Venezuela's Chavez Orders U.S. Missionary Group Working With Indigenous Tribes to Leave Country

The Associated Press

BARRANCO YOPAL, Venezuela - Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez ordered a U.S.-based Christian missionary group working with indigenous tribes to leave the country Wednesday, accusing the organization of "imperialist infiltration" and links to the CIA.

Chavez said missionaries of the New Tribes Mission, based in Sanford, Fla., were no longer welcome during a ceremony in a remote Indian village where he presented property titles to several indigenous groups.

"The New Tribes are leaving Venezuela. This is an irreversible decision that I have made," Chavez said. "We don't want the New Tribes here. Enough colonialism!"

He accused the missionaries of building luxurious camps next to poor Indian villages and circumventing Venezuelan customs authorities as they freely flew in and out on private planes.

The group is involved in "true imperialist infiltration, the CIA, they take away sensitive, strategic information," Chavez said, without elaborating. "And on top of that, exploiting the Indians."