Saturday, October 15, 2005

Venezuelans Criticize Missionaries' Expulsion

"Members of a Venezuelan indigenous tribe on Saturday criticized President Hugo Chavez's order to expel a U.S. missionary group he accused of links to the CIA, saying the decision goes against the interests of their impoverished communities.

"Jose Kayupare of the Puinare tribe challenged Chavez's claims that the Sanford, Fla.-based New Tribes Mission constituted an 'imperialist infiltration' that was exploiting native communities.

"'For those of us who live in the jungle, this really is a decision that the majority of indigenous people in Amazonas don't support and that we are not going to accept under any circumstances,' Kayupare told reporters."

"He said the New Tribes Mission has helped Indian communities ravaged by malaria and other diseases in Venezuela, sometimes airlifting the sick to medical assistance, when the government and others had abandoned them."

"'Why don't they ask (the Indian communities) ... if they've really been abused?' asked Domingo Gonzalez, an indigenous Venezuelan working with the group.

"'The indigenous Venezuelans need to be heard, not to be spoken for,' Gonzalez said, accusing the government of being 'the ones who really harm and oppress them.'"

"Amazonas Governor Liborio Guarulla, acting on Chavez's decision, on Friday ordered New Tribe[s] missionaries in the area to leave." ...

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