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Cablegate: American Missionaries Get Tangled in Political,

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.


E.O. 12958: N/A

1. (SBU) Summary. On June 26, 14 Americans were expelled
from Montepuez in Cabo Delgado province, where they were
setting up an evangelical mission, on the pretenses that
they were acting as spies for Renamo, the opposition party.
On July 14-16, Conoff visited Cabo Delgado to meet with
local officials to mediate and generally learn more about
the situation. The expulsion took place during a
presidential election year in a politically contested
region, and serves as a cautionary tale that some elements
in the government are still looking to paint Americans as
"pro-Renamo" for political purposes. The incident is also
one in a series of difficulties that American evangelicals
have encountered in the past year while establishing
missions in heavily Muslim Northern Mozambique. Given that
the American missionary presence will continue rising in
these areas, and that missionaries are often the only
visible American presence, the Embassy will have to monitor
and, when appropriate, mediate potential conflicts into the
future. End Summary.

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2. (U) The 14 Americans (plus one Japanese citizen)
expelled from Montepuez are members of the Boa Nova for
Africa missionary group, an evangelical group that has
operated in Southern Mozambique for many years. The group
members arrived in Montepuez in April 2004 with the
intention of setting up a mission and living in the
community for 10-15 years; it was Boa Nova's first excursion
into the North. In mid-June, the missionaries contacted the
Embassy, indicating that they were under suspicion of being
Renamo operatives. One week later, they were ordered to
evacuate by the town administrator, leaving their household
belongings behind. According to several people with whom I
spoke, the Governor of Cabo Delgado, Jose Pacheco, had
openly accused the Americans on a popular local radio
program of being Renamo spies. The group relocated to the
neighboring province of Nampula, where another American-
based missionary organization is currently hosting them.

3. (U) Conoff visited Montepuez on July 15 as part of a
pre-scheduled ACS trip to Cabo Delgado province, in order to
determine what happened, and how we might be able to
mediate. It seemed apparent that the cause of the problem
was political, not religious. Among cities in the North,
Montepuez is one of the most religiously mixed and relaxed;
Catholic churches, older evangelical missions, and a
surprisingly run-down Mosque co-exist in close proximity.
The town is at the same time perhaps the most politically
tense place in the country. Montepuez was always a site of
Renamo-Frelimo conflict during the civil war, but the
conflict escalated in the aftermath of the government's
handling of a protest carried out against the government by
Renamo in November 2000. After sporadic violence during the
event, a large number of protestors were taken to the
Montepuez prison, where approximately 80 prisoners died.
Subsequent investigations found that 96 inmates had been
locked into a 3m by 7m cell, and most of these died of

4. (SBU) The government has responded to the Montepuez
scandal by simultaneously endowing the city with generous
funding and by increasing its police and security force
activities. Each trend was easy to identify. Mayor Rafael
Correia and Town Administrator Alberto Cossa detailed for me
a large number of visible accomplishments, such as new
schools, roads, and cellular phone services, all of which
helped him win re-election last year. Each man separately
stated that the missionaries would be welcome back in the
area once they cleared their plan with Religious Affairs and
the governor's office in Pemba. Police Chief Cesar Maciamo
was not so conciliatory, however, and openly accused the
missionaries of being spies in my meeting with him. Maciamo
is a recent appointee of the Governor Pacheco. He did not
elaborate further on why he thought this.

5. (SBU) While in town, Conoff also met with 20-plus
Renamo supporters in Montepuez. Many claimed that they had
been imprisoned for political activities in the past few
years, and detailed a long list of alleged abuses by
Frelimo. They knew of the Boa Nova situation but claimed
they had no contact with them. Every party member in the
meeting was over 40 years old, and they lamented the fact
that no young people join their party because it is
impossible to get a job as a known Renamo supporter. It
seems clear that Frelimo is consolidating its grip in the
Montepuez area.

6. (U) Upon returning to Pemba, Conoff met with 13
American citizens, including two families from Boa Nova who
traveled from Nampula for the meeting. They are now writing
a work plan proposal to return to Montepuez only after the
December 2004 elections. Conoff later met with the Director
of Religious Affairs, Inacio Abdul, to get a sense of the
situation. Mr. Abdul admitted that the idea of a group of
six young American missionary families working for Renamo
was farfetched at best. He seemed favorable to the idea of
letting them enter Montepuez after the elections, with the
Governor's approval. It was not possible to meet with
Governor Pacheco because of the concurrent visit of
President Chissano to the province. Other meetings were
held with the Police, Migration, Customs, and other relevant

7. (U) The Boa Nova situation can be seen as a case in
which missionaries poked around a political hornet's nest
with a little too much curiosity. The last year has seen
multiple cases, however, of American missionaries getting
into trouble with local religious authorities for reasons
that are not directly political. In February 2004, two
American missionaries were kicked out of Niassa province on
the grounds that their objectives were unclear. A
missionary family from Zambezia was forced to relocate to
Nampula in May for the same reason, but expects to be back
soon. Another missionary organization in Sofala province,
Care for Life, was temporarily kicked out of the province in
May for alleged improprieties and was reinstated by the
governor one week later. Missionaries report that
authorities in the Northern provinces of Cabo Delgado,
Niassa, Tete, and Zambezia will not allow evangelical
Christian missionaries into the province unless they can
detail the economic and community development activities
that will take place alongside proselytizing activities.
While such provisos do not appear to be technically legal
based on our limited understanding of Mozambican law, they
should come as no surprise, considering that these provinces
are at least half Muslim, and the religious affairs
officials of all these provinces plus Nampula are Muslim.
Muslim organizations, for their part, are actively pouring
money into highly visible construction and education
projects. (My cab driver told me that a Saudi-based
organization paid for his cousin to study Islamic religious
thought in the Sudan.)

8. (U) Post expects more of these minor conflicts in the
future since the American population in Northern Mozambique
is largely comprised of missionaries - and the population is
growing rapidly. Cabo Delgado alone has increased in the
past 18 months from 8 to 31 registered Americans, all but
two of whom are missionaries. The American population in
Nampula province now counts around 60 missionaries, three
non-missionary private Americans, and 4 Peace Corps
Volunteers. (The Peace Corps is not present in Cabo
Delgado, Zambezia, or Niassa.) Most of these groups have
been careful to set up operations in areas that are not
exclusively Muslim, allowing themselves space to operate.
In the past year, however, two evangelical groups have
contacted us about their intentions to set up sizable
operations in Northern Mozambique, with a focus on entirely
Muslim areas of the Coast - often areas where no Americans
have ever lived. The potential for conflict is significant.

9. (U) In anticipation of further problems, the Consular
Section has scheduled further meetings with Religious
Affairs authorities in Maputo, and will be developing
informational literature to guide American citizens on the
procedures involved in registering a religious organization.
Beyond providing literature explaining the rules, it will be
difficult for Post to determine how much assistance we are
able to provide to American evangelical groups. The Boa
Nova case had clear political content focused on this year's
elections, charging that Americans were actively supporting
one side, and therefore required mediation. But future
conflicts may be purely religious in nature, and Post will
have to take situations case-by-case in order to determine
our stake in the situation.

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