Ecuador: Nazi Groups a Disturbing Presence in Country
By Luis Ángel Saavedra
On May 17, Ecuadoran TV channels reported the death of Abraham Chimborazo Macas, who had been stabbed during an alleged confrontation between rival gangs. The footage showed a group of young people whose faces were covered and their heads shaved swearing to avenge the death of their "comrade."
The following day, a video was broadcast, which had been sent to the TV channels anonymously, on which another skinhead took responsibility for Chimborazo's death. "I am Álvaro Paredes. I am an anti-fascist skinhead, a member of the Brigada Antifascista Quito," began the confession. After describing the events, the youth ended by saying, "What happened is a consequence of the judicial system's ineffectiveness."
The same day, in the place where Chimborazo was killed, a large group of skinheads protested against the institute where Paredes studied. The institute is run by Chilean professors whom the skinheads accused of "promoting drug addiction and homosexuality," besides protecting Paredes. After shouting slogans against foreigners living in the country, especially Cubans and Jews, the protesters ended the demonstration with the words of Abraham Chimborazo's brother, who, giving the typical Nazi salute, said, "For each of us who falls, 100 of them will fall....My brother is a warrior, my brother lives as does our beloved leader Adolf Hitler."
A secret war
Ecuadoran society and the media, through their reporting on Chimborazo's death, are beginning to learn about a wave of invisible violence that was shaking at least eight Ecuadoran cities, manifested in various forms of aggression toward urban-youth cultures.
"These violent groups are neofascist groups that attack us because they consider us their enemies; they do so under the ideological protection of strange slogans about our way of life and sheltered by the state's inability to investigate and punish," said Felipe Ogaz, coordinator of the Colectivo Político Cultural Diabluma, which includes various urban cultures that have adopted a leftist perspective.
The neo-Nazi-skinhead activity is believed to have begun more than ten years ago, with a process of social cleansing targeting sex workers, homosexuals, street children, and homeless people. In 1997-1998, a significant number of transvestites were murdered during the struggle to decriminalize homosexuality led by the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) communities.
Meanwhile, through a constant and progressive process, the urban cultures were politicized, and this prompted them to denounce the actions of the state, which they accused of criminalizing their cultural, political, and sexual identities. They give the example of the Policía Nacional (PN), which persecutes, harasses, and violates the human rights of the urban cultures through illegal arrests, physical and psychological torture, and, most commonly, by raiding, interrupting, and closing down events aimed at promoting cultural identities, such as rock concerts.
At the same time, these cultures began denouncing the educational institutions where students are threatened with expulsion and are frequently morally humiliated by having their style of dress ridiculed and even in some cases by physical aggression such as forced haircuts.
"It's common to punish young people who wear the distinctive garb of their culture or who defend life styles that, while constitutionally guaranteed in Ecuador, are not accepted by school authorities. For example, high school youth are pressured to keep their hair short; if they don't, "inspectors" are in charge of crudely cutting their hair, thus forcing the students to find a barber and have their hair cut in military style," said Ogaz.
For members of Diabluma, exposing official instances of repression that conform to the implementation of an urban model based on the dominant class's need to build "clean cities," that is, cities in which problems caused by the unjust distribution of wealth are not seen, was what made them objects of the aggression and harassment of armed neofascist and neo-Nazi organizations that promote social cleansing as a solution to problems caused by poverty. …