Simon Dubnow Institute
for Jewish History and Culture at Leipzig University

Research project »A Paradise on Earth«

Catholic Tradition and Political Theology among the Argentine Guerillas of the 1960s

 

This research project aims to reveal the hidden religious roots of the Latin American guerilla movement of the 1960s and the milieu of the New Left surrounding it. It takes as its point of departure the capital punishments pronounced internally on two members of the Ejército Guerrillero del Pueblo (EGP), which operated in the Argentine border regions, for these reveal a glaring commonality: Both of the EGP members sentenced to death were of Jewish origin. This begs all the more for explanation when one remembers that a large number of the protagonists of the New Left began their political activities in the context of the political Catholicism that had in turn been inspired by European fascism. This includes the commander of the EGP, Jorge Ricardo Masetti, who together with his close friend Ernesto »Che« Guevara launched the operations in the north of Argentina.

This project investigates the hypothesis that the emergence of the Latin American guerillas and the New Left were an expression of a secularization process during which sacral Christian/Catholic traditions were transferred into the profane sphere of politics and ideology. The Latin American guerillas, so the assumption, unconsciously constituted a religious and eschatological awakening that aimed to immediately realize the formerly Christian promise of salvation.