BUENOS AIRES (May. 30)
Neo-Nazis are terrorizing a Chilean city, and two members of the group are now on trial for the murder of a 19-year-old. Approximately 20 members of a local gang in Quillota, a city about 60 miles northwest of the capital city of Santiago, reportedly go out on nightly runs to “clean” the city of homosexuals, drug addicts and left-wing punk adolescents.
Though the gang is not targeting Jews — few are believed to live in Quillota — one local resident told JTA that Quillota’s streets are filled with graffiti including swastikas; the spider-like symbol of Patria y Libertad, or Fatherland and Freedom, an extreme right-wing group with close links to Nazis who came to Chile after World War II; the Southern Hammer, the name of a new neo-Nazi group in the area; the slogan “No to Communism, no to Capitalism, yes to Nazism”; and numbers representing the years that have passed since the birth of Hitler.
“Here in Quillota the neo-Nazis are from rich, upper-class families and some are descendants of German families,” one terrorized young adolescent in Quillota was quoted earlier this month as saying in the La Nacion daily newspaper. “They study by day in some of the most chic schools in the city. Then at night they go out in their luxurious vehicles to go after punks, homosexuals and anyone else who thinks differently than they do.”
Authorities in smaller neighboring towns of La Cruz and Quilpue have also noted the presence of neo-Nazi organizations and graffiti.
“What we need to do is investigate who are those behind these neo-Nazi activities, who are the leaders who recruit and give them incentives to — as they say their goal is — ‘clean up’ the city streets,” Quillota Mayor Luis Mella said. “We don’t want people that kill because of a mistaken ideal of what is good and what is bad.”
Chile has suffered from sporadic outbursts of neo-Nazism and anti-Semitism in recent few years, but the May 7 murder of a 19-year-old from Quillota was by far the worst incident in recent memory.
Angelo Ramirez was reportedly murdered by a group of neo-Nazis who beat, stabbed and kicked him for 10 minutes, carved a swastika in his cheek, then left him to bleed to death on the street.
The prosecution said Ramirez died from 16 stab wounds and 10 hammer blows. A 19-year-old college student majoring in English and a 16-year-old high school student are in custody and awaiting trial for the killing. The two, who face 10 years to life imprisonment, are from wealthy families in Quillota.
Also this year, Colonia Dignidad, an enclave of Nazis and neo-Nazis in southern Chile, made the news when the enclave’s leader, Paul Schaefer, was captured in Argentina after seven years on the run from Chilean authorities on a variety of charges. Investigations into human rights abuses during the dictatorship of Gen. Augusto Pinochet from 1973-89 also have opened up a number of cases of anti-Semitism and participation of neo-Nazi elements in tortures and disappearances.
Many Nazi war criminals are thought to have moved to Chile after World War II. Walter Rauff, a Nazi technocrat who invented the mobile gas chamber, which killed thousands of Jews, was known to live in southern Chile.
He died about two decades ago. At his burial in a central Santiago cemetery, he was given a sendoff of “Heil Hitler” by dozens of mourners.