He calls to think more about duties than rights, wanted to censor forums organized by the left, is against free education, wants to be able to foreclosure social housing, modified the protection clauses to stop helping thousands of poor, he faked a kidnapping in Cuba to draw attention, and his Nazi family murdered and profited from the dictatorship. Felipe Kast Sommerhoff is scheduled to speak at 3pm on April 1, 2016, as part of the 7th Latin American Business Conference; the University of California Berkeley Haas School of Business’ Latin and Hispanic Business Association (LAHBA). Memorial Stadium, 210 Stadium Rim Way Berkeley, CA 94720.
Who is Felipe Kast Sommerhoff?
By Ernesto Carmona*. Mapocho Press. Santiago, Chile. March 2016.
The names Kast Sommerhoff evoke the “Aryan supremacy” and the Central European country which sent us, among others, Paul Schäfer, the founder of the Colonia Dignidad, a concentration and extermination camp during the dictatorship of Pinochet. There they made delicious jams while the German chef Schäfer abused native children held in the enclave that still exists today in southern Chile, but with a new name: New Bavaria.
Felipe Kast Sommerhoff, is the son of Miguel Kast Rist (1948-1983), a commercial engineer who arrived in Chile from Germany and Cecilia Sommerhoff Hyde. Felipe also became a commercial engineer and claims to be a democrat distancing himself from the rightist party Independent Democratic Union (UDI) – the pioneering political party of the extreme right post-Pinochet. He founded the right-wing neo-party EvoPoli (Evolución Política), which in 2014 made him a congressman for Santiago. But his great aspiration is to dupe more people to become President, just as any other politician in the devalued Chilean political class.
Mission of Love
Felipe Kast Sommerhoff was born in Santiago in June 1977. He was the grandson of Michael Kast, a German Nazi officer who tricked the Americans when he gave himself up in Italy. With lots of makeup, he hid his true character of a bloodthirsty Hitlerian warrior claiming to belong to the Red Cross. Once in Chile he would devote to sausage-making.
According to what Grandmother Olga writes in her book Mission of Love / Misión de Amor, Grandfather Michael disguised his Nazi condition before letting himself to be captured by US troops. He simply burned his official Hitler’s army papers and replaced them with an innocent credential from the Red Cross that he had calculatedly purchased in Italy amidst the chaos of the invasion and later its liberation.
Grandfather Michael first set up a restaurant in the rural area of Linderos, raised pigs and started making sausages under the brand Bavaria, while fast becoming a major landowner at just 22 miles south of Santiago, the Chilean capital.
Mission of Love is Grandmother Olga Rist’s autobiographical book where she boasts soldier Michael’s speedy ascension to officer at the end of 1942. Enlisted in Hitler’s army, private Michael participated in the invasion of Russia. He escaped from the fiery resistance of the Soviet militia to Crimea. In Austria he was promoted to corporal and, before heading to northern Italy, where he was arrested, he was promoted to a second lieutenant. Kast, the old man himself, told the journal Hacer Familia, “My salvation was to have been destined for Italy.”
According to the magazine The Clinic, “the origins of the Kast family can be known in the book Mission of Love, which is for sale at the Mahringer, a shop linked to the Catholic fundamentalist group Shoenstatt (a German sect to which Felipe and his brother priest Miguel belongs). No one could say that the book is a fallacy. What you read there is the testimony of Olga Rist, widow of Michael Kast, who did not seem to bother documenting the Nazi past of the patriarch.” Both had 10 children.
Son of a Chicago Boy
During the government of Sebastián Piñera (2010-2014), the current Chilean congressman Felipe Kast Sommerhoff served time as planning minister in the same office (Odeplan), where his father, Miguel Kast Rist, worked for two years under Pinochet dictatorship (1978-1980).
Miguel, was born in Oberstaufen, Germany. He was two years old when he arrived in Chile in 1951. According to his biographers, a few years before collaborating with Pinochet, he was a fervent member of Christian Democrat Party, PDC, toured the country with its “march of the young country” and participated in the President Eduardo Frei Montalva (1964-1970) “revolution in freedom.” But he was soon “disappointed” with the government’s emphasis on land reform, a program that later was deepened by President Salvador Allende (1970-1973).
Miguel Kast Rist was trained in the School of Economics at the University of Chicago (producers of the infamous Chicago Boy’s since 1955), thanks to a student exchange agreement with the Catholic University of Chile managed by the International Cooperation Administration, an US organization that would become the current International Development Agency (USAID).
The Chicago Boys deranged the Chilean economy and, without anesthesia, implemented the bloodiest version of red hot neoliberalism. The father of our protagonist was also Pinochet’s Minister of Labor and Social Welfare (1980-1982), President of Central Bank in 1982, and an advisor to Pinochet’s secret service DINA. He became famous for being a kind of magician in solving poverty while doing exactly the opposite. His untimely death from cancer, at age 35, made him a sort of a saint, venerated by the fundamentalist imagination of the UDI.
Things must change so that everything remains the same
Felipe intended to become a political postcard of an emerging new Chilean right that tries to look different, not conservative, almost “progressive,” and vaguely reformist. Today even a child knows that “things must change so that everything remains the same” (Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa, The Leopard, 1958).
To achieve his goal of being elected congressman Kast Sommerhoff, founded in 2012 his own party, EvoPoli, and defined it as an independent center-right alternative. EvoPoli was born when the decay and free fall of the UDI began. The once strongest party in the country, now sunk in corruption scandals, bribes, kickbacks and money stolen from taxpayers to finance election campaigns.
Felipe Kast Sommerhoff was always a sort of “putative son” of the UDI. In 1999 he traveled to Cuba “to see the other side of the coin and to shoot down myths” (Capital Magazine). There he studied at no cost economics and sociology for a year at the University of Havana. It could be said that “he knew communism from inside.” (idem)
When he returned to Chile in 2000, he graduated with a master’s degree in economics and in 2004 went to Harvard University. He lived in the United States working for the World Bank and the Center for International Development at Harvard. In 2009 he joined the Liberty and Development Institute (a think tank close to UDI) and then he became the youngest minister of Piñera’s government.
From sausages maker to butcher
After the military coup of 9/11/73 the Kast family led groups of landowners to actively collaborate with police and soldiers in killing dozens of unarmed farmworkers around the region of Linderos, mainly in Paine and Buin. Grandpa former Nazi officer, serviced and fed the military and carabineros (police) in his small store, while his son Christian participated in interrogations previous to the killing of peasants who participated in the agrarian reform of Frei and Allende.
These Kast family feats were not described in Grandma book, but are widely documented in the courts of justice. In a case reopened by Justice Maria Stella Elgarrista, Christian Kast was summoned by the tribunals to testify in 2003. Called “Paine,” the case refers to 70 peasants of various hamlets who were killed or missing since 1973. Christian acknowledged that “we accompany carabineros to the sector of Aculeo to greet local farmers, and to celebrate what happened that day.” (April 25, 2003. Cause Paine. folios 5,979 of volume XVIII).
That day, 9/11/73, Christian drove to the police headquarter the family car Datsun 1500, color green, loaded with food from the Bavaria factory “because officials there were having a potluck. I was invited to stay in the place until the next day,” he said. In that same place were last seen the majority of the missing peasants of Paine. At night, Kast saw a group of detainees “who on the morning of the 12th were transported by a military truck. All with their head shorn” (idem, 5979, Volume XVIII)
These stories were revealed by investigative journalist Javier Rebolledo, author of many books about Pinochet’s intelligence services. One of them, “Crows’ Shadow: Civilians accomplices of the dictatorship” (Ceibo Publishers, 2016), is a detailed inquiry into the role of civilians during the dictatorship. Half of the book is devoted to the Kast family, from the time Nazi officer Michael Kast took root in Chile after the Second World War.
The Ideology of the Congressman
As a Planning Minister, Felipe amended the social protection clauses and left many families without the critically needed social benefits. The Socialist congresswoman Clemira Pacheco denounced in 2011 the modification of the called Ficha de Protección Social, Social Protection, as an attack on the poor: “We have known many cases in different districts, especially those affecting people victims of the earthquake, living in camps or temporary small houses, who have little income to support their families. The required scores (to get help) of 3,000 or 4,000 points, rose sharply to 8,000 or 10,000, leaving them out of many social benefits.”
“… the poorest people …lose benefits such as scholarships, special bonuses, food for their children, and even can no longer apply for the housing subsidy.” He “calls to think more about duties than rights, wanted to censor forums organized by the left, is against free education, wants to be able to foreclosure social housing, modified the protection clauses to stop helping thousands of poor, he faked a kidnapping in Cuba to draw attention, and his Nazi family murdered and profited from the dictatorship.” (gamba.cl)
In an interview with Radio Agricultura, of the Chileans squirearchy’ National Society of Agriculture, he explained his opposition to free education: “… is bad public policy, because far from delivering equality, increases it, what happens is that the market is very good. All what Michelle Bachelet group does with free education is to give a nod to the Communist Party.”
“Free education forces a low-income family to stay in a public university … In Peru is prohibited that a student use his government-subsidized school money in a private school. It is very important always, as the matrix idea, to bet on the freedom of people.” (El Mostrador)
Money buys politics
On January 4, 2015 the Chilean Attorney General Office revealed emails from Felipe Kast and other UDI characters asking financial group Penta money for their campaigns in exchange for future legislative favors, and eventual approval of pro-business laws.
One of them, dated 05/03/13, and sent to Carlos Alberto Delano, co-owner of the Penta group, Felipe Kast writes: “Dear Carlos, I understand perfectly the position of your partner (refers to Carlos Eugenio Lavín) but I’ve always thought of your support on a personal level rather than through the group, however modest it is. I honestly think that the defense of the most important ideas is going to take place in Congress, since there is little chance of winning the presidency. Believe me we are not to divide, but to improve the political offer. I Hope I can count on you.” Sometimes these laws are written by the beneficiary corporations themselves.
After March 4, 2015, Prosecutor Carlos Gajardo described Penta as “a machine to defraud tax authorities” and ordered preventive jail time to its owners, Carlos Alberto Delano and Carlos Eugenio Lavín, both under house arrest after spending 46 days in jail.
These monies-for political-favors from Penta and SQM Group – among other large Chilean corporations – were given out as invoices or “honoraries receipts” (a receipt for delivery of services regulated by the Chilean Internal Revenue Service) but said services were never rendered. Therefore those papers were “ideologically false”. The honoraries receipts included a compulsory deduction of 10%, that during the tax period, are returned to the beneficiary. All of this falsely increases the company accounting expenses to evade taxes. In short, bribes, kickbacks, electoral buyouts and generosity towards the political class ends up being paid “by all Chileans.” ##
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*Ernesto Carmona is a Chilean writer, journalist and columnist for several publications in Latin America, the US and Europe. He is the author and editor of many books and was the Executive Secretary of the Commission to Investigates Attacks on Journalists of the Latin American Federation of Journalists (2003-12). In 2012 he served as a jury for the Spain’s Miguel de Cervantes Prize.