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Suspicion Follows Rev. Moon to South America

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      As a side note to the following story, the youngest son of the Rev. Sun
      Myung Moon committed suicide on October 28th by jumping from the 17th floor
      of Harrah's hotel in Reno, Nevada. I don't have any links to this article
      but can email the information to those of you who might be interested.

      General links to Moon and anti-Moon organizations and articles:

      --- David Sunfellow


      Suspicion Follows Rev. Moon to South America
      November 28, 1999
      By Larry Rohter
      (Thanks to Resource Center for Freedom of Mind)


      JARDIM, Brazil -- 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."

      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

      Through a venture he calls New Hope East Garden, 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, 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."

      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 improper
      activities. In October, local Roman Catholic and Protestant churches jointly
      issued an open letter accusing Moon of 10 forms of heresy, urging "the
      people of God to keep their distance from the Unification sect," and calling
      on local officials to "have the courage to remove this danger."

      "More than a sect, this is a business that hides behind the facade of
      religion in order to make money," said Monsignor Vitorio Pavanello, the
      Roman Catholic bishop of Campo Grande, the state capital. "He is trying to
      build an empire by buying everything in sight."

      But Moon's associates offer a different explanation.

      "It is our goal and desire to do something great for this region," said
      Cesar Zaduski, a former president of the Unification Church in Brazil and
      the general manager of the New Hope project. "Rev. Moon has a lot of
      companies around the world, more than 300, and his intention is to bring
      some of them here so that this region can get the benefit of development and
      first world know-how and technology."

      Zaduski said Moon was prepared to commit much more money to make the New
      Hope venture viable. The objective, he said, is to produce fish, exotic
      meats, fruit and wood for commercial markets here and abroad, and to turn
      this area into a leading eco-tourism center within a few years.

      Moon's representatives here said that their leader first visited the region
      five years ago on a fishing trip and was impressed by its wide-open spaces
      and enormous variety of wildlife. Since then, his movement has bought 220
      square miles of farmland in Mato Grosso do Sul and a 310-square-mile parcel
      near Fuerte Olimpo on the Paraguayan side of the nearby border, as well as
      hotels and other businesses.

      Moon's big push in this largely undeveloped corner of Brazil comes as the
      business conglomerate he controls in South Korea has nearly collapsed.
      Because of the economic crisis that swept across East Asia beginning in
      1996, the debt of his Tong Il Group soared to more than $1.2 billion. Five
      of its 17 companies were forced into receivership last year, and an
      automobile manufacturing project in China has also failed.

      His diverse enterprises in the United States appear to be in better shape.
      Those include a newspaper, The Washington Times, as well as Bridgeport
      University in Connecticut, a recording studio and travel agency in New York,
      and a cable network, the Nostalgia Channel. But Moon has indicated recently
      that he is disenchanted with the country that has been his main base of
      operations since the 1970s.

      "America doesn't have anywhere to go now," he said in a speech in New York
      last year. "The country that represents Satan's harvest is America, the
      kingdom of extreme individuality, of free sex."

      Moon's critics say that his view is growing harsher because of the decline
      of his influence in the United States, where he was imprisoned for a year
      after being convicted of tax evasion in 1982, and where he has been the
      subject of embarrassing books and news reports that his son and heir was
      addicted to cocaine and abused his wife.

      While he was once believed to have about 30,000 followers in the United
      States, the current number of church members is believed to be about
      one-tenth that number.

      But Zaduski said Moon's interest in South America resulted from a desire to
      focus on the Roman Catholic world, after emerging from a Confucian and
      Buddhist environment and spending a long time in a predominantly Protestant
      atmosphere. No place, he added, has a larger concentration of Roman
      Catholics than South America, in particular in the region of the customs
      union called Mercosur, which consists of Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay,
      Uruguay, Bolivia and Chile.

      "What unites South America is Mercosur, and what is the heart of Mercosur?"
      he asked. "This region here, where you can build a project that goes beyond
      borders. If we can build something here that works, it can be an example to
      many other parts of South America."

      In recent years, Moon has been active in Uruguay, Brazil's southern neighbor
      -- so much so that the capital, Montevideo, is now derisively called
      Moontevideo by some. There, the sect has acquired the luxury Victoria Plaza
      Hotel, operates the newspaper Tiempos del Mundo and retains an interest in a
      bank, Banco de Credito, in which the government intervened last year after
      complaints of irregularities.

      Here, Moon built up good will early on by donating ambulances to mayors,
      sponsoring barbecues for residents and making donations to political
      campaigns. He also opened a school on his New Hope property, invited local
      children to enroll and even offered to provide transportation from their
      homes. But relations are now openly hostile.

      "When they first began acquiring property here, we expected that they would
      promote and contribute to the prosperity of our region by generating jobs
      and taxes," said Marcio Campos Monteiro, the mayor of Jardim, a town of
      21,000 people. "But all they seem to be doing is stockpiling land, without
      producing anything or hiring from the local labor force."

      Monteiro contends that Moon's presence here has actually hurt the local
      economy. The sect now owns 10 percent of the county, he said, and government
      revenues have dropped because he has withdrawn so much land from production
      and the tax rolls, claiming a religious exemption.

      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

      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 Sao 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

      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

      Miranda dos Santos would say only that "the federal government is looking
      into those questions."

      Zaduski dismissed such accusations as "crazy stories" and illogical. "Rev.
      Moon comes here quite often, so if his people were doing something illegal,
      he would not want to be so close," he said. "That would be stupid, because
      he is a big target."

      Despite the increasingly tense atmosphere here, Moon apparently plans to
      plunge ahead. In September, the government extended Moon's visa for two more

      "He is really amazed by the way nature here is so pristine," Zaduski said.
      "He wants the entire world to understand that the heavenly father wants this
      treasure to be kept for all mankind, and that is why he is putting so much
      of his own time and guidance into this."


      David Sunfellow, Founder & Publisher
      NewHeavenNewEarth (NHNE)
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