Recent defectors from a controversial Chilean group, which has been called a “cult,” offered shocking accounts of their existence within the tightly controlled community, reports Knight Ridder Tribune.

Life within the collective commune known as Colonia Dignidad is harsh. Leaders expect hard labor and exercise total control, confided “cult” escapees. They fled to freedom with nothing, but the clothes on their backs.

However, Colonia Dignidad itself is rich.

The commune consists of 70 square miles, which includes forest and 37,000 acres under cultivation. Its assets have been valued at $5 billion.

A Nazi and former Baptist preacher created this veritable “cult” empire. Founder Paul Schaefer, fled Germany for Chile in 1961 amidst charges of sexually abusing orphan boys.

Schaefer apparently continued his predatory ways inside the Chilean “cult” kingdom he established. The leader supposedly disappeared in 1996, while under investigation for 27 child abuse charges. Schaeffer would now be in his eighties.

More than 70 criminal investigations remain pending against Colonia Dignidad.

However, it seems authorities are afraid to seriously pursue and/or confront the “cult.”

The community has its own laws and security forces. It was rumored to have sinister connections to the regime of former Chilean dictator Pinochet.

A recent refugee from the group said, “There are more people who still want to get out.” But it is doubtful anything will be done to rescue them.

An American tourist disappeared, while hiking near Colonia Dignidad in 1985. He is believed dead, reportedly “executed” as a “Jewish spy,” by members of the group.

Colonia Dignidad appears to be a stark example of what can happen when a “cult” becomes so powerful it can seemingly make its own law, with little if any meaningful accountability to the government.


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