Wednesday, November 23, 2005
  Missionaries kicked out of Venezuela...
Missionaries' Mission at Issue
Venezuela's president is kicking out evangelists he says are spying for the U.S. Their role among the indigenous tribes has been controversial.

By Chris Kraul, Times Staff Writer

PUERTO AYACUCHO, Venezuela — Earnest and God-fearing, jungle missionary Gary Greenwood may not look like a spy for the CIA. But Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez says the lanky young man from central Michigan is no less than an advance scout for an imminent U.S. invasion of this South American country.

Last month, Chavez ordered the expulsion of about 200 evangelical Baptist missionaries from the country's Amazon rain forest. He accused them of spying, mining, exploiting indigenous tribes and using jungle airstrips for "imperialist penetration." Last week, the missionaries were given 90 days to leave the zone.

Greenwood laughed off the charges and said there was no time for espionage in Cuwa, the isolated Yanomami Indian village where he and his family lived for four years. Although he and other missionaries acknowledged that their primary goal was to convert Indians to Christianity, the 33-year-old said he spent most of his days helping them: drilling wells, fixing outboard motors and making their huts more livable.

The rest is here.

Something that jumps out at me:

Ingrid Turon, a city council member and member of the Yeguana indigenous community in the village of Toki, six hours by outboard motorboat from here, said those who oppose missionaries want to deprive indigenous people of the advantages of modern life.

"For them, we are like animals in the zoo that people should pay to come see, so they can charge admission, publish their books and take pictures," Turon said. "They want to deny us the progress that they want, that the entire world wants."

Plus this:

But anthropologist Isam Madi, who favors the presence of the missionaries, fears that the new government impulse will fade after local elections in December. He warned that death rates among the Yanomami and other tribes, which have fallen with the presence of missionaries such as Sarah Greenwood, would rise again, especially among newborns and infants, once the missionaries left.

"Yes, there is a cultural change that comes with missionaries, but I prefer the cultural change if it comes with a lower death rate," said Madi, who runs a charity called Foundation for Indigenous Democracy in Santa Elena, Bolivar state

I realize that missionaries will change some things about the culture they are among, but which is better, going in and studying them without helping or going in with some sort of agenda, but helping them even if they don't do what you ask?
This administration is so closely tied to the evangelicals, it's not a huge jump in logic to think they could be spies. Not that this group IS....I can see how Chavez could make the case.

And given the Pat Robertson flap a few months ago...can you blame HIM?
Yeah but he's kicking out the Mormons and the Catholics and it isn't like those two groups are that close to Bush. I think that he's cutting off his nose adn then what would he snort with.
"Chavez ordered the expulsion of about 200 evangelical Baptist missionaries from the country's Amazon rain forest."

I didn't see a reference to any other groups.

I wish we'd expel the Mormons from THIS country, honestly.
"The Utah-based Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints announced last month that it had withdrawn all 219 of its U.S. missionaries from the country because of increasing delays and difficulty in obtaining or renewing visas.

Chavez has also sparred with the Roman Catholic Church. Retired Cardinal Rosalio Castillo Lara, a Venezuelan who was a confidant of the late Pope John Paul II, has accused Chavez of being increasingly autocratic.

"Chavez needs confrontation, because this allows him, among other things, to lessen tensions within his coalition," said Javier Corrales, a political scientist at Amherst College and a Venezuela specialist. "He is also trying to weaken organized groups that are autonomous, especially if they are foreign."

Okay so he didn't kick out the Catholics but I'll bet he would if he could. And I doubt seriously that the Mormon visa issues were coincidental.

If we kick out the Mormons who could we make fun of?
If he is snorting something, let's give some dope to our greedy oil companies.


Chávez offers discounted heating oil to Boston's poor

Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez starts a program to sell heating oil in the Boston area to low-income families for 60 cents to 80 cents less than prevailing retail prices.
On the contrary, he's doing what so many aspiring autocratshave done before him - remove sources of opposition, and consolidate personal authority by playing on the public's emotions.

Religion is, historically speaking, a divisive instrument. It's been useful in the past to foster dissent and opposition to monarchs and dictators, and by ridding himself of these people, he reasserts control over those influenced by them.
This may be a bad thing for religion, or for the people being helped by the missionaries, but its a good thing for Chavez, at least for the time being.

That's my take, anyway.
Persecution of Christians is a real problem in many locations around the world... Missionaries are not just being kidded out of countries, they are being imprisoned and even killed.

Check out the site: The Voice of the Martyrs
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