Our History
1978 - 1982
By the end of 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 “contra” war
          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 Angie O’Gorman
          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, El Salvador
          January, 1988: delegation to make a covenant with the Guarjila community, followed by 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 programs
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 (El Salvador) 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 2006.

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, and continues to train soldiers in Latin American countries to repress their own peoples.
 
In response to the sweatshops in Latin America spearheaded by Dan Mosby and interns Rosie Laughlin, Kara Sheahan and Shannon O'Neil, IFCLA began a local campaign for "SweatFree Communities".  This is part of a larger national campaign.  The campaign purpose is to get local governments to agree to purchase their uniforms and supplies only from vendors who will certify that no sweatshop labor is used.  IFCLA was able to get University City, the City of Saint Louis, Saint Louis County and Clayon to pass resolutions for sweat-free purchasing.
 
Following the Latin America trade agreements, the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) came forward.  It is being negotiated in secret and we have continued to monitor any information that becomes available, and to get the word to anyone who will listen to the extreme consequences of this treaty becoming a reality. 

IFCLA has responded to issues with:

            *  Anti-fumigation campaign and consciousness raising about Plan Colombia
            *  Delegations to Colombia (Puerto Asis & ONIC groups)
            *  Organization of buses to go to Ft. Benning, GA for the annual vigil and protest against the SOA/WHINSEC 
            *  Task Forces on FairTrade and Immigration
            *  Participation in MIRA (Missouri Immigrant and Refugee Advocates)
            *  Continued participation in anti-mining campaigns, especially in Guatemala and El Salvador
            *  Legislative updates, office visits and call-in campaigns
            *  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 universities
            *  Internships for university students
            *  An active webpage and email list serve
            *  Actions and Campaigns in response to murders in Ferguson, Saint Louis, Mexico, and Honduras
            *  Program to challenge profiling and discrimination of people of color
 
 
Over the years we have had a number of outstanding staff/program coordinators helping our work. 
Our current Program Coordinator is Sara John.

                    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
                    2013 Shona Clarkson 
                    2015 "Collective":  Kendra Cruse, Anna Ginsburg, Hattie Svoboda-Stel
                    2016 Carolyn Vaughan (June-August), and Sara John (Program Coordinator) and Bridget White (Office
                            Manager)
                    2017 Sara John
 
 
Accompanying the people of Latin America in their struggles for human rights and social justice since 1982
438 North Skinker Boulevard
Saint Louis, Missouri
63130-4834
www.stl-ifcla.org
Phone:
Email:
(314) 721-2977
ifcla@ifcla.net
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 Moffitt 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 at Webster University, “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.

1982 - Present
1978 - 1982
1982 - Present
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Immigration - Intervention - Investment - Immersion
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Our mission: To accompany the people of Latin America in their struggles for human rights and
social justice, and to educate and advocate in the US 
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Current
Past