Culture

Rev. Sun Myung Moon's South American Utopia

A city without citizens

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Good read of the day: In Outside, Monte Reel travels to Puerto Leda, the late Sun Myung Moon's utopian colony in South America. As is often the case with applied utopias, the place isn't everything its founder envisioned:

insert Todd Rundgren joke here

In 2000, Moon paid an undisclosed amount for roughly 1.5 million acres of land fronting the Paraguay River. Most of that property was in a town called Puerto Casado, about 100 miles downriver from Puerto Leda. Moon's subsidiaries wanted the land to open commercial enterprises ranging from logging to fish farming. But a group of Puerto Casado residents launched a bitter legal battle to nullify the deal. While that controversy continued to divide Paraguayans, the Puerto Leda project proceeded under the radar. Moon turned the land over to 14 Japanese men—"national messiahs,"according to church documents, who were instructed to build an "ideal city" where people could live in harmony with nature, as God intended it. Moon declared that the territory represented "the least developed place on earth, and, hence, closest to original creation."…

Now, as I glance at the scene, I see huge dormitory buildings, guesthouses, and sheds for mechanical repairs. I count seven freshwater fish farms, fully stocked with pacu, a toothy species that looks like an overgrown piranha. I see no other people.

"Normally, there are about 10 of us who live here," Mister Date tells me. "But this week six are away in Asunción. So there are just four now."

Read the whole thing here.