Updated March 4, 2020 (under construction)
Sun Myung Moon invested hundreds of millions of dollars in South America – what was the result?
2. ‘Illegal Aliens Joining Moonies’ – The Pittsburg Press
3. Moon’s ‘Cause’ Takes Aim At Communism in the Americas – Washington Post
4. Moon in Latin America: Building the Bases of a World Organisation – Guardian
7. Costa Rica
Anti-communism opened the door for Bo Hi Pak and Sun Myung Moon to reach many of the right-wing governments of Central and South America. This was partly through the vehicles of the World Anti-Communist League (WACL) and later CAUSA, which was organized by Unification Church members. Since the 1980s CAUSA was the primary political anti-communist arm of the Church.
Paraguay and other governments had given safe haven to many fleeing Nazis after the defeat of Germany in 1945. Fascists from Croatia (the Ustashi), and other countries also fled from Europe westwards down “rat-runs” to South America. The skills of the fascists in running terror-based security apparatus were sought after by a number of dictators, including General Alfredo Stroessner of Paraguay. Because of the techniques taught by the Nazis, some right-wing regimes of C & S America became particularly vicious. Paraguay sent terror experts to train the military of other regimes.
The Unification Church (UC) and WACL came eastwards from South Korea and Taiwan, first to North America, and then to C & S America.
Anticommunism has been an official part of Unification theology since the 1957 publication of the key text, the Divine Principle. This presents communism as the legacy of Cain, who in turn is understood to be the fruit of Eve’s coupling with Satan. According to this view, democracy is the legacy of Abel, who symbolizes humanity’s connection with God.
What had begun as a struggle between two brothers, Cain and Abel in the Garden of Eden, had in the Last Days expanded to conflict on a global level; Korea’s 38th parallel being the front line. Thus the struggle between communism and democracy is seen as no less than the struggle between the forces of God and the legions of Satan.
More cynical interpretations suggest that Moon’s anticommunist politics were merely a ruse that gained him protection by the South Korean government, and later allowed him to cultivate powerful allies around the world. It should be remembered that Moon’s closest friends when he was a student at a Technical High School in Tokyo were communists. While he was never arrested in Japan, he was arrested by the Japanese authorities in Seoul in 1944 because of his connections to communist activists. (ref Michael Breen’s book, Sun Myung Moon, the Early Years.) Several early disciples have confirmed Moon’s communist leanings. However, when Moon crossed into South Korea in 1950 his politics flipped.
From the late 1950s Moon and the Unification Church had links to the South Korean government and the KCIA when Colonel Bo Hi Pak and three other ROK army officers joined in Seoul.
From the early 1960s, the UC taught thousands of South Korean military and government employees anti-communism at UC training centers. In turn, the KCIA visited Moon’s opponents in the main-stream churches and quashed their efforts to expose Moon’s pikareum rituals based on his unorthodox sexual interpretation of the Bible.
While on a visit to the U.S. in 1962, KCIA Director Kim Jong Pil was impressed by Bo Hi Pak’s access to influential American government officials. Kim Jong Pil “decided the Unification Church should be organized satisfactorily to be utilized as a political tool whenever he and KCIA needed it…. It was a situation favorable both to Moon’s plan for expanding via the good graces of the government and to Kim Jong Pil’s plans for building a personal power base.
This was the attainment of one of Moon’s most important aims.
Robert Boettcher: “In order to rule the world, Moon had to start with Korea. It was essential that he have loyal cultists inside the government. They had to be well placed so they could sway powerful persons and become influential themselves. They must be skillful in portraying the Unification Church as a useful political tool for the government without revealing Moon’s power goals. By Moon’s serving the government, the government would be serving him…. The government could come to need him so much that he would be able to take control of it.” [Gifts of Deceit pages 38-40]
The US government Fraser Committee investigation of 1978 revealed further Moon-KCIA connections. LINK
In Korea Moon established the International Federation for the Extermination of Communism. Although the dramatic name probably endeared him to the Korean military, it was a little much for other countries; the U.S. branch was called the Freedom Leadership Foundation (FLF), formed in 1969. The International Federation for Victory over Communism and the American Youth for a Just Peace, which promoted the U.S. fight in Vietnam, were some of the other many UC front groups.
These varied groups were tied together by “interlocking boards of directors, personnel, and secret funding”. Critics of Moon assert that these satellite groups were used to pursue Moon’s political agenda(s) without endangering the tax-free status of the Unification Church.
The Washington Times was a key part of Moon’s strategy. Later Tiempos del Mundo and other newspapers were established in South America.
In a meeting in June 1983, Moon told a church group that four things were necessary for world consolidation: ideology, economy, science and technology, and journalism.
[The Washington Post, September 16, 1984]
The Asian People’s Anti-Communist League, the precursor to WACL, was formed in 1954 by Chiang Kai-shek of Taiwan and South Korean intelligence agents. In 1966 the Anti-Bolshevik Bloc of Nations joined and the combined organization became WACL. Yet if it weren’t for the collective efforts of Chiang Kai-shek of Taiwan, President Park Chung Hee of South Korea, and Ryoichi Sasakawa and Yoshio Kodama of Japan, as well as Sun Myung Moon, the World Anti-Communist League may not have endured.
The U.S. chapter of WACL, the United States Council for World Freedom (USCWF) was founded in 1981 by Major General John K. Singlaub. Singlaub was the former US Chief of Staff of both United Nations and American forces in South Korea… Singlaub became a member of the WACL in 1980, and founded and became president of the USCWF. This branch generated controversy when it supported Nicaraguan guerrillas in the Iran-Contra affair and, in 1981, the USCWF was placed under watch by the Anti-Defamation League, which said that the organization had increasingly become “a point of contact for extremists, racists, and anti-Semites”. …
It is alleged that in the mid-1980s WACL had become a supplier of arms to anti-communist rebel movements in southern Africa, Central America, Afghanistan and the Far East. During the 1980s, the WACL was particularly active in Latin America, notably by aiding the Contra forces in Nicaragua. During this period, WACL was criticized for the presence in the organization of neo-Nazis, war criminals, and people linked to death squads and assassinations. …
WACL held annual conferences at various locations throughout the world. Numerous groups participated, including the Unification Church of Sun Myung Moon. …
In 1990, the organization changed its name to World League for Freedom and Democracy (WLFD), but has preserved its traditions and former ties. It unites representatives from more than 100 countries and has eight regional divisions. It is currently a member of the United Nations Department of Public Information and has its headquarters in Taipei, Taiwan.
Bo Hi Pak, Moon’s right hand man, was the president of News World Communications, which owns The Washington Times and the UPI, as well as heading up CAUSA.
Sources for the Introduction:
Inside The League – The shocking exposé of how terrorists, Nazis, and Latin American death squads have infiltrated the World Anti-Communist League.
by Scott Anderson and Jon Lee Anderson 1986 LINK
Gifts of Deceit: Sun Myung Moon, Tongsun Park, and the Korean scandal
by Robert B. Boettcher (with Gordon L. Freedman) 1980
WACL provided a strong base for the Reverend Sun Myung Moon’s Unification Church, which was tied to the KCIA. …
From Inside The League: “One group from which the Church has publicly disassociated itself is the World Anti-Communist League; in 1975, Moon announced that he would no longer be associated with this “fascist” organization. His umbrage is perhaps just so much more of his “Heavenly Deception.”
In his quest for a global anti-communist movement that he could use for his own financial and political ends and that would legitimize his claim of being the world’s new Messiah, Moon apparently had seen the League as a ready-made outfit to take over, saving him the bother and expense of creating one independently. It seems that this bid for power had been aborted, giving rise to his angry outburst and “withdrawal” in 1975.” [pages 124-25]
Illegal Aliens Joining Moonies
The Pittsburg Press December 20, 1982
by Katherine Ellison
On a recent autumn evening, in a spacious living room in San Francisco, a former South Vietnamese army commander, four former Cuban and Nicaraguan businessmen and one former Salvadoran soldier munched on cheddar cheese and crackers and listened to a handsome young man in prep-school clothes encourage them to: “Be like a fisherman; just be patient. Cast your lines,” said the young man, Mike Cardone. “It hasn’t happened yet, but when it does, we’ll be ready.”
Smiling down on the group from a shelf above the fireplace was a photograph of the Rev. Sun Myung Moon, the leader of the South Korean-based Unification Church.
And in the darkness outside, federal immigration agents were recording license plate numbers from cars parked near the house.
The discussions at that evening’s meeting did not directly involve Moon or his controversial church. But the meeting – organized by a Moon-affiliated group – underscored the church’s keen interest and increasing participation in right-wing politics.
That interest has drawn the attention of San Francisco immigration investigators, who fear Moon’s followers, known as “Moonies,” are using political causes to entice illegal aliens into their church. It has also raised the curiosity of San Francisco police, who are concerned that political meetings and rallies sponsored by Moon-affiliated groups might erupt in violence.
“They believe they can setup a world government,” said officer Sandy Gallant, a San Francisco police investigator specializing in cult group activities. “That’s where we’ve really got to take a hard look at what they’re doing.”
The evening meeting in San Francisco last month was sponsored by the Coalition for a Free World, formed nearly a year ago. The group counts among its San Francisco Bay area members emigré Nicaraguans, Cubans, Poles, Ukrainians, Vietnamese, Salvadorans and Afghanis as well as Eldridge Cleaver, a former Black Panther turned “born-again” patriot and Uniﬁcation Church supporter.
The coalition was organized by CARP, the Collegiate Association for the Research of Principles. Dan Fefferman, CARP’s national president in New York, describes the group – founded 28 years ago in South Korea – as “a Reverend Moon organization, but not a Unification Church organization. CARP is legally separate from the church, and primarily educational.”
Both former Moonies and police, however, contend that CARP is a major recruiting arm of the church.
Local events sponsored by CARP members and, more recently, the coalition, have included twice-monthly political discussions, a May flag-burning ceremony in front of the Soviet Consulate in San Francisco, a march last year to honor visiting then-President José Napoleón Duarte of El Salvador, and a September news conference with militarist Nicaraguan exile José “Chicano” Cardenal.
The march in support of Duarte ended with 11 people injured when marchers clashed with opponents of the Salvadoran regime.
An internal directory for the Coalition for a Free World shows many of its members have become newsmakers in their own right.
One affiliate is the National Unified Front for the Liberation of Vietnam, which has organized rallies and fund-raising activities in several U.S. cities. The front’s leaders claim to have sent men as well as money to aid resistance efforts in Vietnam.
Nguyen Ngan, who said he was a military police officer in Vietnam, is listed as the front’s contact for the coalition in Oakland. “We join together to fight for freedom, we join with anyone who fights the communists,” he said in broken English when asked about his involvement in the group. Ngan added that he has attended coalition meetings since last May, but knew nothing about the group’s association with Moon.
Cardone, a member of both CARP and the Unification Church, said he has been trying to unite two rival Nicaraguan exile factions in the San Francisco Bay area. One, represented by Cardenal and with U.S. political headquarters in Miami, includes ex-members of deposed dictator Anastasio Somoza’s national guard, who are currently carrying out raids into Nicaragua from bases in Honduras. That group, the Nicaraguan Democratic Front, reportedly has been receiving clandestine aid in Honduras from the Honduran military and the CIA.
The other group is led by dissident members of the Nicaraguan Sandinista government who have repeatedly refused to deal with Somoza’s ex-followers, the Somocistas.
Describing the intent of the Coalition for a Free World, Cardone said: “We’re trying to create a platform where (the exiles) can express their ideology – we’d like them to have a clear idea of how and why we’re fighting.”
“We’re not promoting violence,” he added. “I mean, granted, (Cardenal’s) got an army. But what are his motivations, his ideals? The guy’s coming from somewhere, and we want to help him explain to the American public what his problem is.”
In Washington, spokesmen for the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service insist they are not paying special attention to Unification Church activities in this country. In San Francisco, however, immigration agents have become increasingly interested in – and outspoken about — Moonie activities.
“I foresee the recruitment (into the church) of more Spanish-speaking people,” INS assistant district director Robert Moschorak said when asked about the Coalition for a Free World. He added that he believes recruiters may be using some Spanish-speaking converts to attract others.
The church, Moschorak said, is “absolutely recruiting illegal aliens.”
INS agents in San Francisco say they are studying more than 100 cases of suspected illegal aliens associated with the Uniﬁcation Church. Many of these are tourists who overstayed their visas after joining the church. Efforts to find them, however, have been hindered, Moschorak said, by Church attempts to “thwart” the INS.
Last March, seven Moonie illegal aliens were arrested in an INS raid in San Francisco. Among them was John Biermans, the former executive secretary to a Canadian Cabinet minister. INS agents say Biermans came to the United States eight years ago on what relatives said was a planned 10-day vacation, but which apparently became an indefinite stay alter he became involved with the church.
Investigators’ concerns about the church have been heightened by evidence of Moon’s broad range of activities around the world, testimony of former Moonies, and the church leader’s own public speeches – primarily his pledge to “conquer and subjugate the world.”
“I don’t think they really can take over the world – but they believe they can – and that’s where they’re scary.” said San Francisco officer Gallant.
Church officials claim about 3 million members, active in 127 nations. Critics, however, say the membership is much smaller. Gallant estimates that worldwide church membership is only 50,000. However, those scaled-down estimates have not reduced concern about the church’s activities.
For more than a decade, the Unification Church has actively recruited members and raised money in the United States. Church members have stirred controversy with both their techniques and their goals – an alchemy of religion, commerce and politics.
Travelers have complained of being harassed by young flower vendors in airports. Parents have claimed that their children have been brainwashed. A profession of “deprogrammers” has sprung up to coax recruits back to their families.
At the same time, the church has been branching out into a wide range of industries around the world.
Recruits are believed to plow their earnings from selling flowers, toys and pins into Moon’s personal business empire – a multinational network that includes Tong Il Industries, a major South Korean defense contractor producing rifles, anti-aircraft guns and other weapons; Korean pharmaceutical and industrial companies; and, in the United States, a vast number of newspapers, restaurants, bands, fishing companies and cultural foundations.
Moon also bankrolled the $46 million “Inchon,” one of the most expensive films ever made. The U.S. Army in South Korea assisted in production and rental of military equipment, Army spokesman Donald Baruch said. But after officials discovered Moon’s name was to be featured prominently in the credits, the Army insisted that reference to the help be deleted – to avoid “embarrassment” Baruch said.
“The public does not have a clear understanding of the covert activities going on,” said Steve Hassan, a former church official and now president of Ex-Moon Inc., an association of dissident former members.
Within the United States, Hassan said, Moonies use groups such as the San Francisco coalition both to recruit new members and to help the church infiltrate communities around the world.
CARP president Fefferman said coalition rallies and meetings in the San Francisco Bay area tie in with CARP’s aims to expand into Africa and South America in this decade.
At the same time, the church has been expanding its commercial presence in Latin America. Last year, the Moonies invested $65 million in a five-star hotel and gambling casino in Montevideo, Uruguay. They also established a new Moonie newspaper and an anti-communist civic group in the Uruguayan capital.
extracts from a Washington Post article dated August 28, 1983
Moon’s ‘Cause’ Takes Aim At Communism in Americas
By Joanne Omang
An arm of the Rev. Sun Myung Moon’s Unification Church, a group called “Causa,” or “cause” in Spanish, is pumping millions of dollars into an anti-communist organizing effort throughout the United States and in much of Central and South America.
Offering free seminars, international trips and conferences around the region to decision makers, journalists and local leaders, Causa International and its subsidiary, Causa USA, have also invested in newspapers and printing companies and in a Uruguayan bank, broadcasting station and other businesses.
The group’s president is retired South Korean Col. Bo Hi Pak, chief aide to Moon, and its executive director is Warren S. Richardson, formerly chief counsel to the Liberty Lobby. President Reagan nominated Richardson to be an assistant secretary in the Department of Health and Human Services in 1981, but Richardson withdrew amid charges that the Liberty Lobby is racist and anti-Semitic.
Causa seeks to promote a philosophy called “God-ism,” which Causa officials say is an alternative set of ideas for people likely to be tempted by communism. Although usually – but not always – openly financed and led by followers of Moon, Causa claims to be completely ecumenical and to have plans to put non-members of the Unification Church in leadership jobs.
Causa started as the Confederation of Associations for the Unity of the Societies of the Americas (CAUSA), but the original emphasis on the Americas soon proved too narrow. There was so much interest in Europe and other parts of the world that the original name was dropped and just the acronym retained, Causa USA director Joe A. Tully said.
Founded in New York in 1980, Causa has had a rocky time in Brazil, where only police intervention prevented mobs from destroying Unification churches in nine cities; and in Honduras and El Salvador, where Roman Catholic Church leaders denounced Causa as anti-Christian for its links to Moon.
But in Uruguay, Paraguay and Guatemala and in 18 other nations, Causa literature says, Causa operations are thriving despite opposition from the Catholic Church, to which the vast majority of Latin Americans belong.
Causa apparently has had its greatest success in Uruguay. In March, 1981, Pak met in Montevideo, the capital, with top government officials, including then-President Aparicio Mendez, the vice president and the interior minister. Causa then founded a newspaper, Noticias del Uruguay, and won the right in a secret auction to build a casino and a luxury hotel, according to later newspaper accounts.
A minor scandal erupted in the Uruguayan press that summer over the award of the casino rights, which violated Uruguayan gambling laws. According to the Council on Hemispheric Affairs (COHA) newsletter of Nov. 3, 1981, the new president, Gregorio Alvarez, defended the award to Causa and said, “With respect to the fight against communism, it is obvious that we think alike.”
By the end of 1981, Causa was authorized to set up an FM and medium-wave radio station in Canelones for broadcast to Montevideo and launched a second newspaper, Ultimas Noticias, in September. It also bought the largest publishing house in Uruguay, Editorial Polo; a restaurant and a meat-packing plant; and it now owns the country’s biggest luxury hotel, the Victoria Plaza, according to The Latin American Newsletter of Jan. 29, 1982.
In 1982, Causa won a controlling interest of the Banco de Credito, Uruguay’s third-largest national bank, and press reports said Causa had put $50 million into the bank purchase effort.
“They bought newspapers, they bought real estate, they bought generals, they bought out the country,” said a Reagan administration official who was there at the time. “There was a big stink about it.”
Part 1 “The Moonies – A Power in the Service of Anti-communism,”
Jean-François Boyer and Alejandro Alem
Guardian, February, 24, 1985, pp. 12-13,
Part 2 “Moon in Latin America: Building the Bases of a World Organisation,”
Guardian, March 3, 1985, pp. 12-14.
Jean-François Boyer and Alejandro Alem conclude a two-part report
The Unification Church, or as it is more commonly known, the “Moonie sect”, is also a vast industrial and financial empire with ramifications in Latin America where it is in the process of building up an information network for winning the hearts and minds of people.
Colonel Bo Hi Pak, a former South Korean army officer who is now the Rev. Moon’s righthand man, was given the job of touring Latin America setting up contacts and recruiting newsmen for the Unification Church’s Spanish-language newspaper, Noticias del Mundo and promoting its anticommunist international, Causa.
THE last seminar of Colonel Bo Hi Pak’s 1981 swing through Latin America took place at Rio de Janeiro’s Hotel Othon facing Copacabana beach. No local bigwig took part in the proceedings. For, unlike in other countries of the region, Moon put in a much bigger effort promoting his Unification Church here than in strengthening his political organisation. In this summer of 1981, Moon had thousands of followers spread through 120 urban centres, including all the state capitals. Exploiting the Brazilian people’s deeply felt, confused and eclectic religiousness, the Unification Church has made a breakthrough here unmatched anywhere else in Latin America.
True, the sect is favourably viewed by some officers in the army, the Defence College and the political police (their names were found among the list of persons invited to the Causa’s 1984 Pan-American seminar in Montevideo). Dairo Vicente Ferraboli, a leader of the Unification Church, told the Rio Grande do Sul police in September 1981 that São Paolo’s governor, Paulo Maluf, who lost to Tancredo Neves in the presidential elections in January 1985, attended several dinners offered by the sect. But all this has more to do with private contacts and commitments than with a concerted strategy as in Uruguay or Bolivia.
Nevertheless, it is worth mentioning that the keynote speaker at the Copacabana seminar was Paul Perry, whom the magazine Causa quite simply describes as “professor”. Alfredo Mingolla, an Argentine secret service operative, says, however, that he met Perry in the Causa offices and that he is one of the four Moonies who collaborated with General García Meza, the ousted Bolivian leader.
Given this situation, it appears that Julian Safi (the boss of Montevideo’s daily Ultimas Noticias and the instrument of Moonie penetration in Latin America) was not given an isolated mission. His first concern was to establish a big popular newspaper in Montevideo on which Causa’s propaganda could rely when necessary. Ultimas Noticias, a four-colour tabloid printed on modern presses, came into being on September 18, 1981. It was an ambitious investment in these crisis-ridden times. The news staff consisted of professional journalists and was reasonably pluralist.
Sold at an unbeatably competitive price, Ultimas Noticias is aimed at the mass readership — trivial news items on the front page, substantial sports coverage and neutral political reporting. The newspaper appears to be objective if you do not read the editorials which are viciously anticommunist and are written by Segundo Flores, whose greatest claim to glory is that he is the father-in-law of General Alvarez, the Uruguayan President, and an academic, José Glavez. Two men see to it that the newspaper hews to its policy line. They are Carlos Estellano, who until a few months before the November 1984 elections was adviser to the government’s public relations office, and Omar Piva, an old friend of Safi’s who also came from the Manini Rios press group.
“The newspaper’s editorial policy,” explained Piva, “is anticommunist at the international level. It is the only discipline which distinguishes us … Nationally, it is independent, supporting none of the parties running in the 1984 elections. The newspaper could take up left-wing, moderate but left-wing, not necessarily right-wing positions. The only condition we set ourselves is to be anticommunist.”
Many of the articles are supplied by the (Unification Church-owned) Washington Times and Noticias del Mundo, to which Ultimas Noticias is affiliated . . . and they deal with the main topics addressed by Causa, the Pentagon and the militants of the doctrine of national security. In three years Ultimas Noticias has become Uruguay’s third biggest newspaper.
It is printed by Impresora Polo, another holding acquired by Moon’s representative Julian Safi. Modernising the plant alone cost $1.5 million. Today the printing establishment turns out 70 per cent of the country’s periodical publications and 15 per cent of its books.
Most of Causa International’s Spanish-language brochures are printed here, as well as certain “friendly” magazines such as El Soldado, the monthly published by the Military Studies Centre. But business being business, a good many political magazines of the leftwing opposition and the centre were also printed at the Impresora Polo plant until November 1984. Stephen Boyd, a Unification Church missionary and Causa International’s local representative, explained this apparent contradiction: “The aim of the businesses owned by the movement is to support not only Causa, but also the 150 organisations (of the movement) throughout the world. So in Uruguay there are various businesses which could give us a hand in our work at the international level.”
It is doubtless with this in view that the movement has provided itself with two very useful instruments — a bank and a big hotel for hosting conferences — in Uruguay which is pivotally sandwiched between the Brazilian and Argentine giants.
By making a succession of small share purchases between November 1982 and February 1983, Safi acquired control of Uruguay’s third largest bank, El Banco de Credito. The money used for the takeover had already been deposited in the bank. Apart from Safi, the new shareholders — Mrs Elena Decker and Cecilia Fraga — were quite unknown to banking circles. Uruguayan laws at the time set no conditions on the acquisition of a national bank by foreigners. All the more so as the bank’s new shareholders obtained — through an offshore bank, Kami Ltd based in Grand Cayman island — a loan of $63 million which was placed as surety in the Central Bank for the purchase by this bank of a portfolio of high-risk shares offered by the Banco de Credito
Confronted by such an avalanche of dollars, the press and some financial circles in Uruguay began wondering whether “Moon wanted to buy Uruguay”. No matter, the operation proceeded. The movement needed a big hotel combined with a convention centre which could accommodate the various Causa seminars. So Julian Safi bought up the four-star Victoria Plaza, Montevideo’s only luxury hotel, and immediately planned to turn it into a hotel complex unique in Latin America — two towers linked together by a bridge 100 metres up, 2,500 rooms and a conference room to hold 1,200 persons. The estimated cost was $8 million, and the justification put forward was that it would create 2,000 jobs in a country affected by the crisis and turn Montevideo into an international convention centre.
There remained one problem to settle: the second tower was to be built on the site of an official building listed by the municipality as a historic monument. This was solved by swapping it with another building having the same features — in this case, the former headquarters of Manini Rios’s newspapers which had been bought up by Safi — and declaring the project a matter of national interest. This was done in September 1983. Overriding objections by architects and various environment protection groups, the military government signed the decree authorising the operation.
Questioned on the subject, General Alvarez pointed out at the time that freedom of worship was also applicable to the Unification Church: “When it comes to combating communism, it’s obvious we think alike.” At the end of September 1984 General Rapela, the Interior Minister, when asked whether the Unification Movement and the military government saw eye-to-eye on ideological grounds, replied: “Ideology? But, of course. That’s why we have given it the support and backing we extend to all international activities having affinities with our political branch . . .; (moreover) these are people who work for the good of the country, they create jobs and leave their profits behind.”
Indeed? The fact remains that all the estimates agree that in four years Moon had invested $100 million in Uruguay — equal to one tenth of the country’s exports. He is someone who matters.
Contrary to what he has said, Julian Safi is not the exclusive depositary in Uruguay of the Rev. Moon’s trust and power. This devout Catholic director of Ultimas Noticias, who is of Lebanese Maronite origin (he has been decorated with the Order of the Cedar), is closely “assisted” by the sect’s hard core: Mrs Ingrid Lindeman, originally a missionary, is director of the Victoria Plaza and probably holds the Banco de Credito’s Lindomar shares. Notarised documents have shown that her husband, Werner, is co-owner, with Safi, of Impresora Polo. Finally, there is a third Uruguayan who plays an obvious role here. He is Stephen Boyd, head of the Unification Church in Uruguay, who has free access any time of the day or night to the Victoria Plaza and the offices of Ultimas Noticias.
Boyd, Moon’s ideologue in Uruguay and Causa’s kingpin, keeps tirelessly discovering, canvassing, assembling and training cadres through whom the organisation spreads its influence — politicians, businessmen, journalists, student leaders, professional people in hi-tech areas (especially, information technology) . . . In three years he has gathered together some 300 potential opinion leaders in the country.
Holding Causa’s first Pan-American congress in Montevideo in February 1984 confirmed his success. Chaired by Bo Hi Pak, the congress brought together some 400 delegates and observers from all over America, Europe and Asia, in addition to 58 Uruguayan sympathisers of Causa. Among the last were several executive electors from the two big traditional Blanco and Colorado parties, a number of persons linked to the dictatorship’s repressive machinery, including Dolcey Britos, the doctor-cum-psychologist accused by (concert pianist) Miguel Angel Estrella of having supervised the torture at the Libertad penitentiary, and Jorge Guldenzoph, a young Interior Ministry official who is secretary of Causa Uruguay. Ten years ago Guldenzoph was still a student leader of the . . . Communist Youth movement when, he says, he “forswore Marxism”.
The seminar’s guest list shows, however, that Causa’s strategic concerns had shifted from the Southern Cone to Central America. Proof of that was the presence of the Salvadoran Colonel Domingo Monterosa, former commander of the 3rd San Miguel brigade and a specialist in psychological warfare, and Steadman Fagoth, head of the anti-Sandinista Miskito guerrilla movement, along with two retired American generals involved, directly or indirectly, in the aid programme to the Honduras-based anticommunist National Democratic Front (FDN) — General Robert Richardson III, an active member of the World Anticommunist League, and General Ed Woellner, president of Causa USA, director of the United Global Strategy Council, a right-wing Republican Party think-tank which is campaigning to put more teeth into President Reagan’s Central American policy.
Causa’s determination to support the hawks in Reagan’s team was clearly shown by its activities in Honduras during 1981 and 1982 when the US Army arrived there in strength. Causa first invited some ten leading Honduran figures on an all-expenses paid visit to South Korea, where they met Moon. Among them was the press secretary of the office of the Honduran President and the ambassador who later succeeded him in the job. Both of them are today pillars of Causa Latin America. These same Hondurans next organised a four-day seminar on anticommunism at San Pedro Sula for 1,000 political cadres, businessmen and journalists.
Among them was a key figure who took part in the Montevideo Pan-American congress — Mario Belot, president of the Honduran Chamber of Commerce and the Association of Stock Breeders and Farmers (APROH), a rightwing organisation whose membership consisted of all of the country’s influential businessmen and politicians under the presidency of General Gustavo Alvarez, commander-in-chief of the armed forces until March 31, last year.
A strongman in a strong-armed democracy and in favour of large-scale US intervention in Central America, General Alvarez was on sufficiently good terms with Causa for Bo Hi Pak to kick in $50,000 when APROH was set up in 1983. The Honduran bishops’ sharp reaction to the Unification Church’s entry into the country forced the general to return the money eight months after it was received. Causa’s Central American obsession led it to organise in 1983 a fact-finding tour for some 100 American and European journalists, who were treated to special interviews with former Guatemalan President General Rios Montt and Edgar Chomorro, member of the FDN leadership, on the border between Honduras and Nicaragua.
The Moonies’ support for the American right does not date from the crisis in Central America. On September 13, 1974, a few months before the Vietnam debacle, 13 US senators and representatives (including a few leading lights of the “moral majority” like John Hunt) lent their patronage to a conference by Rev. Sun Myung Moon on the subject “America in the divine providence” . . . Five weeks before that the Unification Church mustered its troops for a last-ditch defence of Richard Nixon, who in the end quit on August 8 . . .
In 1980 Moon discovered another American cause. His News World conducted an all-out campaign on behalf of Ronald Reagan right from the primaries . . . On March 1, 1982, the dummy issue of the Washington Times was sent to 5,000 opinion-makers in the District of Columbia. The aim was to counter the Washington Post’s de facto monopoly and become the voice of US conservatism. In a year it obtained exclusive interviews with Mrs Jeane Kirkpatrick (then US ambassador to the UN), Richard Nixon, CIA director William Casey, Defence Secretary Caspar Weinberger and Reagan himself.
The Washington Times is a key pawn in the Moonie strategy. To the point that the Unification Church has poured $150 million into it to make good a continuing deficit, for the newspaper’s circulation has failed to go over the 100,000 mark, whereas it has just launched a Californian edition and is planning to go after the markets in Chicago and Dallas . . .
Moon’s press group, Time-Tribune Corporation, and the Washington Times are also funding another organisation founded by Moon, the World Conference on Communications Media which since 1978 has been trying “to inspire a crusade (. . .) so that the media may contribute to establishing a lasting peace and avert the destruction of mankind’’.
Since it was founded the World Conference on Communications Media has thrown open its forum to speakers such as former Colombian President Miguel Pastrana Borrero, former South Vietnamese Prime Minister General N’Guyen Cao Ky, the leader of the World Anticommunist League General John Singlaub, and Jacques Soustelle (of France) who was co-director of the Conference in Cartagena, Colombia, in 1983.
For the past two years, many French people have been taking part in meetings organised by the Unification Church. In 1982, Jean-François Revel (author and former editor of the news magazine L’Express) took part in the fifth World Conference on the Media alongside Moon and Bo Hi Pak. He spoke in defence of a conception of the ideological struggle against the USSR, but it was fairly different from the one advocated by the Moonie movement.
Men with such differing political and philosophical sympathies as Soustelle, Revel, Georges Suffert and Yacinthe Santoni obviously cannot be regarded as having any sympathies for the Moonie sect. Their participation in the great anticommunist concert orchestrated over the past four years by Causa and the Unification Church shows to what extent the movement’s American and Korean strategists have succeeded in exploiting subjects and finding a language capable of reaching the world’s intelligentsia, and in particular the elite of the former and the new right.
(From Le Monde Diplomatique, February 1985 issue)
In 1985 the Washington Times sponsored a fund for the Contras who committed atrocities, and trafficked drugs to the US
▲ Two women carry the coffin of a child killed by a Contra landmine in Managua, July 4, 1986. Thirty-one unarmed civilians, including women and children, were killed when the truck they were riding in struck a Contra landmine. The truck was carrying a 50-gallon barrel of gasoline.
Reverend Sun Myung Moon, a South Korean theocrat who fancied himself the new Messiah, had founded his newspaper, The Washington Times, in 1982 partly to protect Ronald Reagan’s political flanks and partly to ensure that he had powerful friends in high places.
In the so-called “Koreagate” scandal of the late 1970s, Moon’s religious cult had been exposed as a money-laundering front [see KCFF scam and ROFA scam] for South Korean intelligence and other corrupt right-wing political forces in Asia (including some elements of organized crime).
As a result, Moon had been convicted of tax evasion and spent time in federal prison. He was determined to prevent a recurrence of those investigations and thus began pouring what came to total several billion dollars of his mysterious money into the Washington Times, creating a propaganda bulwark for the Republican Party and guaranteeing himself a phalanx of powerful defenders.
From ‘United States and state-sponsored terrorism’
In the 1980s the Sandinista government of Nicaragua did not attempt to create a communist economic system; instead, their policy advocated a social democracy and a mixed economy. The government sought the aid of Western Europe, who were opposed to the U.S. embargo against Nicaragua, to escape dependency on the Soviet Union. However, the U.S. administration viewed the leftist Sandinista government as undemocratic and totalitarian under the ties of the Soviet-Cuban model and tried to paint the Contras as freedom fighters.
The Sandinista government headed by Daniel Ortega won decisively in the 1984 Nicaraguan elections. The U.S. government explicitly planned to back the ‘Contras’ (who were a collection of various rebel groups that had been formed in opposition to the rise of the new Sandinista government) as a means to damage the Nicaraguan economy and force the Sandinista government to divert its scarce resources toward the army and away from social and economic programs.
Edited from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nicaragua
When the hereditary dictatorship of the Somoza family was deposed by the Sandinistas in 1979, the Somoza family’s worth was estimated to be between $500 million and $1.5 billion – gained through massive corruption.
In 1980, the Carter administration provided $60 million in aid to Nicaragua under the Sandinistas, but the aid was suspended when the administration obtained evidence of Nicaraguan shipment of arms to El Salvadoran rebels. In response to the coming to power of the Sandinistas, the ‘contras’ formed.
[The US government viewed the leftist Sandinistas as a threat to economic interests of American corporations in Nicaragua and to national security. US President Ronald Reagan stated in 1983 that “The defense of [the USA’s] southern frontier” was at stake. “In spite of the Sandinista victory being declared fair, the United States continued to oppose the left-wing Nicaraguan government.”]
The Reagan administration authorized the CIA to help the contra rebels with funding, armaments, and training. The contras operated out of camps in the neighboring countries of Honduras to the north and Costa Rica to the south.
The contras engaged in a systematic campaign of terror amongst the rural Nicaraguan population to disrupt the social reform projects of the Sandinistas. Several historians have criticized the contra campaign and the Reagan administration’s support for it, citing the brutality and numerous human rights violations of the contras. LaRamee and Polakoff, for example, describe the destruction of health centers, schools, and cooperatives at the hands of the rebels, and others have contended that murder, rape, and torture occurred on a large scale in contra-dominated areas. The United States also carried out a campaign of economic sabotage, and disrupted shipping by planting underwater mines in Nicaragua’s port of Corinto, an action condemned by the International Court of Justice as illegal. The U.S. also sought to place economic pressure on the Sandinistas, and the Reagan administration imposed a full trade embargo. The Sandinistas were also accused of human rights abuses.
In the Nicaraguan general elections of 1984, which were judged to have been free and fair, the Sandinistas won the parliamentary election and their leader Daniel Ortega won the presidential election. …
After the U.S. Congress prohibited federal funding of the contras in 1983, the Reagan administration nonetheless illegally continued to back them by covertly selling arms to Iran and channeling the proceeds to the contras (the Iran–Contra affair), for which several members of the Reagan administration were convicted of felonies. The International Court of Justice, in regard to the case of Nicaragua v. United States in 1984, found, “the United States of America was under an obligation to make reparation to the Republic of Nicaragua for all injury caused to Nicaragua by certain breaches of obligations under customary international law and treaty-law committed by the United States of America”. During the war between the contras and the Sandinistas, 30,000 people were killed.
The United States began to support Contra activities against the Sandinista government by December 1981, with the CIA at the forefront of operations. The CIA supplied the funds and the equipment, coordinated training programs, and provided intelligence and target lists. While the Contras had little military successes, they did prove adept at carrying out CIA guerrilla warfare strategies from training manuals which advised them to incite mob violence, “neutralize” civilian leaders and government officials and attack “soft targets” — including schools, health clinics and cooperatives. The agency added to the Contras’ sabotage efforts by blowing up refineries and pipelines, and mining ports. Finally, according to former Contra leader Edgar Chamorro, CIA trainers also gave Contra soldiers large knives. “A commando knife [was given], and our people, everybody wanted to have a knife like that, to kill people, to cut their throats”. In 1985 Newsweek published a series of photos taken by Frank Wohl, a conservative student admirer traveling with the Contras, entitled “Execution in the Jungle”:
The victim dug his own grave, scooping the dirt out with his hands… He crossed himself. Then a contra executioner knelt and rammed a k-bar knife into his throat. A second enforcer stabbed at his jugular, then his abdomen. When the corpse was finally still, the contras threw dirt over the shallow grave — and walked away.
The CIA officer in charge of the covert war, Duane “Dewey” Clarridge, admitted to the House Intelligence Committee staff in a secret briefing in 1984 that the Contras were routinely murdering “civilians and Sandinista officials in the provinces, as well as heads of cooperatives, nurses, doctors and judges”. But he claimed that this did not violate President Reagan’s executive order prohibiting assassinations because the agency defined it as just ‘killing’. “After all, this is war—a paramilitary operation,” Clarridge said in conclusion.
▲ The CIA “assassination manual,” authorized by CIA supervisor Duane Clarridge, provided illustrated instructions in Spanish on how to make a bomb and blow up a local police station. Other pages explained how to assassinate victims with a rope, wire, belt, pistol, rifle, shotgun, machine gun, or explosives.
From a special report by Robert Parry
December 9, 2010
White House aide Oliver North’s chief Contra emissary, Robert Owen, made this point in a March 17, 1986, message about the Contras leadership. “Few of the so-called leaders of the movement … really care about the boys in the field,” Owen wrote. “THIS WAR HAS BECOME A BUSINESS TO MANY OF THEM.” [Emphasis in original.]
That business was cocaine trafficking to the US.
… Another break in the long-running Contra-cocaine cover-up was a report by the Justice Department’s Inspector General Michael Bromwich.
According to evidence cited by Bromwich, the Reagan administration knew almost from the outset of the Contra war that cocaine traffickers permeated the paramilitary operation. The administration also did next to nothing to expose or stop the crimes.
Bromwich’s report revealed example after example of leads not followed, corroborated witnesses disparaged, official law-enforcement investigations sabotaged, and even the CIA facilitating the work of drug traffickers.
Bromwich cited U.S. government informants who supplied detailed information about Meneses’s drug operation and his financial assistance to the Contras. For instance, Renato Pena, a money-and-drug courier for Meneses, said that in the early 1980s the CIA allowed the Contras to fly drugs into the United States, sell them, and keep the proceeds.
CIA Inspector General Hitz made clear that the Contra war took precedence over law enforcement and that the CIA withheld evidence of Contra crimes from the Justice Department, Congress, and even the CIA’s own analytical division.
According to Hitz, the CIA had “one overriding priority: to oust the Sandinista government… . [CIA officers] were determined that the various difficulties they encountered not be allowed to prevent effective implementation of the Contra program.” One CIA field officer explained, “The focus was to get the job done, get the support and win the war.”
Hitz also recounted complaints from CIA analysts that CIA operations officers handling the Contras hid evidence of Contra-drug trafficking even from the CIA’s analysts.
from Big Media’s Guilt in Gary Webb’s Death
By Robert Parry (A Special Report) December 9, 2010
Former CIA agent David MacMichael:
“Once you set up a covert operation to supply arms and money, it’s very difficult to separate it from the kind of people who are involved in other forms of trade, and especially drugs. There is a limited number of planes, pilots and landing strips. By developing a system for supply of the Contras, the US built a road for drug supply into the US.”
The Washington Post reported on the drive to support the Contras by the Washington Times.
By Michael Isikoff May 7, 1985
The Washington Times said yesterday that it is sponsoring a worldwide fund-raising campaign to collect $14 million for the “contra” rebels in Nicaragua and has received a $100,000 commitment for the cause from the paper’s owners, the Unification Church.
The Times campaign, coming just two weeks after the House rejected President Reagan’s request for the same amount of aid to the contras, is among the most ambitious publicly announced initiatives so far to raise private money specifically for the anti-Sandinista guerrillas.
Arnaud de Borchgrave, the Times’ editor, who has championed the contra cause on the paper’s editorial page, announced in a front-page editorial yesterday that the newspaper is setting up a non-profit, public corporation that will oversee fund raising for the contras and that will operate independently of the paper’s news operations. …
De Borchgrave said he thought up the idea for the campaign on Sunday and won quick approval from Col. Bo Hi Pak, the top deputy to Unification Church leader Rev. Sun Myung Moon and president of News World Communications Inc., the parent company of the Times.
Pak “thought it was a great idea” and immediately pledged $100,000 to the drive, he said. …
The Times initiative comes while a number of closely related conservative groups such as the World Anti-Communist League (WACL) and the United States Council for World Freedom have been conducting independent fund-raising drives to funnel military and other aid to the contras. …
But the full scale of private-sector aid to the contras has been difficult to determine, in part because many of the groups involved in raising money have described their efforts as being humanitarian aid to refugees in Honduras, where many of the families of Nicaraguan contras are living.
One such group that has acknowledged providing refugee assistance is Causa, the Unification Church’s anti-Communist political arm that is also headed by Pak.
In his 1997 study on U.S. low intensity warfare, Kermit D. Johnson, a former Chief of the U.S. Army Chaplains, contends that U.S. hostility toward the revolutionary government was motivated not by any concern for “national security”, but rather by what the world relief organization Oxfam termed “the threat of a good example”:
It was alarming that in just a few months after the Sandinista revolution, Nicaragua received international acclaim for its rapid progress in the fields of literacy and health. It was alarming that a socialist-mixed-economy state could do in a few short months what the Somoza dynasty, a U.S. client state, could not do in 45 years! It was truly alarming that the Sandinistas were intent on providing the very services that establish a government’s political and moral legitimacy.
The government’s program included increased wages, subsidized food prices, and expanded health, welfare, and education services. And though it nationalized Somoza’s former properties, it preserved a private sector that accounted for between 50 and 60 percent of GDP.
Behind the Supply lines in CovertAction Information Bulletin 25 (Winter 1986)
by Fred Clarkson
… The “private aid” network of rightwing groups, TV preachers, retired military and intelligence personnel, and the like, has been organized into an elaborate public relations and lobbying effort which packages and presents the notion of the “freedom fighter” for domestic and international consumption.
At the center of this growing army of ideological vigilantes is the World Anti-Communist League (WACL), spearheaded by retired Army Major General John K. Singlaub. WACL, an 18-year-old coalition of conservative and fascist groups and political parties from some 100 countries is often referred to as “the fascist international.” Singlaub claims WACL has raised between $20-30 million dollars in cash and “non-lethal” supplies for the contras. …
The Reagan model appears to be Vietnamization, Nixon’s attempt to replace U.S. troops with U.S.-trained Vietnamese. Indeed, the New York Times reported6 that the Reagan administration’s reason for backing the contras is to avoid having to send American troops to Nicaragua.
Congress, reflecting both American public opinion and its own anger at CIA excesses in Nicaragua, formally cut off “covert” U.S. backing for the contras. However, covert operations merely took another form, as a crafty White House sought ways around the laws. The Times article broke the news that a military officer assigned to the National Security Council was directing the contras from the White House. Colonel Oliver North, a deputy to National Security Adviser Robert (“Bud”) McFarlane, “facilitated the supplying of logistical help.” …
It is clear that the use of private groups by military and intelligence agencies is nothing new. What is new is that the relationship is referred to as the providing of “humanitarian aid.” Though Congress appropriated the money for “humanitarian assistance” to the contras, no formal definition of the term was established, and FDN leader Adolfo Calero admitted to the New York Times that the $27 million voted by the Congress “will free other money for weapons.”15 In addition to food, clothing, and medical supplies, what the FDN wants are helicopters, small airplanes, trucks, boats, and outboard motors, all of which have clear military implications. As CAIB went to press, Congress appeared to be capitulating; it was authorizing the use of the U.S. funds for “transportation equipment … so long as no modifications are made … designed to be used to inflict severe bodily harm or death.”
The abuse of so-called humanitarian aid has become clear in the refugee camps. An investigation by Vicki Kemper in Sojourners magazine charges mistreatment and political manipulation of refugees by the contras. It also alleges diversion of funds and supplies from the refugees to the contras, notably by the Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN) of Pentecostal television preacher Pat Robertson and by Friends of the Americas, headed by Louisiana state legislator Woody Jenkins. One former Christian relief worker says that the Nicaraguan border relief programs are intended to aid the contras: “Everything they do is justified as long as they’re fighting the ‘communists.’ They are a bunch of thugs down there. Steadman Fagoth [a Miskito contra leader] is a thug. He has killed innocent people. The contras are constantly terrorizing the refugee camps, forcibly recruiting people.”16
6. New York Times, August 27, 1985.
15. New York Times, August 13, 1985
16. Vicki Kemper, “Contras, Refugees, and Private Aid: Who Benefits, Who Suffers?” in Sojourners, October 1985
CovertAction Information Bulletin 25 (Winter 1986) pages 56 and 50-53 LINK to PDF
The Contadora Group was an initiative launched in the early 1980s by the foreign ministers of Colombia, Mexico, Panama and Venezuela to deal with the Central American crisis (military conflicts in El Salvador, Nicaragua and Guatemala), which were threatening to destabilize the entire Central American region.
The original stimulus for the initiative was a call by Swedish Prime Minister Olof Palme and Nobel laureates Gabriel García Márquez, Alfonso García Robles and Alva Myrdal for the presidents of Colombia, Mexico, Venezuela and Panama to act as mediators in the conflicts.
The group first met on Contadora Island (Panama) in 1983. The initiative drew international attention to Central America’s conflicts and pressured for a softening of the militarist stance of the United States in the region. The peace plan was supported by the United Nations Security Council, the General Assembly and many regional and international bodies.
In September 1983, mediated by the Contadora group, the foreign ministers of the Central American countries adopted a Document of Objectives in Panama City. This document declared their intent to promote democratization and to end armed conflict in the region, to act in compliance with international law, to revitalize and restore economic development and co-operation in Central America, and to negotiate better access to international markets….
From Washington’s War on Nicaragua by Holly Sklar, pages 316-18
Avoiding Regional War
“The importance of Contadora,” said Sergio Ramirez, “should be measured in what it has avoided rather than in what it has accomplished.” Mexican analyst Luis Herrera Lasso observed, “In the sense of a neutral peace, Contadora will never succeed, because a neutral peace will never be achieved in Central America…The U.S. presence, the external variable, will be determinant… We can say Contadora is destined to fail. But that doesn’t mean Contadora isn’t justified.”
Even gravely ill, Contadora has served as Latin America’s alternative to U.S. intervention, an antidote to Nicaraguan isolation, a crucial forum for communication and a support for Hondurans and Costa Ricans resisting the proxy roles assigned their countries by the United States. On numerous occasions, Nicaragua, Honduras and Costa Rica have pulled back from the brink of war to which the United States was steering them. At the risk of an oversimplified analogy, Honduras and Costa Rica are not resigned to going the way of Laos and Cambodia in a regional war.
A Western diplomat (generally code for a U.S. diplomat) in Tegucigalpa observed, “Honduras has always been a means to an end.” Many Hondurans and Costa Ricans chafe at their U.S.-assigned roles of platform and pretext for U.S. intervention. Honduras’ most recent wartime enemy was not Nicaragua, but El Salvador, with whom Washington expects Honduras to have a cozy alliance. Under U.S. pressure, noted Tom Farer, former president of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, “power within the military tilted toward General Gustavo Alvarez Martinez and his colleagues, who composed the faction that was most belligerent, most authoritarian, most closely tied to extremist business leaders (this faction also had connections with the Reverend Sun Myung Moon), and most eager to convert the country into an American subsidiary.”* When General Alvarez was sacked in March 1984 by fellow military officers, it was not only because he was too greedy and autocratic, but because he was too eager to please Washington in forging an alliance with El Salvador.
“The Honduran Association of Coffee Producers, representing some 33,000 Hondurans, has called for expulsion of the contras. The contras have occupied a 450-square kilometer area in the eastern province of El Paraiso (Paradise). Dubbed Nueva Nicaragua (New Nicaragua; old Nicaragua would be more appropriate), the area is complete with a Ciudad Reagan (Reagan City). The contra occupation has brought killings, disappearances, rapes, robberies and the dislocation of some 20,000 Hondurans. Hondurans have also protested prostitution and child abuse by U.S. troops stationed at Palmerola Air Base.
Honduran Vice President Jaime Rosenthal said bluntly, “Public opinion is against the contras. The government will not be able to resist that for long.” About contra leaders, he said, “They are living a very good life [off U.S. aid], Calero lives better than I do.”
“There is pressure” against the contra presence, acknowledged a U.S. ambassador in Central America, “even among businesspeople who hate the Sandinistas. They’re tired of having the contras inhabiting part of the country. Their reputation is shady—drug dealing, etc. If the contras fail, they’ll all fall on Honduras.”
Threats against Honduran contra critics have multiplied. The president of the conservative opposition National Party, Nicolas Cruz Torres, and the head of the Committee for the Defense of Human Rights in Honduras (CODEH), Dr. Ramon Custodio, have both received death threats for opposing the contra presence. Custodio’s home and office were bombed. On August 4, 1986, terrorists blew up the car of contra critic Rodrigo Wong Arevalo, news director of Radio America, who escaped death only because he was running behind schedule.
Hondurans have increasingly described their homeland as an “occupied country”—occupied by the United States and the contras. Edmond Bogran, a congressman from Azcona’s own Liberal Party, said, “The truth is, we are a satellite state, a client state of the United States. Our government can have no policy of its own toward Nicaragua because of its total dependence.” He expressed shame that Honduras had to do “Washington’s dirty work” in helping stall Contadora.” [Pamela Constable Boston Globe, April, 1986]
* Tom Farer, “Contadora: The Hidden Agenda,” Foreign Policy, Summer 1985, p. 63.
Washington Post August 28, 1983:
On April 8, 1983 Honduras’ Roman Catholic Conference of Bishops denounced Causa and the Unification Church, issuing a pastoral letter prohibiting priests and lay workers and “anyone who wishes to remain Catholic” from taking part or encouraging any involvement in Causa or any other Unification Church operation.
The Unification Church, the letter said, is “truly anti-Christian” and produces “a species of material and spiritual slavery.”
“It is very probable that until now, Causa has not here manifested its moral and religious danger. But given its tactics, when this happens it could be too late for many,” the bishops’ letter said.
“The Catholic church was so powerful it saved us,” said a leading industrialist in San Pedro Sula. “If it hadn’t been for them, the Moonies would own Honduras by now.”
from Moon’s ‘Cause’ Takes Aim At Communism in Americas by Joanne Omang
From Washington’s War on Nicaragua by Holly Sklar, page 318
Costa Ricans complain of the “Hondurization” of their country. Social stability is being undermined by U.S. pressures to convert from a welfare state to a warfare state and by the rightwing forces feeding on U.S. intervention. In December 1985, members of Costa Rica Libre, headed by World Anti-Communist League chapter leader Bernal Urbina Pinto, stoned and teargassed participants in the international March for Peace in Central America which included members of parliament from Denmark and Norway. The year before, Bruce Jones, then a CIA contra liaison and later an associate of Singlaub’s U.S. Council for World Freedom, told a reporter, “We’re compiling a list of all the communists in northern Costa Rica, in case we ever have to do an Operation Phoenix here.” [Inside the League, pp. 244, 249-50, 268]
Even anti-Sandinista Costa Ricans have become convinced the contras can’t succeed. They are skeptical of the prospects for a U.S. invasion and fearful of the consequences for their own country. “If you could guarantee to me,” said one Costa Rican official, “that the US 82nd airborne would land in Managua, liquidate the Sandinista comandantes and form a coalition government that would stand up, then a lot of people would be for it. But, that couldn’t happen. They wouldn’t be able to liquidate the Sandinistas. In the long term, they might democratize Nicaragua, but de-democratize Costa Rica.” [Boston Globe, November 23, 1986]
As Tom Farer observed, “the capitalist and military elites of Central America are divided between those who lost their hearts to Miami and those with a passion for an autonomous, national existence. And the latter know they are at a historic crossroads. U.S. intervention can guarantee the status quo for another generation. All that will be lost is national dignity. For some soldiers and politicians in Central America that price now seems too high. Perhaps the real contribution of the Contadora states has been to underline the price and to reinforce the belief that it need not be paid.” [Farer “Contadora” p. 72]
Bolivia’s government-protected cocaine shipments helped transform Colombia’s Medellín cartel from a struggling local operation into a giant corporate-style business for delivering cocaine to the U.S. market.
It fell to Reverend Sun Myung Moon’s right-wing Washington Times to begin the vendetta against those who reported on the cocaine-Contra connection.
In Bolivia, Moon disciple Tom Ward and the former Hitler SS Officer, Klaus Barbie were often seen together
Tom Ward and Klaus Barbie worked together to facilitate the Bolivian Cocaine coup of 1980.
Covert Action Information Bulletin No. 25 page 20
Kai Hermann: “On May 31, 1981, nine months after the cocaine generals’ coup, almost the entire leadership of the Moon sect and their Latin American political organization Causa flew to La Paz. Before 200 invited guests in the Sheraton Hotel’s “Hall of Freedom,” Moon’s representative, Colonel Pak, and the Bolivian junta leader García began by praying for U.S. President Reagan who had been wounded in an assassination attempt. Pak then explained, “God had chosen the Bolivian people in the heart of South America as the ones to conquer communism.”
The Moon organization Causa started their political missionary work throughout the entire country. Fifty thousand of the sect’s books—according to a Bolivian intelligence agency report—were brought to La Paz by an American Air Force plane. Along with ideological “enlightenment,” the education of an anti-communist “people’s army” for an “armed church” began. Around 7,000 Bolivians took part in the pre-military training. The Israeli Embassy supported the campaign and delivered, among other things, instructional films about the fight against the Palestinian resistance.
The leader of the Moon group in Bolivia was Thomas (Tom) Ward. Barbie and the pale American Ward, who always seemed to be absorbed in prayer, were often seen together.
Tom Ward was also the man who delivered a payment from the CIA in early 1981 to the Argentinean intelligence Lieutenant Alfredo Mingolla. The $1,500 monthly salary for Mingolla was paid in the Causa office belonging to William Selig, Ward’s representative.
Selig put less stock in pious attitudes than his boss. He was an electronic specialist with experience in Vietnam and advised the Bolivian intelligence organization on technical matters. The third man in the CIA cadre of the Moonies was Paul Perry, who had already tried to organize an “armed church” in Brazil.
The Argentinean agent Alfredo Mingolla at first knew little about the connection between the Nazi Barbie and the Moonie Ward. Two days after his recruitment by the CIA, says Mingolla, he met the “Old German” in the courtyard of the Bolivian General Staff. Mingolla came out of department VII of the intelligence agency; Barbie came out of department III.
Barbie greeted his colleague—as Mingolla remembers it, “Hello, comrade, what do I hear? Are you working for a new employer?” Mingolla answered with surprise, “For what, for who, then?” Barbie: “Na, for Mr. Ward, for example.” Mingolla feared reproach. “Yes. Doesn’t the organization allow that?” Barbie laughed. “It’s okay. There has to be cooperation.”
Mingolla says that it was first clear to him on that day that Barbie had become a top man for the CIA. Because only top people knew the names of the other agency employees.
The Moon man Tom Ward was Klaus Barbie’s CIA contact man only preceding and directly after the Bolivian putsch of 1980. Barbie’s steady CIA contact person was the munitions dealer Fernando Inchauste. He boasted that he had direct contact with President Reagan, whom he allegedly knew during the latter’s California governor days.
Another one of Barbie’s steady CIA contact people was George Portugal, also a munitions dealer. He was Inchauste’s close co-worker and Barbie’s business friend.” …
▲ Klaus Barbie in his German SS uniform.
page 20 “In the beginning of March 1982, the Argentinean agent Mingolla met with the Moon-CIA agent Ward in the cafeteria “Fontana” of La Paz’s Hotel Plaza.
The seminary priest Mingolla remembered that it was St. Thomas Aquinas’s name day. Mingolla’s CIA involvement had silently expired. The Argentinean asked the American what was still going on.
Tom Ward seemed resigned. He said the government in Argentina was finished. And the Argentineans had made a lot of mistakes in Bolivia: Your entire position is simply too reactionary. The whole affair with Altmann (Klaus Barbie), with the whole Fascism and Nazism bit, that was a dead end street.” Ward ordered a drink after his first coffee. Mingolla was surprised that the bigoted ascetic had suddenly started to drink.
But even the fanatical Nazi Mingolla seemed to have turned over a new leaf. “You can’t create a new order with the old Germans, with Hitler and all that. You have to find something modern.”
Tom Ward, under the influence of alcohol, started criticizing himself severely. “It was also stupid having Moon and Causa here.”
Mingolla was perplexed. “You’re saying that? You’re the boss of the whole thing, the head missionary.”
… A few days later, Ward flew to the U.S.; Mingolla to Guatemala. …”
Covert Action Information Bulletin No. 25 LINK
‘The Butcher of Lyon’ was leader of the Gestapo in the Lyon area 1942–1944 holding the rank of SS-Hauptsturmführer (captain). He captured and personally tortured hundreds of French Resistance workers, including Jean Moulin a highly ranked resistance leader. Witnesses to his torture methods show a sadistic monster who used the most unspeakable methods. He hung his prisoners from their ankles and some he skinned alive. He tortured Moulin and many, many others to death.
Barbie is thought to have been directly responsible for the deaths of up to 14,000 people, men, women and children.
After the war he was tried in absentia by the French for war crimes and sentenced to death. When the French discovered that he was being held by the US authorities in Germany, they demanded that he be turned over for execution. The Americans refused to hand him over and helped him to escaped to Bolivia under the name Klaus Altmann.
Following the fall of the Bolivian dictator, Hugo Banzer Suárez, Barbie was finally extradited to France, in 1980, to face trial on 41 counts of crimes against humanity. When faced with some of his 730 accusers during his trial, he responded: “nothing to say”. He was convicted, sentenced to life imprisonment and died in prison of multiple cancers in 1991.
Further information on Klaus Barbie:
8 minute video (in French) of Klaus Barbie’s trial in France:
How Sun Myung Moon’s organization helped to establish Bolivia as South America’s first narco-state.
According to later Bolivian government and newspaper reports, a Moon representative invested about $4 million in preparations for the coup. Bolivia’s WACL representatives also played key roles, and CAUSA, one of Moon’s anti-communist organizations, listed as members nearly all the leading Bolivian coup-makers.
June 6, 2013
From the Archive: U.S. history took a dark turn in the aftermath of World War II as the Truman administration judged the Soviet Union and socialism bigger threats than the remnants of Nazism and other right-wing ideologies. So, Official Washington protected some of the world’s worst killers, Robert Parry reported in 2010.
By Robert Parry (Originally published on December 17, 2010)
The U.S. government protected Nazi war criminal Klaus Barbie in the years after World War II and later unleashed the infamous Butcher of Lyon on South America by aiding his escape from French war-crimes prosecutors, according to a report issued by the National Archives in 2010.
The (PDF) report, entitled “Hitler’s Shadow,” concentrates on the decisions by the U.S. Army’s Counterintelligence Corps to use Barbie and other ex-Nazis for early Cold War operations, but other work by investigative journalists and government investigators has shown how Barbie’s continued allegiance to Nazi ideology contributed to the spread of right-wing extremism in Latin America.
With his skills as an intelligence operative and his expertise in state terror, Barbie helped shape the particularly vicious style of anti-communism that dominated South America for most of the Cold War. He also played a role in building a conduit for drug proceeds to fund right-wing paramilitary operations, including Ronald Reagan’s beloved Nicaraguan Contra rebels.
In 1980, Barbie used his perch in Bolivian intelligence to organize an alliance of military leaders and cocaine barons to overthrow Bolivia’s democratically elected leftist government in a bloody coup. Though fitting with Washington’s distrust of left-wing populist governments in South America, the so-called Cocaine Coup had other long-term consequences for the United States.
Bolivia’s coup regime ensured a reliable flow of coca to Colombia’s Medellin cartel, which quickly grew into a sophisticated conglomerate for smuggling cocaine into the United States. Some of those drug profits then went to finance right-wing paramilitary operations, including the CIA-backed Contras, according to other U.S. government investigations.
Barbie reportedly collaborated, too, with representatives of Rev. Sun Myung Moon’s Unification Church as they worked with Bolivia’s Cocaine Coup regime to organize anti-communist operations in South America. By then, the region had become a center for Moon’s global money-laundering operations. In 1982, Moon began pouring hundreds of millions of his mysterious dollars into the right-wing Washington Times newspaper to influence U.S. politics.
Eventually, as Bolivia’s corrupt Cocaine Coup government crumbled and Barbie’s identity became well known, French authorities finally secured Barbie’s return to France to face a war-crimes trial in 1983. (He died in 1991.)
The Butcher of Lyon’s role in these South American anti-communist activities caused brief embarrassment for Moon’s church and some right-wing Americans. But the Nazi collaboration didn’t draw much attention from the U.S. news media, which was already shying away from critical reporting on the Reagan administration’s unsavory alliances in Central and South America.
A Long Continuum
Indeed, the Right’s growing dominance of Washington opinion circles can be viewed as a continuum dating back to those days right after World War II, when U.S. priorities switched quickly from prosecuting Axis war criminals to seeking their help in crushing leftist political influence in Western Europe and Asia.
Suddenly, U.S. intelligence agencies were freeing Nazi and Japanese war criminals from prison and exploiting their talents to neutralize labor unions, student groups and other left-wing organizations.
Though the National Archives report deals with ex-Nazis in Europe, a similar program was underway in Japan where war criminals such as right-wing yakuza gangsters Yoshio Kodama and Ryoichi Sasakawa were freed and allowed to become important political figures in Japan and later internationally by supporting a global crusade against communism.
In the 1960s, Kodama and Sasakawa joined with Rev. Moon and two right-wing dictators, Taiwan’s Chiang Kai-shek and South Korea’s Park Chung Hee, to create the World Anti-Communist League (WACL), which also brought in right-wing leaders from Latin America and Europe, including ex-Nazis and neo-Nazis, according to authors Scott and Jon Lee Anderson in their landmark 1986 book, Inside the League.
So, with the Cocaine Coup in 1980, Barbie not only closed the circle, bringing together death-squad commanders, ex-Nazis, neo-Nazis and various sociopaths from around the globe, but he helped ensure that drug proceeds would be available to fund right-wing causes in the future.
“Hitler’s Shadow,” in effect, tells the first chapter of this right-wing restoration as U.S. intelligence agencies turned to former Nazi officials and SS officers to counter the perceived greater threat from the Soviet Union and Communist groups in Europe.
“Gestapo officers, who also held ranks in the SS, were in the U.S. Army Counterintelligence Corps’s automatic arrest category after the war,” the report said. “Later, CIC used former Gestapo officers to garner useful intelligence for the postwar period on everything from German right-wing movements to underground communist organizations. Intelligence officers often overlooked the significant role Gestapo officers played in the murder of Jews, POWs, and the political enemies of the Nazis.”
The report notes that “approximately 1,200 newly released files relate to the penetration of German Communist activities and specifically to ‘Project Happiness,’ the CIC’s codename for counterintelligence operations against the KPD,” the German Communist Party.
Though Barbie, notorious for personally torturing French partisans during the war, may be the best known ex-Gestapo officer recruited by the CIC, others had similar histories.
For instance, Anton Mahler was the chief interrogator of Hans Scholl, a leader of the White Rose, a Munich-based student organization that secretly passed out leaflets urging Adolf Hitler’s overthrow and decrying German apathy in the face of Hitler’s crimes. Hans and his sister Sophie Scholl were convicted of high treason and beheaded in February 1943.
Mahler also served in Einsatzgruppe B in occupied Belarus as the group slaughtered more than 45,000 people, most of them Jews, the report said. Nevertheless, CIC deployed Mahler as an informant starting in February 1949 and soon made him a full-time employee.
Regarding Barbie, the report builds on a 1983 investigation by a Justice Department investigator who confirmed suspicions that U.S. intelligence had worked with and protected this hunted war criminal who was accused of executing 4,000 people and shipping 7,000 Jews to concentration camps.
“In the spring of 1947 a CIC agent named Robert S. Taylor from CIC Region IV (Munich) recruited Klaus Barbie, the one-time Gestapo Chief of Lyon (1942-44),” the new report said. “Barbie helped run a counterintelligence net named ‘Büro Petersen’ which monitored French intelligence.
“In 1948 Barbie helped the CIC locate former Gestapo informants. In 1949-50, he penetrated German Communist Party (KPD) activities in CIC Region XII (Augsburg). He continued to work for the CIC in return for protection against French war crimes charges.”
Ratline to Bolivia
The story of Barbie’s escape to South America with the CIC’s collaboration was addressed in the 1983 report by Allan A. Ryan Jr., head of the Justice Department’s Nazi-hunting Office of Special Investigations. Ryan’s 218-page report said that in 1951, the CIC helped Barbie evade French authorities and flee over a “ratline” to Bolivia.
Ryan said that a half dozen CIC officers participated in the cover-up of Barbie’s identity and excused their actions by claiming that the French arrest of Barbie could jeopardize the security of other CIC operations. To get Barbie to Bolivia, the CIC officers used a ratline run by a Croatian priest, Father Krunoslav Draganovich, Ryan wrote.
Ryan said the Central Intelligence Agency later rebuffed suggestions that Barbie be reactivated in the 1960s, but Barbie using the name Altmann, held an official position with a state-owned shipping company that allowed him to move freely and even to travel to the United States. [For more on Ryan’s report, see Time magazine, Aug. 29, 1983]
More significantly, Barbie became a figure in Bolivian intelligence and used that perch to coordinate with other right-wing intelligence services around the continent that were engaged in Operation Condor, a program of assassinating suspected subversives and other dissidents.
In the 1970s, these intelligence agencies had teamed up to give their assassination squads regional and even global reach, including the murder of Chilean diplomat Orlando Letelier and an American co-worker on the streets of Washington in 1976.
For the Cocaine Coup in 1980, Barbie recruited Argentina’s feared intelligence service along with young neo-Nazis from Europe. The World Anti-Communist League arranged support from Moon and other Asian rightists.
For years, Moon had been sinking down roots in South America, especially in Uruguay after right-wing military dictators seized power there in 1973. Moon also cultivated close ties with dictators in Argentina, Paraguay and Chile, reportedly ingratiating himself with the juntas by helping the regimes buy weapons and by channeling money to allied right-wing organizations.
“Relationships nurtured with right-wing Latin Americans in the [World Anti-Communist] League led to acceptance of the [Unification] Church’s political and propaganda operations throughout Latin America,” the Andersons wrote in Inside the League.
“As an international money laundry, the Church tapped into the capital flight havens of Latin America. Escaping the scrutiny of American and European investigators, the Church could now funnel money into banks in Honduras, Uruguay and Brazil, where official oversight was lax or nonexistent.”
Moon expanded his network of friends when Barbie helped pull together a right-wing alliance of Bolivian military officers and drug dealers for the Cocaine Coup. WACL associates, such as Alfredo Candia, coordinated the arrival of some of the paramilitary operatives from Argentina and Europe who would help out in the violent putsch.
Barbie, then better known as Altmann, was in charge of drawing up plans for the coup and coordinating with Argentine intelligence. One of the first Argentine intelligence officers to arrive was Lt. Alfred Mario Mingolla.
“Before our departure, we received a dossier on Altmann,” Mingolla later told German investigative reporter Kai Hermann. “There it stated that he was of great use to Argentina because he played an important role in all of Latin America in the fight against communism. From the dossier, it was also clear that Altmann worked for the Americans.”
The Cocaine Motive
As the coup took shape, Bolivian Col. Luis Arce-Gomez, the cousin of cocaine kingpin Roberto Suarez, also brought onboard neo-fascist terrorists such as Italian Stefano della Chiaie who had been working with the Argentine death squads. [See Cocaine Politics by Peter Dale Scott and Jonathan Marshall.]
Still a committed fascist, Barbie started a secret lodge, called Thule. During meetings, he lectured to his followers underneath swastikas by candlelight.
On June 17, 1980, in nearly public planning for the coup, six of Bolivia’s biggest traffickers met with the military conspirators to hammer out a financial deal for future protection of the cocaine trade. A La Paz businessman said the coming putsch should be called the “Cocaine Coup,” a name that would stick. [See Cocaine Politics]
Less than three weeks later, on July 6 in Buenos Aires, Argentina, U.S. undercover drug enforcement agent Michael Levine said he met with a Bolivian trafficker named Hugo Hurtado-Candia. Over drinks, Hurtado outlined plans for the “new government” in which his niece Sonia Atala, a major cocaine supplier, will “be in a very strong position.” [See Levine’s Big White Lie]
On July 17, the Cocaine Coup began, spearheaded by Barbie and his neo-fascist goon squad which was dubbed the “Fiancés of Death.”
“The masked thugs were not Bolivians; they spoke Spanish with German, French and Italian accents,” Levine wrote. “Their uniforms bore neither national identification nor any markings, although many of them wore Nazi swastika armbands and insignias.”
The slaughter was fierce. When the putschists stormed the national labor headquarters, they wounded labor leader Marcelo Quiroga, who had led the effort to indict former military dictator Hugo Banzer on drug and corruption charges. Quiroga “was dragged off to police headquarters to be the object of a game played by some of the torture experts imported from Argentina’s dreaded Mechanic School of the Navy,” Levine wrote.
“These experts applied their ‘science’ to Quiroga as a lesson to the Bolivians, who were a little backward in such matters. They kept Quiroga alive and suffering for hours. His castrated, tortured body was found days later in a place called ‘The valley of the Moon’ in southern La Paz.”
To DEA agent Levine back in Buenos Aires, it was soon clear “that the primary goal of the revolution was the protection and control of Bolivia’s cocaine industry. All major drug traffickers in prison were released, after which they joined the neo-Nazis in their rampage.
“Government buildings were invaded and trafficker files were either carried off or burned. Government employees were tortured and shot, the women tied and repeatedly raped by the paramilitaries and the freed traffickers.”
The fascists celebrated with swastikas and shouts of “Heil Hitler!” Hermann reported. Col. Arce-Gomez, a central-casting image of a bemedaled, pot-bellied Latin dictator, grabbed broad powers as Interior Minister. Gen. Luis García Meza was installed as Bolivia’s new president.
The victory put into power a right-wing military dictatorship indebted to the drug lords. Bolivia became South America’s first narco-state.
One of the first well-wishers arriving in La Paz to congratulate the new government was Moon’s top lieutenant (and former KCIA officer) Bo Hi Pak. The Moon organization published a photo of Pak meeting with the new strongman, General García Meza. After the visit to the mountainous capital, Pak declared, “I have erected a throne for Father Moon in the world’s highest city.”
According to later Bolivian government and newspaper reports, a Moon representative invested about $4 million in preparations for the coup. Bolivia’s WACL representatives also played key roles, and CAUSA, one of Moon’s anti-communist organizations, listed as members nearly all the leading Bolivian coup-makers.
Soon, Colonel Luis Arce-Gomez, a coup organizer and the cousin of cocaine kingpin Roberto Suarez, went into partnership with big narco-traffickers, including Cuban-American smugglers based in Miami. Nazi war criminal Barbie and his young neo-fascist followers found new work protecting Bolivia’s major cocaine barons and transporting drugs to the Colombian border.
“The paramilitary units conceived by Barbie as a new type of SS sold themselves to the cocaine barons,” German journalist Hermann wrote. “The attraction of fast money in the cocaine trade was stronger than the idea of a national socialist revolution in Latin America.”
A month after the Cocaine Coup, General García Meza participated in the Fourth Congress of the Latin American Anti-Communist Confederation, an arm of the World Anti-Communist League. Also attending that Fourth Congress was WACL president Woo Jae Sung, a leading Moon disciple.
As the drug lords consolidated their power in Bolivia, the Moon organization expanded its presence, too. Hermann reported that in early 1981, war criminal Barbie and Moon leader Thomas Ward were seen together in apparent prayer.
On May 31, 1981, Moon representatives sponsored a CAUSA reception at the Sheraton Hotel’s Hall of Freedom in La Paz. Moon’s lieutenant Bo Hi Pak and Bolivian strongman García Meza led a prayer for President Ronald Reagan’s recovery from an assassination attempt.
In his speech, Bo Hi Pak declared, “God had chosen the Bolivian people in the heart of South America as the ones to conquer communism.”
Flush with Cash
In the early 1980s, cocaine kingpin Suarez, his coffers now overflowing with cash, invested more than $30 million in various right-wing paramilitary operations, including the Contra forces in Central America, according to U.S. Senate testimony in 1987 by an Argentine intelligence officer, Leonardo Sanchez-Reisse.
Sanchez-Reisse testified that the Suarez drug money was laundered through front companies in Miami before going to Central America. There, Argentine intelligence officers, including Sanchez-Reisse and other veterans of the Cocaine Coup, trained the fledgling Contra forces.
But by late 1981, the cocaine taint of Bolivia’s military junta was so deep and the corruption so pervasive that U.S.-Bolivian relations were stretched to the breaking point. “The Moon sect disappeared overnight from Bolivia as clandestinely as they had arrived,” Hermann reported.
The Cocaine Coup leaders soon found themselves on the run, too. Interior Minister Arce-Gomez was extradited to Miami and was sentenced to 30 years in prison for drug trafficking. Drug lord Suarez got a 15-year prison term. General García Meza became a fugitive from a 30-year sentence imposed on him in Bolivia for abuse of power, corruption and murder.
SS veteran Barbie was returned to France to face a life sentence for war crimes. He died in 1991 at the age of 77.
But Moon’s organization suffered few negative repercussions from its role in the Cocaine Coup. By the early 1980s, flush with seemingly unlimited funds, Moon had moved on to promoting himself as a key friend of the new Republican administration in Washington.
A guest at Reagan’s First Inauguration, Moon made his organization useful to the new President and to Vice President George H.W. Bush, who would later become a paid speaker for Moon’s organization. Where Moon got his cash was not a mystery that American conservatives were eager to solve.
“Some Moonie-watchers even believe that some of the business enterprises are actually covers for drug trafficking,” wrote Scott and Jon Lee Anderson.
While Moon’s representatives have refused to detail how they’ve sustained their far-flung activities, including many businesses that insiders say lose money, Moon’s spokesmen have denied recurring allegations about profiteering off illegal trafficking in weapons and drugs.
In a typical response to a gun-running question by the Argentine newspaper, Clarin, Moon’s representative Ricardo DeSena responded, “I deny categorically these accusations and also the barbarities that are said about drugs and brainwashing.” [Clarin, July 7, 1996]
Nevertheless, Moon’s organization did its best to disrupt the work of U.S. investigative reporters and government investigators looking into the connections between the drug trade and right-wing paramilitary operations such as the Nicaraguan Contras.
In the mid-1980s, for instance, when journalists and congressional investigators began probing the evidence of Contra-connected drug trafficking, they came under attack from Moon’s Washington Times. An Associated Press story that I co-wrote with Brian Barger about a Miami-based federal probe into gun- and drug-running by the Contras was disparaged in an April 11, 1986, front-page Washington Times article with the headline: “Story on [contra] drug smuggling denounced as political ploy.”
When Sen. John Kerry, D-Massachusetts, uncovered additional evidence of Contra-drug trafficking, the Washington Times denounced him, too. The newspaper published articles depicting Kerry’s probe as a wasteful political witch hunt. “Kerry’s anti-contra efforts extensive, expensive, in vain,” declared the headline of one Times article on August 13, 1986.
Despite the attacks, Kerry’s Contra-drug investigation eventually concluded that a number of Contra units were implicated in the cocaine trade.
“It is clear that individuals who provided support for the contras were involved in drug trafficking, the supply network of the contras was used by drug trafficking organizations, and elements of the contras themselves knowingly received financial and material assistance from drug traffickers,” Kerry’s investigation stated in a report issued April 13, 1989.
Mysterious Contra Backer
In 1998, CIA’s Inspector General Frederick Hitz confirmed the earlier allegations of extensive cocaine trafficking by the Contras, including significant ties to Bolivia’s traffickers. Hitz also cited a partially redacted document referring to a “religious” group cooperating with the Contra-cocaine trade.
“There are indications of links between [a U.S. religious organization] and two Nicaraguan counter-revolutionary groups,” read an Oct. 22, 1982, cable from the office of the CIA’s Directorate of Operations. “These links involve an exchange in [the United States] of narcotics for arms.”
In 1982, the CIA quickly shut down any further reporting on this drug deal, citing the role of U.S. citizens. “In light of the apparent participation of U.S. persons throughout, agree you should not pursue the matter further,” CIA headquarters wrote on Nov. 3, 1982.
During the Inspector General’s investigation, Hitz conducted a follow-up interview, with Contra-connected drug trafficker Renato Pena, who described the redacted U.S. religious organization as a Contra “political ally that provided only humanitarian aid to Nicaraguan refugees and logistical support for contra-related rallies, such as printing services and portable stages.”
Moon’s religious-political groups, some based in the United States, were extremely active supporting the Contras in the early 1980s, suggesting that Moon’s Washington Times might have had more than an ideological reason to attack investigators exploring Contra drug trafficking.
To this day, the Washington Times remains a reliably right-wing voice in the U.S. capital. [Moon died on Sept. 3, 2012.]
Still, the CIA’s shielding of the name of that “religious organization” and similar protective behavior represented a continuation of a long-standing pattern in which U.S. intelligence covered up for right-wing and neo-Nazi criminality, a dark history that began with the likes of Klaus Barbie and has extended “Hitler’s Shadow” to modern times.
Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s.
Uruguay is known for the secrecy of its banking system
Chicago Tribune December 8, 1994 by Kerry Luft
It is difficult to gauge the size of the group’s investments. Uruguay is known for the secrecy of its banking system, which has been compared to Switzerland’s. The ownerships of many companies are hidden in anonymous societies, similar to blind trusts.
David Bromley, a Virginia Commonwealth University sociologist specializing in religious movements, [said]. “(Moon) wants to be able to move money around without being tracked, because there are lots of people out there trying to track him.” …
“There’s no question that he has a lot of money and has substantial investments in Korea that made him a wealthy individual in his own right,” said Bromley, co-author of a book on Moon’s church in America.
“Most churches are founded and then create an economic base,” he added. “He has created an economic base first to fund his church, and that’s what causes some suspicion.”
Members of the Unification Church first came to Uruguay in the 1970s as part of a worldwide proselytizing and recruitment program. That has been largely a failure; church membership in Uruguay hovers around 500, and attendance at worship services in Montevideo rarely tops 100, the church source said.
But in mid-1981, money started arriving.
From the “Reputations: Sun Myung Moon, Emperor of the Universe” documentary made by the BBC in 2000.
Narrator: “Moon had spent many millions supporting Republican causes, but the Reagan administration declined to pardon him for his tax offence.”
Michael Hershman (US Congressional Investigator): “Moon was extremely bitter. [He was in jail in Danbury for 11 months.] Moon decided that he could better grow his organization, better grow his influence, outside our shores.”
Narrator: “In poor Uruguay the army had won a wasting war with Tupamaros guerrillas. The capital, Montevideo, was an off-shore banking center were rich foreigners could hide their cash. For Moon it held other attractions too.”
Michael Hershman: “A friendly legal environment. That is laws and regulations that were not as well developed as here in the United States. A fairly uneducated and poor population who was ready to accept a message of anyone who made promises for a better life.”
Narrator: “Moon called Uruguay his oasis. Today he owns newspapers and sponsors radio programmes that preach family values. As Moon sees it, if only the world would listen, all its problems … would simply vanish.” … “By the late 1980s Moon owned so much property in Montevideo that locals wryly renamed it ‘Moontevideo’. Moonies say that this palatial building was going to be his home, his Latin American sanctuary. Instead he chose a lush resort on the ocean [at Punta del Este], and a ranch by a river where he could fish. Here he hoped to find peace. …
Moon built Uruguay’s first luxury hotel [The Victoria Plaza Hotel]. He also bought a bank [Banco de Credito]. On one occasion bank employees claimed that 4,000 Japanese Moonies had suddenly showed up, depositing millions of dollars in cash.”
Juan Ramos (Bank Worker’s Association): “The money still had the U.S. Federal Reserve band around it. More than $80 million was deposited over the course of a week.”
Hot Money and the Politics of Debt (1987, 1994, 2004) pages 152-162
by R.T. Naylor, professor, economics, McGill University and the author of many books, including Economic Warfare: Sanctions, Embargo Busting, and Their Human Cost, and Bankers, Bagmen, and Bandits: Business and Politics in the Age of Greed.
“In the US the Moon cult prospered. Indeed, the vigor with which the cult expanded in the US may not be completely unrelated to problems that befell it in South Korea.
In 1977, one year after the notorious “Koreagate” scandal in the US, the South Korean regime decided to disassociate itself partially from the sect, which had become somewhat of an embarrassment.
The South Korean authorities leveled a number of charges of fiscal fraud against the management of Moonie-controlled enterprises.
The sect responded by creating the Unification Church International… The target was the Diplomat National Bank of Washington. The sect and the Korean CIA (which used the bank as a conduit for covert funding) eventually attracted 53% of the stock – and the attention of American bank regulators over attempts to hide ownership and over apparent infractions of lending regulations.
Through Diplomat National Bank the Moonies broke into the newspaper business in the US and around the world…The Moonies’ penetration of Central and South America thereafter assumed a new energy. …
Despite such successes abroad and President Reagan’s endorsement at home, the Moon organization had its problems. Like the Vatican’s a decade and a half earlier, its tax-free status was being threatened. In 1981 the New York State Supreme Court ruled it more a business than a church, hardly a startling finding given that annual gross revenues from Moonie global businesses were then apparently topping $500 million. The township in which much of Moonie property was located sued for back taxes, and other lawsuits followed. In 1982, Moon was personally convicted of tax fraud, perjury, conspiracy involving false documents, and obstruction of justice.
While Moon’s lawyers appealed the verdict and kept the case before the courts for another two years, danger signals prompted the “church” to move its financial headquarters to more hospitable climes. Their choice proved to be that of the Latin America headquarters of Lucio Gelli’s P-2, and one of the principle havens through which Opus Dei’s protege Ruiz Mateo had moved money spirited out of Spain.
Uruguay is often referred to as the Switzerland of the Americas… Granted, Uruguay’s political violence in the 1960’s and 1970’s, its long and only recently altered status as a military dictatorship, and its prostrate economy are remarkably un-Swiss. But it does have a freewheeling banking system that operated as a laundromat for drug money and is still the most important South American depository for flight capital and tax evaders’ funds.
Hot money has long sought sanctuary in Uruguay’s capital of Montevideo – or Moon-tevideo, as it is now sometimes called. Uruguay was a major American stop on the escape route Licio Gelli created for Fascist family fortunes escaping Italy after the war, and many a European family gold hoard wound up in exile there…Uruguay offers bank secrecy laws sufficiently appealing that, in 1971, the US narcotics bureau found Uruguay to be a pivot of financial operations associated with the French Connection heroin route. But Uruguay blossomed as a peekaboo financial center after a military coup in 1973.
The coup followed a sharp deterioration of economic circumstances in the 1960’s and a civil war between the army and the Tupamaros urban guerrilla organization. The polarization provided an opportunity for major French heroin traffickers in Uruguay, who bought the protection of Uruguayan military intelligence by infiltrating the Tupamaros, promising them arms while informing the Uruguayan military about their activities… Uruguay became a major American center for tourism and gambling and a refuge for fiscal flight capital.
This was a hot-money bonanza too rich to be ignored. Between 1973 and 1983…twenty of Uruguay’s twenty-two banks fell into the hands of foreign investors…
After the crisis of 1981, virtually all Uruguayan banks were forced to borrow from the central bank and to unload bad debts on the public sector. The central bank, in the guise of bolstering the capital of weak banks, intermediated the sale of local institutions to foreign financiers, among them the indomitable Reverend Sun Myung Moon.
The local Moonie chief, Julian Safi, quietly bought up small blocks of stock in the Banco de Credito, the third largest in the country, using funds provided through Kami Ltd, a Moonie-controlled Cayman Islands bank that Bo Hi Pak had established for the sacred purpose of keeping transfers from the prying eyes of the fiscal authorities.
The context and timing were ideal. On the one hand, the financial crisis in Uruguay made the government keen to attract foreign capital, particularly to a banking system that generated so much foreign exchange. If that foreign capital came with an ideological bent with which the military government felt highly sympathetic, so much the better. President and former commander in chief Gregorio Alvarez (a member of Gelli’s P-2) defended the Moonie encroachment as a matter of religious freedom. “Also, we share their ideas as people involved in the struggle against communism.” As the Moonies were under siege elsewhere, particularly by the American tax authorities, and as they had targeted the Americas, particularly the southern parts under military dictatorship, for intensive proselytizing, Uruguay was the ideal financial headquarters.
Eschewing evangelism to avoid conflict with the local church hierarchy, they concentrated their Uruguayan activities on making money and influencing the right people. By 1983 it was estimated that Moonie investments in Uruguay totaled about $100 million. They had acquired the third-largest bank, the largest hotel, and local distribution facilities for Moonie-produced goods from all over the world; French jewelry, canned tuna, porcelain vases from Taiwan, and Korean ginseng and weapons. They also owned two local printing companies and prime real estate. In 1983 they began planning a new forty-one-story hotel and conference center. The military government contributed a declaration that the hotel complex was of “national interest” and therefore exempt from import duties. The military also assisted them with tax breaks and public advertising revenues in their takeover and operation of one of the three local newspapers.
The Moonies reciprocated by conducting pro military and anti-“Communist” propaganda, just when the Uruguayan population was demanding, sometimes in mass street demonstrations, democratization of political institutions; the military government responded with more repression.”
Consortium News, 1998 by Samuel Blixen
(compiled from two of his articles – links below)
“Rev. Sun Myung Moon first put down roots in Uruguay during the 12-year reign of right-wing military dictators who seized power in 1973. During the 1970s, the anti-communist South Korean religious figure also cultivated close relations with military dictators in Argentina, Paraguay and Chile. Moon reportedly ingratiated himself to the juntas by assisting the military regimes arrange arms purchases and by funnelling money to allied right-wing organizations.
Even in those early years, government investigators recognized that one key to Moon’s success was the surreptitious use of his followers to smuggle money across borders. A 1978 U.S. congressional investigative report found that Moon’s followers had transported large sums of cash into the United States in violation of U.S. currency statutes. …
Moon has invested heavily in media and politics in both North and South America.
In the early 1980s, Moon’s organization was flush with cash. In 1982, Moon launched The Washington Times, a right-wing daily which has cost Moon an estimated $100 million a year in losses. But the newspaper gave Moon’s backers access to the highest levels of the Reagan-Bush administrations and the ability to influence public debate. Moon was a major conservative funder in the United States.
In 1983, back in Uruguay, Moon expanded his South American holdings by purchasing Banco de Credito, one of Montevideo’s leading banks. The price tag was $52 million. Uruguay’s military authorities awarded Moon a quick $8 million profit by buying back $60 million in uncollectible loans from the bank.
When democracy was restored in Uruguay in 1985, Moon’s operations survived by keeping close ties to still-influential military officers and to conservative civilian politicians. They helped Moon fend off opposition from civilian president Julio Maria Sanguinetti and other critics.
Later, Opus Dei, a right-wing international Catholic organization, joined in criticizing Moon’s cult-like church. The Unification Church considers Jesus a failed messiah and Moon the new Chosen One who is destined to rule a one-world theocracy…
But Moon’s deep roots in Uruguayan politics and business proved strong enough to withstand his critics. His bank brushed aside nettlesome questions about money-laundering and other financial irregularities. Moon’s allies – and Uruguay’s secrecy laws – prevented even the powerful Opus Dei from forcing the bank’s financial records into public view.
Through the 1980s, Moon continued to expand his Uruguayan holdings. He bought the elegant-but-faded Hotel Victoria, the Últimas Noticias newspaper, a travel agency and vast tracts of real estate. His big investments in the hotel and newspaper, however, never generated significant profits. The newspaper never achieved strong circulation or advertising revenues. Despite an upgrading to five-star status, the Hotel Victoria never flourished either.
Finally, in 1993, Uruguayan Central Bank president Ramon Diaz pushed the long-whispered allegations against Moon’s bank into the parliamentary record. Diaz accused Banco de Credito of violating financial rules, operating at a constant loss, practicing dubious credit policies with insolvent customers and holding inadequate cash reserves.
Diaz demanded that the bank add $30 million in capital within 48 hours or face government intervention. Within hours, panicked customers pulled $10 million in deposits out of the bank. Diaz’s goal of forcing Moon to sell the bank seemed within reach. One senator claimed that Diaz hoped an Argentine investment group would step in and take over the bank.
Moon proved, however, that his seemingly bottomless well of cash could fill the bank’s vaults in a crisis. Before the 48-hour deadline, Moon transferred $30 million into the ailing bank and retained control.
Since then, Moon’s influence has continued to grow in Uruguay, although Banco de Credito continues to suffer chronic financial troubles.
Uruguay’s bank secrecy laws and Moon’s political clout have spared his operations from significant legal action. But the money laundry has drawn periodic attention from government and other investigators in recent years.
In 1996, for instance, the Uruguayan bank employees union blew the whistle on one scheme in which some 4,200 female Japanese followers of Moon allegedly walked into the Moon-controlled Banco de Credito in Montevideo and deposited as much as $25,000 each.
The money from the women went into the account of an anonymous association called Cami II, which was controlled by Moon’s Unification Church. In one day, Cami II received $19 million and, by the time the parade of women ended [after a week], the total had swelled to about $80 million.
It was not clear, however, where the money originated and whether it came from illicit sources. Nor was it known how many other times Moon’s organization has used this tactic – sometimes known as “smurfing” – to transfer untraceable cash into Uruguay.
Authorities did not push the money-laundering investigation, apparently out of deference to Moon’s political influence and fear of disrupting Uruguay’s banking industry.
Despite delivery of mysterious cash from Moon’s followers the bank again has slipped into a deficit estimated at $120 million. The deficit – or “red numbers” in the Spanish jargon – has been blamed largely on credits given to the Rio de la Plata hotel company ($65 million) and to Creditos S.A., a financial institution that was the bank’s first client.
Moon’s investment arm, Rondilcor S.A., also has invested money in privatization projects that have been slow to turn a profit. According to a U.S. State Department cable obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, “the Unification Church has few adherents in Uruguay [but] the church’s hotel ventures are just part of a significant business presence that the church hopes will prove profitable over the long term.”
… But Moon’s money continued to flow into new projects anyway. Embittered by his church’s decline in the United States – where membership reportedly has sunk to 3,000 members – Moon shifted his personal base of operations to a luxurious estate in Uruguay. In the last three years, Moon also bought the ex-Frigorifico Nacional, a cool-storage house; the Astilleros Tsakos dockyard; and other privatized port services. Moon has promised to build containers as well as fishing and chemical ships – and to construct a paper plant.
Nelson Cesin, a reporter for the newsweekly Brecha, has noted that the new acquisitions would allow Moon to move money freely around the world.
Moon himself has announced an ambitious plan for a worldwide transportation and propaganda system. To his followers, he has boasted about plans for building a network of small airstrips throughout South America and other parts of the world, supposedly for tourism. In one speech on Jan. 2, 1996, he even announced a scheme for deploying submarines to evade coastal patrols. “There are so many restrictions due to national boundaries worldwide,” Moon lamented during the speech, which the Unification Church posted on its internet site. “If you have a submarine, you don’t have to be bound in that way.”
Moon, however, understands that his primary protection comes from the political alliances that his money has bought. In the 1996 speech, Moon added that he “has been practicing the philosophy of fishing here [in Uruguay]. He [Moon] gave the bait to Uruguay and then the bigger fish of Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay kept their mouths open, waiting for a bigger bait silently. The bigger the fish, the bigger the mouth. Therefore, Father [Moon] is able to hook them more easily.”
In recent years, Moon also has continued his clandestine cash transfers into the United States. According to court records from a divorce case involving one of Moon’s sons, Hyo Jin, $1 million in cash was carried into the United States in early 1994 by Moon’s followers and delivered to Hyo Jin who ran a Moon-controlled recording studio in New York City.
In an interview, one of Hyo Jin Moon’s top aides, Maria Madelene Pretorious, stated that the cash was circulated through Moon’s business empire in the United States as a way to launder it, before it was dispatched to church projects. …
Other critics have cited Moon’s heavy-handed tactics elsewhere in Uruguay. “The first thing we ought to do is clarify to the people [of Uruguay] that Moon’s sect is a type of modern pirate that came to the country to perform obscure money operations, such as money-laundering,” said Jorge Zabalza, a leader of the Movimiento de Participacion Popular, part of Montevideo’s ruling left-of-center political coalition. “This sect is a kind of religious mob that is trying to get public support to pursue its business.”
But Moon has his defenders in Uruguay, as he does in the United States. Many Uruguayans welcome his investments, the jobs they produce, and his charitable social programs. Moon has called Uruguay his South American “oasis” and has invested an estimated $200 million in the country, with more promised in the future.”
… another senior figure in Moon’s U.S. operations claimed that after Asia slid into an economic downturn in the 1990s, the bulk of Moon’s money began to arrive from South America. [For more details on Moon’s recent activities and history, see iF Magazine, Sept.-Oct. 1997.]
Clearly, Moon’s big-dollar spending on conservative politicians in the United States and South America has helped shield the South Korean theocrat from serious scrutiny. In recent years, Moon’s American beneficiaries have included former President George Bush and Religious Right leader, Jerry Falwell.
But paradoxically, Moon’s banking deficits in Uruguay have given him additional leverage. Uruguayan authorities fear that a major financial bankruptcy could damage the country’s reputation. So, in exchange for “laissez-faire” treatment for his bank, Moon pumps in the necessary cash to keep Banco de Credito afloat.
Still, the ultimate source of Moon’s influence remains his subterranean flow of money, a virtual underground river of cash spewing from a hidden spring whose origin remains the biggest mystery of Moon’s organization. It is that spring which keeps Moon’s Uruguayan “oasis” green and his critics in both North and South America at bay.
On September 18, 1998 the Banco de Credito collapsed and Uruguay’s central bank intervened to seize control of the bank’s management. Uruguay’s bank controller put the bank’s accumulated debt at $161 million. …
The strategy of “cratering” a bank is often associated with organized crime syndicates which quietly take control of financial institutions and siphon off their resources before leaving them as empty shells.
Sen. Luis Eduardo Mallo charged that overall Moon’s companies had taken more than $125 million and had turned the bank into a “cashier for Moon’s enterprises.” One Moon company, the Corporacion Rioplatense de Hoteles S.A., was in debt $96 million.
In the Shadow of the Moons: My Life In The Reverend Sun Myung Moon’s Family.
book by Nansook Hong (1998) pages 171-173
“In 1992 Mrs Hak Ja Han Moon told me I would accompany her on a ten-city tour of Japan. … Members of the family of Sun Myung Moon were thoroughly scrutinized by customs agents whenever leaving Korea or entering the United States. This trip was no exception. One benefit of her enormous entourage was that Mrs. Moon had plenty of traveling companions with whom to enter the country. I was given twenty thousand dollars in two packs of crisp new bills. I hid them beneath the tray in my makeup case. I held my breath in Seattle when customs agents began searching my luggage. I was the last of our party to go through customs, and the woman searching my bags seemed determined to find something. I pretended I did not speak English and could not understand her questions. An Asian supervisor came over and chastised her. “Can’t you see she only speaks Korean,” the supervisor said, smiling at me. “Let her through.”
I knew that smuggling was illegal, but I believed the followers of Sun Myung Moon answered to higher laws. It was my duty to serve without question. I did what I was told, worrying more that I might lose the money than that I might be arrested. … ”
Moon’s Japanese Profits Bolster Efforts in U.S.
The Washington Post Sept 16, 1984
“Yoshikazu Soejima [ex-member of the FFWPU who was a top leader in Japan, and nearly died in a stabbing attack] said these transactions were usually made through international bank transfers, but large amounts of cash were carried into the United States by church members because “sometimes Moon wants money right away. Getting permission to send it by bank transfer takes time.
” When Moon conducted a “mass wedding” of 2,075 couples in Madison Square Garden in 1982, 400 Japanese men and women were flown over for the event. “Each person took, I think, about $2,000,” Soejima said.” LINK
Global Policy Forum (2001)
[The Moon organization] is said to be building another casino in a tourist resort near the Argentine border. Its large Uruguayan holdings also include the Corporation Rioplatense de Hoteles S.A. and Hotel Horacio Quiroga. LINK
Was money sent to Uruguay from the News World / The New York City Tribune?
▲ The Tiffany Building at 401 Fifth Avenue was purchased by the Unification Church / FFWPU for $2.4million. It housed The New York Tribune newspaper. An Il Hwa store, another UC business, can be seen in this photo.
The first issue of News World was published in New York City on December 31, 1976. On this occasion, Sun Myung Moon said, “We must create a newspaper company that can spread the word about universal justice in God’s name.” This newspaper reported, before the end of the presidential election in 1979, that the Republican presidential candidate, Ronald Reagan, had won. It changed its name to The New York City Tribune on April 4, 1983.
It has been alleged that the leadership at The New York Tribune misused money. This was uncovered by a senior member. Apparently $1million was being given to the paper every month, but only about a quarter of that was being used for the Tribune payroll, etc. It was said that money was taken down to Uruguay. Apparently there was a meeting of the Tribune senior management at which the financial situation was explained – and that because of a lack of cash, the paper would have to close. Reportedly there was a lot of shouting, but the paper closed on January 3, 1991.
These details have not been confirmed by the former staff of the Tribune, or by News World Communications, Inc.
However, the arrival of undocumented cash in Uruguay has been confirmed by numerous sources (see above).
A “new” New York Tribune debuted in 1976 in New York City. It was published by News World Communications, Inc., owned by the Unification Church. It was published in the former Tiffany and Company Building until it printed its last edition on January 3, 1991. Its sister paper, The Washington Times, is circulated primarily in the nation’s capital. The Tribune carried an expansive “Commentary” section of opinions and editorials. Former New York City Mayor Ed Koch was one of the columnists.
In December 2005, while on tour Moon returned to visit Uruguay and on that occasion he met with President Tabaré Vázquez, with whom he took photographs.
During that tour, the then Argentine president, Néstor Kirchner, refused to receive Moon.
Últimas Noticias newspaper closed in 2012. In September workers were negotiating for unpaid wages.
Sun Myung Moon’s FFWPU accused of involvement in drugs trade in Paraguay
October 14, 2004 The Irish Times
PARAGUAY: The Reverend Moon has carved out a section of Paraguay that is twice the size of Luxembourg. Séamus Mirodan went to see it.
Reverend Sun Myung Moon, spiritual leader of the Unification Church, self-proclaimed Messiah, multimillionaire and a generous contributor to the US Republican Party, has been showing a strong interest over the last five years in little-known Paraguay at the centre of the South American continent.
Since 1999, Rev Moon has built his personal empire which begins on the marshy banks of the River Paraguay and stretches beyond the hazy, level horizon through 600,000 hectares of arid land – equivalent to more than two Luxembourgs – punctuated by solitary clusters of withered trees and sad bushes which struggle desperately for air.
The scorching sun beats relentlessly on one of Latin America’s most desolate zones. It is here in the northern province of Chaco, directly above the Guaraní aquifer, the largest resource of fresh drinking water in the world, where Moon’s associates claim he wishes to build an ecological paradise.
Nevertheless, national Senator Domingo Laino sees a different pattern in Moon’s acquisitions. “There are two principal branches to Moon’s interest in Paraguay,” he said, “control of the largest fresh drinking water source in the world and control of the narcotics business”, which is so prevalent in this area. “President Lula told me that Brazil took serious measures to curb Moon a few years back as it became evident that he was buying up the border between our two countries,” said the senator.
Allegations from local law enforcement officials support this claim. The so-called Dr Montiel, Paraguay’s drugs tsar from 1976-89, said: “The fact that they came and bought in Chaco and on both sides of the Brazilian border is very telling. It is an enormously strategic point in both the narcotics and arms trades and indeed the available intelligence clearly shows that the Moon sect is involved in both these enterprises.”
Paraguay is the major drugs port through which virtually all the cocaine produced by Bolivia and Peru passes. In the world’s second most corrupt country, “the ease of buying influence is second to none”, said Montiel. “Corruption reaches dangerous levels and he who wants transparency in Paraguay is a dead man. Indeed the famous Iran contra affair was operated from Ciudad del Este” on the south-east Paraguayan border with Argentina and Brazil.
Not content with expanses of potentially invaluable land, Rev Moon has also taken over entire towns, including factories and homes. In Puerto Casado, tensions between Moon disciples and locals led to violent confrontation over the last year following the closure of the only source of work, a lumber factory, and the dismissal of 19 workers who tried to form a union in order to demand an eight-hour day and the national minimum wage of £80 sterling per month.
According to Senator Emilio Camacho: “The Moon sect is a mafia. They seek to subvert government control and are effectively building a state within a state. I believe they are hoping the local population will leave so they have unquestioned authority in the zone and are free to do whatever they want.”
This is not the first time such accusations have been levelled against Rev Moon and his associates in South America. Last June, the Chilean government refused to recognise the sect as a religious association and accused them of being “a danger to society”. An aid to the Chilean Interior Minister described Rev Moon’s ideology, somewhere to the right of the Taliban’s Mullah Omar, as “profoundly anti-communist, xenophobic and with a marked Nazi inspiration”. Venezuela and Honduras have expelled the cult.
Rev Moon’s South American adventure began in 1994 during a fishing trip. Rev Jung Min Hong, vice-president of Victoria S.A., said: “A golden El Dorado fish jumped into his boat. The reverend was awestruck by its beauty and decided that he must invest here for love of the environment, in order to protect nature.”
Having decided to buy land in the area, he first visited (according to local Zeta magazine) the city of Pedro Juan Caballero in the province of Amambay. Provincial governor Mr Roberto Acevedo said: “This is the Mecca of the narcotics trade where dealers live with complete immunity. They own judges, the police, even politicians.”
Rev Moon travelled there with Fermin De Alarcon, a Spanish financier, in the latter’s private jet. Mr De Alarcon tried unsuccessfully to sell the religious leader his Banco General and is currently a fugitive from the Paraguayan justice system after withdrawing all the funds in that and other banks before disappearing.
Rev Moon bought the Banco de Credito in 1983, in nearby Uruguay, the banking hub of Latin America. In November 1996 the Uruguayan bank employees’ union blew the whistle on a suspected money-laundering scheme after a procession of 4,200 Japanese women, all Moon-followers, allegedly deposited up to $25,000 each in cash. By the end of business that week, about $80 million had been deposited. [dates corrected]
The same year saw the inauguration of Rev Moon’s local media empire: Tiempos del Mundo, a newspaper distributed in the majority of the major capitals across South America. At the opening of the offices in Buenos Aires, George Bush snr was guest of honour and referred to Rev Moon, one of his major benefactors at the time of his first electoral campaign, as “a man of honour”. Indeed the reverend forged strong links with the Republican Party, not least by opening The Washington Times in 1982, estimated to lose some $50 million a year and once described by Bush as “so valuable in Washington, where we read it every day”.
From Amambay, Rev Moon moved across the border to the town of Ponta Pora in the southern Brazilian province of Mato Grosso do Sul, famous for its vast marijuana plantations. He bought nearly 200,000 hectares and built a “model city” called the New Hope Garden. He also owns a hotel there in the city of Porto Mortinho, home to Fahd Yamil, who Governor Acevedo described as “the Vito Corleone of the zone. He commands the price of everything and everyone who operates in the zone has to pay him for protection.”
In 1999, the Brazilian federal police launched an investigation into the involvement of Rev Moon’s associates in money-laundering and tax evasion, amidst accusations of drug-running. By October of that year, he had down-sized his operation in Brazil and bought land in Paraguay. According to local landowners, everything was paid for in cash, often for more than it was actually worth.
Construction began immediately on a new model city, Puerto Leda. Reverend Sano, the secretary-general of Rev Moon’s Foundation for Sustainable Development, which has its base in Leda, claimed only $4 million was invested to build everything from a landing-strip to a power plant. The town is also equipped with a 25-metre swimming pool and its own police and navy stations, even though Rev Sano claims it is only home to 10 Japanese sect members.
Rev Moon’s first involvement in the continent came during the late 1970s when his organisation donated the first $100,000 to Oliver North’s Nicaraguan Freedom Fund. The religious leader was implicated in many of the so-called Contra scandals during the Reagan-Bush administration.
Rev Moon’s ideology allowed him to cuddle up to many South American dictators during this era. Indeed, according to Bolivian intelligence reports at the time, he sought to recruit an “armed church” of 7,000 Bolivians receiving paramilitary training to support the infamous cocaine coup which brought Gen Carlos Meza to power with Nazi war criminal Klaus Barbie running his security operations.
Asked about these activities, Rev Sano admitted his organisation was “very anti-communist … The third world war will be fought between those who believe in God, namely democrats, and those who do not believe in God – communists.”
Uproar after Moonies buy town in Paraguay
BBC News October 14, 2000
The residents of Puerto Casado, in Paraguay, have demanded that their town be handed over to the local council after it was purchased by the sect known as the Moonies. The Unification Church of the Reverend Sun Myung Moon acquired more than 300,000 hectares of land in the northern department of Alto Paraguay.
The land was sold by an Argentine company and includes the town of Puerto Casado which has about 6,000 inhabitants.
The residents of Puerto Casado prevented an aircraft carrying a delegation of Moonies from returning to the capital, Asuncion after hearing on Wednesday that their town had been sold. After a meeting with community leaders, and the mediation of the deputy interior minister, Mario Sapriza, the Unification Church representatives were allowed to leave. But correspondents say tensions have not eased and no solution has been found.
The residents of Puerto Casado say they want the Moonies to hand over the property of the town and the church to the local council.
They are also demanding 5,000 hectares for agricultural purposes and to retain control over the airport and other facilities.
One of the representatives of the Unification Church, Reverend Koo-Bae Park, told residents that with the acquisition of the town they were now “partners”. He added that Moonies and local residents should learn to live together so as to be able to build universities, schools and a modern port.
A Paraguayan newspaper has quoted a local councillor, Jose Domingo Adorno, as saying that the community needs to be sure it won’t be evicted. “We demand guarantees that we won’t have to leave our homes. Paraguayans shouldn’t be sold in this manner”, he said.
The Moonies, who are thought to have paid $15 million for the land, say they have plans for the economic reactivation of the area.
These include the export of timber, and the construction of new river ports from which to transport their products to Asia.
The Unification Church already manages a newspaper in Paraguay, as well as buildings and yachts in Fuerte Olimpo, the departmental capital of Alto Paraguay.
In neighbouring Brazil, the sect has built a community for about 2,000 followers.
Paraguay and the Moonies: Promised land
A town owned by a cult seeks liberation
Economist.com August 11, 2005
ONE day in 2000 the people of Puerto Casado, a small town in Paraguay’s inhospitable Chaco region, were shocked to learn that the ground had been sold under their feet—and that their new lord and master was the Rev Sun Myung Moon, the self-proclaimed messiah who leads the Unification cult, better known as the Moonies. Mr Moon’s acolytes soothed locals’ fears by promising all sorts of grand projects to make the town rich, from a meat-packing plant to an eco-tourism resort.
Five years on, with little sign of these promises being kept, hundreds of the town’s people recently travelled 400 miles (640km) to the capital, Asunción, to lobby Congress to free them from the cult.
Earlier this month, the Senate approved a bill to seize some buildings and a slice of the Moonies’ land, to share among the locals. Backing the bill, President Nicanor Duarte Frutos accused the Moonies of paying their local workers “starvation” wages (they say they pay the legal minimum). His Colorado party should muster enough votes to pass the bill in the lower house.
The Moonies claim the row has been whipped up by local politicians to extort money from them. This week they began selling their cattle and laying off workers, forcing Mr Duarte to announce an emergency aid package for the town.
Mr Duarte says the townsfolk are living in “semi-feudal” conditions. But things remain much as they were long before Mr Moon came along. The town was part of a vast estate that Carlos Casado, a swashbuckling Spaniard, bought from a desperate Paraguayan government in the late 19th century, after it had lost much of its territory and people in a calamitous war with Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay.
The town once made a good living from quebracho, a hardwood used to make tannin for the leather industry. By the 1990s, with the quebracho trees almost gone, the Casado company was looking to sell.
At this time, Mr Moon began buying land either side of the Paraguay river, on which the town lies. After discovering the region on a fishing trip, he decided that the future of his declining movement lay in this South American “Garden of Eden”.
Demands for fairer distribution of land are not unusual in Paraguay: most of it is owned by a tiny fraction of the population. The bill in Congress proposes seizing less than a tenth of the 600,000 hectares (1.5m acres) the Moonies own around Puerto Casado, for which they should get compensation—assuming the government can scrape together the money.
Though small in scale, the proposed seizure has caused a huge fuss. Paraguay’s business federation laments that the country will never attract foreign investors if it mistreats the few, such as the Moonies, that it already has. The bill’s congressional backers talk darkly of Mr Moon trying to build a “state within a state”.
Puerto Casado may be just another of Mr Moon’s over-ambitious South American money-spinning ventures. Directly across the river in Brazil, his plans to build a model town, with new roads, hotels and classrooms, have had similarly underwhelming results. Late last year, Brazil’s Movement of Landless Rural Workers led a mass invasion, claiming much of the project’s land was lying idle. A bank bought by Mr Moon in Uruguay went into liquidation and his plans to redevelop a port there have been stymied by local opposition. For a would-be messiah, not much sign of miracle-working.
Jungle villagers in Paraguay continue defiance
By Alfonso Daniels in Chaco August 6, 2011
WHEN the new owners of Puerto Casado started setting up fences around this Paraguayan town a few years ago, barring inhabitants from accessing the forest and the river flowing nearby, Francisco Dick, 58, whose grandfather arrived here from Glasgow in 1907, did not think twice.
He gathered a group of volunteers from community of 6,000 inhabitants, in the heart of the Chaco jungle in northern Paraguay, and organised a 400-mile protest march to the capital, Asuncion. It attracted support from hundreds of people, and sparked a popular rebellion that lasts to this day.
Locals are demanding that a small part of the 400,000 hectares bought a decade ago by Korean Reverend Sun Myung Moon, who leads the Unification Church, better known as the Moonies, be handed over to the town for people to grow subsistence crops and rear cattle.
Mr Dick now faces five judicial cases, which he believes are part of a ploy to keep him silent, but vows to fight on.
“I keep receiving death threats, they fired shots and have thrown stones against my house, I’ve almost been run over three times. I can’t go out at night alone, it’s hell,” he told The Scotsman, next to the simple open brick house where he lives.
He described his struggle as part of a wider fight against countless foreign investors who have descended in the past few years on this remote and inhospitable region of Chaco, the second-largest South American forest outside the Amazon.
They are mainly European land speculators and Brazilian ranchers who have cleared huge swathes of virgin thorn forest to rear meat for export to Europe.
Mr Dick is not alone in his struggle. Close to where he lives stands a church dominating the main square.
Five years ago, someone cut through chains on the doors and threw Molotov cocktails at a small room inside the church that housed equipment for a local community radio station.
“It was a terrifying, they could have destroyed everything. The radio voiced the demands of the people, that’s why they destroyed it, but we quickly replaced the equipment and resumed the broadcasts until today,” said Father Martin Rodriguez, the local Salesian priest who arrived in this remote town from Spain in 1980.
“The Moon sect doesn’t respect anything. Here there’s no state presence, there’s continuous judicial pressure against anyone opposing them, people don’t believe that the government will help them,” he adds, while opening a cupboard where the old, burned equipment is kept.
Representatives of the company that handle the land owned by the Unification Church denied being behind any attacks but admit that serious mistakes were made in its approach to villages.
They added that a new management was in charge and working to reach a deal which, according to them, will open the way for major business ventures that would make the place rich, including an eco-tourism resort and a fish farm.
In the town, however, few trust appear to trust them and further protests are planned. This week, Mr Dick went to the river where 13 other activists were waiting for him in the wooden dock at the edge of the town, about to travel to another city several hours away to attend one of the many trials brought against them by the company.
“This is the fifth time we’re attending a trial. We’re fed up of being pressured but that won’t dampen our fighting spirit, quite the opposite, we’ll fight to the end,” he said while boarding the small, cramped boat.
What are the Moonies up to?
by Margaret Hebblethwaite The Tablet December 16, 2000
Followers of the Reverend Moon are setting up a mission in one of the world’s most remote and least populated areas. Why is this happening? A former assistant editor of The Tablet who is now living in Paraguay went to find out.
TO the consternation of the local people, the followers of Reverend Sun Myung Moon have bought 400,000 hectares of land (that is 4,000 square kilometres) at Puerto Casado, a river port in the Chaco area of north-west Paraguay. The campaign against the Moonie take-over has been headline news nationally for weeks on end. But the puzzle is why the Moonies should want this type of land: it has been classified as unproductive territory and found to be economic only for cattle-farming.
And the mystery thickens when we discover that the Moonies are buying land all up and down the River Paraguay, on both the Paraguayan and the Brazilian sides, especially in the higher reaches known as the Pantanal, one of the most underpopulated but ecologically rich areas of the world. It is a land of burning heat and millions of mosquitoes, of man-eating jaguars and crocodiles, of poisonous snakes and anacondas that kill by constriction, of salty earth where no wells can be sunk, and of river banks that get flooded by up to two metres. It is a land that can be reached by privately chartered tiny four-seater aircraft (Cessnas), which can land on grass, but otherwise is almost impossible to get to. It is a land where only satellite phones can function.
To the northern reaches of this sweltering land I made my slow way, nearly two days’ journey by rickety cargo boat from Puerto Casado – itself a place exceedingly difficult to reach except by air.
[On the boat] There is nothing at Leda except for the Moonies, she said, nothing at all like a guest house where you could stay. And the Moonies have fierce dogs that bite. She added, But don’t worry: at least one Moonie always comes down when the boat comes in. You can speak to him.
One Moonie did come down eventually, though I was waiting several minutes in the blackness of the night on the crocodile-ridden bank before he arrived. (Fortunately, I did not see the crocodiles until the next morning.) He was Japanese, and immediately replied to me in English when I said I was a journalist who would like to visit their colony if it was permitted. I am from a Catholic paper, I explained, not wishing there to be any misunderstanding about where I stood.
They gave me an aerial photo of the place, without my asking, and showed me their accounts, again without my asking. The relevance of this is that the Moonies have been accused of money laundering, drug-trafficking and arms-trading. Such allegations may be a hysterical over-reaction. On the other hand, what on earth are the Moonies doing with huge tracts of land in the middle of nowhere?
All the money for this project comes from voluntary donations, said Takeru Kamiyama, who is in charge of Puerto Leda, and he showed me the list of offerings for that year, mostly in the range of $5,000 dollars and some more than $50,000 dollars. The total came to more than $1 million. Will it be enough for what he wants to do here? When I need more I can ask for more; that is not a problem. He told me it all came from Japanese Moonie missionaries or church leaders. That’s strange, I said, how do missionaries come to earn so much money to donate in a single year to a single project? He said they asked their wives and children to contribute, and some had businesses, and of course they all had their salaries. So the church pays them salaries, which they pay back in the form of donations, he said.
The land at Puerto Leda amounts to 80,000 hectares, but of course the aerial photo only showed the immediate vicinity of the river, where the Moonies (13 Japanese, only one of whom spoke Spanish) were now constructing a living base. A couple of abandoned houses were being renovated and fitted with satellite dishes (for the phones, the computers and the television); a water-purifying plant was being prepared (it was not yet functioning); a vegetable garden was beginning to grow radishes, aubergines and cucumbers (used in Japanese rather than Paraguayan cuisine) and a centre of formation was being constructed (it will accommodate 50 people), but the pride and the joy of the place was the VIP guest house for visits of Reverend Moon. This was near completion, and we took off our muddy shoes before walking up the shimmering grey outside staircase on to the polished wooden floor upstairs where there was a grand dining room, capacious bedroom and luxury bathroom with a jet-stream bath.
From the outside balcony, my hosts pointed out some crocodiles swimming in the river, black dots from where we were. It was all very impressive, this taming of the wilderness, and the Moonies were beginning to relax. I understand that Reverend Moon has been imprisoned in the United States, I ventured. He knows all about that, said Mr Sano of his colleague, Mr Kamiyama. He was in prison with him.
How interesting, I said. You must be very close to Reverend Moon. Were you his only colleague to be imprisoned with him? Yes, he said, and before I came here I was president of the Church in Japan.
The last building under construction that the Moonies showed me was a new house for the military. It had six rooms, plus shower and toilet. It was very nice, and the military man kept telling me how nice it was. He confirmed it was a present. Moonies know the importance of getting on with those in authority. Mr Kamiyama had already told me quite openly what a good relationship they had built with the local army commander, who had given them the skin of a jaguar he had shot, and explained that is how they came to have two military guarding their place. It was of a piece with what I had been told about the Moonies paying off the debts of the mayor in Fuerte Olimpo to get his co-operation, and buying a new jeep for the police in Puerto Casado.
But most bizarre of all is the question of what on earth the Moonies are doing in the Pantanal. After all, they call themselves missionaries, but there are not exactly a lot of people to evangelise. There are 90 Paraguayan labourers working on the construction, but then the Moonies do not talk their language. Our purpose is to help people. We are providing a lot of employment in a place where there are no jobs, said Mr Nakata. But you didn’t buy 80,000 hectares here just to provide jobs in a place where nobody lives, did you? I asked.
They spoke about the hopes of developing ecological tourism. There will always be some travellers who relish a challenge, but it is difficult to see this kind of visit to the land of mosquitoes bringing in a mass movement of tourists. Another explanation was: Reverend Moon is thinking of the future of the planet, the lack of food and the increase in population. He is thinking to use this type of land to produce food. The food would be transported down the river, where they now have many bases, past Uruguay at the estuary where they are spending 200 million dollars on building a new port, to the hungry of Asia and Africa.
THERE are various puzzles about this. Why not buy the land in Africa or Asia, closer to where the hunger is? It is true there are fishing possibilities in the river, but the land of the Chaco is one of the most difficult areas in the world to cultivate: much of the soil is impermeable, and cannot hold water. We know this, said Kunihiko Shibanuma, but we want to do some research and find what we can produce. We are not so professional. We have a spirit to save the world, but we don’t have so much skill.
One might think, then, that before each new purchase in the Pantanal there would be some close consultation with Moonies already working there, but the absence of such collaboration is the biggest mystery of all. Why were they building a centre for formation at Puerto Leda when there was already one at their next site downriver at Fuerte Olimpo? Had they talked to Fuerte Olimpo about it? No. I report directly to Reverend Moon. Just what instructions had Reverend Moon given when he sent them here? Take care of this land. What was the movement planning to do with the 440,000 hectares it had bought at Puerto Casado? I don’t know. I never go there. The office for this project is in Tokyo. But the office for the Puerto Casado project will be somewhere else, perhaps in Korea, perhaps in Uruguay.
Such ignorance and such trust in authority are strangely reminiscent of the techniques of armies or resistance movements who need to preserve the secrecy of its war plans: each group knows what its orders are and its next point of contact, nothing more. The more shared knowledge there is, the more risk of discovery. I am convinced that those I spoke to were sincere good people, who were not lying to me. If there were anything sinister planned for the Pantanal, they would not know about it.
The Pantanal is not land for development, for much of it is designated a nature reserve. Its wealth is in its ecological purity – it is spoken of as one of the lungs of the world, an unspoilt source of unpolluted river water. Is ownership of this kind of territory a financial speculation or a prestige purchase? New purchases are being added all the time: there is talk of the Moonies investigating Puerto Sastre and Boquerín, and the Guyanan pastor told me they were looking to buy another place along the Brazilian bank where they could build more boats.
There are some obvious strategic strengths to the land Moon has bought. First, the Chaco is a well-known drug corridor, where drugs from Bolivia and other countries can effectively disappear before resurfacing in Brazil or elsewhere: the remoteness of the region and the corruption of the Paraguayan authorities provide suitable conditions for this. Secondly, there is talk of making a hydrovia, or fast waterway, by hollowing out the River Paraguay, so that bigger ships than my little cargo boat could travel from the centre of the continent to the Atlantic: but the ecologists are set against it. Thirdly, there is a project for Brazil to build a major highway across the heart of South America to the Pacific: there would be a case for its passing through the Moonie territory close to Puerto Casado.
And the Pantanal is not the end of Reverend Moon’s ambition. When I asked Mr Kamiyama what the letters P and A meant on his list of donors, he told me they stood for whether someone’s chief interest was in the Pantanal or the Amazon. My eyebrows shot up. Did the Moonies own land in the Amazon as well? Almost nothing yet. That would evidently be the next major takeover. We are left with a puzzling series of contradictions: a movement which professes to welcome visitors, yet protects itself with guard dogs, police and soldiers; which claims to promote the family, yet separates husbands from wives; which presents itself as Christian, yet believes the crucifixion was a mistake; which invokes world harmony, yet promotes conflict over the politics of the Left; which buys inhospitable land allegedly for cultivation, yet does not know how it will go about it.
And no one but Reverend Moon knows the master plan. This became more evident when I talked with the Japanese wife at Fuerte Olimpo. Her husband had been running seminars with a hundred Moonies from all over the world coming every month. Now that had all stopped. They did not know why. They did not know if it would begin again. Meanwhile they were looking after the place, awaiting instructions from Reverend Moon. But she reassured me there would be a purpose in it all. We don’t know much about what is planned for the other places in the Pantanal. But Father Moon knows. He has a project. …
“When the economy in Japan crashed, a lot of our money came from South America, mainly Brazil.”
Mysterious Republican Money
By Robert Parry September 7, 2004
“… John Stacey, a former CARP leader in the Pacific Northwest, was another Unification Church member who described Moon’s organization as dependent on money arriving from overseas. Stacey told me that the fund-raising operations inside the United States barely covered the costs of local offices, with little or nothing going to the big-ticket items, such as The Washington Times. Stacey added that the church-connected U.S. businesses are mostly money losers.
“These failing businesses create the image of making money … to cover his back,” Stacey said of Reverend Moon. “I think the majority of the money is coming from an outside source.”
Another member who quit a senior position in the church confirmed that virtually none of Moon’s American operations makes money. Instead, this source, who declined to be identified by name, said hundreds of thousands of dollars are carried into the United States by visiting church members. The cash is then laundered through domestic businesses.
Another close church associate, who also requested anonymity out of fear of reprisals, said cash arriving from Japan was used in one major construction project to pay “illegal” laborers from Asia and South America. “They [the church leaders] were always waiting for our money to come in from Japan,” this source said. “When the economy in Japan crashed, a lot of our money came from South America, mainly Brazil.” …”
This story was adapted from Robert Parry’s book, Secrecy & Privilege: Rise of the Bush Dynasty from Watergate to Iraq. A 27-year veteran of Washington journalism, Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra scandal stories in the 1980s for the Associated Press and Newsweek.
Suspicion Following Sun Myung Moon to Brazil
By Larry Rohter New York Times November 28, 1999
As far as the eye can see, there is almost nothing here but pasture, with the distant line of the horizon broken only by tall anthills and an occasional tree. But the Rev. Sun Myung Moon envisions this remote and sparsely populated corner of Brazil as what he calls “a kingdom of heaven on earth, a new Garden of Eden.”
Mr. Moon, the 78-year-old founder of the Unification Church, who has been rebuffed in the United States and is facing financial trouble in his native South Korea, is seeking to reinvent himself here in the South American heartland.
Through a venture he calls New Hope East Garden, Mr. Moon has bought thousands of acres of pasture land and spent some $30 million, according to the project’s manager, in hope of building a spiritual and business empire here that is to include investments in agriculture, industry and tourism, as well as a university.
Such investment was at first welcomed in the neediest part of Mato Grosso do Sul, a state whose own governor describes it as a land of “2 million people and 22 million cows.” But increasingly, Mr. Moon’s visible presence here is generating the same sort of opposition and suspicion that has followed him elsewhere around the world during a long career as the self-proclaimed “true father” and successor to Jesus Christ.
“No one knows what he’s up to out there, what are the objectives of his investments or the origins of his money,” the governor, Jose Orcirio Miranda dos Santos, said in an interview. “This has become an issue of national security, and I think an investigation is needed.”
Mr. Moon’s initial warm reception has quickly chilled, with charges in the news media and from local church officials that the sect is involved in illegal activities. In October, local Roman Catholic and Protestant churches jointly issued an open letter accusing Mr. Moon of 10 forms of heresy, urging “the people of God to keep their distance from the Unification sect.”
“More than a sect, this is a business that hides behind the facade of religion in order to make money,” said Msgr. Vitorio Pavanello, the Roman Catholic bishop of Campo Grande, the state capital. “He is trying to build an empire by buying everything in sight.”
The New Hope site includes at least 20 buildings, but has less than 200 permanent residents and many of those who work there are Korean, Japanese, American and European volunteers who rarely leave the compound and come for 40-day courses of instruction, paying their own way as well as making donations.
Civic and church groups have also begun to complain loudly, and have even charged that local youths are being recruited and sent off for indoctrination in São Paulo, where the sect has its Brazilian headquarters. Though local police declined to discuss the matter, there are also complaints that converts are being held against their will at New Hope.
“I recently had two young people who had run away from New Hope come in here seeking help in getting back home to Pernambuco,” 1,500 miles away, said Bruno Padron, the Roman Catholic bishop here. “They focus on the poor and the needy, and once they have them in their family, they refuse to let them go.”
Recent reports in the Brazilian news media have also suggested that the sect may be involved in drug trafficking and other forms of contraband smuggling across the notoriously porous border with Paraguay in order to generate revenues.
Mr. Miranda dos Santos would say only that “the federal government is looking into those questions.”
UNIFICATION CHURCH UNDER SIEGE IN BRAZIL
Rev. Moon’s massive land purchases lead to major search-and-seizure operation
May 14, 2002 at 1:00 AM http://www.wnd.com/2002/05/13898/
RIO DE JANEIRO — Rev. Sun Myung Moon, founder of the Unification Church – which owns real estate and other assets in Brazil thought to be worth nearly $250 million – is facing a major investigation here for alleged money laundering, tax evasion and abetting illegal immigration.
In addition, Moon’s massive land acquisitions along national borders have raised concerns about regional security in South America. If prosecutors prove what they suspect is the real purpose of the church’s activities there, their investigation could be the beginning of the end for Moon’s vision of a new Eden on the continent.
Rev. Phillip Schanker, vice president of Moon’s organization, the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification, USA, acknowledged the Brazilian crackdown, but told WorldNetDaily it was politically motivated and that there is no evidence to support the charges. In addition, he said, his organization is responsible for a great deal of philanthropy in the region, such as the donation of dozens of ambulances to local communities.
The church’s far-flung empire includes several media properties, including The Washington Times and Insight magazine, the World and I magazine, and more recently, United Press International.
Paradise for believers
Over the last decade, the Family Federation for World Peace, Moon’s organization, has bought land in South America that Moon himself has estimated at close to 1.2 million hectares.
Much of that territory includes the sprawling New Hope Farm, a paradisical but largely idle plantation larger than some countries, extending across the Brazilian border into Paraguay and Bolivia. According to Moon, the fertile lands and mineral resources in the region are “big enough to feed one or two hundred million people.”
The charges against Moon’s organization arose after a former employee, Korean translator Jae-Sik Kim, complained to the Labor Ministry late last year that he had been cheated out of his salary. His testimony, which included charges of fraud, sparked a police investigation in December that has rapidly accelerated after years of growing government unease over Moon’s activities, culminating in a massive search and seizure operation last week.
According to a Federal Police statement, “although formally established in the country as a philanthropic entity, the (Family Federation for Unification and World Peace) has developed a diversified program, generating … a high level of doubt about its true objectives.”
After seizing bank records in February, federal authorities on May 6 conducted a simultaneous raid on church holdings in 15 cities throughout Brazil.
Following the money
Sergio Messias, the Federal Revenue Service’s intelligence chief for the southwest region, believes that the Unification Church is acting fraudulently in Brazil as a commercial entity under the guise of a not-for-profit organization.
The two main elements of the investigation under way involve allegations that taxes should have been paid by the church as a commercial entity, and of money laundering involving currency illegally imported to Brazil. If proven, the allegations could result in the appropriation of the church’s real estate, and criminal penalties including jail terms for the group’s leaders.
“The Revenue Service believes that the real purpose of Moon’s organization, specifically the land acquisitions, in Brazil is to create a tourism complex for commercial purposes,” Messias told WND.
In the Brazilian section alone, the international estate extends over 85,000 hectares in Mato Grosso do Sul. According to the Revenue Service’s calculations, the group owes taxes on about $30 million to $35 million per year in undeclared income from those lands, plus unpaid rural taxes, since 1996.
“We have discovered that the money used to purchase the land came from the U.S., Japan, and Korea, from either the Unification Church itself or from entities linked to the church,” Messias said.
Although the Family Federation for Unification and World Peace is registered in Brazil as a domestic entity, and in the name of Brazilian individuals, Messias said there is solid evidence that those that control the organization and make the decision to purchase land are foreigners.
But under Brazilian law, foreigners are barred from purchasing land 150 kilometers from the national border, which would entitle the court to seize those lands. Authorities are also considering appropriation of the rest of the vast estate, by the Incra land reform agency.
Family Federation’s Schanker said he’s been in communication with the Brazilian ambassador in the United States trying to work through the allegations “for the past year-and-a-half,” insisting the church has “fully cooperated” with Brazilian authorities.
“Starting in September 2000,” Schanker said, the Brazilian government “began making requests for information” regarding Moon’s operation. “All I can say is we have been cooperative and have given them all the information they have requested.”
Local officials “have visited the place several times,” he said, including a number of “surprise visits.”
He said he knew nothing about the charges that the church owed millions in back taxes to Brazilian tax agencies.
“They looked for drugs, they looked for cross-border connections, they looked for all kinds of things but came up with nothing because we have been open and cooperative,” he said.
Schanker notes that the church has a school in the area – which now has 300 students – and has “donated at least 57 ambulances” to local communities. He also says the church has contributed “a large amount of land” for the formation of a national park.
“We’ve bent over backwards to cooperate,” he adds, acknowledging that he personally submitted a five-page report in 2000 to the Brazilian ambassador’s office in the U.S., “answering their questions as to who owned the land [and] what was our purpose for it.”
Alarmed by the Unification Church’s land acquisitions, the Mato Grosso do Sul State Assembly has set up a special inquiry to investigate the organization. That inquiry calculates that some $200 million could have entered the country illegally.
Through 1999, the most recent data from the Revenue Service, only $40 million had passed legally through the Central Bank.
While the amount that may have entered Brazil illegally is still not known, Messias maintains there is clear evidence of money laundering.
“We have heard testimony from various individuals who crossed the border from Bolivia or Paraguay carrying in some cases about $200,000 in currency,” Messias said, adding that the amount allegedly laundered in such a way is estimated in the millions of dollars.
In addition the revenue agency found that thousands of visitors to the New Hope Farm each year contributed from $1,000 to $10,000 each over a period of years to take part in the church’s “contemplative tourism” offerings, such as 40-day seminars.
“A very conservative estimate would be that about $10 million per year were laundered this way,” Messias said.
Investigators claim the decision to buy land was intended to maximize its return from tourism and mineral resources. According to Messias, this suspicion reinforces the hypothesis that they were acquired by a foreign entity for commercial purposes, rather than for philanthropy.
The region, apart from its natural beauty and fertile soil, also contains some of the largest ground reserves of fresh water in the world. Those reserves are expected to multiply in value in the coming decades as fresh water becomes increasingly scarce, Messias said.
According to the Unification Church website, Moon commented on the scarcity of water after a visit to South America, saying: “What do you need most in nature? Water. Without water, nothing will survive. All the food we consume requires water. Whoever controls water will control the future world.”
Evidence shows that the group also targeted purchases of land containing some of Brazil’s richest bio-diversity.
“We also have evidence that as soon as they discovered that foreigners could purchase land in the Pantanal wetland preserve, the group began conducting real estate evaluations, over-flights, and other activity that we believe shows intent to purchase up to 1 million more hectares,” said Messias.
That activity stopped late last year when the investigation intensified.
Police conduct massive sweep
According to a statement by the Federal Police superintendent in Mato Grosso do Sul, Wantuir Brasil Jancini, “the Moon case is of concern, because he acquired huge tracts of land, but we have heard nothing about the economic activity in the area.”
In between spiritual meetings, food preparation, cleaning and other activities, an estimated 800 foreign volunteers per month arrive at New Hope Farm to provide volunteer labor in farming, fishing, ranching and other activities such as apiculture and an experimental ostrich farm. That is not to mention the millions reaped through tourism as thousands of church members flock to the region each year to take part in religious teachings and stay in comfortable hotels owned by the church.
The Federal Police said about 50 church-sponsored illegal immigrants have been discovered so far, the fruit of immigration control operations started when the New Hope Project was begun.
After months of surveillance and subpoenas of the church’s bank records, authorities conducted a massive search-and-seizure operation May 6 to collect material evidence in 15 cities in Mato Grosso do Sul and São Paulo states. About 70 federal police, acting with 35 revenue inspectors, public prosecutors and state officials began sweeping farms, homes, hotels and offices belonging to church members.
What they found was a Taurus .380 pistol, three laptop computers, 20 CPUs from microcomputers, a mobile satellite telephone, $16,000 in travelers checks and $214 in brand new single notes, hundreds of videos, audio tapes, CD-ROMs and documents written mainly in the Korean language. Brazilian law does not permit unfettered search and seizure, although the protections are not as broad as those in the United States. Police obtained authorization for the raids based on a series of legal protocols.
According to a police spokesman, “the next step is to analyze all these materials for indications of crime, which will then be handed over to federal prosecutors. The process will take some time, because just counting the bank records there are up to 30,000 branches in the country that may have to be investigated.”
Messias estimates this aspect of the investigation will take months to resolve.
East of Eden
Immigration authorities say the Unification Church has been officially active in Brazil since 1976, but other sources claim the group arrived as early as 1964. The church also has vast business assets in Uruguay, where it began its South American expansion and is said to be planning a seaport, territory in Argentina and interests in other parts of Latin America besides the international New Hope Farm.
The ambition of the site’s planned temple, hotel and university complex could rival the Ziggurat. It is said that the complex was planned to host up to 30,000 followers, or nearly the entire population of two neighboring cities, Jardim and Guia Lopes da Laguna, but had been blocked on violations of building codes. The estimated current capacity at the site is some 3,000 people.
According to Unification Church’s leaders in Brazil, such as Neudir Ferabolli, a lawyer for the organization whose own bank records were among those seized, the blitz on the church’s holdings represents religious persecution by authorities and individuals, who do not understand the group’s philosophy or its purpose in Brazil.
Ferabolli dismisses the charges as little more than religious persecution and the state legislature’s investigation as grandstanding during an election year, according to an Associated Press report.
“It’s more like they want us to buy them,” Ferabolli said of accusations the association was trying to use its money to buy influence with the region’s politicians.
Allegations never proven
The presence of the Unification Church has had an uneasy past in this predominately Catholic country. In 1981, the Justice Ministry launched an investigation for supposed “brainwashing” of youths after receiving dozens of letters denouncing the church.
However, allegations of violating child protection laws and holding youths against their parents’ will were never proven. But local communities invaded and destroyed some of the church’s offices, leading to protests by the group that it had been persecuted for its religious beliefs, but evidence shows the federal government had, in fact, sided with the church.
Classified documents from the 1981 Justice Ministry investigation, published by Brazil’s Estado do S?o Paulo newspaper, suggested the military regime at the time supported Moon because “the Unification Church fights openly against international communism … and therefore is a means to balance the very uneven activities of subversive organizations in our country.”
Over the years, both the Catholic Church and Protestant movements have sought to have the Unification Church expelled from Brazil, sending letters to the Justice Ministry about the alleged “depersonalization” of Moon’s followers and questioning his “unorthodox” interpretation of Christian theology.
Unification Church in Brazil
The philanthropic acts and land purchases at over market value begun in 1996 ended the discreet profile the church had adopted after the 1981 investigation. Church missionaries have since complained of harassment, such as difficulty with obtaining phone lines in some areas, and “negative” press reports involving alleged drug trafficking, as well as other accusations the group has denied.
In a speech in New York, transcribed on the Unification Church website, Moon said: “Even among the South Americans, no one worked as hard as I have for the sake of South America.”
Moon founded his church in 1954 based on [the] landmark work, “The Divine Principle.” His movement seeks to “clarify the meaning of the Bible and all the world’s scriptures, paving the way for the world’s religions to resolve their internal struggles and become resources for building world peace.”
Among the most prominent Moon activities in Brazil was financial support for soccer clubs, a Brazilian national pastime. One such team, the New Hope Sports Center, is a top-ranked club that won third place in the state championship in 2001, putting tiny Jardim on the map in professional sports.
“Although the Unification Movement is investing a substantial amount of money in the soccer team, the team has become an effective tool for opening the hearts of the people,” Unification Church missionary Nelson Mira of Jardim wrote in an essay, “True Parents New Soccer Team Wows Brazil.”
The group has carried out high-publicity charitable events, such as the donation of several dozen ambulances to local communities, plans to build a soccer stadium and other pledged investments amounting to $100 million, huge open barbecues and other such activities. The group and its ambitious undertakings also create jobs in the region for members and non-members alike, and have indisputably helped the local economy.
However, Brazilian authorities doubt the motives behind the Unification Church’s philanthropy. Among the concerns is that the organization intends to expand its social and political influence in Brazil through its practice of arranged marriages between Brazilian and foreign citizens.
There are at least 25 documented cases of foreign church members who travel to Brazil while pregnant, give birth, then take these infant Brazilian citizens out of the country several months later, according to Messias.
This part of Moon’s activity in the region is of concern, he says, because it suggests that the Unification Church is busily building what could become in effect an independent religious state in South America.
In Moon’s work, “Blessing and Ideal Family,” he explains the purpose behind the arranged marriages: “When we can go into every country without restriction because of these international marriages, the walls which were high and strong will be destroyed.”
According to Messias, “we began this investigation seeking to determine the situation with the land taxes and whether or not the Family Federation for Unification and World Peace is conducting commercial activities. However, we found that the real problem was not just fiscal, but relates to national security.”
Investigators suspect that the Unification Church plans to educate the children born in Brazil under Moon’s philosophies for later reintroduction into Brazilian society, where they could assume political posts and other positions of power. Likewise, the land acquisitions are thought to be part of a larger scheme to set up foreign colonies in Brazil that would grow in influence over time and overtake national authority.
“These children could even become president one day,” Messias said.
The Revenue Service is not alone in its suspicions. According to recent statements in the press by Defense Minister Geraldo Quintao, the Unification Church and its expansion in South America over the last decade is “not well looked upon.”
Moon has reportedly proposed U.N. administration of demilitarized “buffer zones” in areas of intense conflict, specifically along the 38th parallel between the Koreas. According to Moon’s vision, the land ceded to create these zones would be compensated by the South American real estate. Brazilian officials allege this is a point of concern for national security.
According to a Moon speech published by his group: “I am working to make a balance between the third world and first world nations, based on nearly 60 island nations, and to connect them with South America. These countries of South America opposed me, but because of my investment they will change. Eventually this will connect to and be part of the U.N. foundation.”
Quintao has already met with his Bolivian counterpart to discuss the situation with Moon’s land purchase across the border, and both agreed to set up a special intelligence subgroup to monitor the activity on their borders and with Paraguay, where Moon’s organization is also active.
“When a foreign individual appears wanting to buy land on both sides of a border, establishing continuity with land on the other side, evidently this is of interest to the intelligence sector and needs to be accompanied with attention,” Quintao said.
Schanker says he believes the church is being subjected to unwarranted persecution. “This seems clearly a case of government interference in the affairs of a religious organization,” he said. “There is no commercial intent for that property.”
Schanker denied there was anything to charges of money laundering, tax evasion and illegal immigration. “Impossible,” he said.
He said the same kind of persecution occurred against Moon in the U.S. in the late 1970s.
The Unification church’s teachings “stirred up a lot of investigations and a lot of questions and prejudice,” Schanker told WND, adding that the group was subjected to a lot of probing by congressional committees and other federal agencies.
Eventually, Moon was charged and convicted of tax evasion – “for an amount that was beneath the Justice Department – $7,300 over a three-year period,” Schanker said, on “an account that had been closed for three years on monies that the church said were public, not private.”
Brazilian authorities “have put every kind of stumbling block in our way,” he said. “We have tried to give them every bit of access possible. But why do they bring machine guns, break down doors, and create an image as if we’re a criminal organization? It’s crazy. It’s hype.”
Schanker called charges that the church was attempting to set up foreign colonies in Brazil “ridiculous.”
“We haven’t converted anybody,” he said. “If anyone would interview people at our school, for example, they’d tell you we’re not interested” in those kinds of activities.
Such charges “are absolutely unfounded,” he added. “They are just fomenting hysteria for either political or religious reasons.”
John Waggoner is a journalist specializing in Latin American affairs.
World Briefing | Brazil: Sun Myung Moon Land Under Seal
May 10, 2003 New York Times
The police entered a farm in Mato Grosso do Sul belonging to Rev. Sun Myung Moon, leader of the Unification Church, and sealed it. They also blocked him from selling nine other properties over environmental concerns. The move, they said, was to force Mr. Moon to carry out environmental impact studies for developments on the properties, on the fringes of the world’s largest wetlands, the Pantanal. “It is a region which has a highly fragile environment,” said Alexandre Ruslan, a prosecutor in Matto Grosso do Sul, where Mr. Moon bought 138,000 acres in the 1990’s. Mr. Ruslan said Mr. Moon has built roads and buildings and has cut down forests, but has failed to carry out environmental studies.
Mysterious Republican Money
By Robert Parry September 7, 2004
“… John Stacey, a former CARP leader in the Pacific Northwest, was another Unification Church member who described Moon’s organization as dependent on money arriving from overseas. Stacey told me that the fund-raising operations inside the United States barely covered the costs of local offices, with little or nothing going to the big-ticket items, such as The Washington Times. Stacey added that the church-connected U.S. businesses are mostly money losers.
“These failing businesses create the image of making money … to cover his back,” Stacey said of Reverend Moon. “I think the majority of the money is coming from an outside source.”
Another member who quit a senior position in the church confirmed that virtually none of Moon’s American operations makes money. Instead, this source, who declined to be identified by name, said hundreds of thousands of dollars are carried into the United States by visiting church members. The cash is then laundered through domestic businesses.
Another close church associate, who also requested anonymity out of fear of reprisals, said cash arriving from Japan was used in one major construction project to pay “illegal” laborers from Asia and South America. “They [the church leaders] were always waiting for our money to come in from Japan,” this source said. “When the economy in Japan crashed, a lot of our money came from South America, mainly Brazil.” … ”
This story was adapted from Robert Parry’s book, Secrecy & Privilege: Rise of the Bush Dynasty from Watergate to Iraq. A 27-year veteran of Washington journalism, Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra scandal stories in the 1980s for the Associated Press and Newsweek.
FFWPU President of IAPP (The International Association of Parliamentarians for Peace) Prosecuted for Money Laundering and Drug Smuggling in US Court; suspicions of connections to UC / FFWPU Leadership
Inside The League by Scott Anderson and Jon Lee Anderson (1986)
The Shocking Exposé of How Terrorists, Nazis, and Latin American Death Squads Have Infiltrated the World Anti-Communist League
Gifts of Deceit: Sun Myung Moon, Tongsun Park, and the Korean scandal
by Robert B. Boettcher (with Gordon L. Freedman) 1980