Daily Notifications
Sign up for free emails to receive the feature story every morning in your inbox at


While the Scientology scandal swirls in Colombia, a key figure relaxes in Florida

[Col. Prado, still wearing his Freedom medal]

Tomorrow, Colombia’s Congress is holding hearings regarding the Scientology scandal that the media there has been feeding on. We told you last time that an upstart federal senator, Iván Cepeda, sparked the congressional investigation when he asked the country’s new defense minister to report back about Scientology’s infiltration of the country’s military and national police.

That new defense minister (the national government was only seated a couple of weeks ago) deferred, saying that it was the job of the country’s attorney general to look into the matter, and tomorrow the Congress will begin to hear some testimony about the scandal. Our man in Bogotá will be sending us dispatches about it.

One person who apparently won’t be giving testimony is a central figure in the brouhaha, Colonel Ricardo Prado, formerly of the national police and a Scientology “Freedom medal” winner.

For years, we watched as Scientology’s publications boasted about how Prado was Scientology’s main point man in Bogotá and Cartagena, spreading around Scientology materials to millions of Colombian citizens and military officers, and making astounding claims that it had resulted in huge improvements to the country.

To us, it just looked like another load of bull from Scientology leader David Miscavige, who is always selling a line of nonsense to his wealthy donors to keep them forking over large checks. But Miscavige apparently went a step too far when he had another national police figure, retired general Carlos Ramiro Mena, pin a medal on him at the end of this year’s “Maiden Voyage” celebrations in Barbados on June 23. That ceremony became the ignition point for the current scandal.


For a few weeks now, the Colombian press has been on a tear, looking through old copies of Scientology’s “Freedom” magazine and finding the photos and articles we were seeing for years, showing Prado and other officers cooperating with Scientology’s various front groups. (A new piece in Tiempo, Colombia’s biggest newspaper, has wonderful photos from 2015 of the Colombian Air Force shuttling Scientologists with “Youth for Human Rights” around the country in military helicopters. Oops.)

It’s easy to find those old articles and photos about Prado. Here’s a fun one from a 2015 issue of Freedom:


And Freedom’s caption: “Inspired and encouraged by Col. Ricardo Prado, Colombian police and military units passed out millions of copies of The Way to Happiness in every part of the nation, with visible and measurable reduction in crime and violence.”

In this case (as in so many others) Scientology’s obsession with documenting everything it does has backfired in a big way.

While things are swirling in Colombia, however, the real star of the show is watching comfortably from Florida. Our thanks to Rod Keller, who spotted the photo you see at the top of the story — it’s Col. Prado, taken at last Friday night’s “graduation” ceremony at the Fort Harrison Hotel, Scientology’s holiest place and the centerpiece of its spiritual mecca, the Flag Land Base in Clearwater, Florida. It was posted to Facebook by a Brazilian Scientologist, Lucia Winther, who dutifully repeated the Scientology mantra about Prado…

This is Colonel Prado, who won the Freedom medal for the fantastic results of the mass distribution work of the book The Way to Happiness by L. Ron Hubbard in Colombia! The rates of crime and violence plummeted and peace was signed between FARC and the government! Colombia is one of the best countries for tourism in the world!

So while Prado, now in civilian clothes, enjoys his fame among Scientologists as a Freedom medal winner, back in Colombia his colleagues are in some hot water for all the help they gave Scientology over the years.

Tiempo is especially interested in the Bogotá Ideal Org opening in 2015, when Miscavige got no less than four Colombian officials in uniform to get up on stage and talk pretty about Scientology.

(You might remember that the locals were excited by rumors that actor Tom Cruise might also make the grand opening, which turned out not to be the case. But just a month later, Cruise did visit the Ideal Org and we got photographic proof of it, at a time when some of the tabloids were trying to convince readers that Cruise had left Scientology. At the time, Cruise was in the country filming scenes for the move “Mena,” which was ultimately titled American Made.)

One of the officials at the ceremony, a Lt. Col. Anstrongh Polanía, talked about how great Scientology’s “human rights” campaigns were and how they had been spread to the entire Colombian Army in only a year…


Actual caption from Scientology’s own press release:

“I saw your human rights program reaching down to the very foundation of our institution: the Colombian soldier. A program that, in a clear and understandable way, teaches the importance of respecting human rights. Working together we reached 100 percent of the Colombian Army in just 12 months.” — Lt. Colonel Anstrongh Polanía, Chief of the Department of Joint Operational Law, Ministry of Defense

He was followed by another uniformed official, this time from the national police…


From Scientology’s press release:

“The Way to Happiness is a spectacular tool. I read it, and re-read it. It changed the way I think. It keeps me motivated constantly and I want that for others. L. Ron Hubbard’s wisdom has given me a route. And believe me, it is the checklist for life. Even when I am in the jungle, The Way to Happiness keeps me grounded.” — Lt. Colonel Edgar Rojas, Special Ops Commander for Rural Zones, Colombian National Police

In all, Miscavige managed to get four uniformed officials to endorse the new Ideal Org that day. And beginning tomorrow, the Colombian Congress is going to be getting some testimony about it. We can hardly wait.





Please join us at the Underground Bunker’s Facebook discussion group for more frivolity.


Scientology disconnection, a reminder

Bernie Headley has not seen his daughter Stephanie in 5,212 days.
Katrina Reyes has not seen her mother Yelena in 1,815 days
Brian Sheen has not seen his grandson Leo in 358 days.
Geoff Levin has not seen his son Collin and daughter Savannah in 246 days.
Clarissa Adams has not seen her parents Walter and Irmin Huber in 1,421 days.
Carol Nyburg has not seen her daughter Nancy in 2,195 days.
Jamie Sorrentini Lugli has not seen her father Irving in 2,969 days.
Quailynn McDaniel has not seen her brother Sean in 2,315 days.
Dylan Gill has not seen his father Russell in 10,881 days.
Mirriam Francis has not seen her brother Ben in 2,549 days.
Claudio and Renata Lugli have not seen their son Flavio in 2,809 days.
Sara Goldberg has not seen her daughter Ashley in 1,849 days.
Lori Hodgson has not seen her son Jeremy and daughter Jessica in 1,561 days.
Marie Bilheimer has not seen her mother June in 1,087 days.
Joe Reaiche has not seen his daughter Alanna Masterson in 5,176 days
Derek Bloch has not seen his father Darren in 2,316 days.
Cindy Plahuta has not seen her daughter Kara in 2,636 days.
Roger Weller has not seen his daughter Alyssa in 7,492 days.
Claire Headley has not seen her mother Gen in 2,611 days.
Ramana Dienes-Browning has not seen her mother Jancis in 967 days.
Mike Rinder has not seen his son Benjamin and daughter Taryn in 5,269 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his daughter Spring in 1,375 days.
Skip Young has not seen his daughters Megan and Alexis in 1,778 days.
Mary Kahn has not seen her son Sammy in 1,649 days.
Lois Reisdorf has not seen her son Craig in 1,232 days.
Phil and Willie Jones have not seen their son Mike and daughter Emily in 1,737 days.
Mary Jane Sterne has not seen her daughter Samantha in 1,981 days.
Kate Bornstein has not seen her daughter Jessica in 13,090 days.


3D-UnbreakablePosted by Tony Ortega on August 20, 2018 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 can also be found at the book’s dedicated page.

The Best of the Underground Bunker, 1995-2017 Just starting out here? We’ve picked out the most important stories we’ve covered here at the Undergound Bunker (2012-2017), 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 | 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 non-Scientology stories: Robert Burnham Jr., the man who inscribed the universe | Notorious alt-right inspiration Kevin MacDonald and his theories about Jewish DNA | The selling of the “Phoenix Lights” | Astronomer Harlow Shapley‘s FBI file | Sex, spies, and local TV news


Share Button
Print Friendly, PDF & Email