Headlines, Human Rights, Latin America & the Caribbean

MEXICO: Street Stalls, Web Visible Face of Neo-Nazism

Emilio Godoy

MEXICO CITY, Feb 5 2010 (IPS) - Street stalls in the centre of the Mexican capital openly display books and publications that are sympathetic to Adolf Hitler and Nazism, indicating that there is public demand for such items.

Along with the internet, the books – the most visible face of the neo-Nazi movement, which keeps to the shadows in Mexico – are its prime means of communication and dissemination.

The author of many of the publications is former Mexican journalist Salvador Borrego, who worked for the influential daily Excélsior during World War II. Borrego is Mexico’s most prolific anti-Semitic writer and a leading Holocaust denier in the country.

“My works show the other side of the coin, the viewpoint of the defeated,” Borrego said in an interview with IPS. “Both sides of the story must be presented, to let readers reach their own conclusions,” added the writer, who has 44 volumes to his name, many of them neo-Nazi and anti-Semitic propaganda.

The National Socialist Party of Mexico (PNSM), which is not legally registered and is only active on the internet, bases its thinking on 14 principles referring to racial supremacy and its ethical and economic foundations, written in a pompous, disjointed, fanatic tone.

“Today we can only talk about our commitment and about sympathisers who are dispersed in different political parties and spiritual groups – both pagan and Catholic,” a member of the PNSM told IPS, referring as well to the “efficiency” of the work of his fellow associates.

“Último Reducto” (last stronghold) is another white supremacy movement identified with the National Socialist or Nazi ideology, founded by a person who uses the pseudonym Agustín Torruco.

History of Nazi sympathies in Mexico

Links to the Nazis in this Latin American country date back to just a few years after Germany’s Nazi Party presented its 25-point National Socialist Programme in 1920.

In 1924, Arthur Dietrich arrived here as press attaché to the German embassy. He was related to Otto Dietrich, the Third Reich’s press chief and a confidant of Hitler.

Arthur Dietrich, the director of Nazi propaganda in Mexico, founded the Comunidad del Pueblo Alemán (Deutsche Volksgemeinschaft or Germany People’s Community) – which became the largest German organisation in Mexico, with branches all around the country – the Colegio Alemán (German school), the Organización para el Extranjero (Auslansdorganisation or Foreign Organisation), and the local National Socialist Party.

In the 1930s, some 6,500 Germans were living in Mexico, many of whom were sympathetic to Hitler’s ideas.

Gradually, Nazi propaganda publications began to appear, like “Defensa”, the “Periódico Alemán” newspaper and the magazine “Timón”, which started to come out in early 1940.

After the U.S. and British governments blocked Mexican oil exports to their allies and dependencies in retaliation for President Lázaro Cárdenas’ (1934-1940) nationalisation of Mexico’s oil, the Mexican government began to sell petroleum to Nazi Germany.

The Archivo General de la Nación (the national archives) contains a report, “El nazismo en México” (Nazism in Mexico), which was kept confidential for years. The document provides details of the Nazi regime’s campaign to promote National Socialism in Mexico.

In 1940, Cárdenas ordered Dietrich’s expulsion and shut down “Timón”, and in 1941 Mexico broke off ties with Nazi Germany.

That same year, the United States froze German and Italian assets and urged Latin American governments to do the same. In 1942 the Mexican authorities seized several dozen companies, mainly German, including a number of coffee plantations.

That planted the seed of the neo-Nazi and white supremacist movements, in this country of 107 million people where only about 15 percent of the population is “white”, while the rest is either indigenous or of mixed Spanish and native ancestry (with tiny black, Jewish and other minorities.)

Neo-Nazis today

According to a young white graphic designer who belongs to the PNSM, the group has 35,000 members throughout Mexico. “The candidate must respond to a questionnaire made up of 100 questions, and the acceptance letters are sent from Germany,” he told IPS.

Other neo-Nazi organisations in Mexico are the “Brigadas Fascistas de México” (Fascist Brigades of Mexico), “Unión Skinhead” (Skinhead Union), “Cuarto Reich” (Fourth Reich) and “Frente Templario” (Templar Front).

The PNSM reportedly has a presence in Mexico City and the states of Baja California, Jalisco, Nuevo León, Quintana Roo and Chiapas, while “Último Reducto” claims to have ties with organisations in some 20 countries, including Argentina, Chile, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Portugal, Spain, Ukraine, the United Kingdom and the United States.

“But we don’t have an ‘international’, like the Democrats and Communists,” the group’s leader, Torruco, told IPS.

Few incidents

Article four of the Federal Law on the Prevention and Eradication of Discrimination, in effect since 2003, stipulates that “xenophobia and anti-Semitism in any shape or form will be considered discrimination.”

The National Council for the Prevention of Discrimination (CONAPRED), a public institution, informed IPS that since January 2004, it has only received two complaints of possibly anti-Semitic activities, carried out by individuals, although it did not provide the results of the cases.

But it is generally understood that there is an undercount of racist incidents, because the large majority of such events go unreported.

Nor are neo-Nazi movements a focus of Mexican human rights groups.

Worldwide web

But the issue of neo-Nazism in Mexico does have a presence on the internet, as is easily verified by a quick search in Google. And it is in the blogosphere where the existence of white supremacist groups draws the most attention and criticism.

One illustration of this phenomenon is the collective blog in Spanish “La grilla sin partido”. A Jan. 22, 2009 entry titled “Mexican Neo-Nazism: in a gradual and dangerous manner” pokes fun at “dark-skinned ‘Aryans'” who see anyone that is different and that disagrees with them as inferior.

Another blogger says supporters of National Socialism in Mexico are a diverse bunch who link up through groups, web sites and social networking sites, identifying each other by means of codes or symbolic numbers in their pseudonyms like 88 or 14.

The number 88 is an abbreviation for Heil Hitler, since ‘H’ is the eighth letter of the alphabet, while 14 refers to “fourteen words”, a short-hand reference to a couple of slogans coined by David Lane, leader of the white separatist organisation The Order and founder of the 14 Word Press in the northwestern U.S. state of Idaho.

“Nazi groups non-existent”

But Borrego, who rejects the “pro-Nazi” label used to describe him on such blogs, says “there are no Nazi groups in Mexico. If three or four kids get together to talk about that period in time, it’s not a group, it’s a non-existent thing. There are just isolated people who like to study that era or exchange ideas.”

His first book, published in 1953 under the title “Derrota mundial” (Worldwide Defeat), became a best-seller.

In Excélsior, which is defunct, “I followed the news and events as covered by the international agencies, which presented the official version of the winners” of the war, said the author.

In his view, during WWII, “a group of pro-Allied advertisers emerged here, who didn’t want news of the war from the German side to be published. That’s when I realised there was a kind of conspiracy to make sure only one side of the story got out.”

At the 2008 edition of the Guadalajara International Book Fair, the largest Spanish publishing market in the world, Borrego’s scheduled appearance as a speaker was cancelled and all copies of Hitler’s Mein Kampf (My Struggle) were removed.

Torruco began to pick up neo-Nazi ideas after reading Mein Kampf at the age of 14, after which he joined the now-defunct ultra-Catholic conservative Mexican Democratic Party (PDM), founded in 1975, and made contact with members of the Unión Nacional Sinarquista (National Synarchist Union), a movement of the Roman Catholic extreme right that was founded in 1937.

But after the PDM fell apart in 1997 and the synarchist movement was on the wane, “along with other loyal comrades, we set out on other pathways directly related to creating a strictly National Socialist grouping,” said Torruco.

“National Socialism has a racial pillar but it is especially socialist, nationalist and of the workers. We fight the system of usury, and we defend the morals of our people of pagan and Christian roots,” he said.

Although he said that, unlike the PNSM, his movement is not seeking racial supremacy, he also stated that he would like to see indigenous peoples “improved racially, by means of good food, sports and education.”

The anonymous member of the PNSM who spoke to IPS said, meanwhile, that “members of the party tend to come over from Germany and Mexican activists travel there.”

Besides Borrego, who is now writing a book on social and political affairs in Mexico today, historical revisionists who deny the Holocaust include Joaquín Bochaca and Mauricio Carlavilla from Spain, Jim Keegstra of Canada, British historian David Irving, Argentine priest Julio Menvielle, Sweden’s Ditlieb Felderer, Robert Faurisson of France and Leon Degüelle of Belgium, who lived for a while in Mexico.

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