Friday, June 19, 2015


Among the many countries conquered by the Nazis during Hitler's 10-year 1000-year Reich, was the South American state of Paraguay. It was not conquered by force, but by forged travel permit and history; Elisabeth, the sister of the philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, set up a utopian community called Nueva Germania there in 1887, just fourteen families initially, and a set of books, her brother's books, into which she had read a prodigious anti-Semitism (which wasn't there) and a vision of the Aryan Kingdom of the Ubermensch, the Superman (which most definitely was there).

The community took just two years to fail, but the German roots were established, and Paraguay became the exile of choice for fleeing Nazis. In the 1950s one of their number, Alfredo Stroessner, whose parents had come from Bavaria and who had reached the rank of Major General In Charge Of Coups in the Paraguayan military, fulfilled his job responsibilities to the letter by ousting the democratically elected President Federico Chávez, and then having himself declared President in an election in which he was the sole candidate. He immediately installed the entire country in a bunker close to the gardens of the Reichskanzlei at 77 Wilhelmstrasse, declared the country to be in a permanent "stage of siege" (presumably, like his hero, he assumed the Russians were coming from the East and the Americans from the west, and that Paraguay would be engulfed by borscht and nylons at any moment). 

Stroessner's methods would have had the Fuhrer's full approval, and that of any number of other despots in the sad cataogue which is this book: he enforced a strict cult of personality, tortured all political opponents who were still alive, required membership in his political party for anyone seeking employment, health care or education, rewrote the constitution every time he wanted another term in office, and the only failing in his regime was that he never managed to get 100% turnout or approval in his re-elections, but fell short in the middle 90s. The arms-and-drugs way-station of the world, Paraguay provided asylum to many of the world’s overthrown despots, with Argentina's Juan Peron at one point sharing a beach-cabin with Dr Josef Mengele. The fall of Paraguayan Berlin finally took place in 1989, but like European Berlin, where the nastiness of Fascism had been replaced by the equal nastiness of Stalinist Communism, so Stroessner's nemesis was another brutal military man, Andrés Rodríguez.

Since then things have obviously improved, but all things are relative, and getting rid of the rats to find you now have cockroaches counts among the more relative improvements. Coups and assassinations have remained commonplace, and Stroessner’s Party, which calls itself the Colorado Party but is properly the National Republican Association, remained in power until 1988, when the Patriotic Alliance For Keeping Everything Exactly The Same But Now Under A Left-Wing Theoretical Ideology took power under Fernando Lugo. Nothing, indeed, has changed. Nothing seems likely to change. As they say in all Spanish-speaking countries: mañana.

The photograph above comes from, where she explains that she has forgotten the name of the dish, but describes it thus: "This is grilled fish covered in a salsa of onions and peppers and tomatoes. We have it on Sundays sometimes, instead of Asado. The fish is usually a Dorado fresh from the Rio Paraguaya. The salsa is diced peppers, onions and tomatoes with a little bit of oil and salt. We put the salsa on top and my dad grills it until it’s super tender and it falls off the bone when you cut it. It is one of my favorite foods here. The only downside is that it has tons of little bones that you have to be careful to take out while you’re eating." By the tortured and tormented look of the creature, I think the name she has forgotten is Pescado Stroessner.

Marks for: slightly fewer than my plans to ensure 100% had anticipated

Marks against: Is that Karl Marks or German Marks?

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