Wednesday, September 17, 2008


I did not post on it at the time, but during the Media Luna's coup attempt a very eerie meme seemed to be floating around the English language press. I do not know if its significance was understood at the editorial desks, but our collective fascist ghosts were certainly haunting. So while actual fascist thugs were beating and murdering leftist and indigenous opponents, the British Guardian and BBC published stories on Bolivia's Nazis.

On September 9th, BBC published "Nazi-era photos surface in Bolivia"(link fixed) about the life of Hans Ertl, the 1936 Berlin Olympics photographer and former lover of Leni Riefenstahl. Like many Nazis, Ertl moved to South America after the war, ending up in Bolivia where he spent the remainder of his life. I recommend the read. The photo above is Ertl and his family in Bolivia 1953.

Then on Sept. 10th, the Guardian published an account by Bolivian journalist Gustavo Sanchez of bringing Klaus Barbie to justice, "In pursuit of Bolivia's secret Nazi". Another good read. As Sanchez recounts, Barbie led a politically active life in Bolivia, hanging with drug traffickers and arms smugglers, as well as playing a prominent role in the bloody 1980 "Cocaine Coup".

The connections between Bolivia's contemporary fascists and the Nazi past are not always limited to their mutual pretensions to racial supremacy. Do not forget that Branco Marinkovic is the son of a 1950s Croatian immigrant (hint, hint). If it is not already obvious, political struggle in Bolivia is about a lot more, and more significant, than you will usually read about.


RickB said...

Bingo! I noticed those too and I would suggest that linking the old Nazis to current fascists was studiously avoided by the media. I did find these old articles Neonazis in Bolivia de Evo which apparently was removed from the original site for some reason, it does give the Fascists a lot of space to tell their tale but it's interesting in parts. And
Gómez: The Reappearance of the Nazis in Bolivia

There was also the recent infamous Helen Mirren interview where (among other things ie the date rape comment) she said she stopped doing coke after Barbie was arrested (after decades, ahem) in Bolivia. Zeitgeist-y stuff.

Bina said...

It's things like this that make me glad to be a wee bit of a prude, or at least to never have touched cocaine. Closest I ever got to it was a shot of novocaine at the dentist's, the one and only time I had cavities to fill...or the last Coke I ever drank, before I found out what THEY were up to in Colombia. Which is to say, Nazi-style massacres of trade unionists. Haha, just like in Bolivia. Hahahahahaha.