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October 17, 2019

When the Reverend Henry Russell “Russ” Mabry decided to ignore the advice of an instructor to never work with “criminals,” he certainly anticipated a volatile workplace. What he couldn’t have imagined was that his workplace would take center stage while the nation watched as the interests of the United States and Cuba, of immigration and criminal policy, and of jailer and jailed violently collided in late 1987.

“They lined up 20 hostages on the wall opposite the chapel," Mabry would remember about the Marielitos prison riot he witnessed in an...

October 1, 2019

"Their leaders and members are surrounded by a menacing atmosphere of strict surveillance, tapping of telephone calls, telex services and correspondence in general."

So concluded an ecumenical delegation to Paraguay in 1988, describing the suffocation of civil society under the 34-year dictatorship of Alfredo Stroessner. Within the year, Stroessner would be deposed in a coup and forced into exile in Brazil. The groups which brought the ecumenical delegation in -- the Comité de Iglesias para Ayudas de Emergencia (CIPAE), and the...

May 2, 2019

The period following World War II was particularly turbulent in Venezuela. Between 1945 and 1958, the nation experienced four coups d’état, its first democratic election, and the rise and fall of a dictator. Correspondence and reports in PHS’s Venezuela collections reveal the thoughts of Americans experiencing these events first- hand—thoughts as varied and contradictory as those of Americans regarding the current unrest in Venezuela.

By the mid-twentieth century, the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. mission to Venezuela was well-established; it employed...

May 2, 2019

In 1897 the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. sent its first mission workers, Theodore and Julia Pond, to Venezuela. The couple was well-accomplished at the time of their appointment; they had spent over 20 years serving in Syria and had been working in Colombia since 1890. In Venezuela the Ponds encountered resistance from a largely Catholic population, but by 1900 were able to establish The Church of the Redeemer (Iglesia Evangélica Presbiteriana El Redentor) in the capital, Caracas...

March 11, 2019

From 1905 to 1961, the Presbyterian churches of Cuba, heirs of the wave of Protestant evangelism which followed the war of 1898, were organized as the Presbytery of Cuba. In 1967, the churches were reorganized as the Iglesia Presbiteriana-Reformada en Cuba (IPRC), and all formal ties between the church in Cuba and the then-UPCUSA were cut in 1970. John Walter and John Potter, members of the...

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