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LIVE REPORTS: Scientology leader David Miscavige opens “Ideal Org” in Colombia today

BogotaMiscavige

Scientology leader David Miscavige is scheduled to open the latest “Ideal Org” today, this time in Bogotá, Colombia, and we have a correspondent on the scene.

It’s been less than three months since Miscavige opened an Ideal Org in Basel, Switzerland, which is a much faster pace than he set the last two years. (There was only one Ideal Org opened in all of 2014, in Sydney, though the existing Advanced Org in Copenhagen also got a facelift that year.)

We’ve written extensively on the Ideal Org push by Miscavige, but if you’re new to Scientology watching, what’s important to know is that beginning in 2003, the Scientology leader set a goal to replace all of the existing churches — called “orgs” in Scientology parlance — with gleaming new cathedrals, financed by local members. These are not new outposts for the church, but merely replacements for facilities that already existed. But the purpose of it is to give the impression that with new buildings opening, Scientology is expanding — when voluminous evidence actually suggests the opposite. After an initial push of new buildings, things have slowed down as fundraising efforts in places like Chicago, Detroit, Philadelphia, Boston, Montreal, Toronto, Kansas City, and in California have left the church with decaying buildings the locals can’t afford to renovate.

But the money was found to spruce up an eight-story building in Bogotá, and we’re guessing this is one case when Miscavige paid for it from the funds of the International Association of Scientologists (IAS) as he is doing in New Zealand, where there just aren’t enough local members to raise big sums. The Bogotá building cost $5 million US to renovate, according to a local newspaper.

According to the map, it’s on the north side of downtown, at the intersection of a major east-west thoroughfare, Avenida Calle 100, and Carrera 19. The building is on the northwest corner…

 
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That’s a very large intersection, so we’re hoping our correspondent can get a decent view of what’s going on. As soon as we start receiving reports, we’ll let you know what’s going on.

Oh, and one note that we know will generally tend to get ignored: “Columbia” is a university in New York City. “Colombia” is a country in South America.

 
——————–

Karen de la Carriere on Scientology’s private eyes

Karen asks the question, how can the IRS turn a blind eye to the way David Miscavige uses tax-exempt funds?

 

 
——————–

Jonny Jacobsen puts the word out in France

Thank you, Jonny, for getting the word out about our July 29 event in Paris…

 
TonyOParis

 
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BOOK NOTES
3D-Unbreakable
We didn’t get a chance to include photos in our book, so we’ve posted them at a dedicated page. Reader Sookie put together a complete index and we’re hosting it here on the website. Copies of the paperback version of ‘The Unbreakable Miss Lovely’ are on sale at Amazon. The Kindle edition is also available, and shipping instantly.

Our upcoming appearances (and check out the interactive map to our ongoing tour)…

 
July 12: Washington DC, Center for Inquiry, 2 pm (with Paulette Cooper)

July 14: Hartford, MARK TWAIN HOUSE (with Tom Tomorrow)

July 17: Denver, The Secular Hub, 7 pm (with Chris Shelton)

July 20: Dallas, Times Ten Cellar, 7 pm (with Robert Wilonsky)

July 22: Houston, Fox and Hound, 11470 Westheimer Road, sponsored by Humanists of Houston

July 24: San Antonio, Folc Restaurant/Park Social, 6 pm

July 25: Austin

July 29: Paris, Le Bistrot Landais, 19:00 (with Jonny Jacobsen)

August 4: London, Conway Hall, (with John Sweeney)

August 24: Boston, Boston Skeptics in the Pub, 7 pm (with Gregg Housh)

Sept 15: Arizona State University

Sept 23: Cleveland

Sept 24: Minneapolis

Sept 27: Portland

Sept 28: Seattle

Sept 30: Vancouver, BC

 
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Posted by Tony Ortega on July 5, 2015 at 07:00

E-mail your tips and story ideas to tonyo94@gmail.com or follow us on Twitter. We post behind-the-scenes updates at our Facebook author page. Here at the Bunker we try to have a post up every morning at 7 AM Eastern (Noon GMT), and on some days we post an afternoon story at around 2 PM. After every new story we send out an alert to our e-mail list and our FB page.

Learn about Scientology with our numerous series with experts…

BLOGGING DIANETICS: We read Scientology’s founding text cover to cover with the help of LA 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

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
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

 
10:13 am

Good morning, campers. We hope you had a swell Independence Day in the former colonies. Or just a nice July 4 elsewhere.

While we wait for things to heat up in Bogotá, we’ll go over a few numbers.

First, it’s not really going to heat up in Bogotá today. The city is four degrees north of the equator, so it’s summer there, but it’s only reaching about 68 Fahrenheit today, or 20 Celsius, and rain is on the menu.

And here are some numbers to chew on. According to El Tiempo, a major newspaper in Bogotá, the renovation of the Ideal Org building cost about 5 million US, and will serve the country’s 40,000 Scientologists — a figure they got from a local church representative.

As if. Well, let’s apply the usual modifier. In England, Scientology claims it has about 120,000 members, but the most recent Census said the number was just over 2,000. So using the same Scientology math, we’d expect there to be only about 600 Scientologists in Colombia, and even that sounds rather optimistic. So if there’s a crowd of about 2,000 today, as there tend to be at these events, we have a feeling there’s been some busy busses from Venezuela, as well as some Americans who have flown down.
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11:15 am

Our man is a few hours early, but he’s giving us a good look at the typical Scientology silliness — plant tech and other barriers to keep the hoi polloi away from the stage.

Bogota2
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11:17 am

Our correspondent: “Not too wet. But Bogotá’s weather is unpredictable. Two blocks are closed to traffic, and they planted some logistics people close. I can see some Sea Orgs and people with suits walking around.”
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11:21 am

Here’s the invite that went out earlier…

BogotaInvite
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11:26 am

Hey, girl. Scientologist Eduardo Galan penned this poem on his way to Bogotá…

Eduardo_Galan

Being a poet airport
It is to write off the stewardess
It is to inspire among suitcases
And write in the clouds
Is no fear of turbulence understand many lives
Is an unknown
They are children crying
surprised
dilute a sunset in words
write on a napkin
It is to hate the food booth
have everything and lose it in days
Not finishing a film
And mourn with a song
It is surprising and again music
It is back and back at the same time
It is to love many kilometers per hour
cheap food
It is wrong suitcase
Understand that the rear seat
He’s an idiot
And seeing the person in your life …
And then out of the bathroom to see her husband
It is created in the midst of heaven and earth
And see the sea
watch the sea
And see the sea
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11:43 am

Our man: “I’m right now at Subway shop nearby, where they’re preparing a huge shipment of sandwiches ‘for a big event later,’ according to the lady.

“The other customers in the shop are Scientologists. Peruvian, judging by their accents. They’re wearing blazers with a shield that has a globe. IAS.

“They couldn’t pick a better day to have this event. This is a business neighborhood, surrounded by office buildings and not crowded on Sundays. The only people around are the Scientology workers, some policemen, and civil defense officers.”
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11:58 am

Our man: “Sound rehearsal is going on now.

“Judging by the number of chairs, they’re expecting between 300 to 500 people.”
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12:05 pm

“A neighbor is complaining to a policeman. She told me the event will last until 7 pm.”

A note on time: Bogotá is one hour behind Eastern time. So it’s noon in New York City now, but only 11 am in Bogotá.
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12:13 pm

“1 pm to 7 pm is quite long. And the residents are complaining a lot, and so is the manager of a Carulla nearby — Carulla is the biggest supermarket chain in Colombia.

“The road closing was not revealed to the community and they’re complaining to the cops and the media.”
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12:18 pm

A local member shows off her lifetime IAS card made especially for the new Bogotá Ideal Org…

IASCard
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12:26 pm

According to the IAS cardholder, this is the view from the Ideal Org’s top floor, taken some time ago.

That’s some major thoroughfare they’ve blocked off today.

BogotaTop
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12:29 pm

“People are starting to arrive.”

Bogota3
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12:51 pm

Courtesy of the Ideal Org of Chile, which is attending today…

Bogota4

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12:57 pm

“Pre-show entertainment.”

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1:09 pm

Our correspondent just dodged a dicey situation. Give him a few minutes to get back into position.
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1:29 pm

“The crowd is getting bigger and people are seating in the stage area. There are an unusual number of suits and dresses for the day, and you can hear many English speakers and non-Colombian Spanish accents. Many people are taking selfies outside the stage area because they are not supposed to take them inside.”

Bogota8
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1:42 pm

“Media junkie” and journalism researcher Álvaro E. Duque posted this image with the question, “#Scientology is inaugurating its headquarters in Bogota at the intersection of the 100 with 19. Where is the secular state? #JustAsking”

Bogota9
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1:45 pm

Our correspondent had to reposition himself out of the prying vision of some Scientology guards. He can actually hear what’s being said on stage better now, but he’ll have to move again to get images when Miscavige makes his appearance.
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1:52 pm

Viewing from backstage: “Dancers are getting ready and are receiving last-minute instructions. Expect, as usual, a performance of typical Colombian dances and music. Lots of cumbia.”

Bogota10
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2:02 pm

Our correspondent asks, “Are Scientologists prompt?” We have no idea. But he’s got a good new position.

Bogota11
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2:09 pm

“As I told you earlier, no more than 600 people. Saying 1,000 would be too optimistic.”
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2:14 pm

“People are getting impatient and the heat is not helping…And it’s showtime! Clapping and clapping, and a band has arrived.”

Bogota12

Bogota13
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2:19 pm

“As expected, cumbia — ‘Colombia tierra querida’”

Bogota14

“And the host.”

Bogota15
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2:22 pm

“The host greets visitors from Venezuela, Costa Rica, Peru, Chile, Brazil, Ecuador, and the United States. He refers to the ‘incarnation of LRH politics.’ And says, ‘Scientology has arrived to Colombia!’ to the cheering of the crowd. He now introduces the first speaker: a woman politician and consultant for Bogotá’s Secretary of Equality, Sandra Rincón. She seems to be speaking on behalf of Bogotá’s mayoral office.”
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2:23 pm

Rincón: “We can work together to build a better future for our beloved Colombia. You are devoted to build the best city.”
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2:24 pm

Rincón: “This is a beacon of peace in an ocean of confusion. You have arrived to our city in the best possible timing.”
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2:24 pm

Rincón: “The more organizations like yours coming to Bogotá, the better for the city.”
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2:31 pm

“And now, a policeman from the Narcotics Division. I bet you’ll hear a lot about Narconon. This is Lt. Col. Carlos Peña…

“Peña: ‘This is the beginning of a new era for Colombia and Colombians. Drugs are the biggest enemy of our nation,’ and now he’s quoting Meyers and Poehler. Really?? ‘Education is the biggest weapon in the battle against this danger.’ Talking about the Truth About Drugs campaign, huge cheering. ‘Armed with the truth, they choose not to take drugs.’

“‘I recommend its use and application. The work of Scientology opens the eyes of people about the danger of drugs. And with every action, WE SAVE ANOTHER LIFE!’

“Now they’re talking about a ship docked in Cartagena, the Freewinds. He talks about LRH, lots of expected praise. ‘He gave mankind all necessary tools for a better life.’

Bogota16
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2:34 pm

Our correspondent assures us, David Miscavige has NOT made an appearance yet.
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2:36 pm

Peña: “We need Ideal Orgs all over Colombia.”

Our correspondent is now shifting position. A new person has come to the podium, he is John Alexander Vega, a rescue specialist.
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2:39 pm

Our correspondent says all of the speakers are relative unknowns so far. “Expect them to get lots of praise at Scientology’s website.”
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2:45 pm

Our correspondent had to dodge some interference. He says another policeman offered some words.
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2:48 pm

Yet another military/police figure addressing the crowd: Armstrong Polanía Ducuara
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2:53 pm

Our correspondent has run into more interference. He’s doing his best to use deflect tech and shatter suppression.
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2:54 pm

Our correspondent has been asked about Tony Ortega.
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2:54 pm

David Miscavige is now on stage.
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2:58 pm

Our correspondent is being harassed, but he’s taken up position farther away. Miscavige on stage…

Bogota17
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3:01 pm

“Miscavige is spouting cliches praising Bogotá and Colombia.”
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3:06 pm

“A dude with sunglasses and a guy from LA (Humberto Fontana) are looking at me. I’m moving again.”
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3:10 pm

“Miscavige is now praising Colombian Scientologists.”
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3:14 pm

“Miscavige drops some famous Colombian names: María Lara, Andrés López, Ruddy Rodríguez”
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3:18 pm

Miscavige has finished.
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3:24 pm

“Ricardo Prado and Sandra Poveda are mentioned too.”

The original host is back on stage, and it’s time for the countdown for the balloons and ribbon…

Bogota18

Bogota19
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3:25 pm

“Said a homeless person nearby, ‘A drink and the party is over.’ After the ribbon comes down, the crowd moves silently into the building. Show over.”
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3:28 pm

Unless they’re keeping Tom Cruise inside the building for the whales to meet, he didn’t take part in the ceremony.

Our correspondent was amazingly brave, and although his transmitting is done, we’re going to check that he gets home all right.

Our thanks to him and his courage.
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3:33 pm

Tom Cruise was in Nashville last night…

CruiseNashville

Which doesn’t mean anything as far as Scientology goes. Cruise hasn’t been at an Ideal Org opening since 2004, and you wouldn’t expect him in Colombia. If you missed our earlier tweet, we pointed out that the Star magazine story claiming that Cruise is leaving the organization offers up almost no proof whatsoever, and the only hard fact it thinks it knows — that Cruise skipped the last Scientology anniversary event (we assume they mean IAS gala) — is just dead wrong, as we showed last October.
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