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Facing government opposition, Scientology prepares to play dirty

 
Rod Keller continues his series on the remarkable situation in Mexico City, where the Church of Scientology is facing government opposition to construction of its planned “Advanced Org” for Latin America there. Now, the church has made a telling move, and Rod has reactions to it…


The seals across the entrances of the Palmas Plaza are still up. Scientology continues “trabajo hormiga,” or “ant work” in secret, using a very small crew working on a job that requires over 100. Neither the neighbors nor Scientology are happy with the stand off and each took steps this week to bring the situation regarding the planned Advanced Org for Latin America to an end.

The neighbors this week first organized, then canceled a protest at the obelisk, a landmark in the center of a roundabout near the site. The area already has traffic congestion, and they fear the hundreds of hotel rooms, the restaurant and the large auditorium will add to that. There are rumors that Scientology is preparing to bribe local officials to get their way, but history indicates they will use other methods to get their way.

 

 
Scientology has a Continental Liaison Office, or CLO at the Ideal Org in the center of Mexico City. There are dozens of Sea Org members available to run the program. Until recently they chose Jonathan “Marduk” Rico as the contact. This week they brought in a more experienced member to take over, Cuban-born Sea Org member Humberto Fontana from Los Angeles. He has been on staff at the Miami org and has run “fourth dynamic,” or social reform programs in Clearwater, Florida. He has now been “fired” to Mexico City, which is the Scientology term for being ordered on a special mission. Fontana is an enforcer for the church. Former OSA Int. Commanding Officer Mike Rinder tells us that if Fontana is involved “It’s a big problem and they are bringing in the ‘heavy hitters’ to deal with it. A Sea Org Mission is being fired to handle the hell out of it.”

 

[Humberto Fontana]

 
Fontana currently works in the area of human rights in Los Angeles and speaks at orgs about Scientology’s drug education programs and the fight against psychiatry. Human rights work in Scientology means the Office of Special Affairs, or OSA, which takes charge of all contact between the church and the outside world. OSA does public relations work to block reports on Scientology in the media. OSA runs the humanitarian programs of the church, and OSA runs any legal cases.

 

 
On November 20, 1988 Fontana was in Madrid, Spain and became caught up in one of the most important events in Scientology history – the raid at a hotel conference and arrest of 69 Scientologists to face an array of charges including forgery, fraud, extortion, tax evasion and kidnapping. The arrests were the result of a nine month investigation by Spanish police and prosecutors during which they interviewed dozens of former members and wiretapped Scientology’s phone lines. Most of those arrested were released quickly, but charges were filed against 15 Scientologists, including Fontana and Heber Jentzsch who for years was the public face of the church, and held the title of President of the Church of Scientology International. Jentzsch was a figurehead spokesperson and his authority as President was an illusion, but it was an embarrassment to Scientology and they wanted him to be released.

 

[Heber Jentzsch in handcuffs in Madrid, 1988]

 
OSA turned up the pressure on the court, flooding them with cables and messages of support for Jentzsch. Behind the scenes Humberto Fontana was running a program to investigate public officials including District Court Judge Jose Maria Vazquez Honrubia and member of the Spanish Parliament Pilar Salarullana. He was caught and arrested in possession of dossiers on the two containing confidential information. “Ms. Salarullana told reporters on Thursday that Vazquez Honrubia showed her one confiscated dossier that contained data on her bank accounts, family documents, photos and public comments she has made concerning the Scientology church and sects active in Spain.”

After three weeks Jentzsch was released on bond and fled Spain to avoid prosecution. His wife at the time was Karen de la Carriere, who tells us “the cult set up the Spanish court and pleaded that Heber needed to see his dying mom. It was all fake. The judge compassionately let Heber be released to see his dying mom. OSA had no intention of returning him to Spain. Heber left and forfeited the $1 million bail.” That bail money was returned with interest in 2002 when the last of the charges were dropped. None of the defendants were ever found guilty and Scientology prevailed.

The tactics Scientology used in Madrid are a good indicator of how they will fight the dispute in Mexico City. They bring in an OSA enforcer, they investigate the public officials to find any dirt that can be used against them, and they turn up the heat with accusations of religious discrimination. Firing Humberto Fontana to handle the situation is the first step in which Scientology intends to win. This is a program he has successfully run before.

 
— Rod Keller

 
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Scientology disconnection, a reminder

Bernie Headley has not seen his daughter Stephanie in 4,799 days.
Jamie Sorrentini Lugli has not seen her father Irving in 2,556 days.
Quailynn McDaniel has not seen her brother Sean in 1,902 days.
Claudio and Renata Lugli have not seen their son Flavio in 2,396 days.
Sara Goldberg has not seen her daughter Ashley in 1,436 days.
Lori Hodgson has not seen her son Jeremy in 1,148 days.
Marie Bilheimer has not seen her mother June in 674 days.
Joe Reaiche has not seen his daughter Alanna Masterson in 4,763 days
Derek Bloch has not seen his father Darren in 1,903 days.
Cindy Plahuta has not seen her daughter Kara in 2,223 days.
Claire Headley has not seen her mother Gen in 2,198 days.
Ramana Dienes-Browning has not seen her mother Jancis in 554 days.
Mike Rinder has not seen his son Benjamin in 4,856 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his daughter Spring in 963 days.
Skip Young has not seen his daughters Megan and Alexis for 1,365 days.
Mary Kahn has not seen her son Sammy in 1,238 days.
Lois Reisdorf has not seen her son Craig in 819 days.
Phil and Willie Jones have not seen their son Mike in 1,324 days.
Mary Jane Sterne has not seen her daughter Samantha in 1,568 days.
Kate Bornstein has not seen her daughter Jessica in 12,677 days.

 
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3D-UnbreakablePosted by Tony Ortega on July 2, 2017 at 07:00

E-mail tips and story ideas to tonyo94 AT gmail DOT com or follow us on Twitter. We post behind-the-scenes updates at our Facebook author page. After every new story we send out an alert to our e-mail list and our FB page.

Our book, The Unbreakable Miss Lovely: How the Church of Scientology tried to destroy Paulette Cooper, is on sale at Amazon in paperback, Kindle, and audiobook versions. We’ve posted photographs of Paulette and scenes from her life at a separate location. Reader Sookie put together a complete index. More information about the book, and our 2015 book tour, can also be found at the book’s dedicated page.

The Best of the Underground Bunker, 1995-2016 Just starting out here? We’ve picked out the most important stories we’ve covered here at the Undergound Bunker (2012-2016), The Village Voice (2008-2012), New Times Los Angeles (1999-2002) and the Phoenix New Times (1995-1999)

Learn about Scientology with our numerous series with experts…

BLOGGING DIANETICS: We read Scientology’s founding text cover to cover with the help of L.A. attorney and former church member Vance Woodward
UP THE BRIDGE: Claire Headley and Bruce Hines train us as Scientologists
GETTING OUR ETHICS IN: Jefferson Hawkins explains Scientology’s system of justice
SCIENTOLOGY MYTHBUSTING: Historian Jon Atack discusses key Scientology concepts

Other links: Shelly Miscavige, ten years gone | The Lisa McPherson story told in real time | The Cathriona White stories | The Leah Remini ‘Knowledge Reports’ | Hear audio of a Scientology excommunication | Scientology’s little day care of horrors | Whatever happened to Steve Fishman? | Felony charges for Scientology’s drug rehab scam | Why Scientology digs bomb-proof vaults in the desert | PZ Myers reads L. Ron Hubbard’s “A History of Man” | Scientology’s Master Spies | Scientology’s Private Dancer | The mystery of the richest Scientologist and his wayward sons | Scientology’s shocking mistreatment of the mentally ill | Scientology boasts about assistance from Google | The Underground Bunker’s Official Theme Song | The Underground Bunker FAQ

Our Guide to Alex Gibney’s film ‘Going Clear,’ and our pages about its principal figures…
Jason Beghe | Tom DeVocht | Sara Goldberg | Paul Haggis | Mark “Marty” Rathbun | Mike Rinder | Spanky Taylor | Hana Whitfield

 

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