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Judi Lynn

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04 Nov, 2012 | Laetitia Grevers

History & Politics

After WWII, the infamous Nazi Klaus Barbie found sanctuary in Bolivia, where he influenced national politics, helped overthrow a democratic government, and profited from the drug trade

Again, the topic of the Nazis’, says Nicolas Bauer, the president of Club Aleman, in an impatient voice. He lights another cigarette. ‘Well, what else could I have expected from someone who wants to write about German immigrants?’ For Bauer, it is difficult to say which of the Germans was not a Nazi before the end of World War II. Many Germans who immigrated before 1945 came to spread the Nazi way of life in Bolivia discreetly – several also came after 1945. In particular, many German teachers immigrated during the 1930s and 1940s and spread the National Socialist ideology. Ironically, many German Jews also immigrated to Bolivia during and after the war.

After the war, several ex-Nazis escaped to South America and Bolivia via ‘ratlines’, the notorious escape routes for Axis war criminals that were organized by members of the Catholic Church. US intelligence agencies also assisted, using the fugitives as assets during the Cold War. Among the most notorious was Klaus Barbie, the former chief of the Gestapo in Lyon. Barbie, the ‘Butcher of Lyon’, tortured French Resistance leader Jean Moulin to death during the war, and was the man responsible for the deportation of 44 Jewish orphans to Auschwitz and their subsequent deaths. ‘I came to kill’ was the first thing he said upon reaching France. In Bolivia, Barbie became a tireless hustler and eccentric, wheeling and dealing with the German business community, politicians, and arms and drug traffickers. He held court in the Club La Paz near Plaza San Francisco, where former Nazis would meet with him to discuss old times.

During his stay in Bolivia, Barbie (who went by the name of Altmann) worked for the Department of the Interior as a lieutenant colonel and as an instructor for the Bolivian security forces, teaching them the finer points of torture and ‘disappearance’ of political dissidents. Together with Hans Stellfeld, another ex-Nazi officer, Barbie was instrumental in the ascendance of General Luis Garcia Meza Tejada, who took over the country as a dictator after a coup d’état in 1980. Called the ‘Cocaine Coup’, this takeover was financed through deals with wealthy cocaine producers in Santa Cruz, who gave kickbacks to Garcia Meza; Barbie was responsible for eliminating rival drug lords through his paramilitary group ‘the Fiancés of Death’.

In 1983, after the restoration of the civilian government in Bolivia, Barbie was finally arrested and extradited to France. He was condemned to life in jail and died there in 1991. His surviving family lives in Germany still. His Nazi comrades do not. They are still at home in Bolivian society. And they do not want to hear about the past.


Bolivia's 'Cocaine Coup' dictator Luis Garcia Meza dies at 88

Bolivia's 'Cocaine Coup' dictator Luis Garcia Meza dies at 88

Luis Garcia Meza's regime was characterized by mass human rights violations, including genocide and extrajudicial killings. He rose to power in the early 1980s in what was largely described as the "Cocaine Coup."

. . .

Although Garcia Meza ruled for only 13 months after his "Cocaine Coup" — backed by drug traffickers — his regime was characterized by brutal repression and mass human rights violations, including genocide, extrajudicial killings and systematic use of torture.

. . .

The decision was hailed at the time by human rights groups, with Human Rights Watch (HRW) saying it marked a "milestone in the struggle for truth and justice in a hemisphere where powerful military actors are almost never brought to account for leading coups."

. . .

Last year, a tribunal in Rome convicted Garcia Meza and seven other former South American political and military leaders for the deaths of 23 Italians who were killed in the brutal crackdown launched under the former dictator.


Garcia Meza, left

Notice the difference in the treatment given by Associated Press:

Former military dictator of Bolivia dies
Updated 10:31 am, Sunday, April 29, 2018

LA PAZ, Bolivia (AP) — Former Bolivian military dictator Luis Garcia Meza, who was serving a 30-year prison sentence, died Sunday. He was 88.

Garcia Meza was admitted to a military hospital in La Paz after suffering a heart attack and could not be resuscitated. A medical report said he died "from possible respiratory failure." The Cossmil military hospital told The Associated Press that the death occurred at 3 a.m.

The former army general was imprisoned for crimes including murder and economic damage to the state during his 13 months in office from 1980-1981. He was convicted in absentia and extradited to Bolivia from Brazil in March 1995, but he completed much of his sentence at the hospital where he died.

. . .

Garcia Meza's former interior minister, Luis Arce Gomez, was also sentenced to 30 years in prison for political killings and extradited to Bolivia from the United States.


~ ~ ~ ~ ~

The second life of a Nazi war criminal: German documentary reveals how 'butcher of Lyon' Klaus Barbie became a fixer for drug lords when he went on the run in South America

Barbie became known as Klaus Altmann when he went on the run in 1945
He worked as a druglord fixer in Latin America and met with Pablo Escobar
General Luis García Meza was helped into power in Bolivia by drug money
Barbie tortured top French resistance operatives and is estimated to have been directly involved in the deaths of 14,000 people


PUBLISHED: 10:59 EDT, 28 July 2015 | UPDATED: 03:41 EDT, 29 July 2015

A notorious Nazi war criminal, dubbed the 'Butcher of Lyon' during World War II, worked as a druglord fixer while on the run in Latin America and helped bring a right-wing dictator into power.

Klaus Barbie, one of the Gestapo's most brutal criminals, reinvented himself with the help of western intelligence agencies after the fall of the Third Reich.

Using the money generated from the cocaine trade, Barbie helped put General Luis García Meza into power in Bolivia, a new documentary has revealed.

~ ~ ~

Murderer: Barbie was known as 'the butcher of Lyon' after he tortured top French resistance
operatives and is estimated to have been directly involved in the deaths of 14,000 people

. . .

Barbie, who adopted the name Klaus Altmann when he went on the run in 1945, was used by both the CIA and Germany's BND intelligence agency.


~ ~ ~

Wikipedia Luis Garcia Meza:

. . .

Prelude to dictatorship
García Meza graduated from the military academy in 1952, and served as its commander from 1963 to 1964. He then rose to division commander in the late 1970s.

He became leader of the right-wing faction of the military of Bolivia most disenchanted with the return to civilian rule. Many of the officers involved had been part of the Banzer dictatorship and disliked the investigation of economic and human right abuses by the new Bolivian Congress. Moreover, they tended to regard the decline in popularity of the Carter administration in the United States as an indicator that soon a Republican administration would replace it—one more amenable to the kind of pro-US, more hardline anti-communist dictatorship they wanted to reinstall in Bolivia. Many allegedly had ties to cocaine traffickers and made sure portions of the military acted as their enforcers/protectors in exchange for extensive bribes, which in turn were used to fund the upcoming coup. In this manner, the narcotraffickers were in essence purchasing for themselves the upcoming Bolivian government.

. . .

Coup d'état

This group pressured President Lidia Gueiler (his cousin) to install General García Meza as Commander of the Army. Within months, the Junta of Commanders headed by García Meza forced a violent coup d'état, sometimes referred to as the Cocaine Coup, of 17 July 1980, when several Bolivian intellectuals such as Marcelo Quiroga Santa Cruz were killed. When portions of the citizenry resisted, as they had done in the failed putsch of November 1979, it resulted in dozens of deaths. Many were tortured. Allegedly, the Argentine Army unit Batallón de Inteligencia 601 participated in the coup. Former Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agent Michael Levine had arrested the two most prominent leaders of the Roberto Suarez cartel (the primary cartel linked to the coup), and he claims that the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) intervened to drop charges against one of them and reduce bail for another, allowing both to escape their US trial in 1979; subsequently they returned to Bolivia and participated in the coup, along with the aid of Nazi war criminal Klaus Barbie. Levine has alleged CIA cooperation with the coup.[1] These allegations were the basis for the dismissal of the DEA from Bolivia by current President Evo Morales in 2007.

Dictatorship, 1980-81

Of rightwing ultra-conservative anti-communist persuasion, García Meza endeavored to bring a Pinochet-style dictatorship that was intended to last 20 years. He immediately outlawed all political parties, exiled opposition leaders, repressed trade unions and muzzled the press. He was backed by former SS officer and Nazi war criminal Klaus Barbie and Italian neofascist Stefano Delle Chiaie. Further collaboration came from other European neofascists, most notoriously Ernesto Milá Rodríguez (accused of the 1980 Paris synagogue bombing).[2] Among other foreign collaborators were professional torturers allegedly imported from the notoriously repressive Argentine dictatorship of General Jorge Videla.

The García Meza regime, while brief (its original form ended in 1981), became internationally known for its extreme brutality. The population was repressed in the same ways as under the Banzer dictatorship. In January 1981, the Council on Hemispheric Affairs named the García Meza regime, "Latin America's most errant violator of human rights after Guatemala and El Salvador."[3] Some 1,000 people are estimated to have been killed by the Bolivian Army and security forces in only 13 months.[citation needed] The administration's chief repressor was the Minister of Interior, Colonel Luis Arce, who cautioned that all Bolivians who opposed to the new order should "walk around with their written will under their arms."


The Origins of Violence? Slavery, Extractivism and War

by Caoimhghin Ó Croidheáin / April 27th, 2018

And the land, hitherto a common possession like the light of the sun and the breezes, the careful surveyor now marked out with long-drawn boundary lines. Not only were corn and needful foods demanded of the rich soil, but men bored into the bowels of the earth, and the wealth she had hidden and covered with Stygian darkness was dug up, an incentive to evil. And now noxious iron and gold more noxious still were produced: and these produced war – for wars are fought with both – and rattling weapons were hurled by bloodstained hands.

(Ovid, written around 8 AD which laments humanity’s loss of its original Golden condition [Ovid Metamorphoses, Book 1, The Iron Age]). 1

The privatisation of property, extractivism, the necessity for food-producing slaves and a warrior class to sustain and further extend the aims of the elites are all neatly summed up in this quote from Ovid. What is noticeable and notable is that over the millennia very little has changed in substance. We still have today wage slaves, standing armies, extractivism and industrialised agriculture that is oriented and controlled according to the aims and agendas of a warmongering elite. However, it seems that things were not always thus.

The coming of the Kurgan peoples across Europe from c. 4000 to 1000 BC is believed to have been a tumultuous and disastrous time for the peoples of Old Europe. The Old European culture is believed to have centred around a nature-based ideology that was gradually replaced by an anti-nature, patriarchal, warrior society. According to the archeologist and anthropologist, Marija Gimbutas:


Fujimori's genocide frames Peruvian politics

ICT Staff • August 7, 2002

Peru, the most populous Indian nation in South America, now under Quechua president Alejandro Toledo, just admitted that it forcefully sterilized over 200,000 Indian women between 1996 and 2000 during the regime of former President Alberto Fujimori.

This terrible news, in the form of an actual apology by the Peruvian Health Ministry, confirms occasional reports of the past few years. What is perhaps less expected is the huge number of women subjected to the practice. From all indications, the campaign was directed at Indian women from traditional villages in the Andean Mountains. It has caused a radical demographic drop.

Peru was seriously ransacked in the 1990s during the regime of Alberto Fujimori, a Japanese-Peruvian who ruled the country through military repression. During the Fujimori years, with the consistent backing of the U.S. government, Peruvians endured dozens of massacres and thousands of individual killings. A lot of it happened at the command of Fujimori’s secret police and military squads. Fujimori is now in exile in Japan.

The sterilizations of Indian women occurred under the worst of conditions. Illegal as a birth control method in this largely Catholic country of 26 million people, sterilization for contraceptive purposes was legalized by Fujimori’s government in 1995. With substantial assistance from the U.S. Agency for International Development (AID), teams of doctors and nurses scoured the highlands, targeting Quechua and Aymara communities. Officials threatened, bribed or misled women to submit to the operation. Health workers, trained by U.S. personnel, were under obligation to meet quotas. They “sometimes visited individual women several times as the hard sell for sterilization became steadily more aggressive,” according to an early report on the Peruvian sterilization controversy that appeared in Native Americas magazine (summer 2000).


Earlier article: Forced sterilization and impunity in Peru

Forced sterilization and impunity in Peru
MARIELLA SALA 10 February 2014

Between 1995-2000, 300,000 women in Peru, mostly poor indigenous peasants who did not speak Spanish, were forcibly sterilized by the Fujimori government. The Peruvian feminist movement has been trying to bring Fujimori and his officials to trial for this crime against humanity ever since. Last month the case was thrown out for a second time.

In 1995, then-President Alberto Fujimori met with Peruvian feminists at the UN Women’s Conference in Beijing and announced he would liberalize Peru’s strict laws on contraception by allowing women to have their tubes tied without getting their husbands’ permission. For Peruvian feminists, who had been fighting for more reproductive rights against powerful opposition from the Catholic Church and Opus Dei, this was a victory. They had no idea that the Fujimori government would use the new law to forcibly sterilize three hundred thousand indigenous women in the Andes between 1995 - 2000.

There are many historical instances of forced sterilization, which is currently being practised on HIV-positive women in Namibia, for purposes of population control in Uzbekistan, and against the Roma in the Czech Republic and Slovakia. It is among the offenses listed as crimes against humanity by the Rome Statute of 2005: “Rape, sexual slavery, enforced prostitution, forced pregnancy, enforced sterilization, or any other form of sexual violence of comparable gravity.”

In the case of Peru, because most of the peasant women who were sterilized only spoke Quechua or Aymara, and many of them did not know how to name what had happened to their bodies even in their own language, it took a while for the story to reach women’s human rights advocates in Lima. In 1996, Giulia Tamayo from CLADEM, a Latin American feminist lawyers’ network, began investigating the crime and in 1999 she published a report, Nada Personal – A human’s right report about how the sterilization program has injured thousands of women. At the same time Hilaria Supa, an indigenous leader of the peasant women’s federation in the district of Anta, began to work with MAM Fundacional (Movimiento Amplio de Mujeres) and CLADEM to investigate the issue. Supa, who is fluent in both Spanish and Quechua, discovered that hundreds of women in her community had been sterilized against their wills, and founded the Asociación de Mujeres Afectadas por las Esterilizaciones Forzadas de Anta (AMAEF), organizing survivors from the communities and districts of Anta and Cusco.


Peru's ex-President faces forced sterilization charges

By Sara Shayanian | April 27, 2018 at 10:01 AM

April 27 (UPI) -- Peru's former president is facing charges over alleged forced sterilization of women during his time in office.

Alberto Fujimori, the ex-president of Peru, and three of his former health ministers, Marino Costa Bauer, Eduardo Yong and Alejandro Aguinaga, will be issued new charges over the forced sterilization of five women that reportedly took place while he was in office.

Between 1990 and 2000, when Fujimori was in office, around 300,000 women had the surgery as part of a government program. Although it was meant to be a voluntary procedure, thousands say they did not give their consent.

Over 2,000 people have filed lawsuits against the sterilizations and data showing that 18 women died as a result of the procedures.

The procedures were mainly done on poor, indigenous women -- many of whom claim they were harassed, threatened and blackmailed into complying.


Over 100 Years Ago Chilean and British Imperialism Cut Bolivia Off From the Sea.

APRIL 27, 2018
Over 100 Years Ago Chilean and British Imperialism Cut Bolivia Off From the Sea. Today, Evo Morales Could Lead the Country Back to the Coast

In 1879 began the disastrous ‘War of the Pacific’, the Chilean army invaded Bolivia’s ‘Litoral’ department, leaving the poorest nation in South America landlocked. It is thought up to 18,000 Bolivians died in the war. Chile’s war on Bolivia was at every step of the way backed and armed by the British Empire as English industrialists took control of the vast natural resources of the Bolivian coastal region. These included guano, sodium, nitrate, copper where British interests established a monopoly on the export of these primary resources. Bolivia has never given up its demand to return to the coast, it still maintains a navy in preparation, the only landlocked country in the world to do so. Today the Bolivian government, under left-indigenous president Evo Morales is taking the biggest steps yet in securing a sovereign access to the sea as he takes the case to the International Court of Justice at the Hague who have already ruled against Chile’s early objections to Bolivia’s claims, a preliminary ruling is expected on April 28th. This is more than a territorial dispute, this is a political battle to roll back the hidden legacy of British imperialist interference in Latin America. It is inconceivable that Bolivia’s previous neoliberal governments could have come this far, indeed they didn’t, Bolivia’s successes are precisely because Morales’ left government is nation building for the first time, bringing natural resources under public ownership and incorporating the social movements into the structures of popular power. Those who preceded him were more interested in short sighted frenzies of privatisation than any long term state projects like this.

The war began when the Bolivian government raised taxes on the Chilean and British companies operating in Bolivia’s Litoral department. Companies such as the “Antofagasta Nitrate & Railway Company” (CSFA) refused to pay so Bolivia moved to nationalise mining interests there. Chile then unleashed a brutal war that was to last 5 years and invade huge parts of Bolivia and even Peru. Territory they still hold to this day. Behind this was a vast network of British imperial interests that had built links to sections of the Chilean oligarchy. Ever since the fall of the Spanish Empire in the Americas, Britain was quick off the blocks in establishing informal control of Latin American natural resources. Chile’s Banco Edwards was a subsidiary of the Bank of England[1], and owned by the same family as Chile’s foremost newspaper El Mercuriothat became key in drumming up popular support for the invasion and framing it as a patriotic war rather than a war for British and Chilean mining capitalists. An English businessman with the CSFA articulated Britain’s colonial approach to the conflict, “The Bolivians are getting very cocky, but with this action they’ll realise that they can’t interfere with a subject of the crown, and also, the Chileans will realise that it is in their interests to have the English at their side”. From the start of the war began an aggressive media operation in London to portray Chile as advanced and civilised, and Bolivia as backward hordes, one newspaper labeled Bolivia a “Semi-barbarous country that doesn’t know civilization”[2]. This was a textbook divide and rule strategy that the British Empire was employing all over Africa. Britain was rigidly against Simon Bolívar’s vision of a united Latin America, (‘Gran Colombia’ as he called it), Eduardo Galeano summed it up thus, “For U.S. imperialism to be able to “integrate and rule” Latin America today, it was necessary for the British Empire to help divide and rule us yesterday. An archipelago of disconnected countries came into being as a result of the frustration of our national unity.”[3]. British economic interests penetrated deep into every port city of the Americas and played off the new republics against each other whenever its interests were threatened. Britain proceeded to play a vital role in urging and sponsoring Chile’s invasion, providing it with huge supplies of arms, financing, logistical support and the political support of its press. Bolivia’s meagre forces never stood a chance.

The British back Chilean forces overwhelmed both Bolivia and Peru. Today it is estimated that lack of access to the sea deprives Bolivia of 1.5% in economic growth annually[4], a huge amount for the region’s poorest country. For British imperial interests the outcome was a everything they hoped and more, Yorkshire industrialist John Thomas North established a monopoly over the vast nitrate fields and the British linked Edwards family reaped huge rewards from the captured natural resources. These oligarchs formed a caste that wielded huge political power and plunged Chile into civil war in 1891 when the progressive president Balmaceda tried push through competition laws to break up their monopolies, the war ended in victory for the oligarchy. In some ways even Chile did not benefit from the war, they were left indebted to Britain to the tune of millions for the support they received and the natural resources fell into the hands of a tiny number of families who exported these primary materials on the cheap to the global north. Peruvian historian Enrique Amayo, in his book on British involvement in the war perhaps summed it up best in his final heading titled “Imperialist Great Britain helped Chile, but in the end Chile too became the loser”[5].

This war nearly a 140 years ago is still an open wound for Bolivians and an obstacle to Latin American integration and unity. The sense of loss for Bolivia, a small nation against the might of the British Empire and Chilean sub-imperialism. Add to this, Chile’s national chauvinism they gained after the war, that they are the ‘advanced’ of the region compared with their ‘backward’ and more indigenous neighbours Bolivia and Peru, the xenophobia and discrimination is still a defining experience of Andean migrants in Santiago.


AP Explains: How Native American powwows evolved over years

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Apr 27, 2018, 2:29 PM ET

The Associated Press

FILE--In this April 28, 2017 file photo, a group of Native American elders lead the grand entry to the Gathering of Nations in Albuquerque, N.M. The Gathering of Nations, one of the world's largest gatherings of indigenous people, is set to begin Friday, April 27, 2018, in Albuquerque, drawing around 3,000 dancers from hundreds of tribes in the U.S., Canada and Mexico and generally pulling in about 80,000 visitors with dances, drum contests and various competitions. (AP Photo/Russell Contreras, file)

The Gathering of Nations, one of the world's largest gatherings of indigenous people, started Friday in Albuquerque. The annual event attracts about 3,000 dancers from hundreds of tribes from the U.S., Canada and Mexico and draws about 80,000 visitors who come to see dances, drum contests and competitions.

The Native American event is a powwow — a pan-American Indian celebration featuring song, dance and prayer. They are held in stadiums, rural community centers or high school gyms and offer an opportunity for American Indians from different tribal nations with diverse histories to come together to reaffirm their shared experiences and reunite with friends.

Here's a look at how powwows began and have evolved over the years:


Assassins murdered Honduran activist Berta Cceres. Her mother and daughters have taken up the fight

Across Women's Lives
April 24, 2018 · 12:00 PM EDT
By Alice Driver


A Lenca woman holds a sign honoring Berta Cáceres that says, “Berta Lives! The Lenca Community Resists.” Credit: Alice Driver/PRI

Austra Bertha Flores López remains convinced that the assassins who took her daughter's life were sadly mistaken.

“They think that they killed Berta [Cáceres] but they didn’t because she continues to live on in the hearts of all the indigenous people, in the hearts of all women participating in struggles and in the hearts of communities around the world,” she said.

Honduran environmental activist Berta Cáceres was killed in March 2016 by gunmen who broke into her La Esperanza home. She was 43. The murder investigation is still ongoing, though the principal suspect in the case was arrested last month.

Berta Cáceres had fought against a dam project from Desarrollos Energéticos S.A., or DESA, which was to be built along the Gualcarque River, considered sacred waters to her indigenous Lenca people. The dam's investors withdrew from the project in the wake of her murder.


WWII Sub Rumoured to Have Taken Top Nazis to South America Found Off Danish Coast

By George Dvorsky on 24 Apr 2018 at 3:00PM

In the dying days of World War II, a German sub was reportedly sunk near the Danish coast, but the wreck was never found, leading to speculation that high-ranking Nazi officials—even possibly Adolf Hitler himself—used the high-tech vessel to escape to South America. A museum in Denmark has finally found the missing U-boat, ending this 73-year-old mystery.

The German submarine was discovered under 403 feet (123 metres) of water earlier this month by an expedition from the Sea War Museum Jutland. Radar scans of the seafloor taken from the survey ship Viña show the U-boat U-3523—an advanced Type XXI submarine—resting in an extraordinary position, with its tail-end sticking out from a hole at practically a 45 degree angle.

This is now the ninth German sub discovered by the Sea War Museum along the Danish coast, in addition to three British subs. In total, the museum has discovered 450 wrecks in the North Sea and in the Skagerrak Strait between Norway, Sweden, and the Jutland peninsula of Denmark.

According to the British navy, a B24 Liberator sunk the U-3523 on May 6, 1945 using depth charges, which are underwater explosives dropped from above. Given the timing of the incident, the U-boat was likely not on patrol, but on the run. The sinking happened a day after Nazi forces surrendered in Denmark, and just two days before the war officially ended in Europe. Fifty-three German sailors were killed in the incident, assuming its standard contingent was on board. The U-3523 was found in the Skagerrak Strait some 10.3 miles (16.6 km) northeast of Skagen. The pilot of the B24 Liberator reported a location 1.2 miles (2 km) away, which may explain why the sub eluded discovery for so many years. Its unorthodox position on the seafloor may have had something to do with it as well.

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