According to an investigative report by Jose Melendez in the Mexican news daily El Universal, authorities in Costa Rica are investigating whether the recent case of a self-declared neo-nazi Fuerza Publica officer was isolated, or if it points to a wider problem.
The events that led to the dismissal of 26-year old Ronald Herrera Borges, AKA Murdock, unfolded on the popular online social network Facebook. It was on his Timeline and photo albums that Mr. Herrera declared himself a sympathizer of the neo-nazi ideology. The photographs depicted Mr. Herrera along with other young men, displaying assault rifles, neo-nazi symbolism and paraphernalia.
Minister of Public Safety Mario Zamora confirmed that his Ministry is investigating whether other Fuerza Publica officers are involved in such neo-nazi organizations:
“It is intolerable for a democracy and her police force to allow individuals who sympathize with human rights violations to serve as law enforcement officers. Fuerza Publica is a non-belligerent entity, therefore officers cannot belong to movements that not only conform to xenophobe attitudes but also go against the values the police aims to uphold.”
Mr. Herrera was summarily fired from his position as a law enforcement officer. He appealed the firing before the National Ombudsman and later appeared on a live chat in prominent newspaper La Nacion. While most people in Costa Rica protested Mr. Herrera’s online comments and his ideology, he has not been questioned for going before the Ombudsman or appearing online in La Nacion. He has not been censored, and his case is under review by Ombudsman attorneys.
Celso Gamboa, Vice Minister of Public Safety, told El Universal that several factors were considered when firing Mr. Herrera. One of the main concerns was the apparent Holocaust denial stance taken by Mr. Herrera, and his display of symbols dear to the people of Costa Rica and Fuerza Publica, specifically the national flag, next to neo-nazi imagery.
Other Groups are Watching
Mr. Herrera’s actions did not go unnoticed by Antifa (anti-fascism) groups around the world. Antifa Canada reported on the matter, as well as the Basque Antifa community in Europe. Anti-fascism groups subscribe to an ideology that essentially repudiates intolerance, neo-nazism and racism.
Early antifa groups rose and fought during World War II Italy against Mussolini and Hitler. Militias later cropped up in other parts of Europe against the Nazi occupation, to wit: the Dutch Resistance (pictured above) and the Spanish Maquis, among others. Modern antifa groups adopted the fighting spirit of their predecessors, which some observers qualify as having tinges of militant and radical tendencies. In some parts of the world, members of antifa groups -who are self-described pacifists- clash against neo-nazi groups, often resorting to physical agression.
The antifa presence in Costa Rica is not as widespread as it is in other countries. This could be seen as a positive sign; perhaps neo-nazism and intolerance do not prevail in our country. In 2010, a Tico antifa group tried to become better organized through social media, but the activity of that group has been minimal. Young antifa members share a passion for punk rock, and to that extent a Facebook community in Costa Rica -called “Kadaver“- follows events around the world.
At a football match in the Netherlands last year Tico goalkeeper Esteban Alvarado, playing for the AZ Alkmaar Dutch club, was embraced by the antifa community after he kicked an invading hooligan right on the pitch. The skinhead hooligan was suspected to have attempted a hate-filled attack on Mr. Alvarado, or else he was very drunk.
The report in the Mexican newspaper El Universal does not indicate that neo-nazi groups are operating in Costa Rica. Should that change in the future, Tico antifa sympathizers may spring to action.