There's a group of skinheads in Cuenca called A.N.R. Without knowing what their politics are or what they really do, I do know that they spray paint their tag "A.N.R." as well as a swastika around different buildings in the city. They've always been around, but lately more and more are popping up, especially in the center. I don't know what they think they stand for, but it's a topic of conversation that has been coming up more and more recently.
The ironic thing about being an Ecuadorian skinhead is that if they are in fact in favor of Nazi beliefs, then that would essentially put them in the group of people hated by Nazis. There is a definite lack of education on the matter in these parts, and many people simply name their children Hitler, Stalin, or Trotsky simply because they are well known historical figures. But they don't know why they are famous, and don't even care to hear about their stories. One friend told me that a student he had was named Hitler, and know one in the class cared, as if it was another name like Jon. When he tried to explain, they weren't even listening.
But basically, as a Jew and grandchild of Holocaust survivors, I find it uncomfortable to live in a place where people can be so ignorant of such facts and continue to celebrate these world leaders as if they were heroic. Just last week I was witness to the consequences vicious attack from skinheads. This time, though, it was skinhead on skinhead violence. We don't know what brought on the fight, but 5 guys jumped another man on his motorcycle while he was at a red light and proceeded to beat the crap out of him. They were stomping is face in as he lay helpless by the curb, like something out of "American History X." They eventually ran away and left the man completely disoriented and bleeding badly, while traffic backed up and no one did anything.
These things can happen anywhere in the world, and gang violence is nothing new. But it is a little surprising when it takes place here in Cuenca, which is generally thought of as a peaceful city. It's an aggravation that you have to deal with because in reality, this happens everywhere, including the United States. I only hope that in the future the educational system will improve enough to teach what these things actually mean, and maybe defer some people from joining the ranks.