SUPPORT THE UNDERGROUND BUNKER
You can either make a one-time donation to the site via Paypal...

...or you can subscribe and get billed monthly:

FOLLOW ME ON
SUBSCRIBE TO OUR
E-MAIL LIST
To join our e-mail list & get daily updates on new stories, e-mail us at newstory@tonyortega.org.
RSS Feed
Click here to add The Underground Bunker to your RSS Reader

Why Colombia’s military was fertile territory for Scientology — and one general’s stunning role

[General (retired) Carlos Ramiro Mena, the man of the moment]

While things have been exploding over Scientology in Colombia, our man in Los Angeles, Jeffrey Augustine, has been looking into the relationship between David Miscavige’s organization and that South American country, looking for clues to how things got to their present mess. We think he’s turned up some fascinating stuff…

Over the last three weeks, the Colombian press has been diving into Scientology’s archives and finding volumes of evidence about Scientology’s activities there. The press has focused on comedian Andrés López, who has been promoting Scientology in Colombia since at least 2004. And in 2008, Scientology’s Guillermo Smythe, who works PR on the ship Freewinds, apparently first made contact with Colombian national police Colonel Ricardo Prado, who would go on to become such a promoter of Scientology front groups he would be awarded Scientology’s highest honor, the “Freedom Medal.”

But what we’re hearing less about than Scientology’s activities are the conditions in Colombia that made it such fertile ground for Scientology and its “human rights” front groups. In 2011, the Colombian government was rocked by revelations of extrajudicial killings conducted by the Army during the period 2002-2010. These killings occurred during the Army’s war against FARC guerillas, and they consisted of civilians being murdered by the Army and then falsely identified as guerillas in order to increase body counts. The victims were typically poor, unemployed, handicapped, or otherwise disadvantaged young men in remote villages. These people were killed and then dressed in guerilla combat fatigues and identified as terrorists. The nightmarish military euphemism “False Positives” was later used to minimize the atrocities. A recent study by Omar Rojas Bolaños and Fabian Leonardo Benavides argues that as many as 10,000 civilians were the victims of extrajudicial killings. The Colombian military has resisted efforts to bring the generals and political leaders responsible for the extrajudicial killings to justice. Several military officers who attempted to expose the killings were murdered. A 2015 article in the Los Angeles Times noted…

Ramiro Orjuela, a Bogota-based human rights attorney who helped research the HRW report, said the slow pace of prosecutions of army leadership is because of a “lack of political will. … This is a very precise demonstration of how the attorney general’s office remains fearful of the army leadership, who are extremely powerful. Potential witnesses in these cases have been threatened and even killed.”

With that kind of shocking human rights record in Colombia, Scientology may have seen an opportunity — similar to the way Scientology sees opportunities for public relations operations and recruitment at the scene of natural disasters in other parts of the world.

Sandra and Felipe Poveda are a brother and sister team and IAS Freedom Medal recipients. Sandra founded Youth for Human Rights in Colombia and her brother is its president. In a Scientology-produced video, the Povedas claim to have used Scientology’s Human Rights program to intervene in the serious matter of extrajudicial killings of civilians by the Colombian Army. As a result of their program, the Povedas say that civilian complaints against the Army dropped 96 percent.

In this series of screenshots from Scientology TV, viewers are asked to believe that Colombian soldiers were so morally deranged that they did not know that murdering civilians or wounded guerillas was wrong:

 




 
I see in this absurd Scientology narrative a cynical attempt to shift the blame for extrajudicial killings onto common soldiers who did not know right from wrong. For its part, Scientology got access to compliant soldiers for its public relations purposes. The military, meanwhile, had evidence that it was doing something about human rights in the wake of the extrajudicial killings.

Back in the US, Scientologists were led to believe that the campaign was making a difference across the entire nation of Colombia and were thereby induced to make further donations.

This same pattern has been used by Scientology with the Los Angeles Police Department and other police agencies in the US. These agencies distribute Scientology’s free anti-drug booklets and videos. In return, Scientology receives PR photos of smiling cops holding Scientology booklets. The police officers are generally photographed with local Scientologists officials. (We covered this in a previous story at the Bunker.) Just as we see photos of smiling LAPD senior command officers with Scientologists we see the same in Colombia.

 

 
For years, Scientology used Colombia as a prop until things unraveled after David Miscavige had retired General Carlos Ramiro Mena pin a medal on him at the end of this year’s “Maiden Voyage” celebration on June 23 in Barbados. Mena may have violated rules by being in uniform, and for taking the medal to Barbados. Scientology has argued that the decoration was already approved by the director of the National Police, General Jorge Nieto, and that it took place in Barbados because Miscavige couldn’t pick it up in Colombia.

 

 
But we’ve learned something new about Mena that puts his participation in a new light.

Mena was a powerful official in Colombia, and according to a listing of National Police personnel, he was the Director of Criminal Investigations for Interpol in Colombia. In other words, he had access to global Interpol databases while he was associated with the Church of Scientology.

 

 
General Mena personally signed extradition orders for Colombian citizens to be sent to the United States. Here, for example, is an extradition order he signed, handing over a suspect to the DEA…

 

 
Longtime Scientology watchers will no doubt understand why this grabbed our attention. Scientology has long been obsessed with Interpol. L. Ron Hubbard was consumed with paranoia about what Interpol was saying to law enforcement agencies around the world about him. His Guardian’s Office made Interpol a key target during its “Snow White Program” in the 1970s, and Scientology commissioned writer Omar Garrison to pen a 1976 book attacking the agency, The Secret World of Interpol.

It’s fascinating to think that Miscavige had influence with a Colombian general who had access to Interpol’s files — and enough influence that the general would risk his retirement to pin a medal on Miscavige.

Yesterday, we learned from the Bunker’s correspondent in Bogotá that Colombia’s senate is showing a united front to have Scientology seriously investigated. We can only hope they go down many different avenues, including the things Gen. Mena might have been doing for Miscavige that we don’t know about. Yet.

 
— Jeffrey Augustine

 
——————–

Chris Shelton with Kat McElhinney

Says Chris: “This week I have a new interview with a former Scientologist who really only had a brief but devastating experience many years ago and has been trying to deal with the consequences ever since, especially difficult since her mother is not just still a Scientologist but a staff member here in Denver at the ‘Ideal Org.’ Every story counts and Kat McElhinney’s story is all too typical for those who have even a brief encounter with destructive cults during their formative years.”

 

 
——————–

MEANWHILE, AT FACEBOOK…

 

 
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 5,215 days.
Katrina Reyes has not seen her mother Yelena in 1,818 days
Brian Sheen has not seen his grandson Leo in 361 days.
Geoff Levin has not seen his son Collin and daughter Savannah in 249 days.
Clarissa Adams has not seen her parents Walter and Irmin Huber in 1,424 days.
Carol Nyburg has not seen her daughter Nancy in 2,198 days.
Jamie Sorrentini Lugli has not seen her father Irving in 2,972 days.
Quailynn McDaniel has not seen her brother Sean in 2,318 days.
Dylan Gill has not seen his father Russell in 10,884 days.
Mirriam Francis has not seen her brother Ben in 2,552 days.
Claudio and Renata Lugli have not seen their son Flavio in 2,812 days.
Sara Goldberg has not seen her daughter Ashley in 1,852 days.
Lori Hodgson has not seen her son Jeremy and daughter Jessica in 1,564 days.
Marie Bilheimer has not seen her mother June in 1,090 days.
Joe Reaiche has not seen his daughter Alanna Masterson in 5,179 days
Derek Bloch has not seen his father Darren in 2,319 days.
Cindy Plahuta has not seen her daughter Kara in 2,639 days.
Roger Weller has not seen his daughter Alyssa in 7,495 days.
Claire Headley has not seen her mother Gen in 2,614 days.
Ramana Dienes-Browning has not seen her mother Jancis in 970 days.
Mike Rinder has not seen his son Benjamin and daughter Taryn in 5,272 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his daughter Spring in 1,378 days.
Skip Young has not seen his daughters Megan and Alexis in 1,781 days.
Mary Kahn has not seen her son Sammy in 1,652 days.
Lois Reisdorf has not seen her son Craig in 1,235 days.
Phil and Willie Jones have not seen their son Mike and daughter Emily in 1,740 days.
Mary Jane Sterne has not seen her daughter Samantha in 1,984 days.
Kate Bornstein has not seen her daughter Jessica in 13,093 days.

——————–

3D-UnbreakablePosted by Tony Ortega on August 23, 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