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Catholic World News News Feature

Latin American Cults Watched Following California Suicides April 07, 1997

QUITO, Ecuador (CWN) - Latin American nations have taken initiatives to control and even ban some cults under Gnostic or New Age influence in order to prevent a massive suicide similar to the "Heaven's Gate" suicide cult that occurred recently in California.

In Quito, Ecuador, authorities have banned any proselytizing by the "Gnostic Christian Universal Movement of Samael Aun Weor," due to the similar beliefs regarding the "messianic signals" of the Hale-Bopp comet. According to local police, the decision to forbid the sect's actions in Ecuador has been taken in order to "prevent any dangerous reaction such as the one that occurred in the United States."

Even though the Heaven's Gate sect has no official representation in Ecuador, some of its members have organized an international summit that was going to be held in the country. Since Ecuador is on the Equator, the country is seen as an "energy pole" by many New Age cults. The Ecuadorian government has forbidden the Heaven's Gate summit.

At the same time, in Peru, the government asked the National Police to investigate the "Alpha and Omega" cult, a Gnostic movement which promotes a messianic expectation on the arrival of a UFO that will bring universal peace and love. The sect says that Jesus was a forerunner of the interplanetary aliens they are expecting.

Similar investigation of other New Age sects are underway in Mexico, Chile, and Colombia.