Here is a video on the different factions of the skinhead scene in Bogota:
Christopher would not have known which breed of skinheads he had his encounter with. But what garners the most curiosity from gringos about the Colombian skinheads are the racist, neo-Nazi skinheads. Here is the 2011 Semana article, “La noche de los nazis criollos” (Night of the Creole Nazis), translated from Spanish:
With swastikas, effigies, hymns, and threatening speeches, 122 people gathered in a hall in downtown Bogota to commemorate the 122nd birthday of Adolf Hitler. A SEMANA team spent three hours of madness and fanaticism with them.
The meeting is at the entrance to the National Library, amidst the typically lonely weekends of Bogota’s central district of Las Nieves. While the Catholic majority of the city prepares for Palm Sunday, guests arrive to commemorate the birthday of Adolf Hitler.
They call themselves Tercera Fuerza (Third Force) . They dress in dark clothes; some wear coats to protect against the persistent drizzle and cold of Bogota. With shaves heads and polished boots, which do not hide their apparent militia status, one of the leaders admits SEMANA journalists to enter the lounge of a hotel only accessed by invitation and which is guarded by police.
His name is Diego and they call him “Comandante”. The man takes his role to heart and does not allow the photographer to do his work until everything is ready. He is young with a shaved head, manicured hands, a tiny mustache, and a strong smell of aftershave that reminds of the old barbershops. “It’s a tribute to the birth of our great leader,” he proclaims, and then answers a call on his cell phone. “Yes, ‘Cuchito’, yes, yes, everything is ready,” he says with almost reverent respect.
On either side of the enclosure a couple of pictures of Adolf Hitler rise, accompanied at the bottom with the slogan of Nazi Germany: “Ein Volk, ein Reich, ein Führer” (One people, one empire, one leader). 122 years have passed since his birth, the same number of guests at the meeting. Two red flags flanking his figure with the unmistakable swastika in a white circle.
Diego wears his black uniform, adorned with various logos, with obvious pride. One is the imperial eagle of the now-defunct National Socialist Workers Party. Moving up is the Third German Reich. On another are the letters T and F, also with the old German script.
He says they are “a cultural association” that defends “a cultural heritage and ethic, love for our nation, and belonging to the National Socialist family”. He clarifies that they only use violence to “defend the ideal, not to impose it.” They describe themselves as anti-capitalist and anti-left, “hence we are the Tercera Fuerza”, he concludes.
They are not considered illegal. They benefit from Articles 19 and 20 of the Constitution, which guarantee freedom of opinion and the right to express thoughts and opinions. That allows them greater freedom to be associated with National Socialist groups in Latin America, unlike Nazi supporters in the south of the continent, where restrictions are much stronger.
They are ruled by a triumvirate that makes decisions and organizes them into various departments. They develop projects on different fronts: propaganda, economy, defense, recruitment, and selection. El Comandante says they have 8,000 members – a clearly exaggerated number – in Bogota, Medellin, Cali, Pasto, Barranquilla, and Bucaramanga.
The leadership meets twice a week and indoctrination is done with readings and film review. They also have military-style physical training held in parks or through activities such as hiking and camping. La Orden (The Order), as they also call themselves, sustains itself with fixed monthly dues charged to its members.
Prospective members must complete an entry form (in which the picture, of course, is required). They claim only to accept those profiles from “the right people, free of vices, who lead honorable lives – at least working or studying – with no criminal record or having caused public scandals.”
But who is Comandante? A legal expert who works as his company’s security coordinator. He works his hours, is unmarried with no children, and lives with his mother.
From 5 to 80
The doors to the hall open and the audience gradually arrives. The vast majority who pass through the door are no older than 25. Some men attend in suits and dark ties, and most wear red swastika armbands. Women wear elegant dresses, with lots of straight hair dyed in bright colors in unconventional cuts.
Children also attend, holding their parents’ hands. “We are people of a community participating in our activities. We are more comfortable if we let our own children get together, as opposed to playing with the kids of strangers,” says Diego.
Then “Cuchito” appears, who refuses to reveal his identity. “Isn’t it amazing to see so many young enthusiasts?” He is pleased. He explains that these people are mostly middle- to upper-class with higher education. “They are honorable and from a good socioeconomic background, although we do grassroots outreach in neighborhoods of all economic levels,” he says.
“We hope to have 100,000 members in five years, so we can establish a political party. Otherwise, we’ll just keep spreading our message,” he says, without shame.
A screen that serves as a backdrop to the meeting projects some of the Führer’s speeches in German, translated in barely visible subtitles.
There are only white people in the hall. Cuchito scrambles to explain the blatant racism. He says that is “racialism”, in which he says all the races are battling the Jews. And then he expounds his anti-Semitic position with the “denial” argument, that the Holocaust was exaggerated. He contemptuously calls the murder of six million Jews in the Hitler’s Nazi concentration camps “Holocuento” (Hollow-story).
This convention is not new. In fact, it is the third such reunion in the same place. “These are people who rent the room three hours, drink a glass of wine, and eat a few snacks. But when they get started, the atmosphere gets heavy,” says one of the waiters. Just then the first “Heil Hitler” greetings echo.
And while it is not the the Bürgerbräukeller beer hall in Munich, Germany, where Hitler attempted his first coup d’etat, it is in spirit. It is in the hymn, “The Flag on High“, it is in the appearance of some of the attendees and the rather gloomy background, an atmosphere that recalls those chilling times of the twentieth century when Pan-Germanism and the messianic anti-Semitic vision of a diabolical leader led humanity to a war that killed 60 million people.
Immediately afterwards they sang with fervor the verses of “Cara al Sol” (Face to the Sun), anthem of the Spanish Falange, which many know by heart. And after a resounding “Heil Hitler”, they toast glasses of sweet Spanish wine with an ice cube.
Procedures last for about two hours. A new recruit, with the naive candor of a freshman, talks about how proud he is to be in the movement and the support he will give to his son, “a white baby”.
A youth also addresses the audience and salutes the image of the Führer, while another questions the role of equality assumbed by women today who, according to him, naturally should be caring for the home. In another speech, even the Nule brothers are criticized. A triple “Sieg Heil” answers the audience, out of rhythm.
A new cry is shouted: “¡Viva Colombia! ¡Viva España!” (Long live Colombia, Long live Spain!) The proclamation comes from veteran Spanish journalist, Fabio Roca Vidales, a 78-years-old Falangist militant. Later he is given the honorary title of Commander-in-Chief of the association. He enthusiastically accepts before exclaiming “Heil Hitler”.
In closing, Comandante releases his fiery oration. Our movement is “peaceful but not pacifist,” he warns. And he finishes: “If laws, certain politicians, and dark forces of power censor us and silence our voice, as has happened in many other countries to our comrades, TF is willing to take up arms, go underground, and die together as National Socialists, in a trench with a rifle on our shoulders.”
The curtain comes down. It is ten o’clock at night. For three hours Hitler had room to return from beyond. An opportunity that in several countries would not only be a scandal, but a crime.
Watch Semana’s video of the event here:
In 2014, “El Comandante” was murdered. From the El Espectador article, “Asesinan líder neonazi en Bogotá” (Neonazi leader murdered in Bogota):
Alfredo Devia, aka “El Comandante”, was killed last Tuesday night in the Santa Isabel de Bogota. Devia was the leader of the neo-Nazi organization, Tercera Fuerza. According to the las2orillas website, he was killed “in retaliation after collecting extortion money from a small business in the area.” Apparently, the deceased was linked to illegal group, Los Rastrojos.
The body of “El Comandante” was found inside a Mitsubishi Nativa SUV along with another man who has not been identified.
Devia is credited with the creation of the Tercera Fuerza, a group inspired by skinhead movements in England, made up of young nationalists who have been involved in several episodes of violence in Bogota.