Saturday, December 08, 2012

New Tribes: VenezuelaAnalysis, COHA, IPS, CounterPunch

December 3, 2004, Associated Press / FOX News, Documents Say CIA Knew of Venezuela Coup,

April 8, 2005, Voltairenet, What A Difference Three Years Can Make: Bush Rebuffed in Venezuela (Again), by Nikolas Kozloff,

September 21st 2005, VenezuelAnalysis, Evangelical Protestants in Venezuela: Robertson Only The Latest Controversy in a Long and Bizarre History, by Nikolas Kozloff, COHA,

October 13, 2005, IPS, Venezuela to Expel U.S. Evangelical Group, by Humberto Márquez,

October 24th 2005, VenezuelaAnalysis, Venezuela's War of Religion, by Nikolas Kozloff,

October 29, 2005, Associated Press, Tribe questions missionaries’ expulsion, by Natalie Obiko Pearson,

February 14, 2006, Venezuelanalysis, Final Deadline Passes for US Missionaries to Leave Venezuela, by Alex Holland,

February 16, 2006, Venezuelanalysis, Chavez Saves "The Fierce People" - The Yanomamö, Opinion and Analysis - Les Blough - Axis of Logic,

May 9, 2006, COHA, Washington May Soon Try to Pin the Venezuelan Uranium Tail on the Iranian Nuclear Donkey, by COHA Director Larry Birns and Research Fellow Michael Lettieri,

November 27, 2006, CounterPunch, Ecuador and the Contradictions of Chavismo, Nikolas Kozloff,

February 9, 2007, CounterPunch, "If We Have to Die For Our Lands, We Will Die", Nikolas Kozloff,

March 16, 2009, Online Journal, CIA involvement with religious groups not a new charge, by Wayne Madsen,


December 3, 2004, Associated Press / FOX News, Documents Say CIA Knew of Venezuela Coup,

The U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (search) knew dissident military officers were planning a coup in 2002 against Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez (search), according to purported U.S. intelligence documents posted on the Internet.

Citing the documents, Chavez lashed out at U.S. officials on Thursday, saying they knew a coup was brewing but failed to tip off Venezuela's government.

"The CIA knew that a coup was coming ... the government of George Bush knew," said Chavez, whose so-called "peaceful revolution" for the poor and close ties to Cuban leader Fidel Castro (search) have often put him at odds with U.S. policies.

The apparent declassified CIA documents are posted on the pro-Chavez Web site, which contains links to other requests for U.S. documents by freelance investigative reporter Jeremy Bigwood.

An April 6 senior intelligence executive brief — just five days before a coup that briefly ousted Chavez — said "disgruntled senior officers and a group of radical junior officers are stepping up efforts to organize a coup against President Chavez, possibly as early as this month."

As early as March 11, another brief noted "increased signs that Venezuelan business leaders and military officers are becoming dissatisfied with President Chavez" and said if the situation were to further deteriorate "the military may move to overthrow him."

The authenticity of the documents could not be immediately confirmed, though the scanned briefs, with certain portions whited out, appeared to be formerly top secret documents that are regularly circulated among top officials in the Bush administration.

A 2002 State Department review of U.S. policy, however, said the U.S. government did warn Chavez of impending plots.

In his speech broadcast on state-run television Thursday, Chavez said documents showing U.S. involvement in the coup "are emerging" and "will continue to surface."

"Having a government of this type in the United States is a threat to the world," added Chavez, who accused the Bush administration of actively supporting the short-lived coup.

U.S. officials have repeatedly denied U.S. involvement in the coup of April 11, 2002, which was spurred by the killing of 19 people during a massive opposition-led protest.

Loyalists in the military returned Chavez to power after interim president Pedro Carmona dissolved the constitution and vowed to hold elections within a year.

Relations between Caracas and Washington have been strained in recent years, but diplomats from both nations have made efforts to improve ties.

William Brownsfield, U.S. ambassador to Venezuela, said differences between the two countries can be resolved, according to a report published by the Venezuelan newspaper El Universal on Thursday.

The newspaper also said he rejected allegations that U.S. officials backed Venezuelan coup leaders or endorsed Carmona's interim government, saying Washington considers the events in April 2002 "a closed chapter."

"We are willing to work with the Venezuelan government to improve relations," Brownfield was quoted as saying.

The State Department in July 2002 released a review of its policy and the U.S. Embassy's actions in Venezuela from November 2001 to April 2002, in which it confirms knowledge of plots to oust Chavez.

But it says that "far from working to foment his overthrow, the United States alerted President Chavez to coup plots and warned him of an assassination threat that was deemed to be credible."



April 8, 2005, Voltairenet, What A Difference Three Years Can Make: Bush Rebuffed in Venezuela (Again), by Nikolas Kozloff,

George W. Bush

For George Bush the news could not have been worse. Having failed, according to credible accounts, to dislodge firebrand Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez by force in an April 2002 coup d’etat, Bush now must come to terms with the fact that Venezuela has cultivated strong European ties.

That point was underscored this week when Spanish prime minister Jorge Luis Rodriguez Zapatero agreed to sell ten C-295 military transport planes, two CN-235 naval patrol planes and eight coastal patrol vessels worth 1.3bn euros ($1.7bn) to Venezuela.

Though both Zapatero and Chavez stated that the military equipment would be used to peacefully patrol land and sea borders and to prevent drug smuggling, and Zapatero also announced that he would donate three troop transport planes to Colombia, a close U.S. ally, the developments could not have pleased the Bush administration.

The Spanish sale follows close on the heels of Venezuela’s plans to purchase 100,000 AK-47 assault rifles and 22 helicopters from Russia. The US state department has accused Venezuela of sparking an arms race. The rifles, claim U.S. diplomats, could wind up in the hands of the FARC, Colombia’s left-wing rebels. Now, the Spanish sale is adding fuel to the fire.

The Spanish sale surely did not come as a surprise to the U.S. As early as January the Spanish minister of Defense, José Bono, made what Zapatero termed a “discreet” visit to Caracas where the Spanish official discussed the arms sales with Chavez. Currently, the U.S. is trying its best to deal with the diplomatic fallout from the sales. American diplomats in Spain stated the U.S. “was worried” but had not “complained” to the Spanish government about the arms transfers.

When asked to clarify the U.S. position on Spanish arms sales to Venezuela, Robert Zimmerman of the State Department’s Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs commented delicately, “our concerns about arms sales to Venezuela are known to all the relevant parties.”Chavez: A Thorn in The Side of the U.S. Chavez has long been a thorn in the side of the Bush administration.

A frequent critic of the White House, Chavez has lambasted U.S.-led efforts for a free trade zone in the Americas. What is more, he has criticized the U.S. war in Iraq and furthered ties to traditional U.S. enemies such as Cuba. For the United States, Venezuela is a nation of key geopolitical importance.

The world’s fifth largest oil producer, Venezuela is also the fourth largest supplier of oil to the United States after Canada, Mexico, and Saudi Arabia. Last year, Venezuela’s state owned oil company, Petroleos de Venezuela (Pdvsa) accounted for 11.8% (1.52-million barrels a day) of U.S. imports. However, Chavez has used oil as a geopolitical weapon. In a provocative move he has shipped oil to the communist island nation of Cuba.

In a further threat to U.S. interests, Chavez has sought to form a regional oil cartel with other left-leaning South American countries. For taking such unpopular positions, Chavez stated, the United States has sought to have him killed.

If he were assassinated, Chavez remarked, the U.S. could “forget Venezuelan oil.”

Though the U.S. has tried to diplomatically isolate Chavez, with State Department spokesperson Richard Boucher accusing Venezuela of playing a “destabilizing role” in regional affairs, these efforts have not yielded tangible result.

To the contrary: U.S. efforts to pressure Venezuela through third parties such as Spain seem to have backfired. How did things go amiss for the Bush administration in Venezuela?
The Ties That Bind: Aznar and Bush

During Bush’s first term it seemed that the United States enjoyed a willing foreign partner in Spain. José María Aznar, who had reorganized Spanish conservatives into the People’s Party (Partido Popular or PP) had been Prime Minister of Spain since 1996.

Aznar, whose grandfather served as Franco’s ambassador to Morocco and the United Nations and whose father was a pro-Franco journalist, was re-elected with an absolute majority in the 2000 general election. The Spanish prime minister, who had narrowly escaped a 1995 assassination attempt by the Basque terrorist group ETA, made fighting terrorism one of the hallmarks of his administration.

Aznar’s emphasis on combating terrorism fit well with the Bush agenda after the September 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center in New York. What is more, despite robust public opposition (with polls indicating 90% of the Spanish public opposed to the war) and street protests, Aznar supported Bush’s 2003 invasion of Iraq. In August 2003 Aznar sent 1,300 Spanish peace keeping troops to Iraq as part of the government’s support for the U.S. invasion.
Bush and Aznar: Anti-Chavista Allies

Simultaneously Aznar was Washington’s willing ally in opposing Chavez. In 2002 the maverick Venezuelan president was looking increasingly vulnerable. Faced with a growing wave of protests supported by the United States, Chavez was briefly removed from power by the military in a coup d'etat. In his place, Pedro Carmona, previously the head of Venezuela’s largest business association, Fedecamaras, became interim president. However, after poor and marginalized residents of Caracas massed at the presidential palace Chavez was able to return to power and defeat the coup plotters.

Prior to the April 12 2002 coup Venezuelan businessman Carmona visited high level government officials in Madrid as well as prominent Spanish businessmen. Once the coup had been carried out Carmona called Aznar and met with the Spanish ambassador in Caracas, Manuel Viturro de la Torre. The Spanish ambassador was accompanied at the meeting by the U.S. Ambassador, Charles Shapiro. As Chavez languished in a military barracks, PP parliamentary spokesman Gustavo de Arístegui wrote an article in the Spanish newspaper El Mundo supporting the coup.

According to anonymous diplomatic sources who spoke with Inter Press Service, the Spanish foreign ministry holds documents which reveal the Spanish role. The documents reportedly prove that de la Torre had written instructions from the Aznar government to recognize Carmona as the new president of Venezuela.

The diplomatic tit-for-tat continued. After the coup Chavez detained the president of Fedecámaras, Carlos Fernández, who was accused of helping to foment a lock out which reduced oil output in 2002-03.

Fernández was charged with inciting unrest and sedition. In February 2003 Ana Palacio, the Spanish Minister of External Affairs, criticized the detention. During his Sunday radio and TV show, Chavez angrily shot back that Spain should not interfere in Venezuela’s internal affairs. “We must respect each other,” said Chavez.

“Don’t get involved in our things and we won’t involve ourselves in your things. Is it necessary to remember that the Spanish ambassador was here applauding the April coup?”Chavez added, “Aznar, please, each one in his own place.” The diplomatic chill continued late into 2003 when Aznar criticized Chavez for adopting "failed models" like those of Cuba’s Fidel Castro.

Chavez retorted that Aznar's statements were "unacceptable" and added that "perhaps Aznar thinks he is Fernando VII and we are still a colony. No, Carabobo [a battle of independence] already happened. Aznar, Ayacucho [another battle during the wars of independence] already occurred.

The Spanish empire was already thrown out of here almost 200 years ago Aznar. Let those who...stick their noses in Venezuela take note that we will not accept it. In a further snub Chavez stated that Aznar should respond to the Spanish public which protested PP support for the invasion of Iraq. "He should definitely take responsibility for that," Chavez concluded.

The Tide Starts To Turn

In March 2004 the tide turned. Despite the unpopularity of the war in Iraq, Jorge Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, the leader of the Partido Socialista Obrero Español (PSOE, or Spanish Socialists’ Workers Party) trailed in the polls. With general elections called Aznar's hand picked successor in the PP, Mariano Rajoy, looked likely to win. In part the PP owed its popularity due to its tough stand on Basque terrorism and ETA.

Then, three days prior to the election the Madrid commuter train bombings killed 201 people and injured 1,500. The PP hastily blamed ETA for the bombings but as suspicions grew of al Qaeda involvement Aznar's party suffered. Some analysts argued that the PP held some responsibility for the Madrid bombings because it sent troops to Iraq and acquiesced in U.S. foreign policy.

Thousands poured out on to the streets to protest the PP. Zapatero was thrust to an upset victory in the election. The socialists quickly shifted away from the strongly pro-U.S. focus of the PP, allying closer to the nations of  "Old Europe" such as France and Germany. Zapatero described Spain’s participation in the Iraq war as “a total error.” In May, two months after his electoral victory, he withdrew Spain’s 1,430 troops.
Chavez Receives A “Rock Star” Welcome

Needless to say Chavez was ecstatic about the socialist win and made no effort to conceal his high spirits. Shortly after Zapatero’s victory Chavez praised the Spanish government for withdrawing its troops from Iraq. The firebrand Venezuelan politician was further emboldened after an August 2004 recall referendum failed to force him from office.

The final result showed that 59.25% of voters approved of Chavez and opposed his recall. Having then survived a coup attempt, a lock out in 2002-3 and a recall effort Chavez looked increasingly secure [what is more, in the October 2004 regional elections governing coalition candidates garnered 90% of the state governments and more than 70% of city governments].

Despite U.S. political pressure Chavez was now becoming a hemispheric leader with real clout. With Zapatero now in power Chavez traveled to Spain in November 2004. Chavez expressed his satisfaction with the change of government in Spain, commenting “How happy the Spain of today, and how sad the Spain that was subordinate to Washington’s mandate.” According to Reuters, Chavez received a “rock star welcome” in Madrid.

Once in the Spanish capitol Chavez paid homage to the victims of  "M-11." At the Atocha train station where scores of Spanish had perished in the attack, Chavez was mobbed by the media and hundreds of supporters. Many waved Venezuelan flags and chanted, “Chavez, friend, the people are with you.”

The indefatigable Chavez buoyed his supporters by criticizing the war in Iraq, the U.S. economic embargo against Cuba and U.S. threats against Iran. During a joint news conference Chavez advocated “a new progressive, transforming and liberating way of thinking,” that should confront the negative effects of the free market neo-liberal economic model. That model, he maintained, “is only useful for a world at war.” During the press conference, Zapatero agreed with the Venezuelan‘s comments.
The Moratinos Bombshell

Just as Chavez was touring the Spanish capitol, however, a scandal erupted which turned the government inside out. Miguel Angel Moratinos, the Spanish Foreign Minister, accused the previous PP administration of supporting the failed coup d'état against Chavez in April 2002. Speaking on the Spanish TV program "59 segundos," Moratinos remarked that Aznar’s policy in Venezuela "was something unheard of in Spanish diplomacy, the Spanish ambassador received instructions to support the coup." Before the cameras Moratinos declared, "that won't happen in the future, because we respect the popular will." Adding fuel to the fire Chavez remarked "I have no doubt that it [the Spanish involvement] happened. It was a very serious error on the part of the former government."

Chavez declared that Venezuela had no problem with the PP nor with Spain, and that for a brief moment the two countries enjoyed good relations. But later Aznar's political as well as personal views changed."With Aznar," Chavez stated, "there was neither chemistry, nor physics, nor math."

Arms Only Tip of The Iceberg

With political upset in Spain the path was now clear for greater economic and political coordination. In fact, the recent Spanish arms sales were only the tip of the iceberg. Of key importance was the Spanish oil company Repsol. As of December, Repsol produced 100,000 barrels of oil per day in Venezuela. But under a recent deal that figure will go up to 160,000 barrels per day as Repsol expands its operations. Under the deal Repsol will double its reserves, raise production 60% and become a joint partner with Pdvsa in a gas liquefaction plant and an 80-megawatt electricity generating plant. Furthermore, under another deal Chavez will buy three ships from Spain including an oil tanker.

The Boomerang Effect

Arguably the United States itself has brought about this political realignment. Analysts have suggested that voters held Aznar responsible for the M-11 attacks, a result of Spain’s close alliance with the U.S. Now Zapatero has punished Bush, first by withdrawing Spain’s forces from Iraq and allying more closely with “Old Europe,” and secondly by pursuing a more independent policy in South America.

In this sense Zapatero seems to agree with Chavez’s desire to create a more "multipolar" world in which smaller nations unite and deal with the U.S. on more equal terms. Now that Chavez has consolidated power and is extending economic and political ties not only with neighboring South American countries but also with Europe, the United States looks increasingly bereft. What a difference three years can make.


September 21st 2005, VenezuelAnalysis, Evangelical Protestants in Venezuela: Robertson Only The Latest Controversy in a Long and Bizarre History, by Nikolas Kozloff, COHA,

• Vice President Rangel leads a campaign for anti-evangelical vigilance as the Robertson affair reminds him and the nation of the suspect activities of the New Tribes Mission decades ago.

In a clear sign that the Chávez administration is more than a little concerned about the nature of missionary activities of the Protestant evangelical sects residing in the country, the Venezuelan government announced on August 29 that it would suspend all new applications for missionary visas. It is unclear how long the suspensions will last and and when asked to comment the Venezuelan Embassy in Washington would not elaborate. According to the head of the Justice Ministry's religious affairs unit, Carlos González, the government was already weighing the suspensions even before the Robertson affair broke out on August 22, but "these declarations have made us speed things up." He of course was referring to U.S. televangelist Pat Robertson, who remarked on his Christian television show "The 700 Club," that if Chávez "thinks we're trying to assassinate him, I think that we really ought to go ahead and do it." Robertson went on to say that Chávez was a "terrific danger" to the United States as he intended to become "the launching pad for communist infiltration and Muslim extremism." Robertson added: "It's a whole lot cheaper [assassination] than starting a war. And I don't think any oil shipments will stop."

Robertson Grabs the Headlines, But Venezuela’s Not Amused

Robertson’s explosive comments managed to inflame Venezuelan public opinion and led to strong statements from incensed officials. Vice President Jose Vicente Rangel, with a long and conflictual history of dealing with evangelicals, remarked that Venezuela was weighing court action against Robertson. "There is a legal measure in the United States that condemns and punishes statements of this nature," Rangel observed, referring to broadcasting regulations dealing with calls for the assassination of another nation’s leader. 

Chávez and Protestant Groups

On the other hand, according to David Zelenak, Director of the Resource Department at the evangelical New Tribes Mission which operates in Venezuela, Chávez was initially somewhat partial to Protestants and evangelical groups like his own. Zelenak says that before Chávez came to power in 1999, Christian radio and TV were outlawed, a policy reversed by Chávez. Robertson in fact broadcasts his 700 Club to Venezuela over TV station Televen. Ironically then, “Robertson's program would never have been there if it wasn't for Chávez.” Zelenak suggests that Chávez conducted a pro-Protestant policy as a way of sparring with the Catholic Church. Some Venezuelan Catholic bishops have accused Chávez of trying to create Cuban-style communism in the country. Chávez has countered by saying that he is a Catholic and that the bishops are siding with the rich to bring down his regime. What is more, Chávez accuses the Catholic hierarchy of supporting the aborted coup d’etat against him in April 2002.

Robertson Shoots Evangelicals in the Foot

There is no question that after the Robertson outburst, the evangelical groups now have less leverage in Venezuela and that the pendulum has swung against the militant wing of Protestantism  Even before, Venezuelan Protestants were not the most likely group to have opposed the president. Indeed, they only number 2% of the population and by and large are a working class pro-Chávez constituency. What is more, leading Venezuelan Protestants in the country have flatly denounced Robertson’s fatwa against Chávez, complaining that his statements haven’t made their work any easier. Zelenak says the Venezuelan government has put a hold on foreigners trying to acquire visas. Not only are U.S. missionaries headed to Venezuela being delayed, but those who already are present in Venezuela are wondering if they should return home on leave. Though New Tribes Mission did not put out an official statement about the Robertson controversy, he says Robertson‘s strong words “did not help us in Venezuela.” Indeed, Robertson‘s offensive hardly stands to benefit New Tribes, which has fallen under attack in the past and presents a vulnerable target. Zelenak adds that other missionary groups were concerned about Robertson‘s remarks and worry that the war of words might escalate.

What then is the likely fall out resulting from the Robertson fiasco? Chávez has undoubtedly benefited from the controversy. By stating what U.S. policymakers are afraid to say openly, Robertson gave Chávez even more backing, both in his own country and in the region. Of course, Chávez would be wise not to alienate his Protestant constituency without considerable forethought. For missionary groups such as New Tribes, the situation has become more than delicate. In the short term, New Tribes may seek to lay low. For the time being the group would seem to have little to fear from more outbursts from Robertson: the minister has apologized for his remarks. However, if the U.S. government continues its confrontational policy towards Chávez, U.S.-affiliated missionary organizations like New Tribes could experience further problems by way of reaction.

Washington Versus Caracas

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld offered a mild rebuke to Robertson’s provocative comments regarding Chávez, declaring, "Certainly it's against the law. Our department doesn't do that type of thing.” Both Rumsfeld and State Department spokesman Sean McCormack were careful to state that the remarks regarding a possible assassination of Chávez came from a private citizen and did not represent official U.S. policy. "Private citizens say all kinds of things all the time," Rumsfeld remarked. It was noteworthy that McCormack did not forcefully condemn the evangelist’s statements, although he noted that they were improper. "Any accusations or any idea that we are planning to take hostile action against Venezuela or the Venezuelan government – any ideas in that regard are totally without fact and baseless," said McCormack.

Rumsfeld and McCormack’s disclaimers notwithstanding, the Bush administration’s tepid response lacks credibility, perhaps because Robertson’s remarks did not markedly stray from the spirit of official U.S. policy towards Caracas. Venezuelan chancellor Alí Rodríguez suggested that McCormack criticized Robertson only for his style, not substance. “It would appear that in their subconscious what they are condemning is imprudence and not the call for assassination,” Rodríguez tartly remarked.

Perhaps it’s an overstatement to say that Bush and his immediate team would countenance the violent demise of Hugo Chávez (although in April 2002 they sanctioned an attempted coup against the Venezuelan leader which could easily have ended with his death.) For many months now, the Venezuelan president has claimed that the White House has targeted him for assassination. In March, the State Department retorted that Chávez's spate of accusations regarding a CIA plot to assassinate him were “wild.” However, serious doubts emerged over the weight of the administration’s latest display of supposed indifference to Chávez’s fate when Felix Rodriguez, a former CIA operative in Central America and influential Bush-backer in South Florida, claimed in a Miami TV interview that regarding Venezuela, the administration has "contingency plans." When pressed to explain, Rodriguez said the plans "could be economic measures and even at some point military measures."

Rodriguez’s views must be given some weight because in the past he has been linked to such Bush hemispheric ideologues as Otto Reich and Roger Noriega. As the Washington Post has noted, Rodriguez “is well known in Latin America for his role advising a Bolivian military unit that captured and executed Cuban revolutionary Che Guevara in 1967. He was also well-connected with President Bush's father during his tenure both as president and vice president.” Clearly, Chávez is not taking any chances: he recently beefed up his security detail.

Washington Fuels the Opposition

While the accuracy of such Chávez misgivings is unclear, it’s not as if the Venezuelan leader is entirely unjustified in feeling somewhat hunted: In the run up to the April 2002 failed coup d’etat against the Chávez regime, the Bush administration funneled U.S. taxpayer money to the anti-Chávez Venezuelan opposition through the National Endowment For Democracy and USAID. As the coup was being carried out, Chávez was taken prisoner by elements within the military. The civilian opposition who helped spring the coup invented the tale over the television networks which it dominated, that Chávez had willingly resigned. As he watched the announcement from inside the military headquarters of Fuerte Tiuna, Chávez thought to himself, “Now they are going to kill me.” An officer lent Chávez a phone and he called his wife, bidding his last farewells. Fortunately, Chávez narrowly escaped death. “The order to kill me had been given,” he remarked later. “What happened was that the generals that were up in arms did not have true leadership and some generals, but above all the young officers that were taking care of me, neutralized that order.”

hyperbolic - enlarged beyond truth or reasonableness; "a hyperbolic style"

Clearly then, Rumsfeld’s distancing of the Pentagon from Robertson is not completely convincing in light of the administration’s consistently hyperbolic foreign policy towards Venezuela. The Robertson incident has now forced the U.S. media to address the exotic confluence of interests between the Bush White House and Christian fundamentalists. What the media has failed to report, even at this late date is that U.S. evangelical sects have played a long and often problematic role in Venezuela and elsewhere in Latin America. The Robertson incident is sure to bring back bitter memories for many Venezuelans of past religious intrusions in their country, further fueling anti-U.S. sentiment. To comprehend Venezuela’s alarm over Robertson’s outlandish remarks, one must be aware of the operation of various U.S. evangelical sects in the country, most notably, the New Tribes Mission.

The Evangelical Connection: The Arrival of The New Tribes Mission

One strand of the often unsavory and arcane history of U.S. evangelicals in Venezuela goes back decades. In 1946, members of the North American based New Tribes Mission, a fundamentalist Protestant sect, entered Venezuela from across the Colombian border. Posing as tourists and “curious explorers,” they settled along the Negro River in the region known as Casiquiare. At the time, the area was used for the exploitation of natural rubber which had not yet been replicated as a synthetic fiber and was, as such, still a vital strategic material. The arriving missionaries were not given a particularly warm welcome by the indigenous peoples living in the immediate area. The Aquencwa Indians, then led by their leader Horacio Acisa, soon began to violently resist their unwelcomed northern visitors.

From 1945 to 1948 a coalition of nationalist military officers allied to the anti-clerical political party, Acción Democrática, ruled the country. Nonetheless, New Tribes continued to reside in Venezuela in spite of the central government’s marked hostility to its members. Following a coup d’etat in 1948, Venezuela came under outright military rule. However, to the consternation of Antonio Justo Silva, the governor of the federal territory of Amazonas, “no one thought to ask why these missionary groups were staying in Amazonas.” But in 1954 their status was officially legalized thanks to a permit issued by the military authorities under the pro-U.S. General Marcos Pérez Jiménez dictatorship.

Curiously, in that same year, the New Tribes missionaries abandoned their villages along the Negro River and settled in the Guayana Shield, where deposits of radioactive minerals had been discovered. What is more, a tantalizing tidbit was provided by muckraking journalists Charlotte Dennett and Gerard Colby: “On Brazil’s border with Venezuela were uranium deposits that the [Brazilian] regime had targeted for the development of nuclear energy and, some feared, nuclear bombs.” They also claimed that the presence of uranium ore was found on the traditional lands of the Yanomami, the largest unacculturated tribe in the Brazilian Amazon. Also present in the adjoining area was the Summer Institute of Linguistics, a New Tribes ally as well as an evangelical missionary organization in its own right, that specialized in translating the Bible into local dialects. Its adherents could be found among the Yanomami in Venezuela, where they were studying the languages of the region from their Porto Velho base in Brazil. Writing to Venezuela’s Minister of Justice, Justo expressed his concerns about the New Tribes. In the course of six years of residence, according to the official, the missionaries had nothing to show for their work and had not accomplished anything for the Indians. Justo was openly suspicious of the evangelicals, who would inexplicably abandon sites and move to other areas. "It makes one suspect," he wrote, "that they [the New Tribes missionaries] have another objective."

New Tribes: A State within a State?

New Tribes was fast on the road towards becoming a veritable transnational organization spanning much of Latin America. Operating in remote, far-flung areas, usually distant from the effective reach of the central government, the missionaries could count on every form of communication and transportation equipment, including aircraft. What’s more, New Tribes at the same time was indoctrinating indigenous tribes in other South American countries such as Colombia, Brazil, Bolivia and Paraguay. In 1959, Acción Democrática returned to power and President Romulo Betancourt authorized the missionaries to operate in Amazonas. Eventually, the missionaries would be active in an immense zone encompassing not only this territory but also the states of Apure, Bolivar, and part of Monagas. In total, New Tribes had access to 30% of Venezuela’s national territory.

To carry on its ambitious work, the organization had a staff of more than 150 including missionaries, linguists, pilots, engineers, technicians and others. It also had its own communication network. By 1980, God’s soldiers had 2 Bible institutes, 6 basic training camps, a linguistic institute, a radio station, a medical center, and a housing complex for retired missionaries. Even more impressive, New Tribes built 29 air strips from which their light aircraft fleet operated. The airstrips and settlements all fell under their exclusive control. According to one investigator, “not even the armed forces can easily use those airports. In fact, the runways are constructed for specially equipped planes that can land on extra short runways.”

It was at this time that two anthropologists dropped a bombshell by charging that New Tribes was trying to create a state within a state by turning the Indians against the Venezuelan military. According to their findings, the missionaries had circulated flyers amongst the Panare Indians, written in the E’napa tongue but edited in the United States. The literature attempted to discredit the National Guard and sought to pit the Indians against its local units.

At the time, New Tribes was working with two aviation companies, Mission Air Force and Wings of Aid. In fact, the president of New Tribes, Jaime Bou, was also president of the latter. One of the principal tasks of the airlines was to transport supplies and missionary staff from Brazil to Venezuela and onwards to the U.S. From Puerto Ayacucho southwards, the Amazonas area was considered a transit zone prohibited to civilian traffic. However, New Tribes missionaries were allowed to circulate freely and the missionaries were not subject in the least to rigorous controls by Venezuelan authorities. In an overview of the New Tribes operations, one writer noted, "this adds up to a colonial enclave in the middle of the Amazon jungle."

"I Speak To Caracas:" A Bombshell

Perhaps due to New Tribes' far-flung infrastructure, by the 1970s the missionaries had come under widespread public fire. The first salvo came from Pablo Anduza, the former governor of Amazonas, who remarked in 1973 that missionary education was alien to Indian traditions and "…missionary teachings encourage the creation of an artificial society which separates children from parents." The second blow came from Julio Jiménez, a Guajibo Indian. In 1976, Jiménez publicly disclosed that in 1958 he was sent by New Tribes to the U.S. to undertake specialized courses with the Summer Institute of Linguistics. Jiménez then disclosed that to his observation, missionary work had a pernicious effect upon the indigenous lifestyle. He remarked that, “New Tribes has done more harm than good, and they should be expelled.” On the main campus at the Central University of Caracas, things were heating up against the New Tribes Mission. At a seminar held at the School of Sociology and Anthropology, various indigenous leaders called for its expulsion.

But the public relations nightmare for New Tribes was just beginning. In late 1976, Carlos Azpurua released a new 18 minute short film, "I Speak To Caracas." The film featured the historian and shaman of the Yecuana people, Barne Yavari, who tells the camera, "They [the missionaries] prohibit all our customs…our drinks, our mythology, music and our form of life. I don’t mean that no North American has helped me spiritually. We don’t need spiritual help because we have our religion." Yavari goes on to tell the people of Caracas that his people have their own God, Wanadi. "It's not known how he began nor who made him," says Yavari. "Wanadi has been my beginning." "I Speak To Caracas" became a sensation, hitting the country like a bombshell. The film earned various prizes both in Venezuela and abroad. As a result of its screening, the role of New Tribes Mission and the plight of Venezuelan Indians hit the international stage. The film was shown at hundreds of forums held in universities, film clubs, unions, parishes, public libraries, legislative assemblies, and even border posts. Everyone from indigenous leaders to public law firms participated in the forums accompanying the film’s screenings. The organizers eventually published a document entitled, “Let Us Stop Ethnocide,” in which they called for an end to the war that “these missionaries carry out against culture and the lives of our Indians.”

For some prominent government figures, the issue of New Tribes and the abuse of indigenous peoples had become a matter of national pride. Simon Alberto Consalvi, the former Venezuelan chancellor, remarked that “The accusations about what is happening in Amazonas and some other Venezuelan regions…constitute a recurring theme. This is not a superficial matter…It’s not a secret to anyone that light aircraft go and come without oversight. Some time ago I accompanied the Mexican chancellor to a beautiful place in the Venezuelan Guayana. I was greatly surprised (certainly not very agreeably), when a Venezuelan Indian began to speak in English as if we were a group of tourists. The Indian was surrounded by Bibles…I had the impression that I was in some place in California, where they invent religions and cults in bulk.”

The Plot Thickens: New Tribes Accused of Espionage

Though New Tribes had come under fire from leftist university professors and the capital’s intellectual elite, criticism would shortly come from yet another, but unexpected quarter: the military. In 1976, Tomas Antonio Mariño Blanco, a navy captain and commander of the Federal Territory of Amazonas military garrison, ordered the detention of two American engineers bearing identification cards from Westinghouse, a leading U.S. defense contractor, and General Dynamics, which produces military jet aircraft. The engineers were carrying out mineral prospecting and were in the company of a missionary working for New Tribes Mission. 

Jaime Bou, the New Tribes Mission head in Venezuela, intervened on behalf of the Americans. After staff members from the U.S. Embassy later joined Bou’s efforts, the two were released and the case was closed. However, Antonio Mariño reported that the missionary organization had been financed by General Dynamics, which had sent funds and pilots from California. According to Mariño’s investigation, New Tribes was also linked to a shadowy California foundation called District 1355 as well as the evangelical sect, Summer Institute of Linguistics. All New Tribes missionaries had taken courses with the Antonio Mariño Summer Institute of Linguistics, an organization repeatedly accused of ethnocide and espionage in other Latin American countries.had determined that District 1355 had sought to acquire a concession in Colombia to cultivate rice and other crops, which it proposed flying out of the region in a fleet of C-141 planes.

The concession, located between the Meta and Tomo Rivers, was known to contain deposits of silica and cobalt. Bou along with some of his associates had traveled to Puerto Carreño in Colombia to meet with members of District 1355. Shortly thereafter, Colombian president Cesar Turbay Ayala prohibited the Summer Institute of Linguistics, New Tribes and District 1355 from operating on Colombian soil. The president declared that the missionary groups had lent support to unauthorized overseas transnational companies which were searching for strategic resources.

The Military Goes Public

With accusations now escalating against New Tribes from not only leftist university faculties but also members of the Venezuelan armed forces, the Chamber of Deputies agreed to open an investigation. Particularly damning was the report filed by Antonio Mariño who headed the Amazonas military command in 1978. The report, whose startling findings were corroborated by Colonel Luciano Mujíca Herñandez, a senior National Guard officer in Amazonas who had independently conducted surveillance of New Tribes, found that the evangelical group had not remained in its own demarcated jurisdiction, nor had it complied with Venezuelan aeronautical regulations. Rather, it apparently had conducted scientific espionage on behalf of transnational companies, had tried to impersonate Venezuelan military officers by appearing in their uniforms when meeting with the Indians, and had even attempted to bribe military authorities. Antonio Mariño further declared that in 1977, New Tribes had been able to cultivate the support of Julio Yañes Marchan, the ex-governor of the Federal Amazonas Territory. Marchan invited the missionaries to a forum about the mineral potential in Amazonas. The event was also sponsored by the armed forces, and when Mariño saw Jaime Bou there, he promptly escorted the missionary from the premises. Word of Antonio Mariño‘s explosive report was picked up in the Venezuelan press and New Tribes became notoriously famous amongst the Venezuelan public.

Congress Investigates

Growing public resentment had begun to put pressure on the government to rein in the evangelicals. Local grassroots’ organizers working against New Tribes submitted a petition to the Venezuelan legislature with 15,000 signatures. Organizers of the petition, entitled “We Accuse,” demanded the expulsion of New Tribes from Venezuela and urged greater regulation of religious sects operating in the country. The debate over New Tribes encouraged fiery polemics in the Venezuelan congress in 1979. One deputy charged that the missionaries had subjected the Indians to a system of “internal colonialism.” The deputy, Alexis Ortiz, called for the creation of a special sub- commission which would investigate the activities of New Tribes missions operating in the Federal Amazonas Territory. Some deputies viewed New Tribes’ activities there as an affront to Venezuelan sovereignty. One remarked, “The decision of the government must be to expel the New Tribes.”

By December 1979, a congressional investigative commission had been formed and its members traveled to Amazonas, where they visited the Piaroa community of Chivapure. They also interviewed evangelical missionaries in the region. The commission additionally met with tribal leaders at Pariña, a New Tribes mission along the Brazilian border. In its final report, the commission’s conclusions echoed Antonio Mariño’s document. The officials stated that they had heard accusations that New Tribes had carried out compulsory evangelization and that ethnocide of the indigenous population had resulted. What is more, the body received complaints of economic espionage. In response to these various charges, the commission recommended that the Venezuelan state take over the supervision and operation of the missions and provide housing and education for the Indians.

New Tribes defended itself from the accusations being made against it by claiming it had only offered, not demanded, religious and educational assistance to the Indians. Meanwhile, the evangelical group had cultivated supporters such as the ex-Amazonas governor of the Federal Territory of Amazonas, Pablo Anduza. It also attracted support within the Venezuelan Evangelical Council. Luzardo reports that the latter body had threatened the country’s two main political parties, warning that 500,000 voters would punish any Venezuelan political party which attempted to foil New Tribes. Meanwhile, U.S. Embassy officials also lobbied politicians of both parties to lay off New Tribes. “Unfortunately,” writes Alexander Luzardo, “the report was not taken into consideration by AD [Acción Democrática] and Copei [the two main political parties]. With the exception of a few deputies, the others did not show up when the report was to be approved. Apparently pressuring by New Tribes proved effective in influencing some members of AD."

Coming Full Circle: Jose Vicente Rangel and New Tribes Mission

The story of New Tribes Mission refused to die. In August 1981, Jose Vicente Rangel, then a deputy in Congress, requested that the investigation into New Tribes be reopened. Rangel, a long time fixture of Venezuelan politics, had unsuccessfully run for president twice on the MAS [Movement Towards Socialism] ticket, in 1973 and 1978. An aggressive opponent of U.S.-backed military regimes in Venezuela (the military ordered his arrest after a coup d’etat in 1948 and he was later expelled from the country), Rangel was particularly incensed by the case of New Tribes. He personally wrote the introduction to a book attacking New Tribes Mission, remarking on that occasion, “What this is fundamentally about is a security problem and national defense. It’s about the abandonment of immense frontier territory.” Rangel went on to praise those who had campaigned against New Tribes, which, in his opinion, had set up a colonial enclave in the country. In the face of the missionary presence, Rangel insisted that Venezuela needed to reaffirm its national identity. Though the Ministry of Justice and Interior Relations ultimately heeded Rangel’s calls and carried out another investigation, the results were never made public.

To this day, New Tribes Mission operates in Venezuela, with over 100 missionaries operating within the country. New Tribes works with indigenous peoples in Amazonas and several other states. David Zelenak considers the historic accusations against his group as bogus. He also says that no missionary was ever put in jail, notwithstanding all of the investigations and media attention. He says that there was never any concrete proof against New Tribes, and claims that missionary efforts helped to make indigenous peoples healthier. As for Rangel: “he has never liked Protestants…He was a fringe communist candidate before, now he’s thrilled to be an international player.”

In 1999, after Hugo Chávez was elected president, he named Rangel as Minister of External Relations. The veteran politician went on to serve as Minister of Defense under Chávez and later as his vice president. Judging from his recent comments regarding Pat Robertson, Rangel is still highly suspicious of American fundamentalist organizations.
This analysis was prepared by COHA Senior Research Fellow Nikolas Kozloff.

Nikolas Kozloff's forthcoming book, Hugo Chavez and His Vision for South America, is forthcoming from St. Martin's Press.

September 19, 2005

The Council on Hemispheric Affairs, founded in 1975, is an independent, non-profit, non-partisan, tax-exempt research and information organization. It has been described on the Senate floor as being “one of the nation’s most respected bodies of scholars and policy makers.” For more information, please see our web page at; or contact our Washington offices by phone (202) 223-4975, fax (202) 223-4979, or email
Source: Council on Hemispheric Affairs (COHA)

October 13, 2005, IPS, Venezuela to Expel U.S. Evangelical Group, by Humberto Márquez - IPS

CARACAS, Oct 12 (IPS) -Venezuela will expel the U.S. evangelical group New Tribes Mission, which has been active in indigenous communities along the southern border with Colombia and Brazil since 1946, President Hugo Chávez announced Wednesday.

"They will leave Venezuela," said the president. "They are agents of imperialist penetration. They gather sensitive and strategic information and are exploiting the Indians. So they will leave, and I don't care two hoots about the international consequences that this decision could bring."

New Tribes, an evangelical organisation that 
has long had close ties with the U.S.-based Summer Institute of Linguistics, is active in a number of countries in Asia and Latin America, and in Venezuela has focused its efforts on the Yanomami, Ye'kuana and Panare indigenous groups and other ethnic communities in the southern part of the country.

The Summer Institute of Linguistics was founded in 1934 with the declared purpose of translating the Bible into indigenous languages.

Chávez was delivering collective land titles, boat motors, vehicles and credits to indigenous communities in the plains region in southern Venezuela on Wednesday, the date he had declared "day of indigenous resistance," when he made the surprising announcement on the New Tribes Mission in a nationally broadcast speech. 

"I have seen reports and videos on the activity of these New Tribes. We don't want them here; we all form part of an old tribe," Chávez quipped. 

Since the 1970s, New Tribes has drawn heavy criticism from many quarters, including leftist political groups, environmentalists, indigenous organisations, academics, Catholic Church leaders and even members of the military. The controversial group has been accused of prospecting for strategic minerals on behalf of transnational corporations and of the forced acculturation and conversion of indigenous people. 

Sociologist and environmentalist Alexander Luzardo, who 20 years ago published a report on the New Tribes Mission's operations in the Amazon jungle, welcomed Chávez's decision.

He told IPS that the decision "complies with what is stipulated in the constitution of 1999, which establishes indigenous peoples' right to self-determination and to respect for their beliefs, values and customs. 

He also said the expulsion of the group would be in line with the recommendations of numerous government and parliamentary reports that had warned about the group's activities in Venezuela. 

"New Tribes has westernized indigenous people by force, while spreading a sense of shame and guilt, disguised as teaching the gospel: they taught the Panares that Satan had turned into a Panare Indian and that they were guilty of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ," said Luzardo. 

However, New Tribe missionary Richard Bruce said in an interview with the local press four years ago that "we want to respect the way of life and customs of indigenous peoples, not change them overnight. This is not a corner of the United States." 

During the group's most active period, roughly 20 years ago, New Tribes missionaries from the United States numbered close to 200, said Luzardo. They were mainly concentrated in Tama-Tama, a spot where several rivers meet in the heart of the southernmost Venezuelan state of Amazonas. 

This area is believed to be rich in minerals like uranium. For many years, New Tribes built airstrips and modern installations that contrasted sharply with the rustic constructions in the indigenous communities they ministered to. 

The now defunct National Identity Movement, which grouped together cultural, environmental and indigenous organisations in the 1980s, maintained that New Tribes acted as a cover for the prospecting of geological and mineral wealth coveted by corporations that provided funding for the Summer Institute of Linguistics. These included General Dynamics, a defence industry contractor, and Ford.

Nevertheless, the demands made at the time for the expulsion of the New Tribes Mission from Venezuela eventually faded into oblivion, as did public concern over the activity of the group, which has also experienced divisions in recent years, Luzardo commented. 

But that changed with the announcement made by Chávez, who noted that "while indigenous people live in extremely difficult conditions, New Tribes have power plants, radio systems and airstrips well maintained with tractors and mowers, where planes fly in from abroad without going through any kind of customs check."

His reference to the potential consequences of the measure is likely due to the fact that New Tribes belongs to the Evangelical Council of Venezuela and could accuse the government of religious persecution. 

But it is also an organisation based in the United States, and the Venezuelan and U.S. governments have been caught up in an escalating political and diplomatic confrontation for the last two years. 

What's more, in August, U.S. televangelist Pat Robertson publicly called for the Venezuelan leader's assassination, and last Sunday accused Chávez of providing funding to Osama bin Laden, leader of the Al Qaida terrorist network.

Chávez stressed that "we are not going to run roughshod over anyone, we will give New Tribes time to pack up their things and go." 

Although Luzardo believes the measure is a positive one, he added that "just today there were new indigenous protests, because Chávez is opening up indigenous lands to coal mining (in northwestern Venezuela) by other ‘new tribes', this time from Brazil," an allusion to joint ventures formed for this purpose by Venezuelan and Brazilian companies, whose activities are scheduled to begin next year.

Published on Oct 13th 2005 at 3.51pm
Source: IPS


October 14, 2005, Christianity Today, Venezuela to Expel New Tribes Mission, by Deann Alford in Austin, Texas
After additional Robertson comments, President Chavez accuses "imperialist" mission agency of working for CIA.

On what appears to be the latest consequence of broadcaster Pat Robertson's August call for Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez's assassination, Chavez announced plans to expel from the country New Tribes Mission, a church-planting and Bible-translating mission agency.

Describing New Tribes Mission (NTM) as a "true imperialist infiltration that makes me ashamed," Chavez declared he was fed up with "colonialism" and accused the mission group of links to the CIA, spying on Venezuela, and exploiting indigenous people. "We don't want New Tribes here," he said.

Vice President Jose Vicente Rangel repeated the accusations on Thursday. "We have intelligence reports that some of them are CIA," he told reporters. "The president's decision was based on reports that their actions create situations that compromise the country's sovereignty."

Rangel also said that Chavez's action is supported by the local Roman Catholic church. "Even Cardinal [Rosalio] Castillo Lara supported President Chavez's measure to remove New Tribes from the country," he said. "We have the cardinal's blessing in this decision." Castillo, who has called the president "a paranoid dictator" in need of an exorcism and whom Chavez has called an "outlaw, bandit, immoral Pharisee, and a pantomime," has not issued a statement of his own on the New Tribes expulsion.

Chavez said his decision was "irreversible." He did not set an expulsion date but will allow the missionaries time to "gather their stuff."

Chavez made the statements at a nationally televised gathering in Venezuela's southern Apure state, where he granted indigenous groups land titles and farm equipment. The comments came on Indigenous Resistance Day—Chavez's rechristening of Columbus Day.

Additionally, Chavez ...


October 24th 2005, VenezuelaAnalysis, Venezuela's War of Religion, by Nikolas Kozloff,

Reportedly, hyperactive Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez has cut down on his espresso intake, from a full 26 cups a day to 16. Judging from his actions, however, you’d never know that “Hurricane Hugo” has slowed down. In a move that is surely bound to alienate the United States yet further, Chavez decided to expel an American missionary group, the New Tribes Mission, on October 12th. In an inflammatory speech, Chavez proclaimed that New Tribes constituted a “true imperialist invasion” and was working with the CIA.  Remarking that he didn't “give a damn,” what people thought about his decision in Venezuela or “other imperialist countries,” Chavez said the missionary group would shortly have to abandon its jungle bases. The decision comes in the wake of a long and simmering war of words between Chavez and Reverend Pat Robertson, who called for the Venezuelan president’s assassination on his TV Show “The 700 Club” back in August. In response, Chavez blasted Robertson as “a terrorist,” and said his government was interested in pursuing extradition of the U.S. minister. Now, however, what was merely a war of words has seemingly escalated into a religious battle. Or has it? What is truly behind Chavez’s decision to expel New Tribes and where is the conflict likely to lead?

New Tribes: A State Within A State?

Though Chavez's move was certainly dramatic, it is not as if the issue of New Tribes is a novel one in Venezuela. For years, accusations have swirled that the evangelical outfit was involved in espionage and committed ethnocide while carrying out its missionary work amongst indigenous peoples. However, the missionaries were able to count on high-level support from the corrupt two party system, the Venezuelan Evangelical Council, as well as the U.S. Embassy in Caracas. Though Congress and the military launched separate investigations, high-level action was never taken. In August 1981, José Vicente Rangel, then a deputy in Congress, requested that the investigation into New Tribes be reopened. Rangel, a long time fixture of Venezuelan politics, had unsuccessfully run for president twice on the MAS (Movement Towards Socialism) ticket, in 1973 and 1978. An aggressive opponent of U.S.-backed military regimes in Venezuela, Rangel was particularly incensed by the case of New Tribes. Though the Ministry of Justice and Interior Relations ultimately heeded Rangel’s calls and carried out another investigation, the results were never made public. Despite the investigations and media attention, no missionary was ever put in jail

Initially, Chavez is Partial to New Tribes

The tide however was beginning to turn. In 1999, after Hugo Chávez was elected president, he named Rangel as Minister of External Relations. The veteran politician went on to serve as Minister of Defense under Chávez and later as his vice president. Increasingly, New Tribes was becoming more vulnerable and isolated in Venezuela. Formerly, the missionaries could count on the support of many members of the traditional two party system. But those parties, by the time of Chavez’s rise to prominence, had fallen into disgrace. What is more, while New Tribes had earlier lobbied the U.S. Embassy in Caracas to protect its interests, American diplomats now had little sway over Chavez. Indeed, by April 2002 relations had sunk to a new low, with Chavez accusing the CIA of having helped to force his ouster in an attempted coup d’état.

On the other hand, until the controversy with Pat Robertson erupted in August, Chavez’s relations with evangelical groups had been smooth. In fact, Chávez was initially somewhat partial to Protestants and evangelical groups. Before Chávez came to power in 1999, Christian radio and TV were outlawed, a policy reversed by Chávez. Even Robertson was allowed to broadcast his show 700 Club to Venezuela over TV station Televen. Though Venezuelan officials declared that they had grown suspicious of U.S. evangelical organizations before Pat Robertson’s remarks, the record suggests that the government did not view New Tribes as a threat. Indeed, the missionary group was allowed to continue its work in Venezuela, with over 160 missionaries operating within the country. New Tribes worked with 12 indigenous groups in Amazonas and several other states. According to Venezuelan officials, the missionaries had 29 landing strips within the country.

Robertson’s Fatwa Results in New Tribes Expulsion

The situation shifted drastically however when Pat Robertson put out his fatwa on Chavez’s head. Robertson, a former presidential candidate in 1988, said that the U.S. government should kill Chavez to protect American petroleum interests and because the Venezuelan president “has destroyed the Venezuelan economy, and he's going to make that a launching pad for communist infiltration and Muslim extremism all over the continent." Though Robertson later apologized, the Venezuelan government was alarmed and suspended missionary visas. Shortly after, Vice President Jose Vicente Rangel, a politician who has had a long and combative history dealing with U.S. evangelical groups, remarked that Venezuela was weighing court action against Robertson. The indefatigable Robertson, forgetting about his earlier apology, continued his tirade. Appearing on CNN he remarked that Chavez was “negotiating with the Iranians to get nuclear material. And he also sent $1.2 million in cash to Osama bin Laden right after 9/11." The preacher offered no evidence to support his startling accusations. Venezuelan officials dismissed Robertson’s remarks as totally false and “crazy.”

Robertson’s attack alarmed David Zelenak, Director of the Resource Department for New Tribes. Speaking to me over the phone, Zelenak remarked that Robertson‘s strong words “did not help us in Venezuela.” The missionary added that other missionary groups were concerned about Robertson‘s comments and worried that the war of words might escalate. New Tribes later condemned Robertson’s statements on its website, but such efforts would not save the missionary group. According to New Tribes, Venezuelan officials stepped up investigations of its activities in the wake of the controversy. Retired general Alberto Müller Rojas, a military advisor to the Chavez government and former governor of Amazonas state, was not surprised by the increased pressure on New Tribes. Within the missionary organization, he commented, “there are distinct [religious] denominations, principally those Protestant groups of the Baptist tendency which Pat Robertson belongs to.” According to Muller, Robertson and New Tribes were “tightly linked.” New Tribes and Robertson, he continued, were part of the same Protestant movement that so strongly supported President George Bush.

As it turns out, Zelenak’s fears were not unfounded. Amidst the escalating war of words between the Venezuelans and Robertson, Chavez expelled the Florida based New Tribes altogether. The president announced that he would sign the official expulsion order as soon as he had received a definitive report from the Ministry of Interior, and that the decision was “irreversible.” In a further barb, he added “We don't want the New Tribes here. Enough colonialism! 500 years is enough!” Chavez said he had become aware of New Tribes’ espionage through his own military intelligence, though officials have offered no concrete proof of the allegations. Chavez confided that he had seen an “incredible” report and video concerning the matter. The Venezuelan president did not set a fixed date for the expulsion. However, he did say it would occur in an orderly fashion and that the missionaries would be allowed sufficient time to “gather their stuff.” Recently, Venezuelan military officials remarked that they were studying how to remove New Tribes’ missionary bases. However, according to New Tribes the Venezuelan military has already swung into action, occupying some of its facilities in areas inhabited by the Pume tribe. The governor of Amazonas state, Liborio Guarulla, has sought to comply with the expulsion order. Within Amazonas, Guarulla will request the withdrawal of missionaries operating in the Upper Orinoco, home to Yekuana and Yanomami Indians. Guarulla added that he will comply with the law without resorting to force.

New Tribes Responds

For its own part New Tribes offered a measured response on its website, remarking “We would welcome any opportunity to address the President's concerns and help him better understand our organization and the work of New Tribes Mission in Venezuela.” The missionary organization added, “We hope that President Chavez will reconsider his decision and allow us an opportunity to clarify misunderstandings and misinformation that exists regarding the work of New Tribes Mission in Venezuela. New Tribes Mission is not and has never been connected in any way with any government agencies. Our goal is to serve indigenous people.” Meanwhile, New Tribes representatives took to Venezuelan TV and radio airwaves to present their point of view. Additionally, the missionaries have declared that they will take their case to the country’s Supreme Court of Justice. A lawyer for New Tribes implied that Chavez was being dishonest and had no video or military report about missionary activities. New Tribes has also appealed to the Venezuelan Evangelical Council for support.

The question remains though: why did Chavez decide to make this decision now? It’s not as if the charges against New Tribes are anything new. On a certain level, it would seem that Chavez has simply been opportunistic. Robertson’s inflammatory comments made Chavez look like a persecuted martyr and allowed the Venezuelan president to place the issue of Protestant missionaries front and center. In fact, Chavez may have calculated that he had nothing to lose and everything to gain by expelling the missionaries.

Playing on Wounded Pride

The case allows the regime to play on nationalist sentiment. Take for example the reaction of Jose Vicente Rangel, who has been gunning for New Tribes for twenty-five years. Speaking with the press, Rangel remarked that the government’s decision was designed to restore national sovereignty. That kind of remark plays well in Venezuela, a small country that was pushed around by the European powers in the 19th century and the United States in the last century. Playing to Venezuelans’ sense of wounded pride, Chavez said that New Tribes had set up a state within a state, made unauthorized flights, and set up luxurious settlements in the midst of poverty. "These violations of our national sovereignty have to stop," he thundered.

Moving Ahead on Indigenous Policy

Chavez announced the expulsion order while handing over indigenous land titles, boat motors, vehicles and credits in the village of Barranco Yopal. The settlement is located 500 kilometers south of Caracas within the remote plains state of Apure. Chavez too is from the plains region and was born in the neighboring state of Barinas. The president has never sought to distance himself from his ethnic heritage. "My Indian roots are from my father's side," he remarked. "He [my father] is mixed Indian and black, which makes me very proud." What is more, Chávez has boasted of his grandmother, who he says was a Pumé Indian.

For the president, Barranco Yopal carries personal meaning. In his youth, Chavez used to visit the town. In an interview with Marta Harnecker, he explained, “I used to go to Barranco Yopal and bring cans and sticks to the Indians, because they made houses with those materials to spend the winter season there, but in the summer they used to go away. They were nomads: hunters and gatherers, as they were 500 years ago. I saw Indian women giving birth there…The majority of those babies died of malaria, tuberculosis, of any type of illness. They [the Indians] used to spend the time drunk in town. The Indian women used to prostitute themselves, many times they were raped. They were ghosts, disrespected by the majority of the population. They used to steal to eat. They didn't have any conception of private property: for them it was'’t robbery to go into an area and grab a pig to eat it if they were hungry.”

The announcement of New Tribes’ expulsion was timed perfectly to coincide with Columbus Day, which Chavez has renamed Indigenous Resistance Day. Alexander Luzardo, a sociologist and longtime New Tribes critic, remarked that Chavez‘s decision "complies with what is stipulated in the constitution of 1999, which establishes indigenous peoples' right to self-determination and to respect for their beliefs, values and customs.” Indeed, helping the nation‘s 300,000 indigenous peoples has been a great priority for Hugo Chavez. Article 9 of the new constitution states that while Spanish is the official language of Venezuela, "Indigenous languages are also for official use for Indigenous peoples and must be respected throughout the Republic's territory for being part of the nation's and humanity's patrimonial culture." In chapter eight of the constitution, the state recognizes the social, political, and economic organization within indigenous communities, in addition to their cultures, languages, rights, and lands. What is more, in a critical provision the government recognizes land rights as collective, inalienable, and non-transferable. Later articles declare the government's pledge not to engage in extraction of natural resources without prior consultation with indigenous groups. Three long time indigenous activists have been elected to the Venezuelan National Assembly, and prominent leaders hold positions in government. In a novel move, Chávez has even had the constitution translated into all of Venezuela's languages.

While Chavez was in Barranco Yopal, he distributed 1.65 million acres to indigenous communities in the states of Apure, Anzoategui, Delta Amacuro, and Sucre. The move forms part of the so-called Mission Guaicaipuro, which shall provide land titles to all of Venezuela's 28 indigenous peoples. By the end of 2006, Chávez' Mission Guaicaipuro plans to award land titles to 15 more indigenous groups. In Barranco Yopal, Chavez granted titles recognizing collective ownership of ancestral lands to the Cuiba, Yuaruro, Warao and Karina tribes. It was in fact the second such land transfer, the first having been decreed in August. Chavez awarded those communal lands during the 16th World Festival of Students and Youth in Caracas. At the ceremony, Chavez handed out 313,824 acres to six Kariña indigenous communities living in the states of Monagas and Anzoategui.

Some Indians at Barranco Yopal felt that the government still needed to provide more assistance. “We want the government to help us with hunger, with credit,” remarked Pedro Mendez, a Yuaruro Indian. He related that his community had requested an electrical generator and loans to help plant more crops. On the other hand, some Indians clearly applaud the government’s moves. Present during Chavez’s ceremony in Barranco Yopal was Librado Moraleda, a 52-year-old Warao Indian from a remote village in the Orinoco River Delta. “Previously,” he declared, “the indigenous people of Venezuela were removed from our lands. This is historic. It is a joyful day.” Moraleda received a land title and government pledge of $27,000 to construct homes as well as plant cassava and plantains.
Attacking Protestants, Appeasing Catholics

By expelling New Tribes, Chavez also appeases prominent Catholics. For years, church leaders have been a thorn in Chavez’s side. During the April 2002 coup, prominent Catholics such as Cardinal Ignacio Velasco sided with the opposition against Chavez. Velasco even offered his residence as a meeting place for the coup plotters. What is more, he, as well as top Catholic leaders and members of Opus Dei later signed a decree that swept away Venezuela’s democratic institutions. Senior Catholic bishops also attended the inauguration ceremony for Pedro Carmona, Venezuela’s Dictator-For-a-Day. Chavez has shot back against the church hierarchy, saying that the Church is a “tumor.” In a further jibe, he stated that "there are bishops from the Catholic Church who knew a coup was on the way, and they used church installations to bring coup plotters together ... those clerics are immoral and spokesmen for the opposition."

Chief amongst the president’s critics on the right has been Monsignor Baltazar Porras, who has backed efforts to recall Chavez as president and helped draft anti-Chavez statements by the Venezuelan Catholic Church Episcopal Conference. Another leading figure leading the charge has been Cardinal Rosalio Castillo Lara, who has called Chavez “a paranoid dictator" in need of an exorcism. He has accused Chavez of encouraging “Cubanization” of the country and receiving direct orders from Cuban leader Fidel Castro. “Venezuela,” he continued, “is the richest country in Latin America, but the impression that I have is that Chavez wants to end this…He wants, like Castro, to eliminate social distinctions so that we are all poor.” Chavez has shot back, calling Castillo Lara an "outlaw, bandit, immoral Pharisee, and a pantomime."

While Chavez’s recent move expelling New Tribes is unlikely to totally appease these Catholic leaders, it may buy him a slight respite. The Catholic Church has long viewed the growing Protestant presence in Latin America with concern; in Venezuela Catholics joined anthropologists and others who criticized New Tribes as far back as the 1970s. Even some of Chavez’s arch enemies such as Castillo Lara hailed the government’s decision. “We have the blessing of the Cardinal in this decision,” Rangel announced proudly.

And meanwhile, what of Protestants? Though the Evangelical Council of Venezuela has defended New Tribes, Chavez has little to fear. Protestants only number 2% of the population and have historically constituted a loyal working class Chavez constituency. What is more, according to Samuel Olson, president of the Evangelical Council of Venezuela, Protestants have not bought into anti-Chavez propaganda. Olson says that Protestants didn't give much credence to Pat Robertson and viewed the minister as "goofy." 

The Fall Out For U.S.-Venezuelan Relations

Speaking with the Venezuelan newspaper El Universal, U.S. ambassador William Brownfield noted that he would seek to facilitate negotiations between New Tribes and the Venezuelan government. Brownfield categorically denied any link between the CIA and New Tribes. The Department of State is apparently following the matter with concern, and holds out hope that the missionaries may be yet be allowed to stay as the Venezuelan government has not given any official expulsion order.

What does this incident portend for the future of U.S.-Venezuelan relations? Though Chavez’s moves have proven destabilizing, the issue of New Tribes on its own is unlikely to produce an irrevocable breach. On the other hand, the cumulative effect of Chavez’s actions seems to be moving the two countries towards greater and greater confrontation. In August, Chavez suspended cooperation with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency; the president said DEA agents were spying. And just this month, Chavez sold off Venezuela’s foreign currency reserves, held in U.S. treasury bonds, and deposited them in European banks. “We have had to withdraw our international reserves from U.S. banks, due to the threats we have,” Chavez remarked.

These are only two incidents but they demonstrate the extent to which relations have soured in recent days. Chavez might calculate that President Bush and the Republican party are too distracted with their own internal scandals and the mess in Iraq to focus much attention on Venezuela. It’s also true that the Venezuelan opposition is fractured and as a result the United States has precious little leverage in the country. As Bush’s popularity plummets, Chavez becomes more and more emboldened. For the time being, he seems to be politically secure, but he is surely playing a dangerous game.

Nikolas Kozloff received his doctorate in Latin American history from Oxford University in 2002. His book, Hugo Chavez and His Vision For South America


October 29, 2005, Associated Press, FOX News, Some American Missionaries Kicked Out of Venezuela,

Deep in the jungle, Indians wearing loincloths and beaded necklaces gather in a hut to hear their leader question why the American missionaries who help them are being told to leave the country.

The missionaries have been here for years, offering Bible lessons, helping cure the sick and painstakingly learning the Indians' language. Now,President Hugo Chavez (search) says their U.S.-based evangelical group has links to the CIA (search), and he ordered all missionaries working with the New Tribes Mission(search) to leave Venezuela.

"They've always helped us, they've lived among us," said tribal leader Timoteo Tute, 42. "How can they send them away?"

Four American families assigned to live in Cano Iguana say they hope to stay but are preparing for the worst in case they are evicted. During 18 years among the Joti Indians, missionary Susan Rodman said she and her husband, Dave, have raised three children, learned to deal with the isolation and battled bouts of malaria.

"Now I just can't imagine the thought of not being here," said the 56-year-old Rodman, originally from North Carolina. "I've come to know (the Joti) and love them."

But for others in Venezuela, these foreign evangelists stir deep suspicions.

The New Tribes Mission, based in Sanford, Fla., has settlements in remote, mineral-rich tracts of Venezuelan rain forests located far from the surveillance of authorities.

Chavez — who has repeatedly claimed the United States is plotting to invade his oil-rich country — two weeks ago ordered New Tribes missionaries to leave, accusing them of exploiting indigenous communities and having links to the CIA through "imperialist infiltration."

No official order has reached the group yet, but one missionary family at Cano Iguana has already begun pulling out. One of their daughter's visa is expiring, and they see little chance of getting it renewed.

In addition, more than 200 foreign Mormon missionaries transferred out of the country a week ago, with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (search) citing visa troubles for some of them.

The New Tribes Mission, which has 160 missionaries and other staff here, has long faced accusations of wrongdoing in Venezuela.

Anthropologists, military officials and others have accused the group of watching indigenous people die of malnutrition while living in luxurious camps, forcing communities to give up ancestral traditions and creating a sophisticated enclave of airstrips and settlements to exploit gold, quartz and even uranium deposits.

"This is not a problem that has developed in the Chavez government," said Alberto Muller, a retired general and ex-governor of the region who left office in 1985. "Since my time as governor, (the missionaries) have really alarmed me."

Since first establishing a presence in Venezuela in 1946, the group has repeatedly been investigated, though each time the controversy fizzled out.

Vice President Jose Vicente Rangel(search) started calling New Tribes a security threat as early as 1981. Tomas Antonio Marino Blanco, a navy captain, recently revived claims first made in 1978 that New Tribes missionaries have helped U.S. defense contractors from Westinghouse conduct mineral prospecting.

The group denies the accusations and is seeking to meet directly with Chavez to discuss the issue. It also says it is willing to open its camps to government observers to quell suspicions.

But many indigenous leaders in Amazonas state defend the group, and on Friday hundreds marched through the southern town of Puerto Ayacucho to protest Chavez's decision. Some said they support government efforts including the granting of collective property titles to Indian groups but don't see the sense in kicking out missionaries who help the tribes.

Missionaries live in a cluster of rustic homes among Indians' thatched huts in Cano Iguana, a village about 350 miles south of Caracas on the fringes of the Amazon basin.

Speaking through an interpreter, Tute, the tribal leader, said the Joti people have come to know the white missionaries as neighbors.

He said the villagers, who still speak only Joti, have not been pressured to abandon their beliefs and customs. They still hunt with blow guns and cook cassava over stone hearths in the ground.

But some changes have come: The missionaries have invented a way of writing the Joti language, and many Joti have learned it.

The missionaries say they stretch their donated funds to cover expenses of flying in food and supplies and airlifting tribe members to medical attention in emergencies via a short, grassy airstrip.

"There was never anybody who helped us like this before," Tute said. "It pains me to think of losing them."

Chavez: U.S. Plans to Invade Venezuela
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October 29, 2005, Associated Press, Tribe questions missionaries’ expulsion, by Natalie Obiko Pearson,

CANO IGUANA, Venezuela (AP) Deep in the jungle, Indians wearing loincloths and beaded necklaces gather in a hut to hear their leader question why the American missionaries who help them are being told to leave the country.

The missionaries have been here for years, offering Bible lessons, helping cure the sick and painstakingly learning the Indians' language. Now, President Hugo Chavez says their U.S.-based evangelical group has links to the CIA, and he ordered all missionaries working with the New Tribes Mission to leave Venezuela.

"They've always helped us, they've lived among us," said tribal leader Timoteo Tute, 42. "How can they send them away?"

Four American families assigned to live in Cano Iguana say they hope to stay but are preparing for the worst in case they are evicted. During 18 years among the Joti Indians, missionary Susan Rodman said she and her husband, Dave, have raised three children, learned to deal with the isolation and battled bouts of malaria.

"Now I just can't imagine the thought of not being here," said the 56-year-old Rodman, originally from North Carolina. "I've come to know (the Joti) and love them."

But for others in Venezuela, these foreign evangelists stir deep suspicions.

The New Tribes Mission, based in Sanford, Fla., has settlements in remote, mineral-rich tracts of Venezuelan rain forests located far from the surveillance of authorities.

Chavez --- who has repeatedly claimed the United States is plotting to invade his oil-rich country --- two weeks ago ordered New Tribes missionaries to leave, accusing them of exploiting indigenous communities and having links to the CIA through "imperialist infiltration."

No official order has reached the group yet, but one missionary family at Cano Iguana has already begun pulling out. One of their daughter's visa is expiring, and they see little chance of getting it renewed.

In addition, more than 200 foreign Mormon missionaries transferred out of the country a week ago, with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints citing visa troubles for some of them.

The New Tribes Mission, which has 160 missionaries and other staff here, has long faced accusations of wrongdoing in Venezuela.

Anthropologists, military officials and others have accused the group of watching indigenous people die of malnutrition while living in luxurious camps, forcing communities to give up ancestral traditions and creating a sophisticated enclave of airstrips and settlements to exploit gold, quartz and even uranium deposits.

"This is not a problem that has developed in the Chavez government," said Alberto Muller, a retired general and ex-governor of the region who left office in 1985. "Since my time as governor, (the missionaries) have really alarmed me."

Since first establishing a presence in Venezuela in 1946, the group has repeatedly been investigated, though each time the controversy fizzled out.

Vice President Jose Vicente Rangel started calling New Tribes a security threat as early as 1981. Tomas Antonio Marino Blanco, a navy captain, recently revived claims first made in 1978 that New Tribes missionaries have helped U.S. defense contractors from Westinghouse conduct mineral prospecting.

The group denies the accusations and is seeking to meet directly with Chavez to discuss the issue. It also says it is willing to open its camps to government observers to quell suspicions.

But many indigenous leaders in Amazonas state defend the group, and on Friday hundreds marched through the southern town of Puerto Ayacucho to protest Chavez's decision. Some said they support government efforts including the granting of collective property titles to Indian groups but don't see the sense in kicking out missionaries who help the tribes.

Missionaries live in a cluster of rustic homes among Indians' thatched huts in Cano Iguana, a village about 350 miles south of Caracas on the fringes of the Amazon basin.

Speaking through an interpreter, Tute, the tribal leader, said the Joti people have come to know the white missionaries as neighbors.

He said the villagers, who still speak only Joti, have not been pressured to abandon their beliefs and customs. They still hunt with blow guns and cook cassava over stone hearths in the ground.

But some changes have come: The missionaries have invented a way of writing the Joti language, and many Joti have learned it.

The missionaries say they stretch their donated funds to cover expenses of flying in food and supplies and airlifting tribe members to medical attention in emergencies via a short, grassy airstrip.

"There was never anybody who helped us like this before," Tute said. "It pains me to think of losing them."


February 14, 2006, Venezuelanalysis, Final Deadline Passes for US Missionaries to Leave Venezuela, by Alex Holland,

14 February 2006, Caracas, Venezuela – The majority of the US evangelical missionary group New Tribes, have left Venezuela. The few remaining in the country are being urged to get out straight away by the government. They have been accused of spying and exploiting the indigenous people they claim to help.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez ordered the New Tribes out of Venezuela in November, 2005, calling them, "agents of imperialist penetration." Chavez said they had 90 days to leave. The New Tribes were using their activities as a cover to prospect for precious minerals and provide military intelligence for the US, Chavez said.

The New Tribes are an evangelical group whose headquarters are in Florida. They work to find native groups that have not encountered Christianity and convert them to it. The missionaries have been working in remote areas of Venezuela for 60 years. Before they left they were involved with 12 indigenous groups in Venezuela.

All of the 160 New Tribes operatives have left the tribal areas of Venezuela. In the Venezuelan city of Puerto Ordaz 30 remain in the group's headquarters. Marco Brito, speaking for the New Tribes, said the missionaries are, "all shattered, some of them depressed."

The evangelical missionaries are appealing to the Venezuelan Supreme Court to overturn Chavez's decision. When the appeal will begin has not yet been announced. So far the New Tribes has held back from criticising Chavez and has said, "We have the highest regard and respect for the people, laws and country of Venezuela.".

The Venezuelan President has said there are videotapes to support the claims against the New Tribes. These have not been shared with the public. The areas where the New Tribes were most active were also very rich in precious minerals such as uranium, used for the nuclear industry.

The New Tribes built 29 airfields in these remote locations and used flights that circumvented Venezuelan customs, Chavez said. Other evidence included them using high-technology equipment that was unrelated to their missionary work.

Chavez said last October the New Tribes, "gather sensitive and strategic information and are exploiting the Indians." The Venezuelan president also added, "we don't need new tribes, we are an old tribe."

For several decades the activities of the New Tribes have been criticised for their actions in Venezuela by leftist and environmental groups. The Environmentalist and Sociologist Alexander Luzardo published a report in the 1980s criticising New Tribes' activities.

Luzardo has supported the Venezuelan decision to expel the group. The New Tribes have been accused of forcing North American culture on the indigenous peoples they work with.

Although the New Tribes is independent of the US government and sponsored by "individuals", past sponsors have included General Dynamics, a defense industry contractor, and the Ford motor company.

The Colombian government previously banned The New Tribes. In the 1970s the missionaries were charged with giving multinational corporations direct access to mineral resources in Colombia.

February 16, 2006, Venezuelanalysis, Chavez Saves "The Fierce People" - The Yanomamö, Opinion and Analysis - Les Blough - Axis of Logic

"The Venezuelan government has given a Christian missionary group from the US until Sunday to leave the country."

- The BBC, Feb 12

The BBC news report (provided below) refers to the government's expulsion of U.S. missionaries from the Amazon region of Venezuela where they work to convert the Yanomamö Indians to christianity.Napoleon A. Chagnon is a Professor Emeritus of Sociobiology at U.C. Santa Barbara. He first made contact with the Yanomamö Indians in Venezuela's Amazonia, in 1964. An editorial review of the Fifth Edition of his book, Yanomamö, The Fierce People speaks of its author, Napoleon A. Chagnon,

"He gives an unforgettable portrait of an extraordinary people in this eloquent, meticulously detailed, and often passionate book."Based upon my first reading of the Third Edition of the book many years ago and third reading again this year, this editorial description of Chagnon's book is modest. When the 3rd Edition was published, Chagnon had lived with the Yanamomo for about 4 years. In the last chapter of the 3rd Edition, Chagnon describes the effects of the missionaries - Catholic and Protestant - on these amazing human beings.

In addition to their "contribution" of "civilized" clothing to the Yanomamö culture, the missionaries brought with them a number of other less benign gifts: disease, guns, tourism and a systematic eradication of their way of life. Some would disagree with my use of the term - but I think of it as a form of genocide. This "systematic erasure" of their culture has never been complete. The Yanomamö are a strong and resilient people. Nonetheless, the overall effects of the missionaries' attempt to convert these people from their way of life and view of the world to their own brand of christianity is a modern tragedy.

There have been many ways through which missionaries have brought harm to the Yanomamö, but I will only reference a few of the more obvious in this brief article.

The Yanomamö refer to themselves as "The Fierce People" - using great displays of ferocity with their masks and dances. But they have developed a wisdom that helps them avoid war by settling their differences with an organized fight between 2 individual tribesmen. The mildest of these is "chest pounding" in which one man stands in the center of the village compound and allows the other to strike him with a blow to the pectoral muscle. Typically the recipient of these blows can take only 3 or 4. Then the man who is struck takes his turn. This all takes place as members of the two tribes look on. A winner is declared and disputes are often settled in this manner. The introduction of guns began to change this method of conflict resolution in some of these tribes.

Professor Chagnon approached one Protestant Missionary and asked her why she gave a shotgun to a tribe who had only ever fought with chest pounding, club fighting and only with bow and arrow when they had an all out war. She explained that the shotgun kept the Yanomamö near their mission. After giving them the shotgun "for hunting purposes", they were dependent on the Mission for their ammunition. This, she explained, gives the missionaries opportunity to "win them to Christ" - saving their souls. When Chagnon pointed out that the gun she gave was used to kill a man in a raid, she replied defensively that she heard this tribe had also received a gun from Brazilians and that he (Chagnon) could not be sure that it was her gun was used in the murder. Incredibly, this mission continued to give guns and ammunition to the indigenous people after this became known to them.

Chagnon asked another missionary a hypothetical question (paraphrase): 'If your mission work brought a disease to the tribe you're working with - a disease that killed 200 people - but resulted in the salvation of one of their souls - would you think the deaths would be justified.' The missionary answered in the affirmative. The salvation of one soul for eternity is of greater value than 200 dying from a disease in this life."Chagnon had denounced them [missionaries] for encouraging Indians to live near missions, which renders them more susceptible to disease, and giving them shotguns, which increases their fatality rate. Hunters need dispersion. Concentrated, they quickly out-hunt the area. They become dependent on the mission for food. This gives the missionaries corporeal and hence spiritual power."

- John Zerzan in his replyto Darkness in El DoradoChagnon also described the way in which these missionaries have brought a great deal of tourism to the Amazon - resulting in funding for their religious work. An infrastructure had to be developed to support the tourism. Those who worked for the tourism industry exploited the Yanomamö's hunting grounds and rivers, wiping out whole species from the tribal lands - species upon which the Yanomamö were dependent for food. One such animal was the river otter - once abundant in the Orinoco and its tributaries but non existent in the 70's after tourism developed. This hunting and fishing by those who work the tourist industry is done to feed themselves and tourists! The Yanomamö's food sources exist in a very delicate balance. They have to travel far to hunt and fish. The environment around one of their villages can only sustain them and the village garden for a limited period of time. After their surrounds are exhausted of food, they have to move their entire village to a new place. This often exposes them to an enemy tribe and sometimes to raids and war. When outsiders intrude into their environment it places them in danger.

When I was a young, ordained minister in Pennsylvania, I once visited the New Tribes Missionary "Boot Camp" (note the military term they use. Similarly, when they return to the U.S. to visit churches for fund raising, they call their one year return a "furlough".) During those years, I lived with an indoctrination received from the fundamentalist christians - one that I received as a child and had had never critically examined. In 1965, I came very close to going to Venezuela as a New Tribes Missionary among the Yanomamö. I had peers who did go and as far as I know, continue to preach their gospel to the Yanomamö today.

In those days, I learned the New Tribes Missionaries' views of these "lost souls" - the Yanomamö. I learned their clever methods for gaining the trust of the Yanomamö. To fully appreciate the motivation and work of these missionaries, one must first understand the priorities they hold for the people they have come to convert.

These missionaries truly believe that these people are condemned to everlasting punishment in a place "where the fire is not quenched and the worm dieth not" - unless they hear the Gospel of the Christian Bible and "receive Christ into their hearts" as their only Lord and Savior. Never mind that millions have been born, lived out their lives and died without ever hearing this "gospel". If asked about such people, the answer from the missionaries is uniform: some are elected to be children of God and some are not! Just as with Fundamentalist (orthodox) Jews who believe they are the "Chosen Ones", Fundamentalist Christians believe they are "Spiritual Israel" - the chosen ones. So strongly do they believe this that they go to places like the jungles of Venezuela to impose their "truth" upon people who are vulnerable to their approach. But their Bible doctrine does not tell us everything there is to know about their motivation to move their families to a remote place like the jungles of Venezuela

I knew 2 such men very well - men who were members of the church of my childhood - The Laurel Hill Gospel Tabernacle, Jennerstown, PA. I socialized with them, hunted pheasants with them and even worked with one of them for a period of time. These two men were living with their wives and children in a rural area of Pennsylvania. They had young children. One had a small chicken farm and sold eggs for a living and the other worked in the coal mines. It was my observation that neither were really happy with their lot in life. Neither had received a formal education beyond high school. Neither had ever lived away from the community in which they were born. Their views on child-rearing were authoritarian to the extreme and one was physically abusing his children while I knew him, justifying the abuse with a religious "spare the rod and spoil the child" mentality. Both received their only training and post secondary education from New Tribes Missions. When the opportunity came for them to escape their rather dull, hometown existence ... to go to an exotic land, live in the jungle and receive high praise from their only social circle - the church - and become "foreign missionaries" - heroes - it was a no-brainer. They found an escape hatch and took it. They said of course, that they were "called by God to full time Christian Service". A divine calling.

During my second visit to Venezuela in October, 2005, President Chavez made the decision to remove the evangelical missionaries from the country. The government acted quickly. During my third visit in December, over 100 of the 160 missionaries had been sent back to the U.S. Now about 130 are gone and 30 New Tribes Missionaries have left the tribal areas but remain in Venezuela.

It is interesting to see that in its news article below, the BBC does not bother to go into any of the real reasons for the eviction of the missionaries from Venezuela. It does not discuss the missionaries' trampling on the culture of the Yanomamö, the introduction of disease, guns, powerful lights for night hunting and motors for their canoes - all of which contributes to the upset of their delicate existance. Instead, it only reports that President Chavez "... has called them spies of the CIA and colonialists". But over the last 8 years, we have witnessed the Venezuelan government's commitment to protect the indigenous people throughout Venezuela; thus we understand the moral underpinnings of this decision.

Based upon my study of Napoleon A. Chagnon's remarkable life and research - and my personal experience with New Tribes Missions - I am absolutely delighted to see that President Hugo Chavez has had the wisdom and courage to remove these religious interlopers fromthe Venezuelan tribal landsand from having any contact with its defenseless inhabitants - the indigenous people - the Yanomamö - "The Fierce People".


February 12, 2006, BBC News, Chavez Deadline for U.S. Preachers, BBC Report

Mr Chavez has repeatedly told the missionaries to leave the country The Venezuelan government has given a Christian missionary group from the US until Sunday to leave the country.

President Hugo Chavez has repeatedly called for the expulsion of the New Tribes Mission, saying they are American imperialists.

He has called them spies of the CIA and colonialists.

Most of the 160 evangelical preachers and their families have already gone back to the US, after he asked them to leave last October.

Only 30 New Tribes missionaries are still in Venezuela.

For the past 60 years, the New Tribes Mission, which has its world headquarters in Florida, has been trying to convert indigenous groups in Venezuela to Christianity.

It is a non-denominational Christian society which says it is only funded by private individuals, not by the US government.

Indigenous groups

The missionaries live and work in the remotest areas of the country, including the Amazon rainforest.

Their goal is find tribes untouched by so-called "civilisation" in order to convert them to Christianity.

So far New Tribes representatives have been preaching to 12 different indigenous groups here in Venezuela.

The group says in return for agreeing to adopt the Christian faith, the indigenous people receive basic health care and literacy classes.

But a spokesman for New Tribes has told the BBC all the missionaries have left the tribal areas to comply with the Venezuelan government's demands.

However this may not be enough for Venezuela's Interior Ministry, which has called for the missionaries to leave Venezuela altogether.

Source: Axis of Logic


February 9th 2007, CounterPunch,

"If We Have to Die For Our Lands, We Will Die," By Nikolas Kozloff

For Hugo Chavez, large, industrial mega projects could turn into a political mine field. The contradiction between Chavez's rhetoric stressing social equality, on the one hand, and environmental abuses on the other, was driven home to me over this past summer when I attended the first ever environmental conference of Lake Maracaibo. The event was held in the city of Maracaibo itself, the capital of Zulia state, and organized by the government's Institute for the Conservation of Lake Maracaibo (known by the Spanish acronym ICLAM).

Somewhat oddly, outside of the dining hall where conference participants ate lunch mining companies had set up promotional booths. Walking through an adjacent hallway, scantily clad women working for mining and oil companies plied me with glossy pamphlets and even candy. Later during the conference itself, one panelist, a representative from the local development agency Corpozulia, gave a rosy presentation about new port and infrastructure projects planned for the state of Zulia.

Later, I went back to the luxurious Hotel Kristoff where the government had put me up for the duration of my stay. One morning, sitting at a table overlooking the hotel pool, I was joined by Jorge Hinestroza, a sociologist at the University of Zulia and former General Coordinator of the Federation of Zulia Ecologists.

Sierra of Perija: Area of Conflict

Hinestroza spoke to me of destructive coal mining in the Sierra of Perija, a mountain range which marks a section of the border between Venezuela and Colombia. The area, which is home to large coal deposits, has suffered severe deforestation.

Industrial coal production, Hinestroza explained, had damaged Indian lands. He complained that America Port, a new project proposed by Corpozulia, would prove "catastrophic for mangrove vegetation in the area." The project, he continued, was linked to coal exploitation. What's more, Corpozulia itself owned the mining concessions.
According to reports, the Añú community, comprised of 3,000 people living around the Lake Sinamaica region in Zulia, is concerned about the devastation that would result from the construction of a deep-water port in the area, for exporting coal.

If Chavez does not attend to rising calls for greater environmental controls, he will lose support amongst one of his most loyal constituencies, the indigenous population. Already, industrial mega projects have led to angry protest and undermined public confidence in the regime. For Chavez, it is surely one of the thorniest problems that his government must confront.

Launching Raids into Indian Country

Though Indians inhabiting the Sierra of Perija have had to confront extensive coal mining in the Chavez era, it's not as if indigenous peoples living in the area are strangers to conflict. In the first half of the twentieth century, Motilon Indians [also known as the Bari], which included several indigenous groups inhabiting the area of Perijá, confronted British and American oil prospectors.

In 2001, I was living in Maracaibo doing research for my dissertation dealing with the environmental history of oil development in Lake Maracaibo. Working in the historical archive, I was struck by historical accounts of oil prospectors headed to Indian country.

In 1914, for example, one oil expedition marched into the jungle accompanied by a large company of 50 peons. In seeking to penetrate Motilon Indian country, oil prospectors were aided by the Venezuelan government. As one oil pioneer put it, "we had for arms 12 Mauser military rifles from the government. Every man had either a revolver or a rifle."

Oil prospectors on one expedition discovered a Motilon house, but were forced to make a harrowing escape in canoes along river rapids when Indians appeared. The oil men shot back, hitting at least twelve men.

One oilman commented: "I do not like the idea of destroying a whole community of men, women and children. But this would be the only thing to do unless peace is made ... If oil is found up the Lora [River], peaceful relations with the Indians would be worth several hundred thousand dollars to the company."

"It Would Be Convenient to Suppress Them with Gas or Grenades"

Eventually, oil infrastructure in Indian country proceeded. Indians had to contend not only with armed prospectors but also growing contamination from open earth oil sumps and dwindling hunting grounds.

For the growing American community in Maracaibo, the Motilones were a nuisance. One English language paper, the Tropical Sun, remarked, "It would be convenient to suppress the Motilon Indians by attacking them with asphyxiating gas or explosive grenades."

There are no documented cases of large scale artillery attacks on the Motilon Indians. However, Father Cesareo de Armellada, a Capuchin priest who later played a pivotal role in contacting groups of Motilones, claimed that

"It was said by some sotto voce and others even admitted publicly that in the Colombian region [of Perija] the national army organized raids under the slogan of: there is no other way. And it is also said that in the same region the Motilones were bombed by airplanes. The same thing has been repeated to me by many people living within the Venezuelan region of Perija and Colon."

De Armellada continued that "Secret punitive expeditions" were organized against the Motilones.

Oil Companies: Bombing the Indians

Some reports suggest a fair degree of cooperation between the government and oil companies in organizing armed expeditions. Not surprisingly, the government's policy of allowing oil companies to enter Motilon territory led to greater violence. The U.S. Consul in Maracaibo, Alexander Sloan, noted that a state of open warfare existed in Motilon territory:

"During the last year the Indian attacks have increased in frequency and bitterness. On several occasions lately boat crews have abandoned their tows, because they were attacked so fiercely and so persistently by the Motilones [sic] that they considered it necessary to get away as speedily as possible."

Even more alarming, "attacks on trains have been made only within recent months, and in these attacks the Indians have shown a persistence that they never exhibited before."

According to de Armellada, in the 1930s and early 40s the oil companies were able to encircle the Motilones in a tighter ring stretching over several hundred square kilometers. However, this had resulted in many deaths.

There is some evidence that the oil companies even resorted to aerial bombardment. One British diplomat noted that the Motilones hated strangers, and were "embittered" as a result of an attempt by an American company to bomb their settlements.

The diplomat did not specify which company was involved in the attacks, although it would seem at least possible that this was Creole Petroleum Corporation, an American company which sought to open up Motilon territory to oil expansion, and which had planes.

Chavez: A New Beginning for Zulia Indians?

In the mid-1990s, Indians in the Sierra of Perija continued to face daunting challenges. For example, Wayuu and Yupka peoples lost their lands to large, state-controlled coal mines and oil drilling.

In 1998, the election of Hugo Chavez to the presidency stood to dramatically change the plight of indigenous people. In contrast to earlier regimes, Chavez took a more anti-missionary stance on indigenous policy. For example, he expelled the New Tribes Mission, an American missionary group working with Venezuelan indigenous communities. Chavez accused New Tribes of collaborating with the CIA.

Chavez's 1999 Constitution represented a big step forward for Indians. Under article 9, Spanish was declared the official language of Venezuela, but "Indigenous languages are also for official use for indigenous peoples and must be respected throughout the Republic's territory for being part of the nation's and humanity's patrimonial culture." In chapter eight of the constitution, the state recognized the social, political, and economic organization within indigenous communities, in addition to their cultures, languages, rights, and lands.

What is more, in a critical provision the government recognized land rights as collective, inalienable, and non-transferable. Later articles declared the government's pledge not to engage in extraction of natural resources without prior consultation with indigenous groups.

Chavez himself has distributed millions of acres of land to indigenous communities. The move forms part of the so called Mission Guaicaipuro which shall provide land titles to all of Venezuela's 28 indigenous peoples.

Indians to Chavez: Land Policy a "Fraud"

Despite the passage of the new constitution, however, Indians from the Sierra of Perija have protested the government which they claim does not pay sufficient attention to their needs.

In 2005, hundreds of Wayuu, Bari and Yukpa Indians traveled to Bolivar Square in Caracas. Bare-chested, wearing traditional dress and wielding bows and arrows, they denounced mining operations in Zulia.

Interestingly, the indigenous protestors were staunch Chávez supporters and most sported red headbands with pro-government slogans, while others wore red berets, symbolic of Chavez's governing Fifth Republic Movement party.

One protest sign read, "Compañero Chávez, support our cause." Another declared, "Vito barí atañoo yiroo oshishibain (We don't want coal mining)".

Despite their pro-government leanings, Indians said that efforts to formalize their ancestral lands constituted a "fraud." In a statement they declared, "They will allocate lands to us but later try to evict us to exploit coal."

The leader of the Wayuu delegation, Angela Aurora, said that coal mining in Zulia had deforested thousands of acres of land as well as contaminated rivers. Mining additionally had killed or sickened local residents with respiratory diseases caused by coal dust.

Sierra of Perija and Contradictions of Chavismo

Though Chavez has derided globalization and large financial institutions, the case of the Sierra of Perija reveals a fundamental contradiction within Chavismo. In fitting irony, Douglas Bravo, a former communist guerrilla from the 1960s and 70s, was also present at the indigenous protest in Caracas. Bravo now devotes his time to promoting environmental groups.

"This is a manifestation of an autonomous and independent revival of the popular movement," he said. "At the same time," he added, "it is the beginning of a new stage in the independent environmental movement, against globalization and the multinationals."

In a sense, Bravo is right. The Sierra of Perija is in the crosshairs of important economic development. The government has sought joint ventures between the public coal company Carbozulia and various foreign companies including Vale do Rio Doce of Brazil, the British-South African Anglo American, the Anglo-Dutch Shell, Ruhrkohle from Germany and the U.S. Chevron-Texaco.

On the one hand, Chavez needs political support from indigenous peoples. But he also seeks important hemispheric integration, which could jeopardize this support. The Venezuelan northwest is vital to solidifying ties with Brazil and Mercosur, a South American trade bloc [for more on these inherent contradictions, see my earlier Counterpunch article, "The Rise of Rafael Correa: Ecuador and the Contradictions of Chavismo," November 27, 2006].

"If We Have to Die For Our Lands, We Will Die"

Some government officials have big plans for Zulia. In 2004, Carbozulia and Companhia Vale do Rio Doce of Brazil created a new consortium, Carbosuramérica, to undertake additional mining operations in the region. Activists fear that Zulia is fast becoming an exit platform to the Caribbean Sea, and that the area is serving the interests of transnational companies. While the companies seek to get their products out, the environment is being sacrificed.

Mining and ports projects within Zulia in turn form part of the IIRSA, Initiative for South American Regional Infrastructure Integration (promoted by Brazil and the new South American Community of Nations).

Chavez, who is trying to construct an alliance of left leaning regimes in South America, knows that he must secure vital diplomatic support from President Lula of Brazil. But if the Venezuelan government presses ahead with its development agenda in the Sierra of Perija, the regime will have to reckon with severe domestic opposition.

During the indigenous protest in Caracas, Cesáreo Panapaera, a Yukpa leader, declared, "We want the government to hear us: we don't want coal. Here are our bows and arrows, and we will use them against the miners if they come to our lands. And if we have to die fighting for our lands, we will die."

Nikolas Kozloff is the author of Hugo Chavez: Oil, Politics, and the Challenge to the U.S. (St. Martin's Press). He will shortly start work on another book, South America's New Direction, also to be published by St. Martin's Press.

Source: CounterPunch

November 27, 2006, CounterPunch, Ecuador and the Contradictions of Chavismo, Nikolas Kozloff,

It now looks as if Rafael Correa, a leftist candidate in Ecuador, has handily won his country's presidential election. As of Monday morning, with about 21 percent of the ballot counted, Correa had 65 percent compared to 35 percent for Alvaro Noboa, according to Ecuador's Supreme Electoral Tribunal. If Correa wins, he will preside over Ecuador for a four year term.

It's yet another feather in the cap for Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, who had long cultivated the aspiring leader's support. What's more, it's a stinging blow against the Bush administration which now must confront a much more unenviable political milieu in the region. Ecuador now joins other left leaning regimes such as Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, Bolivia, Nicaragua and Chile, all of which are sympathetic to Chavez.

Bush cannot dismiss the Correa victory as inconsequential: Ecuador is currently the second largest South American exporter of crude to the U.S. The small Andean country hosts the only U.S. military base in South America, where 400 troops are currently stationed. Correa opposes an extension of the U.S. lease at the air base in Manta, which serves as a staging ground for drug surveillance flights. The U.S. lease expires in 2009.

"If they want," Correa has said ironically, "we won't close the base in 2009, but the United States would have to allow us to have an Ecuadoran base in Miami in return."

It's no secret that Chavez and Correa had a personal rapport. During a short stint in 2005 as finance minister under the regime of Alfredo Palacio, Correa brokered a $300 million loan from Chavez. As a result of his diplomacy, Correa was forced out of the government. Allegedly, Correa pursued the loan deal behind Palacio's back. He later visited Chavez's home state of Barinas, where he met with the Venezuelan leader and spent the night with Chavez's parents.

"It is necessary to overcome all the fallacies of neoliberalism," Correa has declared. Borrowing one of Chavez's favorite slogans, Correa says he also supports so-called "socialism for the twenty first century."

Correa: "Whipping" Ecuador's Politicians, and the U.S., into Shape

Unlike Chavez, Correa does not come from a military background but grew up in a middle class family; the young politician also dresses impeccably. He got his doctorate in economics from the University of Illinois and is a follower of left wing economist and Nobel prize winner Joseph Stiglitz.

To his credit, Correa spent a year volunteering in a highland town called Zumbahua and speaks Quichua, an indigenous language. Natives from Zumbahua remember Correa as a man who walked two or three hours to remote villages in a poncho and broken shoes to give classes.

Correa pursued an amusing campaign. During rallies, he would bounce on stage to his campaign anthem, set to the tune of Twisted Sister's "We're Not Going to Take It." As the music blared, Correa would break out a brown leather belt, which he would flex along to the music.

For Correa, the belt became the chief slogan of his campaign: "Dale Correa." In Spanish, the phrase means "Give Them the Belt." Correa promised to use that belt to whip Ecuador's politicians into shape.

Correa campaigned on pledges to prioritize social spending over repaying debt. He has even stated that the Andean country might want to default. He also declared that he would renegotiate contracts with foreign oil producers doing business in the country. Correa says he wants to increase funds for the poor and opposes a free trade deal with the U.S.

"We are not against the international economy," Correa has stated, "but we will not negotiate a treaty under unequal terms with the United States."

Correa, too, has nothing but contempt for George Bush.

When he was recently asked about Chavez's "devil" diatribe against the U.S. president at the United Nations, Correa remarked amusingly, "Calling Bush the devil offends the devil. Bush is a tremendously dimwitted President who has done great damage to the world" [after he was defeated by Noboa in the first round of voting Correa toned down his rhetoric, stating that his comments about Bush were "imprudent" and that Ecuador would like to continue its strong tries to the United States]

Noboa Plays the Chavez Card

In an effort to scare voters, Alvaro Noboa, a banana magnate in Ecuador, sought to label Correa as a Chavez puppet. Noboa, in an allusion to Chavez's military background, labeled his adversary "Colonel Correa."

Correa, the Noboa campaign charged, was being financed by Venezuela. In a bombastic tirade, Noboa even declared, "the Chavez-Correa duo has played dirty in an effort to conquer Ecuador and submit it to slavery." If he were elected, Noboa promised, he would break relations with Caracas.

Correa denied that his campaign was financed by Chavez and in a biting aside declared that his friendship with the Venezuelan leader was as legitimate as President Bush's friendship with the bin Laden family.

"They have pursued the most immoral and dirty campaign against me in an effort to link me with communism, terrorism, and Chavismo," Correa explained. "The only thing left is for them to say that Bin Laden was financing me."

Chavez, perhaps fearing that any statement on his part might tilt the election in favor of Noboa, initially remained silent as regards the Ecuadoran election. But at last the effusive Chavez could no longer constrain himself and broke his silence.

The Venezuelan leader accused Noboa of baiting him in an effort to gain the "applause" of the United States. Chavez furthermore expressed doubts about the veracity of the voting result in the first presidential run off in October, in which Correa came in second. In his own inflammatory broadside, Chavez accused Noboa of being "an exploiter of child labor" on his banana plantations and a "fundamentalist of the extreme right."

In Ecuador, Chavez said, "there are also strange things going on. A gentleman who is the richest man in Ecuador; the king of bananas, who exploits his workers, who exploits children and puts them to work, who doesn't pay them loans, suddenly appears in first place in the first [electoral] round."

The Noboa campaign, in an escalating war of words, shot back that the Venezuelan Ambassador should be expelled from Ecuador due to Chavez's meddling.

Ecuadoran Indigenous Peoples and Chavez

Judging from the early electoral returns, Ecuadoran voters, many of whom are indigenous, disregarded Noboa's fire and brimstone rhetoric. Indians, who account for 40% of Ecuador's population of 13 million, are a potent political force in the country. Correa has capitalized on indigenous support. He represents Alianza País, a coalition that garnered the support of indigenous and social movements which brought down the government of Lucio Gutierrez in April 2005.

What does the Correa win mean for Chavez's wider hemispheric ambitions?

As I explain in my book, Hugo Chavez: Oil, Politics, and the Challenge to the U.S.(recently released by St. Martin's Press), Chavez has long sought to cultivate ties to Ecuador's indigenous peoples. Ecuadoran Indians have long feared that their traditional lands were being exploited to serve a rapacious United States intent on corporate expansion. U.S. missionaries have fueled the resentment. According to indigenous activists, the missionaries hastened the penetration of U.S. corporations. A key example, according to Huaorani Indians, was the petroleum industry which worked with the missionaries to open up traditional lands.

Chavez has done much to cultivate the support of indigenous peoples. He plays up his own indigenous roots, for example. He also expelled the Protestant New Tribes Mission from Venezuela, which he said was collaborating with the CIA.

"We don't want the New Tribes here," Chavez declared. "Enough colonialism! 500 years is enough!"

In opposing the missionaries, Chavez has echoed the agenda of Ecuador's indigenous peoples, who called for the expulsion of North American missionaries from their country. CONAIE, Ecuador's indigenous federation, in fact endorses many of Chavez's positions such as an end to U.S. militarization in the region and an end to neo liberal economic policies. CONAIE, like Rafael Correa, wants Ecuador to terminate the U.S. lease at the Manta military base. CONAIE, as well as the movement's political wing Patchakutik, has backed Chavez. CONAIE in fact has condemned the "fascist" opposition in Venezuela and derided U.S. interventionism.

Chavez has not only cultivated political ties with hemispheric leaders but also with social movements from below. In an innovative move, Chavez has sponsored something called the Bolivarian Congress of Peoples in Caracas. CONAIE officials attended the Congress, as did Humberto Cholango, president of the Kichwa Confederation of Ecuador. Cholango remarked at the time, "no one can stop this [Bolivarian] Revolution in Venezuela, we will keep on defeating the Creole oligarchies and the Yankeesthe time has come for South America to rise up to defeat the empireLong live the triumph of the Venezuelan people."

Cholango is an important link in the future Chavez-Correa alliance. His Kichwa Confederation has backed Correa. In a communiqué, the Confederation wrote, "We will not let Noboa, who owns 120 companies and made his fortune by exploiting children in his companies, take control of the country to deliver water, deserts, oil, mines, forests and biodiversity to big private transnational corporations."

Ecuadoran Oriente: Area of Conflict

Chavez has exchanged oil for political influence throughout the region in such countries as Nicaragua, as I explained in my earlier Counterpunch column [see "A New Kind of Oil Diplomacy: In Nicaragua, a Chavez Wave?, November 7, 2006]. In Ecuador, Chavez may opt for a similar strategy but here the Venezuelan leader has to watch out for pitfalls that could reveal serious contradictions within his movement.

With a Correa administration in place, Chavez will be in an advantageous position to advance his plans for hemispheric energy integration. Ecuador's state oil company Petroecuador has been involved in longstanding negotiations with Venezuela to refine its crude. Ecuador is also interested in acquiring Venezuelan diesel and gasoline to cover its own internal demand. Ecuador's growing energy ties with Venezuela have been applauded by important figures such as Luis Macas, long associated with the CONAIE.

The dilemma for Ecuador is that, while oil represents about a quarter of the country's GDP, many disadvantaged communities have been unhappy with development. The north eastern section of Ecuador, the "Oriente," has long been the scene of serious social unrest. I know something about the social and environmental conflicts in the area, having written a couple of articles about the Huorani Indians for the Ecuadoran magazine 15 Dias and the Quito daily Hoy.

In 1992, having just completed a reporting internship at WBAI radio in New York, I headed to Quito. At that time, North American as well as Ecuadoran environmental groups were concerned about Maxus Corporation, a Texas-based energy company. The influential company had the support of the government, the press, and North American Protestant missionaries. The Huaorani had just traveled to Quito, where they had carried out a protest in front of Maxus headquarters.

The Indians demanded that Maxus halt its construction of a highway in block 16, which fell in their traditional homeland. I flew out to the Amazon and interviewed the Indians who were living in deplorable health and sanitary conditions. In my articles, I dissected Maxus' unconvincing propaganda and warned about imminent environmental problems.

Venezuelan Involvement in the Ecuadoran Oil Industry?

I left Ecuador in late 1993, and not surprisingly the unrest continued. In 2002, the government declared a state of emergency following protests in Sucumbios and Orellana provinces. Protesters hit the streets, demanding greater investment in their communities. Indigenous peoples in the area had long felt that they had not adequately shared in the benefits of oil development. The military used teargas to break up protests which blocked oil wells.

In August 2005 the disturbances continued, with an oil strike hitting Orellana and Sucumbios. At that time, Chavez came to the aid of Ecuadoran president Alfredo Palacios by agreeing to send Venezuelan crude to the Andean nation. At the time, Chavez expressed sympathy with Ecuador "because we [Venezuela] have already passed through this type of thing with the oil sabotage [the oil lock out in 2002-3 encouraged by the Venezuelan opposition]."

Early this year, Petroecuador was forced to suspend exports when protesters, unhappy about longstanding environmental damage, demanded the departure of U.S. oil company Oxy and took over a pumping station vital to the functioning of a pipeline. Protesters, led by local politicians from the Amazon province of Napo, demanded that the government pay them funds for infrastructure projects in local communities.

In March, the government put three provinces under military control when workers initiated a strike for unpaid wages and improved working conditions. At one point, the government declared a state of emergency in Napo, when protesters demanded that the oil companies invest more of their profits in the area.

Guadalupe Llori, the prefect of Orellana, remarked "If we are treated like animals we are going to react like animals. We could join the workers and demand the government respect our rights." Petroecuador technicians and troops finally took control of oil facilities and cleared strikers from vital sites.

In May, Petroecuador took over oil wells belonging to Oxy's block 15 oil concession; the Ecuadoran state wants the Venezuelan state company PdVSA to refine 75% of the 100,000 barrels per day within the old concession. According to the Venezuelan newspaper El Universal, Ecuador is considering Venezuela as a possible partner in the fields formerly operated by Oxy.

Chavismo and Its Hemispheric Contradictions

If PdVSA had a presence in block 15, this would lead to a potential problem for Chavez. Having proclaimed its support for social and environmental justice, as well as indigenous rights, Venezuela would now be operating in an area long marked by social unrest and discrimination of indigenous peoples.

In the short term, Chavez may take some pride in the fact that Bush received another black eye in South America; what's more Venezuela can now count on Correa's support as well as the indigenous movement. But in the long term, Chavez could run the risk of alienating many of his supporters if Venezuela is perceived to be an accomplice in misguided development schemes.

In the coming years, will Chavez maintain his political support amongst disadvantaged peoples throughout the hemisphere, or will his popularity be tarnished by oil diplomacy? Up to now, Chavez has certainly used oil as an effective geopolitical instrument, but it may prove his Achilles Heel if he is not careful.

Nikolas Kozloff is the author of Hugo Chavez: Oil, Politics, and the Challenge to the U.S. (St. Martin's Press).


August 26, 2011, CBN News, Missionary Kids Silent No More about Abuse,

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VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. -- U.S. missionaries have been spreading the gospel overseas since The Great Awakening. But now, a dark chapter in U.S. missions history is unfolding.

In recent years, four mission agencies have investigated their own employees for charges of child abuse in the field. Two more investigations are pending and more may be on the way.

MK Safety Net, a clearinghouse of information and support for missionary kids who were abused, says it's received reports from former missionary kids representing more than 20 denominations.

Keeping the Nightmares Quiet

Kari Mikitson was a just a little girl in the mid-80s, attending a New Tribes Mission boarding school in Senegal, when the missionaries assigned to protect her began to abuse her.

"From roughly 6 to 8 years old my dorm father sexually abused me," Mikitson said. "The physical abuse was most of the teachers there and dorm parents."

In the 1960s, Wess Stafford also suffered at his boarding school, the Christian and Missionary Alliance's Mamou Academy in Guinea, West Africa. He says the staff would beat students daily for minor infractions.

"It was like Auschwitz. There were a million things you could do wrong and be punished for it," Stafford explained. "Silly little things like a wrinkle in your bedspread when you're 6 years old was good enough for a beating."

Sexual abuse was common at Mamou as well.

"The very people who were reading us Bible stories just minutes later after the generator went out were molesting us," Stafford said.

Susannah Baker's abuse took place in the 60s and 70s while she was living with her family on a missionary compound in Bangladesh. She says her attacker was her neighbor and adoctor on the compound.

"He's a very intelligent and sly man," Baker said. "He knew how to hide what he was doing."

Her mission, the Association of Baptists for World Evangelism, sent an investigator when another missionary girl spoke out. Baker's abuser reportedly told the investigator of his sexual abuse of that girl.

The ABWE recently commissionedGRACE, an independent non-profit ministry group, to investigate the doctor.

CBN News requested an interview with the doctor but he refused, citing the pending investigation.

Mikitson, Stafford and Baker followed a common pattern among abuse survivors -- keeping their nightmares quiet until years later. The reason for Mikitson and Stafford was simple. Their abusers leveraged their loyalty to God and their parents.

"We were told as children never to tell our parents anything negative about the school or we would be hindering God's work on the field," explained Mikitson.

"They told us, 'You tell your parents about this and there will be Africans in hell. You will destroy their ministry in Africa,'" Stafford recalled.

Conditions Ripe for Abuse?

No one knows exactly how prevalent child abuse is on the international mission field. But many believe conditions overseas are often ripe for it.

Abusers can flourish because missionaries are isolated. Also, missionaries tend to be trusting.

Boz Tchvidjian, a former child abuse prosecutor in Florida, who now heads GRACE, says abusers have historically faced no legal charges.

"You have a tremendous unchecked environment," he told CBN News of the mission field, "where abuse can go on and at the very worst an offender will go home."

Mikitson, Stafford and Baker eventually reported the abuse to their mission agencies and all met with great resistance.

Stafford, who had risen to become president of Compassion International, a Colorado Springs-based ministry, eventually met face-to-face across town with leaders at the Christian and Missionary Alliance, his former mission.

"I said, 'I'm one of your kids so don't deny this,'" Stafford recalled. "'It did happen. And don't blame the victims.'"

Agency Acknowledges Abuse

In 1996, the Alliance became the first Protestant mission to investigate and acknowledge widespread abuse at one of its own boarding schools. Today, the Mamou academy no longer exists, but the Alliance's effort is considered by many as a catalyst in prompting other mission organizations to launch their own investigations.

In 2009, the United Methodist Church issued its report followed by the Presbyterian Church USA and New Tribes Mission in 2010. Investigations still underway include the ABWE and a new one for New Tribes.

In each case, it's taken years for abuse survivors to convince their missions a problem existed.

Bob Fetherlin, vice president for International Ministries at the Alliance, believes the organization made some mistakes.

"If we had to do it over again we would have taken the stories seriously right from the start," he said. "We should have responded with greater care, greater sensitivity and greater love."

Internet Blogs Empower Victims

The pulpit provided by the Internet is empowering victims in a new way. Both Mikitson and Baker say their survivor blogs exploded overnight.

"It went from hundreds of people reading it daily to thousands," Baker said.

"They come together and instead of one voice it's dozens or sometimes, tragically, hundreds," Tchvidjian noted. "They speak and they speak loudly and in some cases the agencies, the institutions are forced to respond."

One risk for the victims is their newfound platform can devastate them all over again as they face hostility for speaking out. Trauma therapist Beth Parker says the best response is to affirm a survivor when they tell their story.

"Whenever outside sources don't believe, it adds to the view that 'maybe I'm wrong and the world is right,'" she explained.

The biggest desires for most victims are validation and an "I'm sorry" from their abusers and those who oversaw them.

"There's never anything harder you can do than come forward," Mikitson said.

She believes it's a misperception that victims simply want financial compensation.

"Abuse victims don't come forward to find a cash cow," she added. "It's never about money."

Tchvidjian, who led the New Tribes Mission investigation and currently leads the ABWE effort, says he's seen great good come from the process. Repentance from both abusers and those who oversaw them can help survivors and mission agencies move forward.

"You should want to know all the details of how you failed," he said. "Not only so you can repent but also so you never repeat the same mistakes."

New Child Protection Policies

Today mission attitudes are changing and many organizations have created new child protection policies. The Alliance is one of them.

"The policies now which are very clear are absolute zero tolerance for the abuse and mistreatment of children," Fetherlin pointed out.

Close to forty mission agencies and other Christian organizations have also created the Child Safety and Protection Network that's developed best practice standards for training and responding to reports of abuse.

The ABWE, a member of that network, now says its former doctor under investigation is a pedophile and publicly regrets that it did not report him years ago to the law or any state medical boards. In March it finally reported him to the Michigan Bureau of Health Professions. Just several months ago, the doctor retired from his family practice.

Protecting Children in the Future

The question for mission organizations today is how will they go forward and how aggressively will they work to protect children from potential and known missionary offenders?

"Had this happened on American soil, had we not been silenced so long-there's a bunch of them who would have ended up in prison," Stafford said.

"How many are out there right now?," asked Tchvidjian. "This is a 9-1-1 for the Christian world and how we respond has eternal implications."

--Published Aug. 19, 2011.




  • IPA/kəˈlʌmni.eɪt/
  • MENU


calumniate (third-person singular simple present calumniatespresent participle calumniatingsimple past and past participle calumniated)
  1. To make hurtful untrue comments about (someone)


May 9, 2006, COHA, Washington May Soon Try to Pin the Venezuelan Uranium Tail on the Iranian Nuclear Donkey, by COHA Director Larry Birns and Research Fellow Michael Lettieri,

Council on Hemispheric Affairs

Washington is no stranger to flimsy pretexts when it comes to justifying its ill-conceived, and at times illicit, Latin American initiatives. The contra epoch, the Bay of Pigs invasion, the Cuban missile crisis, Ollie North, former U.S. ambassador John Negroponte's skullduggery in Honduras, and countless acts of chicanery aimed at Havana, Santiago, Grenada and Guatemala come to mind. A spate of articles tying Hugo Chávez to Iran's covert nuclear program suggests that Washington may now be finding it increasingly difficult to resist further calumniating Venezuela by working to forge a new weapon for its anti-Caracas jihad. The only problem is that the basis for such a charge would be a complete concoction, more worthy to be put to work in Iraq, where anything goes, than in Latin America. Such a scenario would intimate that ties exist between alleged Venezuelan uranium supplies and the Iranian nuclear program. In other words, Caracas would be presented as a terrorist nation, illicitly involved in trafficking bootleg uranium to the pariah Iranian regime in exchange for nuclear devices and maybe other considerations.

The Plot

In the fall of 2005, Venezuelan officials began to explore the possibility of acquiring nuclear reactor technology from either Argentina or Brazil, both of which have nuclear energy programs and facilities for peaceful use. This maneuver provoked a predictably prickly response from the State Department, which made no effort to disguise the fact that it would not be amused if this transaction would be carried out. While no agreement was ever reached or shipments made, Caracas already had established close political ties with Tehran, which became yet another reason why the White House was suspicious of Chávez’s ultimate intent. Iran’s decision to resume enrichment of uranium this year, which has now provoked an international uproar, also brought new scrutiny to the purported burgeoning relationship between that nation and Venezuela. At the U.N., Caracas helped fuel such suspicions, as Venezuela was one of only a handful of member nations that expressed support for Iran’s resumption of peaceful nuclear activity which would effectively not be under the U.N.’s supervision.

The wide-ranging, if somewhat vague, cooperation agreements between Iran and Venezuela were repeatedly reiterated by Washington sources to suggest that more malignant factors might be at play. The most popular rumor had Caracas sending its uranium to Iran in exchange for nuclear technology, with the most radical version beginning with accusations that Caracas was seeking to obtain weaponry from Tehran. Some went so far as to suggest that nuclear devices already had been clandestinely transported to Venezuela on chartered oil tankers. Further speculative intrigue came about after the expulsion of the New Tribes missionaries from the Amazonas region in February, as stampeding rumors began to circulate that the evangelical group was somehow involved in uranium exploration activities in the state of Bolívar and that the missionaries’ airstrip was facilitating such anti-Chávez operations. The allegations, which included purported links to the CIA, were heatedly denied by the group.

Much to do about Nothing

Yet all of these theories concerning some diabolic plot linking Iran to Hugo Chávez have been entirely based on a handful of anemic charges coming from several former Chávez officials, who, at best, merely quote each other, but fail to advance the core of their charge or provide minimum evidence that Venezuela somehow has been complicit with Iran when it came to supplying uranium to the latter. In turn, their diaphanous allegations are now being picked up by kindred rightwing sources domiciled in the U.S. who write enraged op-eds in Rev. Moon’s Washington Times (“Showdown with Chávez”) or get like-minded congress

March 16, 2009, Online Journal, CIA involvement with religious groups not a new charge, by Wayne Madsen,

Recent reports from central Asia and Latin America suggest the CIA is back in its old business of mixing espionage with religion and giving credence to what some observers claim `CIA` actually stands for: 'Christians In Action.`

WMR) -- Accusations that the CIA is involved with various religious movements, including the Nurcilar movement of Pennsylvania-based Turkish moderate Islamist leader Fethullah Gulen and the Unification Church of one-time Korean Central Intelligence Agency (KCIA) operative Reverend Sun Myung Moon, follow a long history of suspicions that the U.S. intelligence agency is deeply involved with some religious movements. The CIA has also been accused of using foreign missionaries as espionage agents.

A 1975 report by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Activities concluded that between the 1950s and 1960s, 21 missionaries were used as agents by the CIA. One of them was Roman Catholic missionary Reverend Tom Dooley who spied for the CIA as a doctor in Vietnam and Laos. He passed on information to the CIA about the political leanings of villagers and troop movements near the Laotian hospital where he worked as a doctor. The CIA recruited a number of their Chinese analysts from the families of U.S. missionaries in China.

A religious charity, World Medical Relief of Detroit, was used by the CIA as a conduit to funnel millions of dollars in secret aid to Laotian Hmongs that made up the CIA’s secret army in Laos that fought against the Communist Pathet Lao and North Vietnamese during the Vietnam War. Retired Air Force Brigadier General Harry Aderholt and former CIA station chief in Laos and Thailand Daniel Arnold admitted their role in
funneling money to the Hmong through World Medical Relief in a November 1982 interview with the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

The Philadelphia Bulletin, on May 4, 1981, reported how the Wycliffe Bible Translators' Summer Institute of Linguistics was suspected of working with the CIA. The institute reportedly received U.S. government grants for “special projects.” The institute employed some 1,500 missionaries worldwide who translated unwritten native languages in remote locations into written form and then translated the written text into the New Testament. The institute maintained supply bases and radio stations in some of the world’s most remote villages. In 1981, a Lancaster, Pennsylvania-based institute missionary, Charles Bitterman 3rd, was kidnapped by leftist rebels in Colombia and accused of being a CIA agent. Bitterman was later executed by his captors.

The Bulletin said the Summer Institute “has been a target for more than a decade of rumors that it has spied, set up missile bases and even mined precious metals or run drug operations in Latin American countries. The rumors have never been confirmed.”

After the reports of links between the Summer Institute and the CIA, Mexico, Brazil, Panama, and Ecuador  expelled Summer missionaries.

In February 1993, a Panamanian rebel group opposed to the U.S. invasion of Panama in 1989 -- the December 20-Torrijista Patriotic Vanguard -- kidnapped three American missionaries with an evangelical Sanford, Florida-based group called "New Tribes" or “Nuevas Tribus.” The rebel group claimed the three men were CIA agents. In 1983, an investigation by the Venezuelan Congress concluded that “New Tribes,” which was active in the Amazon region of the country and was converting native tribal members, was funded by General Dynamics and Westinghouse and industrial
agents for the two firms were disguising themselves as missionaries to conduct mineral surveys in the resource-rich

Amazon region of Venezuela.

In 2005, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez ordered all New Tribes Mission (NTM) missionaries, then active in 17 countries, expelled from Venezuela citing their links to the CIA. Chavez said the missionaries possessed wireless communications equipment and built landing strips for aircraft that avoided Venezuelan Customs. U.S. Ambassador to Venezuela William Brownfield defended the missionaries’ work. Brownfield, who is now the U.S. ambassador to Colombia’s narco-fascist regime, was accused of helping to organize coups and secessionist movements against Chavez.

Venezuelan Justice Minister Jesse Chacon accused NTM of conducting medical experiments on Venezuelan Yanomami Indians, killing 80 in the process. Chacon reiterated that the group had ties to both Westinghouse and General Dynamics and was seeking access to strategic mineral resources in the states of Amazonas, Bolivar, and Delta Amacuro.

Given links between New Tribes and the Reverend Billy Graham’s organization, there could be links between
 the missionaries and the defense contractor-infused and supported secretive Christian Fellowship of
Arlington, Virginia, which treats Graham as its spiritual leader.

Right-wing Hindu groups have accused Christian missionaries of working for the CIA in India.

In 1975, President Gerald Ford admitted that the CIA had, in the past, used missionaries as agents and held
out the possibility that it might do so in the future. Ford’s CIA director, George H. W. Bush, issued an internal
 CIA memo in 1976 that terminated “paid or contractual” relationships with “American clergymen” and stated
the agreements would not be renewed. President Jimmy Carter’s CIA director, Stansfield Turner, issued
another CIA guideline in 1977 that stated: “American church groups will not be used as funding cut-outs
 (fronts) for CIA purposes and that “no secret, paid or unpaid, contractual relationship with any American
clergyman or missionary . . . who is sent out by a mission or church organization to preach, teach, heal or
proselytize” will be established by the CIA.

National Council of Churches official Eugene Stockwell, a Methodist missionary, urged a ban on contacts
between missionaries and the CIA. He stated, “Church bodies overseas have the right to expect that the
relationships of United States religious personnel to those churches will be solely at the service of common
worldwide Christian missions and will not be used in any way for the purpose of one government.” He added
that the CIA’s use of missionaries threatened their safety.

In 1982, the issue of CIA use of missionaries was once again raised. CIA director William Casey and Vice
 President Bush tried to assure religious leaders that the agency had not returned to the practice of using
missionaries as spies. According to theRichmond Times-Dispatch of June 13, 1982, Casey and CIA External
 Affairs Director William Doswell told the Richmond-based Southern Baptist Foreign Missions Board that the
 CIA’s use of missionaries violated the First Amendment on separation of church and state. The Baptist
 Mission Board president, Dr. R. Keith Parks, had requested the meeting with Casey due to “persistent
rumors of contact” by CIA agents with missionaries. The same day Casey was meeting with the Southern
Baptists in Richmond, Bush was taking up the missionary spy issue with officials at the Southern Baptist
convention in New Orleans.

More recently, the CIA has been actively recruiting Mormon missionaries due to their foreign language skills
and supposedly “clean” backgrounds.

Congolese Tutsi rebel General Laurent Nkunda, now allegedly exiled in Rwanda, is associated with a
mysterious U.S.-based group called “Rebels for Christ.” Nkunda has been accused of receiving covert U.S.
 intelligence support through Rwanda.

Perhaps the most infamous CIA association with a religious group was the People’s Temple compound in
Jonestown, Guyana.

On August 31, 2007, WMR reported, “WMR has uncovered documents that show the CIA kept extensive
 open source records on the agency’s suspected involvement in the People’s Temple cult that set up shop in
 Jonestown, Guyana, after moving from the San Francisco Bay Area. Most official U.S. intelligence files on
 Jonestown remain classified . . . The U.S. ambassador to Guyana at the time of the Jonestown massacre
was John Burke, who served with his deputy chief of mission, Richard Dwyer, and were allegedly working
 for the CIA in Bangkok during the Vietnam war. Dwyer was wounded in the Port Kaituma shootings where
 [Congressman Leo] Ryan and the others were killed. On Sept. 27, 1980, Jack Anderson reported that
 Dwyer was a CIA agent and a friend of Jones. Anderson reported that on one of the tapes made during the
mass suicide Jones was heard saying, “Get Dwyer out of here before something happens to him.” Dwyer
reportedly left Guyana for Grenada after the massacre. The US consular officer at the embassy in
Georgetown, Guyana, was Richard McCoy, who allegedly liaised with Jim Jones and was a U.S. Air Force
 intelligence official. Another alleged CIA employee, operating under State Department cover, was Dan
Webber, who also visited the Jonestown the day after the massacre. Joe Holsinger, Ryan’s assistant and
friend, later said that he believed that Jonestown was a massive mind control experiment and that the CIA
and military intelligence were involved in the program.”

Recent reports from central Asia and Latin America suggest the CIA is back in its old business of mixing e
spionage with religion and giving credence to what some observers claim “CIA” actually stands for: “Christians In Action.”

--Wayne Madsen is a Washington, DC-based investigative journalist and nationally-distributed columnist.
He is the editor and publisher of the Wayne Madsen Report (subscription required). #


CIA Think Tank to Head Bush Religion Initiative

The NY Times article below describes the two men Bush is putting in charge of his religion plan, John J. DiIulio Jr. and Stephen Goldsmith. Both men are senior fellows of the CIA's Manhattan Institute and are colleagues of Charles Murray, author of the classic text of scientific racism, The Bell Curve.

Most of Bush's advisors are also associated with the Bell Curve. As just one of many examples, Murray was a consultant on Tommy Thompsons' Wisconsin Welfare Reform program, which Bush will make the national model. Following the Times article you will find quotes from the NY Times and the Manhattan Institute's own website to substantiate the CIA origin of the Manhattan Institute, its influence on GW Bush and its very close decade-long association with Charles Murray, who wrote The Bell Curve while a research fellow at The Manhattan Institute.

Whether you are a fundamentalist Christian, an Orthodox Jew, a devout Muslim or an atheist you might question what part the CIA rightfully has in a multi-billion dollar "religion initiative" or in any domestic US policy decisions. The best known modern example of government sponsored religion-based initiatives is Nazi Germany.

Robert Lederman

NY Times Monday, May 12, 1997

Manhattan Institute Has Nudged New York Rightward  "...the institute was founded as a free-market education and research organization by William Casey, who then went off to head the Central Intelligence Agency in the Reagan Administration."

June 12, 2000, NY Times, Bush Culls Campaign Theme From Conservative Thinkers

Gov. George W. Bush has said his political views have been shaped by the work of Myron Magnet of the Manhattan Institute. From the MI website: Books That Influenced Gov. George W. Bush Myron Magnet's The Dream and the Nightmare: "Referring to this book, Gov. Bush has said, other than the Bible, that it was the most important book he had read..."

"Education and Welfare:

Meeting the Challenge A Message from CCI Chairman, Mayor Stephen Goldsmith [CCI is a division of Manhattan Institute] America is in the midst of an urban renaissance... April conference Next Steps in Welfare Reform highlighted just how far we have come. The conference brought together public officials like Wisconsin Governor Tommy Thompson and scholars like Dr. Charles Murray to discuss how governments and private groups have reduced dependency and increased self-sufficiency...Fifteen years after the Manhattan Institute published Charles Murray's landmark study of American welfare policy, Losing Ground, the presentations showed that ideas once seen as radical now form the mainstream of the welfare debate."

[Among the panelists alongside Murray and Goldsmith was Jason Turner, former head of Wisconsin's welfare program. Turner later became infamous as head of NYC's abusive workfare system after quoting the motto over the gates of Auschwitz - "Arbeit Macht Frei - work shall make you free" [ see: NY Times 6/27/98].

"Thus inwardly armed with confidence in God and the unshakable stupidity of the voting citizenry, the politicians can begin the fight for the 'remaking' of the Reich as they call it." -Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf Vol. 2 Chapter 1

"Secular schools can never be tolerated because such schools have no religious instruction, and a general moral instruction without a religious foundation is built on air; consequently, all character training and religion must be derived from faith . . . we need believing people." [Adolf Hitler, April 26, 1933, from a speech made during negotiations leading to the Nazi-Vatican Concordant of 1933]

"We should hire three or four colored ministers, preferably with social-service backgrounds, and with engaging personalities. The most successful educational approach to the Negro is through a religious appeal. We don't want the word to go out that we want to exterminate the Negro population, and the minister is the man who can straighten out that idea if it ever occurs to any of their more rebellious members." -From Margaret Sanger's 12/19/39 letter to Dr. Clarence Gamble, Milton, Massachusetts. Original source: Sophia Smith Collection, Smith College, North Hampton, Massachusetts. Also described in Linda Gordon's Woman's Body, Woman's Right: A Social History of Birth Control in America, Grossman Publishers, 1976. Also see Sanger's Birth Control Review

From an announcement on the MI website Center for Civic Innovation Welfare Conference Held at the Manhattan Institute Topic: Next Steps in Welfare Reform. Participants: [a partial list] Charles Murray (Author of Losing Ground; American Enterprise Institute), Jason Turner (Commissioner, NYC Human Resources Administration) April 14, 1999 New York, New York

Village Voice 8/8/2000

Uncle Shrub's Cabin "Absent in the sticky Philadelphia heat was the drumbeat of the fire-breathing, nay-saying Christian Right. In its place, singing the praises of the Jesus-influenced candidate and following a script laid out by the Manhattan Institute...the social scientists from the Manhattan Institute rolled out their charts and reported that kids who go to church in poor neighborhoods do fewer drugs and thus, churches, mosques, and synagogues "should be supported as uniquely qualified agencies of social control that matter a great deal in the lives of adolescents in America's most disorganized and impoverished communities."

Manhattan Institute

Bell Curve
Robert Lederman

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