), speakers from various countries on university
campuses. We worked with a group of university professors formed
LAGSLA (Latin Americanists of the Greater St. Louis Area).
By 1978, interest in the region was increasing
as the struggles in Nicaragua and El Salvador accelerated and more
people joined the group. We began to meet at the World Community
Center and linked with AFSC (Steve Graham, Program Coordinator).
Eden Seminary decided to call a conference to commemorate the tenth
anniversary of the Medellín Conference of Catholic Bishops
which would be held in Puebla, México. Because of the death
of Pope Paul VI, it was postponed until 1979. At that conference,
Marilyn Lorenz led a workshop on responding to realities in Latin
America from a faith perspective. The committee grew ecumenically
after that time.
With the Sandinista victory in Managua on July
19, 1979, the LASC entered into a new phase of life. We produced
a monthly newsletter, welcomed Nicaraguans to share their experiences,
and raised funds for the literacy and health campaigns in Nicaragua.
LASC co-sponsored a conference, "Peoples in Struggle,"
focusing on Nicaragua, Grenada, and other movements for liberation
in Latin America. Central America was "on the map" for
people in St. Louis.
The struggle in El Salvador exploded with the
bloodless coup in October, 1979. However, the hopes of the new leadership
for the end to the death squads and military oppression were not
fulfilled and a civil war began. The deaths of Archbishop Oscar
Romero, the leaders of the opposition from the FDR and the four
US church women in 1980 shocked the world and the faith community
in St. Louis responded by joining in the work of the LASC. Memorials
were held and speakers came to teach us about what was happening.
By the end 1981, it
became necessary to reorganize into two groups and in March, 1982,
the St. Louis Inter-Faith Committee on Latin America (IFCOLA, later
IFCLA) was incorporated. We decided to share leadership in a Core
Committee with representatives of congregations and churches and
those who would share the work in task forces. A staff person helped
coordinate our efforts. An advisory group of religious leaders gave
us access to both their denominations/congregations and their rich
experience. [Human Rights Office of the Catholic Archdiocese; Giddings-Lovejoy
Presbytery; Episcopal Peace Fellowship; Mennonite Peace Fellowship;
Friends Meeting; AFSC; New Jewish Agenda; American Baptists; United
Methodists; Disciples of Christ; ELCA Lutherans; Unitarians; Ethical
Society; Catholic religious orders of women and men CSJ, SL, RSCJ,
SJ, ASC, SSND, RSM, FSM, CM, Redemptorists, etc.; SLU, WashU, WebsterU]
The rest of the 1980s
were very full of education and action:
- Witness for Peace: Nicaragua and the
- Long term volunteers:
Mary Dutcher, Virginia Druhe, Jean Abbott
- Short term delegations
- Sanctuary for Central American refugees:
El Salvador and Guatemala
- Immanuel Lutheran Church: Ted
and Linda Schroeder; Pat Warner, coordinator
- Casa Arco Iris: Jean Abbott and
- Ruma, IL: Kathleen McGuire and
community: Adorers of the Blood of Christ (ASC)
- Peace Brigades International: Guatemala
- Pledge of Resistance: oppose US invasion
of Central America
- Children's Project: a child from El Salvador
came for surgery and recovery
- Going Home Campaign for refugees from El
Salvador in Mesa Grande, Honduras with the SHARE foundation
- Companion Community Project: Guarjila,
- January, 1988 covenant delegationo Various
delegations to observe and protect human rights
- On-going support for the Clinic which
Dr. Ann Manganaro, SL opened with Jon Cortina, SJ
- Student immersion experiences since 1998:
scholarship fund for young women
- Demonstrations, vigils, rallies, visits
to Congressional offices
- Press briefings, publications, educational
- Authors and National Leaders visited
- Support for the efforts to end US funding
for the wars, to negotiate peace and to achieve the social and
political changes need for justice to prevail.
The peace accords were finally signed ending
the wars in Central America (Nicaragua, 1987; El Salvador, 1992;
Guatemala, 1996). International focus shifted to economics and free
trade agreements. IFCLA worked hard to block the North America Free
Trade Agreement (NAFTA), realizing that it would not benefit either
Mexican or US small farmers and workers. The 50 Years is Enough
campaign (BAP the Bank march) raised consciousness about the World
Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
Debt forgiveness became a key issue. The witness
of visitors from the various countries helped IFCLA reach out to
people in the region.
- "The Peso and the Peasant" about
Chiapas and the Zapatistas
- Annual remembrances of Oscar Romero, the
four US church women and Padre Guadalupe Carney (Honduras).
- Pastors for Peace caravans
Hurricane Mitch in 1998 called forth a generous
response from many who had lived, worked, or visited Nicaragua and
a sister relationship was formed with a community in the Limay valley
called Rio Abajo. For eight years, delegations brought funds raised
to rebuild homes, provide water and electricity, and help develop
cottage industries (sewing, pottery and corn grinding). Reyna Moreno
was hired as organizer for the communities. This project ended in
The coming new millennium has brought many new
challenges to deep-rooted problems. Low intensity warfare continues
under different names. The war on "communism" is now the
"war" on drugs and terrorism. The globalization of the
economy forces people from their land causing a migration crisis.
The School of the Americas has become the Western Hemisphere Institute
for Security Cooperation.
IFCLA has responded with:
- Anti-fumigation campaign and consciousness
raising about Plan Colombia
- Delegations to Colombia (Puerto Asis &
- Organization of buses to go to Ft. Benning,
GA for the annual vigil and protest
- Task Forces on FairTrade and Immigration
- Participation in MIRA (Missouri Immigrant
and Refugee Advocates)
- Legislative updates, office visits and call-in
- Promotion of Fair Trade products and companies
- Building people to people relationships
with and among Latin Americans through speakers, campaigns, and
Pastors for Peace caravans.
- Outreach to students in high schools and
- Internships for university students
- An active webpage and email list serve
1981 Cindy Marston
1982 Angie O'Gorman
1983 Heidi Fillmore-Patrick
1985 Frances Padberg
1987 Maggie Fisher
1995 Mira Tanna
1996 Mary Dutcher
1997 Christie Huck
2001 Margaret Hill
2002 Elizabeth Madden
2004 Marie Andrews
2006 Marilyn Lorenz
1980 Oscar Romero, Ita Ford, Maura Clark,
Jean Donovan, Dorothy Kazel, FDR Leaders
1981 Stan Rother
1983 Guadalupe Carney
1987 Ben Linder
1988 Chico Mendes
1989 Ignacio Ellacuría, Segundo Montes, Ignacio Martín-Baró,
Amando López, Juan Ramón, Moreno, Juaquín
López y López, Julia Elba Ramos, and Marisette (Celina)
1992 Kathleen McGuire, Shirley Kolmer and their sisters
1998 Juan Gerardi
2005 Dorothy Stang
2007 Rufina Amaya, Maria Julia Hernández
2009 Marcelo, Ramiro,Ramiro Rivera, Dora “Alicia” Recinos Sorto, Lorenzo Rosebaugh, OMI
2011 Dom Samuel Ruiz, Jose Comblin, Dean Brackley
Tens of thousands of sisters and
brothers throughout the hemisphere who were tortured, disappeared,
Some of our many companions who have passed
Louis Miller, Peg Rugger, Bobbie Silverblatt,
John Rosen, Eldora Spiegelberg, Margie Tuitt, Jim Mayer, Paul
Reinert, John Shocklee, Hershel Walker, Sr. Tomasa O'Reilly, Penny
Lerneux, Ann Manganaro, Jon Cortina, Greg and Marjorie Reinhart, Betty Wynn,
Hy Blumenthal, Tedford Lewis, Art Wirth, Marian Wirth, Jon Cortina, SJ, Frances Padberg, SSND, Bill Monahan, Art Sandler, Joyce Becherer, Joseph Desloge, Jr, David Felix, Frank & Joanne Flynn, Fr. Jim Krings, Paul Roman, Mary Auer, Dick and Ann Spiering, Jim McGinnis, Mildred Manganaro, Sr. Liz Peplow, Lorna Marsh, Dave Chopin
Our history is a work
in progress. You are invited to
memories to the Program Coordinator
CORE COMMITTEE (organizations
for identification only)
CORE Committee is listed at this link
St. Louis IFCLA
438 North Skinker
St. Louis, MO 63130
Would you like to join