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The Christian Post – Last Friday, thousands of tribal people in Venezuela gathered for a rally to demonstrate support for a mission group after the nation’s president ordered that group to leave the country.

In Puerto Ayacucho , Venezuela , nearly 3,000 tribal people from ten tribes in southern Venezuela came together on Oct. 28 to sing hymns in their native languages and carry banners to display their support of New Tribes Mission (NTM), a group that has dedicated 59 years working with indigenous, unreached tribal groups in Venezuela .

“This is a show of support by the tribal people of the State of Amazonas ,” said Jose Cayupares, speaking for the Puinave tribe.

“We are stating that we do not share in the Oct. 12 decision of President Chavez. We are not against the government. We have voted for President Chavez, and we are thankful for all that he has done for the tribal people, but we are not in agreement with this decision because we believe that it is based on a lie.”

On Oct. 12, Venezuela President Hugo Chavez made an unexpected declaration ordering NTM to leave Venezuela accusing NTM of “imperialist infiltration,” exploiting the natives, living in luxury and not abiding to Venezuelan custom laws. In response, NTM Venezuela leaders have been trying to communicate with President Chavez to clarify misunderstandings and misinformation that exist regarding the work of NTM in Venezuela . New Tribe missionaries in Venezuela were working with the Macos, Piaroa, Yanomami, Pume and Puinave tribes among others at the time of the announcement.

In addition, Tribal group representatives at the rally as well as the NTM spokesperson are inviting the Venezuelan government to investigate the mission group, hoping to eliminate suspicions after government inspection.

Cayupares expressed that he is not against investigation of NTM’s work among the tribes in Venezuela , but instead would like a precise and fair investigation to find if there is anything true about the allegations against NTM.

“We want it to be a serious and responsible investigation,” said Cayupares. “If there is something found against them, we who live with them in the jungle want to know about it. We were amazed at all the lies and outrageous statements that have been said.”

Similarly, NTM is willing to undergo government investigation if it will help the government understand their purpose and works in Venezuela more.

“We don’t see how we could be posing a risk to national sovereignty, but if the government feels that way … please put us under greater scrutiny, greater controls. We would invite that,” said NTM spokesman Ron Van Peursem in a statement released by NTM. NTM is calling for prayers for the NTM Venezuela leaders and missionaries in addressing the difficult issue.