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Bearing Witness, Taking Action: Understanding Human Rights Violations in El Salvador

UU College of Social Justice has partnered with Cristosal of El Salvador to build partnerships and deepen understandings of causes behind migration.

By Rev. Kathleen McTigue on January 17, 2020

UUSC’s work for migrant justice has expanded as the crisis along our borders has grown. We’ve adapted our strategies and strengthened our partnerships, and along with our support for the grassroots groups working so hard for the human rights of migrants, we have developed powerful tools for our own UU constituents to support their activism.

Part of our approach has been to support the fundamental right of people to live safely in the places they call home. To that end, we support groups fighting for human rights within the Central American countries that so many people are fleeing due to unremitting violence. One of these partner organizations is Cristosal, based in El Salvador. Since early 2016, UUSC has supported Cristosal in accompanying victims of rights violations, litigating on behalf of individuals and communities, and helping to build participation in civil society.

Now, the UU College of Social Justice has partnered with Cristosal to offer our first immersion learning experience in El Salvador. From January 20-27, our group of 14 religious leaders will join with a delegation of Central American activists to deepen our understanding of how the struggle for human rights is unfolding under often dangerous circumstances. We’ll have a chance to learn first-hand about some of the core factors driving Salvadorans to migrate—factors which expose the Trump administration’s ludicrously false claim that El Salvador is a “safe third country” for those fleeing violence elsewhere. We’ll visit El Mozote, a community in the countryside in which more than 700 peasant families were slaughtered in 1981, by an elite unit of the Salvadoran military, the Atlacatl Battalion, which was created in 1980 by the US Army’s School of the Americas.

Most important, we will expand and strengthen our capacity as justice activists when we come back home. We are excited for the ways in which the religious leaders traveling with us will gain in both understanding and in determination, so they can return to their congregations and help build our collective response to the human rights crisis the Trump administration has made so much worse through its harsh, anti-migrant policies.

Stay tuned for an update once we return! And visit our website for information about future programs in Central America through the College of Social Justice. Join us!

Photo Credit: iStock – Photo Beto

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About UUSC: Guided by the belief that all people have inherent worth and dignity, UUSC advances human rights globally by partnering with affected communities who are confronting injustice, mobilizing to challenge oppressive systems, and inspiring and sustaining spiritually grounded activism for justice. We invite you to join us in this journey toward realizing a better future!

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