Wednesday, 7 May 2014

The Colombian Nazi delusion

Have you heard the one about the Colombian Nazis? No? Well, somewhat worryingly, it's not actually a joke. In this land of incredulous contradictions, there exists a rather confused bunch of adherents to the Adolf Hitler branch of fascism.

Even Peru has got in on the Nazi act.
Latinos go Nazi. (Picture from

Perhaps they were missing the day when Nazi eugenics policy was explained in history class – that's if they went to school at all of course. For needless to say that if Hitler and his cronies were around today, Latinos wouldn't exactly be their idea of people worth supporting. In a Nazi dominated world, not just having the movement's support would be the least of their worries though, you'd imagine.

Yet racism is alive and well in these parts. I know a number of, lets say 'well-coloured' locals, who would move if a black person sat beside them on a bus or wherever. The thing is, in some parts of the world these same well-coloured folk could be prejudiced against just because of their appearance. If only we could all see the bigger picture.*

But hey, in a country where anything with just the appearance of being to the left of the political spectrum is despised by many, the Nazis vehemently anti-Communist stance is more than agreeable. Reaching out to find common ground with people who might like to exterminate you; how commendable. (Let's just not mention the whole Aryan issue.) Not only that, but the hatred of capitalism – tied up with anti-Semitism – espoused by leading Nazis also fits in well with our Colombian fascists. A not too neutral syncretism you might say.

However, herein lies another contradiction. You see many of these Colombian Nazis support the country's paramilitaries, or paracos as they're not very affectionately called. And where have these paracos looked for (and found) support in their bid to rid Colombia of the leftist threat? Why that bastion of capitalism the United States of America.
The swastika: A symbol of good or bad, or both?
Bargain swastikas.

Indeed, the 'doyen' of the Colombian paramilitary, the late Carlos Castaño, was enamoured of the U.S. and apparently had aspirations to live there. He once remarked: “I've always considered the U.S. as a nation that has worked as the police of the world, that keeps an eye out so nothing happens to it.”** Moreover, he received training from mercenaries in Israel; skills he brought back to Colombia with deadly results.

Yet some of the Nazis/paracos I've had the 'pleasure' of encountering, most recently in a downtown Bogotá tienda, one that has coincidently but innocently been named 'Nazi bar' (see Bogotá's simple pleasures II as to why that is), are not exactly following the Castaño line when it comes to the U.S. Well, they actually take the complete opposite view. 'Gringos go home' is more their approach. Oh aren't we so terribly confused?

Though in this land of contradictions and flaky reasoning, it's par for the course. 'Ein Volk, ein Reich, ein Führer'; we're just not sure which 'one' that is.

*The 'extranjero-files' – that is, not a xenophobe looks at the racism topic in more detail.

**Quote taken from: Dudley, Steven. Walking Ghosts: Murder and Guerilla Politics in Colombia. New York, Routledge, 2006, p. 201.