World News

Peru's Nazi party leader believes even the conquistadors were Jews

Source: Guardian | Friday, 17 August 2012


Peruvian Nazi party leader Martín Quispe Mayta

Peruvian Nazi party leader Martín Quispe Mayta salutes from his headquarters. Photograph: Dan Collyns

Martín Quispe Mayta frowns imperiously from behind a desk adorned with portraits of Adolf Hitler, a copy of Mein Kampf, and a collection of toy cars. Draped on the wall behind him is a large red, white and black flag bearing a symbol that looks suspiciously like a swastika.

This is the headquarters of the Andean Peru National Socialism movement, a far-right group that is currently attempting to gather enough signatures to be registered as a political party. Quispe Mayta, the group's 38-year-old founder, calls himself an admirer of Hitler and openly advocates the expulsion of Peru's tiny, well-integrated Jewish population.

Fewer than 5,000 Jews live in a country of nearly 30 million people: they seem an unlikely scapegoat in a Peru racked by its own race and class inequalities. Political and economic power remains largely in the hands of a minority white elite while indigenous Peruvians are at the bottom of the socioeconomic scale.

But then Quispe Mayta is an unlikely Nazi. His Quechua surnames indicate he belongs to one of Peru's most disadvantaged and oppressed castes. The youngest of eight children whose parents were migrants from the Andes, he was selling fruit on the street before he had finished primary school. "Why? Because the Jews controlled the world economy," he spits.

Henry Ford's antisemitic text The International Jew and Hitler's Mein Kampf, both discovered in a secondhand book market, became the inspiration of his life when he was a teenager. Since then he seems to have swallowed every antisemitic conspiracy theory going – and invented a few of his own.

He claims to have carried out research that reveals Winston Churchill, Theodore Roosevelt, Fidel Castro, Che Guevara, and Abimael Guzmán, the leader of Peru's Shining Path terror group, all had Jewish roots. He even claims that Francisco Pizarro – the illiterate goatherd who led Spain's brutal conquest of Peru – was also Jewish. "The Jew Pizarro and his band of genocidal Jews killed millions of native Peruvians in their mission to possess our gold," he said. He feel particularly aggrieved because of his own Inca heritage, he claims. He shares his second surname with the Inca emperor Mayta Cápac.

Quispe Mayta strikes an odd, almost comic figure in his khaki uniform and black tie (which he didn't know how to tie himself) but the Jewish Association of Peru said in a statement that it rejected his "open expression of antisemitic racism" and had "appealed to authorities to take the necessary measures to halt the incitement to racial and religious hatred".


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