5th Jul 2022

Paraguay's right-wing 'paradise' draws European anti-vaxxers

  • Founded by couple Sylvia and Dr Erwin Annau, their Paraguay-registered business promotes itself under tags such as "#nomasks #nomandates #nofearofviruses #no5g #naturalmedicine #organicfood #nochemtrails" on Instagram (Photo: paraiso-verde.com)
Listen to article

Dozens of Europeans have flocked to an anti-vax, far-right "paradise" in Paraguay, hoping to attract thousands of likeminded people in future.

The El Paraíso Verde project in Paraguay's Caazapá region already has some 150 mostly Austrian, German, and German-speaking Swiss residents.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

And Caazapá saw a jump from four German residents in 2019 to over 100 in 2020 as the pandemic unfolded, according to official figures cited by The Guardian newspaper on Thursday (27 January)

Founded by a couple called Sylvia and Dr Erwin Annau, their Paraguay-registered business promotes itself under tags such as "#nomasks #nomandates #nofearofviruses #no5g #naturalmedicine #organicfood #nochemtrails" on Instagram.

Its YouTube channel said the pandemic was "non-existent", while at the same time peddling snake-oil cures for Covid.

And its website spoke of people meditating among tropical butterflies and showed photos of couples hugging trees.

But its wellness claims aside, it also described itself as a place to escape from "socialist trends" in world politics.

Erwin Annau has, in the past, questioned the need for German WW2 guilt, The Guardian showed.

And he has given free rein to his Islamophobia.

"Islam is not part of Germany. We are enlightened Christians, and we are concerned about our daughters," he said in a speech in Paraguay in 2017.

"We see the Qur'an as [containing] an ideology of political domination, which is not compatible with democratic and Christian values," he added.

El Paraíso Verde did not reply when contacted by EUobserver on Thursday.

"Is El Paraiso Verde a cult?", its own website asked in an FAQ.

"Definitely not ... We will never position ourselves as leaders or gurus or accept such here. We are just normal people", it said.

But its FAQ also asked: "Are you a haven for Nazis?".

And the answer spoke volumes: "Unfortunately, today this word [Nazi] is abhorrently and reprehensibly misused to shove those who think differently politically into a corner," El Paraiso Verde said.

"The word Nazi is instrumentalised in order to enforce equalisation of opinion with unworldly, extremely left-wing multi-culti ideologies," it added.

The "paradise" is designed to house up to 20,000 people in 1,500 plots when completed, its website said.

It aimed to open its own university and alternative medicine centre.

It called itself "in the process of being established as the largest private colony in South America".

And it spoke of an "ever-increasing wave of emigration [from] Europe".

The German-speaking colony is not the first of its kind to arise amid the pandemic.

Some 2,500 Austrians and Germans have also created a secure community in Aheloy, on Bulgaria's Black Sea coast, in what German magazine Der Spiegel called "corona-truthers" and "Querdenker: that hodgepodge of anti-government conspiracy theorists who have waged an ongoing campaign against all measures aimed at combatting the pandemic".

Back in Germany, the Alternative für Deutschland party, the third largest in the Bundestag, has circulated the same mix of anti-vax and far-right ideas espoused by El Paraíso Verde's founders.

Anti-vax protests, including riots in Brussels, have been on the rise in several EU states in recent months.

They have often attracted extreme-right minorities and hooligans

Related conspiracy theories have been pushed on media and social media by Russia and by US conservatives.

And some European anti-vax activists have belittled the Holocaust by wearing yellow stars at rallies, as if they were Jewish victims of Nazi German extermination camps.

"Today I see how the memory of what happened is politically abused, sometimes even ridiculed and trampled under foot," Margot Friedlander, a Holocaust survivor said in the European Parliament on Thursday, the 77th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz concentration camp.

"It is with disbelief that now, as a 100-year-old, I see symbols of our exclusion by the Nazis, the Star of David, is being shamelessly used by the new enemies of democracy on the street to style themselves in the midst of a democracy as victims," she said.


Music, martial arts, and extremism in Germany

Right-wing music festivals and mixed martial arts events have become key venues for funding extremism. A plan from Germany's interior minister Nancy Faeser can help tackle that.


Nato's Madrid summit — key takeaways

For the most part Nato and its 30 leaders rose to the occasion — but it wasn't without room for improvement. The lesson remains that Nato still doesn't know how or want to hold allies accountable for disruptive behaviour.


One rubicon after another

We realise that we are living in one of those key moments in history, with events unfolding exactly the way Swiss art historian Jacob Burckhardt describes them: a sudden crisis, rushing everything into overdrive.

News in Brief

  1. EU Commission told to step up fight against CAP fraud
  2. Ukraine needs €719bn to rebuild, says PM
  3. Germany records first monthly trade deficit since 1991
  4. Pilots from Denmark, Norway, and Sweden strike
  5. Report: EU to sign hydrogen deal with Namibia
  6. Israel and Poland to mend relations
  7. Von der Leyen: EU to set up Ukraine reconstruction platform
  8. Three killed in Copenhagen shopping mall shooting

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Canadian ministers join forces to combat harmful content online
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers write to EU about new food labelling
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersEmerging journalists from the Nordics and Canada report the facts of the climate crisis
  4. Council of the EUEU: new rules on corporate sustainability reporting
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers for culture: Protect Ukraine’s cultural heritage!
  6. Reuters InstituteDigital News Report 2022

Latest News

  1. EU Parliament sued over secrecy on Nazi MEP expenses
  2. Italy glacier tragedy has 'everything to do' with climate change
  3. The Digital Services Act — a case-study in keeping public in dark
  4. Report slams German opposition to new child sexual abuse rules
  5. Is China a challenge to Nato? Beijing responds
  6. ECB announces major green shift in corporate bond-buying
  7. Ex-Frontex chief 'uninvited' from parliament committee
  8. Czech presidency and key nuclear/gas vote This WEEK

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us