UPF Meets President of Paraguay; Ex-President of Uruguay at Seminar

The AP reports from Paraguay:

…A presidential press office source, who spoke on condition of not being named, confirmed [Neil] Bush met President Nicanor Duarte on Thursday along with a delegation from the Universal Peace Federation, a group associated with Moon.

…Duarte himself had no statement on the meeting.

Bush took part in a UPF seminar entitled “Toward a New Paradigm of Leadership and Government in Times of World Crisis”, reportedly alongside former Uruguay president Jose Maria Sanguinetti. The article concludes:

Groups allied with Moon publish a newspaper, operate businesses and have large land holdings in Paraguay, South America’s second-poorest country.

Could the AP be making a dig here against its rival, the Moon-owned UPI? The AP’s source, ABC Color, gives a bit more background:

El grupo Moon posee grandes extensiones de tierra en el norte de Paraguay, en la frontera con Brasil, y a mediados del año pasado la Corte Suprema de Justicia anuló la expropiación aprobada por el Congreso paraguayo de más de 52.000 de dos empresas de esa comunidad religiosa.

La decisión fue criticada duramente por el gobernante, ya que la expropiación debía beneficiar a los pobladores de Puerto Casado, una apartada localidad del norte del país, cuyo casco urbano está en los dominios del grupo religioso.

Neil Bush se trasladó luego a la sede del Senado para participar de un seminario internacional organizado por la Federación y que tiene como tema “Paradigmas de nuevos liderazgos en América Latina y el Caribe en un tiempo de crisis a nivel mundial”, según los organizadores.

Neil Bush’s links to Moon have of course been known for a long time, and in 2005 Bush accompanied Moon on a tour of Taiwan and the Philippines to promote the UPF.

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More on UPF in Nepal

The UPI reports on the current strikes and unrest in Nepal:

…Amid the increase of demonstrations which often turn violent, two major business groups from Nepal — Pepsi Co. and the Chaudhary Group — have joined hands with two key nonprofit NGOs — Project Healing Touch of India and the Universal Peace Federation of Nepal — to offer a solution to a people in despair.

This is not business as usual. A memorandum of understanding was signed within less than 24 hours from the exchange of business cards. The four-party alliance will create a nationwide movement to enable underprivileged sections of the population throughout Nepal to achieve economic self-sufficiency through a combination of micro-financing and in-kind product loans, coupled with basic business training and a grassroots support system.

The head of Nepal’s Pepsi bottler Varun Beverages said that he “saw the potential to back sporting events and sponsor recreational activities for the youth, and suggested targeting projects in all 75 districts of Nepal.” The report adds:

For its part, the Universal Peace Federation brings just that network to the table…

Inevitably, the UPI report also dwells on how impressed Nepal’s leadership is with Rev Moon; I blogged on this here.

Pacific Leaders Praise Moon at World Peace Summit

The UPF website reports on the recent “Summit for World Peace” in Seoul, which apparently brought together 220 “world leaders” and was timed to coincide with the birthdays of both Rev and Mrs Moon. Two presidents from the Pacific were particularly keen to praise Moon:

“I have been waiting for a long time to come to this International Leadership conference,” said the Prime Minister of Samoa, Hon. Tuilaepa Malielegaoi. “The UPF has done important work in Samoa, and I was interested to learn more of the peace principles taught by Rev. Moon.”

…The Prime Minister of Vanuatu, H.E. Ham Lini, promised the ongoing cooperation of the Vanuatu with the Universal Peace Federation to ensure that world peace prospers in the Pacific Rim: “On behalf of my wife and I, and representing all the people of Vanuatu, I would like to express our gratitude for the sincere investment that the Rev. and Mrs. Moon and the UPF have made to secure world peace for so many years,” he said. “The vision that world peace will begin in the Pacific Rim region is one that resonates in my heart and that of all the Pacific Rim peoples.”

As I noted here, both countries have been involved with Moon for a while, and in 2004 a “Peace Council for Oceania” was founded in Samoa with former Vanuatu head of state George Sokomanu (an “Ambassador for Peace”) in charge.

Moon’s activities in Vanuatu have caused some controversy, and there has been political cost to Lini. This November 2005 report from the local Indepdendent newspaper has the background:

…Early last week, a group of so-called ‘Moon representatives’ was threatened and told to leave Erakor. One of them was slapped in the face. They were visiting the village to distribute ‘blessing lollies’ to children and families on Moon’s behalf.

…During [a] church leaders’ meeting, Thursday, Prime Minister Ham Lini was the only one speaking in support of Moon’s coming next month…The prime minister’s statement was described as a slap in the face for most church leaders who said they were disappointed.

PM Lini admitted having attended a Moon conference last year in Japan, where he was awarded a medal.

Lini was among 12 Vanuatu parliamentarians who went to overseas conferences jointly funded and organised by the Inter-Religious International Federation for World Peace (IIFWP) and volunteers from Japan. Vanuatu was among 12 other Oceania nations to attend such conferences last March, April and May.

…Moon was accused of fraud in the 1970’s, serving a sentence in the early 1980’s in the United States, according to reports from the internet circulating between Port Vila residents. He was also accused of bribing ni-Vanuatu leaders to join his IIFWP.

Moon had hoped for “an official ceremony including a guard of honour at the international airport and red mats or carpets to walk on”, but following a delay on a visa decision he decided to cancel the visit altogether. The following August, the chairman of the Pastors Unity Assembly, Father Henry Crowby, denounced Moon’s teachings as “anti-Christ”.

A 2001 report in Pacific Magazine examines Moon’s strategy for the region in more detail:

In a December sermon, quoted on his Internet Web site, Moon says of his sudden interest in the Pacific: “One nation has only 2,000 people, but I want to save it and help it become a member of the world community. America and Japan abandoned such nations, but I work with them. Someone has to pay attention, because the Pacific Ocean is in the position of the mother’s womb for the two continents and for the planet Earth. There are many resources there. Who will be the owner? Let’s march to the Pacific Ocean.”

…Salonen and Joe A. Tully, President of Hawaii-based Pacific Rim Integrated Development, distributor of the Moon-owned Washington Times, said in a recent interview that Moon is committed to supporting educational developments in the Pacific Islands. They say that he is responding to needs rather than promoting his own agenda.

Sierra Leone and Azeri Media Report on World Peace Summit

Reports of a UPF “World Peace Summit” underway in Seoul. The Sierra Leone Awareness Times reports:

Sierra Leone’s foremost International Elder Statesman, Alhaji Dr. Ahmad Tejan Kabbah, the former President has informed this medium that he will tonight Thursday February 7th 2008, leave Freetown on a whirlwind international trip that is scheduled to take him to a few places around the globe in the month of February.

…Following the overnight hosting of Kabbah by the Moroccan King in Morocco, the next day, President Kabbah will head to Dubai in the United Arab Emirates in transit to Seoul, South Korea where he is a Special Invited Guest at the World Peace Summit 2008 hosted by the Universal Peace Federation (UPF) from 9th to 13th February 2008. The UPF’s Interreligious & International Federation for World Peace, is an NGO in Special Consultative Status with the United Nations’ Economic and Social Council. The theme of the Summit is “Toward a New Paradigm of Leadership and Good Governance for Peace in the 21st Century” and the former President is expected to deliver a paper to the Summit.

News of the summit also appears in Azeri media; Trend reports:

The Azerbaijani Ombudswoman Elmira Suleymanova intends to call on the international organizations to concentrate their efforts on settling of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. She will make the call at the World Peace Summit to take place in Seoul from 9 to 13 February, the Ombudswoman’s administration reported on 2 February.

Suleymanova will inform the participants of the summit of the Armenian aggression, as a result of which over 20% of the Azerbaijani territory was occupied and over a million of Azerbaijanis became refugees and internally displaced persons.

The report – which doesn’t mention the UPF connection – claims that figures from 190 countries will be at the summit.

UPF and the Council of African Apostles

From Kenya’s Daily Nation:

Government and opposition MPs Wednesday attended inter-religious peace prayers at Uhuru Park, and intensified demands for justice in the mediation led by former UN secretary general Kofi Annan.

The prayers centred on the urgent need for reconciliation, repentance and forgiveness among communities.

The secretary-general of Universal Peace Federation, the Rev Mwalagho Kililo, conducted the prayers.

Other leaders drawn from the Council of African Apostles asked those in the mediation talks to accept that fresh presidential elections take place so that the country can return to normal.

The “Council of African Apostles” is a new neo-Pentecostal organisation chaired by Bishop Tudor Bismark, a Zimbabwean. Details about it are scarce, but it appears to have links with the “International Coalition of Apostles”, headed by the American “spiritual warfare” exponent C. Peter Wagner. Interestingly, the Council recently held a planning meeting in Zambia – probably this is a coincidence, but this is the same country in which the UPF-backed breakaway Catholic church was recently launched. Perhaps Wagner ought to have a word with the Pope…