Thursday

9th Feb 2023

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.

Opinion

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.

Opinion

EU buries head deeper in sand over Israel's apartheid

While every European diplomat knows that a return to the "status quo" means maintaining the daily oppression, humiliation and anguish that comes with living under apartheid, the EU continues to acquiesce to a situation that gets worse by the day.

Opinion

Wales' message to Europe: 'We'll be back'

The scars of Brexit have left their mark in communities across Wales. The Menai mussel industry has experienced a sharp decline having once been a staple in fish counters and restaurants across Europe; its business model wrecked by post-Brexit rules.

Latest News

  1. MEPs agree to fossil loophole in EU green building directive
  2. Racist algorithms and AI can't determine EU migration policy
  3. EU leaders attempt to hash out response to US green subsidies
  4. Russian diplomats in EU: unpaid wages, low morale
  5. Eight EU states press for more Turkey-style migrant swap deals
  6. EU buries head deeper in sand over Israel's apartheid
  7. Polish MEP also went on freelance Azerbaijan trip
  8. Why Europe's interminable compromises are a virtue

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EFBWWEU Social Dialogue review – publication of the European Commission package and joint statement of ETUFs
  2. Oxfam InternationalPan Africa Program Progress Report 2022 - Post Covid and Beyond
  3. WWFWWF Living Planet Report
  4. EFBWWEFBWW Executive Committee report on major abuses, labour crime and subcontracting
  5. European Parliamentary Forum for Sexual & Reproductive Rights (EPF)Launch of the EPF Contraception Policy Atlas Europe 2023. 8th February. Register now.
  6. Europan Patent OfficeHydrogen patents for a clean energy future: A global trend analysis of innovation along hydrogen value chains

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Forum EuropeConnecting the World from the Skies calls for global cooperation in NTN rollout
  2. European Committee of the RegionsRe-Watch EURegions Week 2022
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersCOP27: Food systems transformation for climate action
  4. Friedrich Naumann Foundation European DialogueGender x Geopolitics: Shaping an Inclusive Foreign Security Policy for Europe
  5. Obama FoundationThe Obama Foundation Opens Applications for its Leaders Program in Europe
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersLarge Nordic youth delegation at COP15 biodiversity summit in Montreal

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us