Following the banquet, Bush travelled with Moon to Uruguay for ceremonies inaugurating a seminary in Montevideo where 4,200 young Japanese women will be trained to be Latin America missionaries for the Unification Church.
Bush has been a speaker for Moon before, most recently at a September rally held in a Tokyo baseball stadium. Other recent appearances include an August religious conference in Washington, where Bush was joined by President Ford, ex-leaders of Britan, Mexico, Australia, a Nobel Peace Prize winner, comedian Bill Cosby and Pat Boone. The Washington Post and other newspapers have reported that Moon pays high profile celebrities and former leaders between $100,000 and $150,000.
Bush's appearances at these gatherings have been used by Moon's group as tacit endorsements. "George Bush doesn't meet just anybody," Ricardo de Sena, president of Argentina's Unification Church, was quoted in the Miami Herald last month. "He was the head of the CIA, so if anyone knows if Rev. Moon is a brainwasher or a drug trafficker, like the papers say, it would be him. The fact that Mr. Bush is coming to speak here is the most powerful evidence that either the papers are mistaken or it's a purposeful fabrication."
At the Buenos Aires banquet, Moon delivered a speech titled, "In Search of the Origin of the Universe." According to Reuters, the evangelist asked his 700 guests rhetorical questions such as, "why do sexual organs exist?" and "when you defecate, do you wear a gas mask?"]
(IPS) MONTEVIDEO -- The church led by the South Korean reverend Sun Myung Moon is strengthening its religious and economic presence in Latin America.
This was confirmed last month by the news of the arrival in Montevideo of some 4,200 missionaries who will receive "orientation courses" -- given by the reverend Moon himself -- and then begin the crusade toward other countries in the Americas.
Large investments in Uruguay, Argentina, and elsewhere
Church -- as the reverend Moon's organization is known -- rented a stadium from the city of Montevideo to host the majority of the missionaries, mostly from Japan, between the 21st and 30th of last month.
The rest of the missionaries stayed in a luxury hotel in Montevideo which is owned by the Moon's organization.
That same week in mid-November, a group of women from all over Latin America and the Caribbean sent a letter to the Uruguayan media, in which they said they had been "tricked" into participating in a conference organized by the "Moonies."
Held in Montevideo from Nov. 6-10, the conference had a stated aim of "promoting family integration and peace on the planet." It was being organized by the Federation of Families for World Peace.
The 40 women, "from 33 Latin American and Caribbean countries," claimed that the seminar that they participated in consisted of "three days of religious indoctrination in the theology of Mr. Moon and his Unification Church sect."
They said that the teachings "were an affront to our Christian faith," that they "repudiate" the "indoctrination" that was imposed on them "about the Messianic mission of Mr. Moon and his wife," Hak Ja Han Moon. They also denounced the "system of pressure and vigilance" to which they were submitted.
The Federation of Families for World Peace was created on Sep. 26 in Montevideo by Hak Ja Han Moon. A total of more than 800 women from Latin American and Caribbean countries participated in last month's conference.
For the past three years, the Moons have been living permanently in the Uruguayan capital. They have made large investments there, and are planning on many more.
According to Unification Church spokespersons, the organization signed a purchase agreement this month for 50 percent of the installations of a boat-building facility that the Greek magnate Panagiotia Tsakos owns in the port of Montevideo, with the purpose of building boats for fishing and tourism.
The inauguration of the first part of the restoration of the Victoria Plaza Hotel -- with 550 rooms distributed in two towers - is scheduled for 1997. It will be Montevideo's first five-star hotel.
At the same time, the Church is strengthening its presence in other countries of the region.
Moon's organization aims to get "Latin America to raise its standard of living to the parameters that exist in North America," according to Hideo Oyamada, president of the group in Japan and representative in Latin America.
The organization headed by Moon expects to achieve that goal by "uniting the regions of the continent through technology, educational programs and the strengthening of the family," he said.
An "ideal" means of overcoming "the gap that exists between the North and the South is the creation of means of communication" said the organization's representative in Buenos Aires, Ricardo de Sena.
$10 million newspaper to be published in 10 countries simultaneously
24th, Moon launched in Buenos Aires a weekly magazine titled 'Times of the World,' with the hope of turning it into a daily and distributing it in 16 Spanish-speaking countries. Guest speaker at the launching ceremony was former U.S. president George Bush.
'Times of the World' is one of the investments with which the Unification Church intends to introduce itself in Argentina, where its presence has until now been small.
In 1995, Moon announced to Argentine president Carlos Menem that he intended to invest some 500 million dollars in that country in the next years, according to the president's statements to the press.
The organization plans to purchase land (it has already bought some 1,000 hectares in the province of Corrientes), factories, hotels, tourist facilities, and television channels, to be added to the businesses which it already owns, and which range from the production of honey to the automobile industry.
The Moon's organization also plans to introduce in Argentina and Brazil "a revolutionary system of long-distance education through computer and electronic pencil, which will eliminate the classic mouse," said de Sena.
In Brazil -- where until now its presence has been limited to a network of small stores -- the group plans to build a "model city for the rural area" in the state of Rio Grande do Sul, a project which it intends to expand later to Argentina and Paraguay.
It also plans to create a university that would establish links to the three centres of higher education owned by the Church in the United States, and to build in Brazil one of the centers for the Unification Olympics, which would take place in North and South America in November 1997.
In Paraguay, where the Church has already purchased 20 hectares in the frontier city of Ciudad del Este with the intention of building an industrial complex, the "Moonies" also plan to operate an assembly plant for trucks and to exploit a marble factory.
"We want to strengthen the MERCOSUR system, which until now has only been a name and which is inefficient," said Oyamada. The MERCOSUR is an economic bloc formed by Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay.
However, the organization will have to overcome certain obstacles that could be raised by the Secretary for Religious Affairs in Argentina, Angel Centeno, for whom "an entity which calls itself a church in the official registry of religious organizations cannot conduct activities other than religious ones."
The magazine 'Atencion,' of Sao Paulo, estimated that Moon's businesses in 180 countries involve more than eight billion dollars.
Albion Monitor December 14, 1996 (http://www.monitor.net/monitor)
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