This “plan” has become just one more of the already hundreds of Patagonian myths. Never the less, inventing stories about little known mysterious places will always bear fruit, and there will be many dreamers and innocents who will buy them. Apparently, fantasy is more entertaining than fact. Some years ago there were famous Patagonian myths about dinosaurs and other prehistoric creatures that made it to the front pages of the Argentinean press. This mythology has even been used for political ends, such as the conveniently publicized inaugurations of the “Austral Highway” at some concrete bridge, so that further to the north people come in summer to visit Aisén expecting to find a paved motorway. Certainly, in recent decades, myths have been added and disseminated as a means of marketing by the promoters of some megaproject or other.
Sometimes, the mythology gets adapted and used for convenient purposes, such as happened recently in a radio program that promoted the myth of the benefits of HidroAysen and used the threat to the “Andinia Plan” to discredit it’s opponents.
The “Andinia Plan,” it is told, has been thought up by the Israelis or the Jews to escape their complicated existence in the Middle East and move their nation to the sparsely inhabited and peaceful Patagonia. They say that the young Israelis who visit the area every summer are an advance party charged with exploring and finding out everything. And the buying up of large plots of land by foreign millionaires, including Douglas Tompkins, is to physically construct the new state.
The best thing about this “plan” and the associated mythology, is that at the same time that the Jews are supposedly taking over Patagonia, we read Argentinean articles stating that Hitler and other Nazi leaders are living in the Bariloche area, and in a magazine from Punta Arenas we see a picture of the “Fuehrer” himself on a boat on the Patagonia Canals and stating that he would be hiding in Antarctica. What’s more, the writer and Chilean Nazi leader Miguel Serrano included in one of his books the “Seventh Hyperborean”, a sort of new Nazi land, located under the Melimoyu volcano (recently a similar myth has arisen about the Patagonian Ice fields). Is it possible that Jews and Nazis are thinking the same, or that the Jews can’t wait to coexist with their archenemies? Is it that this terrible place, according to Darwin, has suddenly turned into paradise for the archenemies? Is it that suddenly the Jews, out of nowhere, would throw away thousands of years of history and religion and abandon their sacred places?
The storytelling has arrived to such a point that there was even an Internet page where “the Jew Tompkins” (which he is not) with the cooperation of the “Hartmann Jew” (me!) are involved in this famous plan buying the whole of Patagonia. It is certain that if my German father now finds out that he is supposed to be Jewish he would laugh.
The thing is that if you take the time to find out a little bit about the origins and foundations of all these stories of “Patagonia lies”, you will soon realize they are just a myth. So the young Israelis we see are traveling the world with the savings and the will for freedom they put together in two years of military service – of war – and there aren’t many safe places for them to go. And the millionaires typically took advantage of the cheap prices of the great Patagonian territories (that for us had no great value and “someone” sells within the “sacred” rules of the market). For some of them, these purchases for sure constitute a good investment and for others, such as Tompkins, are to rescue valuable ecosystems and turn them into a park or a nature sanctuary, which has been demonstrated both in Chile and in Argentina.
Map of "United Provinces, Chili & Patagonia", Jeremiah Greenleaf, 1840; from David Rumsey Historical Map Collection.