Archiv der Kategorie: Foreign Affairs

Weltgeschehen, Aussenpolitik, Foreign Affairs



1. The youth riots and political scandals in the 80s              

Legal, illegal, we don’t give a shit about it                                                     

Yearly hundreds died of the heroin abuse                                                                

In the swirl of Swiss political scandals                                                                                

2. Internationalization and politicization (86/87)     

Africa 86 : Between the fronts of Senegal and Guinea Bissau

Warsaw 86 : In Pole position behind the iron curtain of the East Bloc             

London 87 : The first contacts with «ANC» exiles                                                     

3. South Africa 87 : In the underground fighting against apartheid                             

Crime: One murder every 40 minutes, 20’000 per year

Switzerland 94: Nelson Mandela’s first foreign visit in Zürich                                                        

Civil war 93/94 : «ICRC» operations in the «ANC-IFP» civil war       

Botswana 86-2011 : With the Bushmen in the Kalahari                      

Kenya: «ICRC» mission in the Rift Valley after the riots                                                      

Namibia: HIV-Orphants NGO-Project in Maltahöhe

4. Cuba, Caribbean Carnival and US Invaders 

Colombia 99: Hell trip in the service of Swissair                                                 

Cuba 93-99 : Visiting the socialist idealists, who feed from hope              

French Guyane 89/05 : From the jungle straight into the space 

Brazil 93-05 : Jungle Expeditions and Amazon Cruise Trip                                          

5. Climate Change

Climate change led to „Tourism & Environment Forum Switzerland

Society and consumption: a paradigm shift is needed                                          

6. Asian highlights and desasters                                      

Borneo 96: Walking with a orang utan through the rain forest                         

Philippines 95: In the footsteps of spiritual healers                                       

7 . Australia, Aborigines and South Sea Highlights   

Fraser Island: Whale Watching in front of the Evolution Pearl                            

Opal seekers in Coober Pedy: «Hope lives underground»                                        

Cape Tribulation: Where the rainforest meets the Great Barrier Reef              

South Seas highlights: Bora Bora, Huhine, Moorea, Tetiaroa                              

8 . Orient: In Sinai, Lebanon and in the Iranian embassy

Stationed in the Sinai facing two terror attacks

Lebanon 2006: Visiting the Palestinian refugee camp “Schatila” in Beirut                                      


The author, Gerd Michael Müller, born in Zürich in 1962, traveled as a photo-journalist to more than 50 nations and lived in seven countries, including in the underground in South Africa during apartheid. In the 80 years he was a political activist at the youth riots in Zürich. Then he was involved in pioneering Wildlife & eco projects in Southern Africa and humanitarian projects elsewhere in the world. As early as 1993, Müller reported on the global climate change and in 1999 he founded the «Tourism & Environment Forum Switzerland». Through his humanitarian missions he got to know Nelson Mandela, the Dalai Lama and other figures of light. His book is an exciting mixture of political thriller, crazy social stories and travel reports – the highlights of his adventurous, wild nomadic life for reportage photography .

(please note that translation corrections are still in progress and images will follow soon)

1. «Turbulent times»: The youth riots in the 80s

1980 was the year that would shake up the society in Switzerland and plow up over the course of the 80’s. In May of the same year the youth riots in Zürich began. The trigger for that eruption, was the dissatisfaction of the youth with the situation, that no free space was available for young people. This manifested itself most obviously of the upcoming vote on a subsidy contribution of 60 million francs to the Opera House and the Establishment. In return there where not even 10’000 Swiss Francs left for the «Red Factory», at this time the only youth culture center in Zürich City.

In the 70/80.. the curfew for everyone in a bar or restaurant was midnight. Half an hour later everyone had to be at home. The leisure variete and cultural offer stopped within narrow limits. There was absolutely no place for teenagers. Only one or two leisure centers existed, focusing on sports. TV, radio, nightlife were completely boring. Good music or films were absolutely rare. Then video stores and the «Walkmen» came up and changed the music world. But still without cell phones, laptops, PC’s, social media and so on, life was as dreary as with the Corona Lockdowns, simply even without internet, digital media and smartphones. No wonder that the youth scene has been simmering for a long time. And suddenly the power erupted, which shook the society not only in Switzerland but throughout Europe. After the 68’s came the next anarchist and youth revolt arrived.

In Switzerland it was gray and dreary in every way at this time. The population persisted in their staid, conservative corset. The dreariness was widespread in Europe. The Vietnam War and the «Cold War“, the wall that divided Germany and the threat from the communists, which became more and more brutal and grotesque. First the extensive napalm bombing from US Soldiers on the civilian population in Vietnam and Cambodia. The „Clockwork Orange“ defoliation campaigns, the horrific images of burning people and children, all the mutilated dead and the prison camps.

Inexplicable of this war of extermination was also, that for decades the war was not approved or dclared by US Congress, but financed from the «CIA» budget. And the «CIA» paid the costs of the bombing by loading tons of opium into empty bomb planes in the Golden Triangle and flew it straight to Mexico, where the opium was processed into heroin. So America has brought the heroin flood to the front door of its own country and the Mexicans got the desaster with the drug kartells. In this kafkaesque operation, the «CIA» definitely lost the «I» completely.

Through the «Cold War» was the nuclear threat should, and not least the danger of the nuclear power plants themselves. At that time Switzerland wanted to become a nuclear power state. As part of this absurd intention in January 1969 it came to a nuclear reactor accident in Lucens in the Canton of Vaud. And later the Tinner brothers proved that you can also export the nuclear know-how to other states. Switzerland provided not only Pakistan but also South Africa with nuclear know-how.

When the cooling system of an experimental reactor at Lucens nuclear power plant (VAKL) in the canton of Vaud failed, there was a partial core meltdown in the reactor. In May, the reactor was put into operation, but soon shut up again. During this standstill, water ran into the reactor’s cooling circuit via a defective fan seal. The magnesium fuel rod cladding tubes corroded. When the reactor was put back into operation in January 1969, the corrosion products hindered cooling. The fuel overheated, melted fuel rods and got on fire. That bursted the moderator tank. In this process, 1100 kg of heavy water with melted radioactive material and carbon dioxide (coolant) were hurled into the reactor cavern.

But back to Zürich with a glance at the local situation in april 1980: Even in the run-up to the vote for the opera house loan, the annual three-day festival at the «Allmend» with open air concerts, flyers for a demo were distributed and youth centers were requested from speakers on stage. On this warm and wonderful weekend the importance of the rising hippy movement occured to me. Of course, almost all people smoked pot on the premises. Some of them also had an LSD trip and the mood was terrific. The music was rock, punk and trimmed for rebellion. After all, the subculture among young people has been simmering since the 68s. That power sound came just at the right time.

By chance, I past on this Saturday afternoon May 30, 1980 with the tram at the Zurich Opera House exactly at that time, where Hundreds of police officers suddenly appeared from inside of the opera towards the demonstrators blocked the entrance lying on the ground (the so-called «cultural dead bodies») and hit the people brutually. They stepped on women and men equally. These brutal scenes took my breath away and made my stomach explode. Once I got off the tram, as already burned the first container and the skirmishes with the police began.

As the police came out with full force, tear gas and rubber bullets shooting around, the situation escalated within a few hours, since at this early Saturday evening many young people in the follow Bob Marley concert were the Hallenstadion and then poured into the city center. Many spontaneously took part in the protests, which had already turned into veritable street battles. From then on, the police had nothing under control for three or four days and the street fighting erupted with full force.

The canton police station on the Limmatquai was surrounded by protesters, two of the police vehicles burned out completely. The entrance to the town hall also looked bad. The city air in the low village was pregnant with be issenden tear gas smoke, dense, than London in November mists. The extent of the destruction was just as unbelievable as the impotence of the security forces when the frustration of the young people and old 68ers, which had been pent up for years, turned into sheer anger, spurred on by the violence of the security forces during the peaceful opera house protest, with which the demonstrators the opera house visitors wanted to show a one-sided subsidy policy.

The first riot Eight followed some more battles over this s year in which the „The movement“ the autonomous each Wednesday’s in the popular assemblies (‚VV’s“) in the People’s House or time on the court Spitz was formed. Every Saturday were demonstrations announced. Regularly the shops in the old town barricaded their shop windows, because the protests continue recordings momentum and all the way to large demonstrations with almost 20’000 people were formed. The young people’s demand was plain and simple: „An autonomous youth center!” , An “AJZ” is needed ! Namely „subito!“

On July 15, 1980, one of the biggest scandals in the history of Swiss television was to take place on the program “CH-Magazin” and the number one topic of conversation in the country was to be debated. (The Zurich youth riots that had fallen with such violence on the honest country who beat waves to the Hudson River and were also from the „New York Times“ taken up. The two televised a loaded representatives / inside the youth movement, Mr and Mrs Müller, let the two city representatives, in conversation with City Councilor Emillie Lieberherr and the police commander with their parody .

The protagonists of the youth movement, „Mr. and Mrs. Smith“, returned n the tables namely to and presented n as a stock conservative pair that politics downright outrageous to inviting, with full force against those „riot technicians“ to proceed. Much larger and harder bullets, for example from Northern Ireland, are an option. The use of napalm must also be discussed. At s onst s it would also with an em ‚ ticket to Moscow „without a return ticket done. First was I stunned and bewildered, my ears did not trust, but then quickly understood the point of the ka fkaesken appearance, the S witzerland far for e ntrüstung and made headlines . „Châpeau, well done, compatriots!“

The exuberant creativity of the „Mov ig “ and their activists culminated in another media coup. When the daily announcer Leon Huber left the news , two masked men suddenly held the sign “Freedom for Georgio Bellini” in front of his chest and into the camera. And disappeared unrecognized.

Then there was still the nude demo s , even this is a previously unthinkable event in the stuffy Zürich, a city on was hard to beat prudery, a Zürich with a curfew from midnight and a very conservative cultural and musical corset. There were no places for young people and their music where they could have met without being forced to consume . It has been seething under the concrete ceiling of this self-satisfied city since 1968 .

Legal? Illegal? S chei ssegal , so we were on it

Then, when after months of protests finally the „AJZ“ (Autome s Youth Center Zürich) rose in today’s Car-parking in an old factory plant, the whole creative potential that lay dormant for so long in secret erupted. That was a radical boost for the battered city Indians. Autonomous groups sprout from every hole in the shared apartment, the hippies now unrestrainedly lived their cult and their music in public. At least in the „AJZ“ – an area that is in fact lawless but with massive police surveillance by informers. The Zurich Police Corps was at that time „subito“ to about 30 people just to monitor the „movement“ increased. Moreover, e was in far from larger recruited army of spies to the Hippi monitor scene and all other subversive elements. And there were many.

Admittedly, after all the repression and draconian punishments, the youth’s sayings became more radical. “Power out of the state, cucumber salad” was just one of the unmistakable slogans that were emblazoned on the walls and chanted at the demos. That was already „treason“ at that time and so we were put on the level of terrorists and optionally presented as communists, Maoists or Palestine sympathizers.

The State went with full force on the activists Inne n go and activists. There was in the education system , in administration and in parts of the economy collusion on work and training bans on the „left“ in Serving opportunities such as teachers and educators , pilots, engineers and so on . Auch military service objectors were closed many doors training and denied some activities. U nd then there were also many violations and excessive violence by the police.

One of my friends lost an eye by a rubber bullet. My friend Lena dragged her hair around and her face was badly bruised. I was also arrested once with 300 other people and treated illegally during the 24 hours of pre-trial detention.

Even more spectacular guerrilla actions showed us that humility and respect for authority at eroding was.“ Underground” bars and illegal clubs shot up like mushrooms on the withered Zürich soil. G was ekifft anywhere outdoors and parks circling the joints and bongs and the police did not come to more , to intervene everywhere . The Marihuanna euphoria“ and the scent of freedom was en simply too big and the sweet grass smell suffused the exhaust and diesel smell far. Freedom has never been more lively , greater and more diverse than in the 80s, a time that I call the “ zenith of the last and this millennium” .

On the shores of Lake Zurich, topless bathing was widespread and women enjoyed the freedom to live out the joys and independence that the pill and thus contraception gave them to the full, which is also reflected in uninhibited sexuality and polygamy or in form of gay and trans parties. Back then it was not a crime among us and neither women nor men frowned upon to have sex with dozens of partners and to try out different partnership models over the course of a year . „Sex, Drugs & Rock & Roll“ or rather “ Amore et Anarchia“. What would you like to order?

Any kind of restriction was rejected, Hedoni sm us was our goal and the time of the birds of paradise began. We wanted to experiment without restrictions and try out free love, while unmarried couples were not even allowed to live together. Such a prude was Zurich and Switzerland as a whole at the time. All the more amazing is that the girls melted away like ice cream or even the scepter took over , flirted violently and a “ One Night “ were stand out . In any case, back then as a young man you were sometimes turned on unrestrainedly by women who only had one goal. m it to share the bed and try all kinds of things to you. A time that is as aphrodisiac as it is inspiring.

In short: D ie women for us were luminaries. Very self-confident and eager to experiment. “One man, one vote”, that applied equally to men and women in the youth movement. There were a lot of activists who either made their voice heard or just did what they wanted and how they wanted and nobody in our circles was bothered by it. We , including the men, put make-up on each other and I often ran through the streets to the “Red Factory”, the “Drahtschmidli” or the “AJZ ” with black painted lips, brightly painted faces and fluttering hair. Just one of the many city Indians.

This uninhibited desire to be freed from all constraints lasted until the first HIV infections in the mid-1980s and initially only shook the gay scene. “ AIDS ” was not an issue at the time of the “AJZ” and so many new experiments and life plans developed horizontally. The first teenagers had just come back from India, from Baghwan in „Poona“ and were either totally „high“ or constantly „stoned“ . The Afghan war against it washed infinitely Afghan hashish and heroin, the civil war in Lebanon the „red Lebanese “ in our smoky WG-Stuben and changed the lives , and the townscape and at the same time the political world view.

Punks, rock bands, M-TV and the Walkman revolutionized the music and media world

It was the time of the “ Rolling Stones“, the „Doors“, „Deep Purple“, by Bob Dylan, Janis Joplin and Ji l Scott Heron. It was the time of the „punks“, the rebellion, the free development, the sex and drug orgies and street battles. Nothing was like it used to be and there was no turning back. In the mid 1970s the punk scene only in New York and then in London came up, the foothills sloshed also on Switzerland. Local scenes soon developed, especially in Zurich. In 1977 there was a hard core of around 50 young people in Zurich who had a decisive influence on the Swiss punk and new wave movement. Their first meeting points were the punk clothing store “Booster” with and the “Club Hey” with the first punk discos. In the environment of various autonomous networks such as the Reithalle in Bern or during squatting where the punks were at the forefront. For example, you can find politicized punks in Winterthur , who often see themselves as a counter-movement to the right-wing extremist environment in Switzerland.

With Roger Schawinski’s pirate station “ Radio 24” , which first broadcast from “ Piz Gropera” from Italy, the barren media landscape, consisting of “Radio Beromünster” (unspeakable), Swiss television (boring and simple-minded), “ORF” (just as conservative) and the «ARD» (not much better) , plowed up. «M-TV» found its way with the first cult videos and revolutionized not only the music world but also the youth scene and subculture. And with Radio DRS3, there was also a youth station in Switzerland. Only later did local radio stations get a license and soon there were at least one, if not two radio stations in every canton.

The first residential communities at the beginning of the 1970s enriched the new life plans and forms of the youth movement and also created a lot of solidarity and engagement with other underground movements, freedom fighters and oppressed states such as Palestine, Nicaragua and Vietnam, which was occupied by US soldiers. The time was right, the last but not least by for major socio-political changes, musical protagonists of our time to the s addition to the „Rolling Stones“ , „Queen’s“ , David Bowie Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix or “ The Scorpions “ also significantly was also fueled by the « punk bands» . Zurich became a hot spot for the blossoming youth culture, which just exploded in all colors and shapes and provided the basis for the unbelievable burst of liberalization. The cities of Zurich, Bern and Basel have never been seen so freaky and trendy before and never since.

We approached the opposite sex with curiosity and respect, and approached people who thought or looked different, and that was what made the movement so unique. It was the time of the anarchists. We debated s and criticizes s fiercely, arguing and solidar ized us with other oppressed peoples. In the maelstrom of explosive liberation and gre nzenlosen life were rushing P arties endlessly celebrated, but more and more hard drugs such as heroin, came to.

When the „AJZ“ opened in an old factory near the car park on Sihlquai, it washed up all sorts of weird birds and drug dealers with. Soon the Italian drug mafia supplied with the Turkish a merciless gang war, which partially also in the „AJZ“ was held. For a while, it was really dangerous to mess with these guys and we had to put a guard on duty to prevent the worst escalations.

In the early 1980s , hundreds of young people died every year from an overdose of „Aitsch“ . The situation improved only when the methadone -A introduced bgabe and the fixer and drug-related deaths of d disappeared en Zürcherstrasse and in the contact and methadone -A bgabestellen met again.

Hundreds of people died of heroin consumption every year

I am at that time with 17 years off and on from the parents apartment in a W (WG) ohngemeinschaft at Forchstrasse drawn in which Rico Bilger and Tommy Müller , lived two writers and the cultural magazine „Babayga“ out gave that in spinning Wettingen by Kaspar Pfenninger was printed. Another roommate worked in the largest record store in Zurich and he had shipped over 900 LPs (records) to the flat. This opened up such a musical universe for all of us and we floated in Seventh Heaven.

From then on, the mail went off. We all were „subversive“ elements in the eyes of the authorities . „Better subversive than conservative,“ we said calmly. Unmarried couples were not allowed to live together at the time . Since we obviously did n’t care , the police often peeked into the flat uninvited . Since there in the lowest 5- mostly night and day room apartment 10 stayed 15 people two patrols were easily overwhelmed and subjected to barking dogs and applause quickly again. The more we were for spying since here also many „AJZ“ – activists and were received from.

But instead of “making cucumber salad out of the state” , the creative potential exploded in the catering, club scene and media landscape. S inally was not about yes to a counter-revolution and the abolition of democracy and the establishment of an anarchy instead of Parliament and the Federal Council, but simply more freedom in leisure, at work, in the family, in which sexuality, drug use and nightlife . So the people in motion became very creative in the media, published street newspapers, printed flyers and posters, also hung them up (wild posters ) and tried all sorts of crap . Zurich developed from a provincial town into a cosmopolitan city ​​and led to one of the most significant socio-political and cultural changes in Switzerland over the past 50 years.

As soon as the „AJZ“ opened at today’s car park, we set about converting and furnishing the old factory area and building. All kinds of groups were formed: craftsmen groups, the “pickling group” , the “women group” , the “drug group” and the “curve group” , i.e. for young people who had escaped from home and had been advertised by the police . Two of my friends, the Rimoldi brothers, were in the „pickling group“ , my friend Michele in the „curve group“ and I in the „drug group“.

It was a rough , but delightfully e time, a grand new beginning. The „AJZ“ was in the very act autonomously and we all have a big colorful family of creative individuals , alchemists, anarchists and Überlebenskünstler. The heroin glut guide te also too young To th. The youngest were just m al 13 years of age. That was too much. The inhuman plight lasted so long, until the methadone program also as a result of HIV infections came to train and Dr. Uchtenhagen and Councilwoman Emilie Dear junkies from the alley gets e and they finally were looked human.

One of the highlights at that time was the impromptu concert by Jimmy Cliff in the car park. One morning he came to the “ AJZ” with his entourage and was enthusiastic about the Zurich Youth Movement and the “ AJZ” . So much so that he let himself be carried away to a spontaneous concert and in no time at all we tried to build a stage and install the music system and loudspeakers.

Radio 24, Roger Schawinski’s pirate station on Piz Gropero in northern Italy , heard about it and word of the spontaneous concert quickly spread throughout the city. From 4 p.m. onwards, more and more young people flocked to the AJZ and brought trams and road traffic to a standstill on Sihlquai . A uf the square came together at the 3000 persons who frenetically and fully intoxicated with Jimmy Cliff fell into ecstasy. “Unforgetable times, indeed – formative for many of my generation.

When the heroin addiction widespread in Zurich among young activists ripped off many friends, I wanted to put an end to this capital. My 17 year-old girlfriend, Sandy was just a Ü been overdose hospitalized (and a year later she died of heroin). So I decided to travel to Spain with a friend named Marco and set out for new horizons.

Spiritual trips to Iberia, Balearic and Canary Islands and Morocco

So we took the night train to Barcelona and arrived in the city center early in the morning . As soon as we were there, there was the first police raid and we were felted from top to bottom. Fortunately, you didn’t find our withdrawal hashration. We had neatly prepared half a cigarette rod with a ready-made mixture and carefully sealed the parcels again. So we soon drove to Cascais , a suburb of Barcelona , and went through three days of painful heroin withdrawal there. On site we met an American at the train station and heard from him that there was going to be a “Greatfull Dead” concert in Seville, so we went there with him on the train. He generously gave us four „LSD“ trips, which we then shared at the concert with four young American students. When the concert ended around three in the morning and we were pretty exhausted with our hitchhiker backpacks and the four girls, they quartered us in their girls‘ boarding school for a few hours. It was still quite fun there on trips and soon we were thrown out on edge because the bed springs crunched so that the walls wobbled.

When we arrived in Algeciras on the border with Morocco, we had a relapse and bought a helping of heroin. But then a „Guardia Civil“ squad came by, who felt us and dug us in. Fortunately, you could no longer identify the substance that I had knocked out of the policeman’s hand during the raid as a drug. It was some kind of „shit powder“. So the police had to let us out of the underground bunker after two days.

After this unpleasant adventure we ended up in Morocco in the Atlas Mountains, where we found ourselves in the largest hashish-growing area at the gates of Europe. Spaniards and Italo’s went in and out of the farm every day, transporting kilos of grass and hashish. Since we had run out financially, we made our hash oil on site in exchange for a warm fur jacket with a capital A (for anarchy) on it. We smuggled the oil through Spain to Portugal, where we settled in Sitges and, thanks to the sale , were able to live well for a while until hepatitis broke out as a late consequence of heroin consumption. We didn’t want to go to the hospital and we couldn’t afford a good hotel. So we ended up in Ibiza, where Marco had a friend who wasn’t there. We broke into the finca, so to speak, and made ourselves comfortable. Then we separated and everyone lived for a while on the « island of dropouts».

Later I flew to Lanza Rote in the Canary Islands. First I wanted to cross the island with a camel, which unfortunately didn’t work, but then there was a completely different adventure. In Playa Blanca I met a sailing crew with an American, a French and a Moroccan. And they still had a cabin free for me. So I stayed with these guys on the boat for a while. One morning I was woken from a deep sleep because suddenly a herd of elephants stomped on the boat, then shouts came up and when I was the first to stick my head out of the gap, I looked into four machine guns, not half a meter from the tip of my nose. All movement and excitement immediately froze. I froze and was allowed to get out, then all my boat friends. Half a dozen heavily armed elite soldiers from the Guardia Civil stood around us. What happened?

We were on board a sailing ship that belonged to a Swiss man who lived in the USA and had only arrived here in Playa Blanca a few days ago . The French skipper, the Moroccan boat boy and the American friend of the Swiss boat owner had brought the boat here from mainland France. Apparently there was a dispute between the boat owner and the skipper the evening before about the fee for the yacht transfer from southern France to Playa Blanca. And the longer waiting time on site than originally planned.

First the angry skipper wanted to sink the boat, which the crew was able to prevent. Then the Frenchman hissed off in anger. But the „nasty guy“ retaliated by giving the Guardia Civil an anonymous phone call from Arecife airport before he left and saying we had weapons and drugs on board. Of course, an adequate number of people came to us on the boat. After six hours the agony was over, the whole boat examined and the special unit smoked another joint with us to relax after the hard work with the few crumbs they had found on the boat during the search.

Relieved about the withdrawal of the special unit and because New Year’s Eve was approaching, we got drunk playing the rest of the day. The so-called “ Si, Si, Si “ drink, with a third of vodka, a third of Cointreau and a shot of champagne, was devilishly good and we got really excited. Only when the American in the very narrow, hose-like and totally overcrowded bar, fired the sea rescue pistol from the very back across the shop over the counter and the bullet dashed along the bar through the double doors, the party mood among those present was sudden over.

They almost wanted to lynch him and since he was already reaching for the next cartridge, I struck my dear boat friend from the stool with a targeted punch and dragged him out. The American was really drunk but also tough. We saw that when he hit the pavement head first as he staggered, whereupon we dragged him to the pier. But the boat was about two meters lower due to the low tide. One could not think of lifting it down. Otherwise we would all have flooded. So we threw him down on the deck, where he hit, grunted and fell into a coma, but the next morning he somehow got back on his feet with all his bumps, or rather staggered around.

When I returned to Zurich in December 1981 and threatened to slide back into the old drug swamp there, the next radical step came. I packed up my savings and flew to the US on a one-way ticket, stayed with relatives in Danville , Illonois for a month , got my driving test, bought an Oldsmobile, and drove across the country for the next ten months States through. On my return from the United States, there was the “ AJZ“ yet, but soon after it was evacuated and destroyed. But things had changed in the Zwingli town.

In the squirl of Swiss political scandals

I had several good jobs in the 1980s . First I worked in export at the “ Hürlimann Brewery”, then only for three months at a trading company on Bahnhofplatz, where I shifted the entire import of grain flour from Sweden from road traffic to rail, thus not only implementing an ecological goal, but the company also saved a lot of money, as the rail solution was also considerably cheaper. Because after came three guide inserts for three months in Senegal, Poland and London into play . Later I worked for “ Media Daten Verlag”, which published “ Werbewoche” and the “ Media Trend Journal”. Then I became head of advertising for the “ Neue Zürcher Zeitung ” for the areas of tourism, schools and institutes and the sales manager for the “ Swiss Review of World Affairs”, the top-class, English-language magazine of “ NZZ” at the time. At the end I produced the tome “ Portraits of the Swiss advertising industry “ and “ Portraits of the Swiss communications industry“ in m “ Bertschi publishing “ . So I got closer and closer to journalism and I decided to learn the trade through a PR training at the « SAWI» .

In October 1989 I took part in a one-week journalism workshop with the left-wing journalist, writer and historian Niklaus Meienberg who uncovered the “ Villiger scandal in World War II”. This led us to the asylum reception center in Kreuzlingen , where we found an inhumane situation on the evening of our arrival . Before the closed asylum reception office had a dozen freezing refugees well lighted a fire to protect themselves from the bitter cold and warm October. They told us that they had been banned from the reception center for asylum seekers. The police were about to put out the fire. That enraged us. And Niklaus Meienberg really got going. The eloquent chicken orchestrated a shameful tirade of the finest didactics. But Meienberg wouldn’t be Meienberg if the words weren’t followed by deeds and so he instructed us to move the refugees to the youth hostel, which was just open. The poor hostel manager almost fell from his chair when he saw the dozen refugees in front of him , enriched with a bevy of budding journalists. Since it went bureaucratic procedures going on with the papers and had after the first five people because as due to lack of papers, ho are ffnungslos canceled and the refugees were least spend the night in the heat.

Meienberg, however, had called half the German-speaking Swiss press on the scene the next morning and pointed out the inhumane incidents and practices in front of the refugee center ( “ punitive action“). So suddenly we saw ourselves confronted with a crowd of journalists in the hustle and bustle of the press and so besieged the refugee center until we had a discussion with the head of the reception center. Then came the politicians and city councilors , the walled ones, Peter Arbenz , the refugee delegate who issued the reception center manager a clean bill of health , the church organizations that demanded more human dignity. And so the whole week was action. The course went on Friday evening to a close, everyone could overnight a write story about the events of the last week and they Meienberg show was the then gave a brief comment. His comment was weak, not to say lousy. But had I the good fortune or the audacity , my s contribution of “ Weltwoche “ submitted and the icon of this then renowned medium Margrit Sprecher, used it and the essence of another writing workshop participant to a report published on my birthday was . The entry was successful. That spurred me on to keep going in that direction. And because photography has become my passion, combining the two.

The secret files scandaland the P-26 Geheimloge

In 1990 it came to light that both the federal authorities and the cantonal police corps had dug around 900,000 “ pits “ on politically suspicious persons since 1900 . According to official information, more than 700,000 people and organizations were recorded. The observation radius first covered foreign anarchists, Swiss socialists and trade unionists, unwelcome political refugees and foreigners who were expelled. With the rise of anti-communism, left-wing politicians and members of trade unions in particular were monitored. The official aim of the “ fiche “ was to protect the country from subversive activities controlled from abroad.

The fight against subversion was a popular catchphrase during the Cold War. The PUK Parliamentary Commission of Inquiry revealed how broadly this vague term was understood. As emerged from the documents of the “ Intelligence Service and Defense Subgroup ” (UNA), zealous state protectors perceived “alternative”, “greens”, peace movements, third world activists, women’s movements and foreign worker supporters, anti-nuclear activists, “leftists” of all kinds by se, should be classified as potentially dangerous , because they could be infiltrated, hostile – or externally controlled or otherwise manipulated.

I also ordered my file from the police and the Ministry of Justice , which was surprisingly detailed in terms of the movement profile and the contacts, but was otherwise very irrelevant, except for the many black spots in the 14-page protocol, which was probably more the spy identity should cover n and protect , as state secrets, anti-state activities or a “ treason “ of monitored-a-days would have brought . It only showed the blind zeal of the authorities and the sad image of the informers . Very few of us were Marxists, Leninists, Maoists or communists or enemies of the state, even if the motto: „Power from the state cucumber salad“ was chanted. There was a lot of state propaganda and cannons shot at sparrows .

Then there was another political scandal: The „P-26“ secret lodge (Project 26) was a secret cadre organization to maintain the will to resist in Switzerland in the event of an occupation. In 1979/1981 she was appointed as the successor to the special service in the Intelligence Service and Defense (UNA) subgroup and dissolved in 1990 by Federal Councilor Moritz Leuenberger after being announced by a parliamentary commission of inquiry (PUK). No armament was planned for the P-26 members in times of peace, but the illustrious secret society did not care. Provided was that they as a group on the orders of a remaining most overseas exile government would actively n to serve as a news source. A combat mission was not planned. That was reserved for the army alone. Nevertheless, the organization hoarded weapons and set up ammunition depots.

Professionally, at the beginning of the 90s, I was doing my public relations training and was employed by the PR agency “ Leipziger & partner” in Zumikon. The boss was a colonel in the military and a little Nazi . So he was so considered not to my s friend s or role models . But from a professional point of view, he was an ace and well connected, and I benefited a lot from his know-how and his contacts with the military and civil organizations such as “ Helvetas” and the “ Europa Institut”. In the Zumikon PR agency I organized, among others, the „Forum 91“ and the „Colloquium Security Policy & Media» with « NATO» -General Klaus Naumann, two highly political forums with senior military, politicians, scientists n and the media. Two worlds collided: Here the young freak who had sympathy for the « army abolition initiative» and evaded the recruit school, but liked to do community service. One of the well with the anti-builder were symph movement ated On the other hand, the bourgeois establishment, the head of the Swiss army up to the guest speakers, „NATO“ -General Klaus Naumann , who escorted only by three cantonal police came in.

At that time I played in thought the military „by worst-case scenario“ for Switzerland, by the had no idea. A real threat scenario would have been to drop a bomb at this event in the ETH Zurich and to wipe out the leadership of the Swiss Army in one fell swoop. I had a couple of 35mm Flabgeschosse of the “ Oerlikon Buehrle» Manufaktur available , I went at once into teaching. At that time there was no anti-terrorism device for the high-profile event, otherwise I would have known it in detail. It was then that I realized that even as a pacifist you can have a few cryptic terrorist ideas, as is otherwise customary in the military and espionage circles.

Founding the Presse agency and working as a radio man

In 1992 I had the PR diploma in hand, I set up my press and picture agency “ GMC“, referring to a „K-Tipp“ research journalists and two media representatives from the Hotel / catering sector an office , the cooperation built with the tourism Magazine “Travel Inside” and some German-speaking Swiss daily newspapers and international photo agencies and made two trips to the Caribbean this year, first for a sailing trip from Grenada to Trinidad and Tobago, then to Cuba. On the first sailing trip of my life, I wanted to experience the carnival in Trinidad with a couple of people from Bern and Zurich and could actually take the boat to the harbor in the middle of the city ​​center, dock there and so comfortably go to the parades and then back on the boat.

We were so carried away by the carnival in Trinidad that we wanted to bring it to Zurich. And we succeeded, thanks to the Trinidad percussionist on board the sailing trip. Ralph Richardson and his wife Angi , both passionate steel drum playing and Ralph also some steel drum bands and children bands in Zurich taught . By Ralph’s contacts could we Mighty Sparrow, the eight-time „King of Calypso“ for an exclusive gala concert at the Hotel International in Oerlikon , committed. For this purpose we arranged an open air on the market square in Oerlikon with eight Stelldrum bands the day before, a Saturday. Thanks to the cooperation with “ British West India Airlines” (BWIA ), which at the time was new to Zurich, we were able to fly top Caribbean chefs to Zurich for six weeks before the Calypso & Steeldrum Festival, with all the fresh ingredients and plenty of tropical decorations to enjoy in „Hotel International“ in Oerlikon offers Caribbean flair, tropical cocktails and delicious exotic specialties and dishes.

By „Calypso & Steel Drum Festival“ I was with Roger Schawinski “ cooperate Radio 24″ and was with him in an hour-long interview and in special programs as a guest . Auch at “ Radio DRS 3″, the one-hour program about Calypso from Trinidad and Might y Sparrow made, cranked up the promotional track. In addition, Frederic Dru from “ Radio Tropic” was interested in really celebrating this event. It was also nice that the Swiss TV for their first trip transmission from the Caribbean and the concert Mighty Sparrow to the first travel show inspired let s and Mighty Sparrow to premiere a fly let us play. Because the « SRF» travel editor Kurt Schaad and the music editor of Swiss television had been to our gala concert.

Was also encouraging that I thus at „Radio Tropic“ on a voluntary, began to work unpaid basis and then very quickly my own rice endings with the airlines, tour operators and tourist boards produced thereby had a completely free hand. It was a brilliant experience and I did two hour specials about Australia, Africa and the Caribbean. A year or two later came the opportunity with „Radio Kanal K“ also produce broadcasts. The station in the canton of Aargau, known as underground music and culture radio, also left a lot of leeway. And so, to everyone’s amazement, I did a top-class interview with four cantonal party presidents about the hotly debated asylum initiative of the SVP. Among others, Gerry Müller, who later became mayor of Baden, was there . The next protagonist is my favorite enemy Andreas Glarner from SVP from the Aargau community of Arni. Finally came also the two cantonal n FDP and CVP president s the argument to the studio . That was my first such highly political and at the same time top-class occupied interview with four leading politicians to the issues heissesten domestic know-how. And it was a very engaged and controversial discussion.

My professional status as a photojournalist and radio producer as well as the veritable network of photo and press agencies made my value with the airlines soar. For travel n oh Africa I called the „SAA“ South African Airways , the Caribbean , I flew as mentioned with the „BWIA“ , to Brazil with the „TAM“ to the French Ü Overseas Territories and to the South Pacific with the „AOM“ and to Asia ,“Singapore Airlines“ and „Malaysia Airlines ‚ of which I received regularly air tickets for free, as I afterwards mostly in seven daily newspapers R published eportagen and for many glossy magazines worked . “That was a fantastic, exciting and exciting time” .

From the 1990s on, I published travel reports , aviation and economic reports in national daily newspapers such as “A argauer Z eitung ”, “Der Bund”, “Neue Luzerner Zeitung”, “Solothurner Zeitung”, “Südostschweiz” and “Facts” in the „Sonntagszeitung“ , before I starting from 1997 also in the wellness, beauty and lifestyle rail jumped up and appeared in glossy magazines such as „Relax & style,“ „World of Wellness“, „Wellness Live“, „Wellness Magazine“ (D). I have also published reports in “Globo (D)”, “Animan” and “ Welt am Sonntag ” .

2.Internationalization and politicization

Between d en fronts of Sen matter and Guinea Bissau

1986 I was lucky because I was already working in the travel industry, as a tour guide or “ Resident Man a ger “ only three months in Senegal, then to live in Warsaw in Poland, so in the former Eastern bloc and most recently in London for another three months and to be allowed to work. That was three very horizon- broadening stays abroad in one year.

In m the first “ Resident Manager ‚- use in Senegal I had rather a leisurely start, because „AIDS “ was just first appeared on the radar and still puzzled medicine , where it came from , or how the virus was transmitted. At first it was suspected by a fly from Africa. Then monkey bites came into question. So there wasn’t much going on in the “ Club Aldiana ” near M’Bour. Time for a trip to the south of Senegal through the Gambia and down to the Casamance . There ran with my camera in the area around. Since no border was visible in the undergrowth, I was suddenly stopped by a troop of soldiers from the Guinea-Bissau military and interrogated for hours. The commander spoke only Portuguese, so it took a while until I found out that there is a conflict because the E l -Vorkommen s on the border betw een the two countries came u nd reminded me of a TV report vo r few days that it was precisely at this time that the parties to the dispute met in Geneva for negotiations. That was my ace as a Swiss in this precarious situation. So I tried to make it clear to the comandant that it would be bad if they took me prisoner and thereby endangered the negotiations in Geneva. He understood that and set me free thanks to my donation.

Relieved, I ran into the Senegal, so in the Casamance back. There I had the tiresome problem of running out of cash to pay the rent for the box. D azu I had only a day’s journey away by Zuiginchor travel to the traveler’s check to change. So tell me the hotelier from the border experience and my donation, when the rent was spent and was then exhausted to the bungalow, to sleep to go. It wasn’t long before two military jeeps drove up in front of the hut with a lot of noise and eight soldiers got out. This time it was Senegalese soldiers, but that didn’t really reassure me. „You have orders to escort me to the military governor, „they told me. „What is going on now“ , I thought, trying to to curb adrenaline rush. Half an hour later I was sitting in front of the military commander who asked me about the border incident . He had received knowledge from the landlord and would like to know more about it. „Shit,“ I thought to myself, but today is a busy day, going war diplomacy w ieder from the beginning. Now it is important to downplay everything as possible and say as little as possible. We then practiced that for a good four hours, after which I was pretty exhausted. Two military officers in hostile states in one day, that was a tough test.

A t the end of the operation in Senegal, the first of the “ AIDS and “ HIV “ -Fällen overshadowing was et, I invited my last guests in M’Bour into a Moorish cafe, that „Vielle Prune “ So a very served fine“ Zw e Tschgenschnaps“. An absolute rarity in Africa. My guests knew immediately which drink it was. Chuckling, I told the man that he Chairman of the“ distillery Willisau „was and producing this drink and drive out. Then we were even more happy about the next few drops and when the guest found out that I was being transferred to Warsaw, he said. „Oh, I know a very fine person and high-ranking politician, because we import vodka from Poland“ . So he wrote a name on a piece of paper and g from him to me for recommending and contacting with. Thanks to this schnapps connection in Senegal, I had drawn an ace for my next mission without even realizing it.

Warsaw 86: In pole position behind the Iron Curtain

Because d rei days later, when I arrived in Warsaw, where 14 days before an airliner of the „LOT“ had crashed and 140 people died, I was able to speak, understand the English and me in with an older man customs and immigration for the 70 any passenger boughs from the west helped . When I am with him for his help asked thanked and after his name, he replied, „My name is Henry Zwirko.“ „Excuse me „, exclaimed to me, that was still the name on the list was given to me by the last guest in Senegal. That could no coincidence be, I thought intuitively, but was busy with the passports and immigration papers, which drag on for hours on end could, especially since I after a briefing a few hours in Switzerland as a newcomer here behind the “ Iron Curtain“ in Warsaw had arrived. 

But the procedure was the man behind me, who as of this Henry Zwirko presented te, gentle with few , but decisive words to the border guards , greatly abbreviated and we could pass . „OK,“ I thought to myself, the man is indeed very promising. No wonder his influence goes far, after all, he is a Polish cabinet minister and his father is a war hero from World War II. I knew that much. But that ’s me this man the same for my arrival in Warsaw would meet, was very scary. In retrospect, my guess confirmed that the VR Presidential dent nachgeholfen a little meeting, paving the way has opened in an extraordinarily closed world to me, to the many intelligence me at this time, including our counterintelligence would have envied.

Because in a very natural way, an excellent cooperation between Henry Zwirko and me developed. Since the official tourist exchange rate for Swiss francs and D-Marks was a good seven times higher than the black market rate offered in Warsaw , I soon got on the transfer bus once or twice a week with half a million zlotys that Henry got me , with which we picked up the new guests from Zurich. U nd during the transfer from the airport to the hotel, I told the guests how difficult and dangerous the illegal exchange was and offered a good tour guide during the journey to the city center every guest 200 francs to switch to a good course. Business went smoothly and the bus driver and local guide’s were also always good away and then looked away. And so I worked my way into the depths of corruption, compliment zen – and planned economy, and soon had money to burn expressed or millions of zloty’s local currency .

Only: there was nothing to buy. Nothing at all, except liquor and sex for sale on every corner. Outside the tourist hotels it was very dreary. Apart from a few very secret places for the elite, where all the goodies , like a Chateaubriand or tartare and fresh juice was served. I have only been to this illustrious place three times, which was intended for Poland’s elite. A famous one ’s ass and President Wojciech Jaruselski (the one-eyed, the Russians offered the forehead) and his entourage on one of the side tables. For me it was almost as if I had arrived at the Kremlin.

Later I had an unexpected meeting with Gorbachev’s Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze in the sauna of a famous Medical Wellness Hotel with an outstanding sleep diagnostics center in Vorarlberg. Luckily I had a Russian-speaking Ukrainer with me as a model, so we could exchange a few words with him. Obviously plagued the Russian Foreign Schlaflosigk EITS symptoms.

Less than two weeks after my arrival in Warsaw and a first round trip in Poland to Krakow and Zakopane, the corpse specialists from abroad arrived and our entire tour group, always around 50 to 70 people, became one hour after the other from the only middle-class hotel “ Forum “ was thrown out and from then on we had to share a hotel bed with lousy, shabby hotels sometimes with third parties for the next 14 days. The 90% male guests took it relatively calmly, „We are here in the Eastern Bloc“. And they could be satisfied with boxes of vodka and champagne. Most of them were only here for a tourist attraction anyway.

Back then Warsaw was the Bangkok of Europe and the female offer was plentifully available in the hotel bar. Whole farmers‘ associations and field staff with “black commission coffers” came here from Switzerland. But I didn’t have time for that, deprived of my own box and the daily search for accommodation, the transfers and bureaucratic hurdles kept me busy. I also had to get hold of fuel on the black market for my work trips and transfers. Then this became too colorful for me and I had the local guests kicked out of the hotels with the dollar lubricant, in which I put double or triple the room price on the table. Such over time some things were running smoothly and as icing I rented one of the finest and most expensive luxury suites in the only five-star hotel in Warsaw, then, the “ Victoria “ hotel on the main square. From this state guest suite I was able to follow the papal visit of the Polish pontiff better than any other camera team from my window . I then saw the Polish Pope again in Cuba in 1993 when he paid a visit to the Caribbean island and Fidel Castro .

I had time for me, I got the unemployed girls in the lobby and the hotel bar high, de n n belonged to my suite and a piano player in the lounge between the two wings. And there was enough space in my suite with two bedrooms and a drawing room. Plötzlich I had often times’s boredom and a half private brothel at my guest. D ie three months in Poland were unforgettable and much more exciting than the time in Senegal. But now it goes straight to London, it says in the fax from the «Imholz» tour guide headquarters in Zurich.

London 87: The first contact with «ANC» exiles

Arrived in London and settled in, after an industrial accident of an Italian tour guide who worked here without a residence permit and whom I then visited in prison, I also met «ANC» exiles who had fled the racist ap artheid regime. Just before the UN sanctions were in force and the South African regime was pilloried. D a brother lived one of our tour guides in South Africa, wol some lten from our tour guide troupe to the Cape to travel and roam in Botswana through the Okavango Delta. That sounded promising and was put into practice after our assignment in London . But before that I returned to Switzerland in order to exchange information with «ANC» exiles and with the Anti-Ap artheid Movement (AAB) from London and to make further contacts in the South African underground. Equipped in this way for the South Africa mission, departure in November 1989 approached quickly. But let’s briefly look back at what had happened in South Africa over the past ten years.

In 1950, when the South African government divided its people into races (Population Registration Act 35), the Swiss banks paid the first loans of 35 million francs. When the government banned mixed marriages (Prohibition of Mixed Marriage Act), a further 85 million francs flowed to the Ap part hei d state, which by 1983 had expropriated over three and a half million blacks and deported them to „homelands“. And so 87 percent of the land belonged to the 16 percent whites. And Switzerland, more precisely my former training company, “Oerlikon Bührle AG”, delivered weapons such as the “35mm Flab cannons” and “Pilatus PC-Porter” aircraft to the Cape. Despite UN sanctions.

In 1967 nearly 700 ‚ arrested 000 black within a year because they have violated the pass laws. The expenditures for internal security already amount to 17 percent of the gross national product. When the British decided to suspend gold trading for two weeks in March 1968, Switzerland sprinted into the breach. Now South Africa’s wealth is flowing in huge quantities into the gold trading metropolis of Switzerland. „SBG“, „SKA“ and „SBV“ secure three quarters of the gold trade.

In 1968 the „Bührle Affair“ bursts. The Oerlikon weapons manufacturer had delivered weapons worth 52.7 million francs to South Africa via France. In 1973 the “UN” General Assembly decides to exclude South Africa with “Resolution 3068” and classify apartheid as a “crime against humanity”, while the loans of the three Swiss banks have already risen to 2.2 billion francs. Meanwhile, every second child under five dies in the homelands, the white men in the Cape and the “Zurich Gold Coast” are doing better and better. “Oerlikon Bührle” has circumvented the sanctions several times. I remember when in the export department I simply had to issue the export permits , freight documents and letters of credit to the “Oerlikon Bührle” holding company in Spain.

1979 comes to a massacre in Soweto, as on June 16, 15 ‚ protested 000 pupils against being henceforth taught in Afrikaans. 575 people died in the uprising that dragged on for months. The Swiss banks doubled their credit volume. In 1980 the Reformed World Federation declared “apartheid a heresy. That left Switzerland and the Swiss secret service cold . Peter Reggli directed the pilot exchange with South African fighter pilots in the ways the Federal w u rd e but only in 1986 oriented.

The amount of credit granted by Swiss banks to the apartheid regime quadrupled. Year after year by 100 percent. Due to the international n Ä the apartheid regime rect benefited the Switzerland of the contemptuous, racist policies of the White people of the Cape. The “ ILO” called on the global corporations to withdraw from South Africa and criticized the “SBG” as a sanction breaker. Nevertheless, in 1985 the South African regime received a further CHF 75 million in loans from Swiss banks. In 1986 a state of emergency is imposed on the heavily indebted country. over 10’000 people are arrested. 1800 died. „Peace became a threat to public security,“ says Archbishop Desmond Tutu when the church journal, the „New Nation“, was closed.

When the USA wanted to punish companies that did not adhere to the sanctions in 1987, South Africa’s President Peter Botha and his Foreign Minister came to Zurich to meet with „SBG“ Vice Director Georg Meyer and the board of the „Association Switzerland-South Africa“, where they were given an „Order of Good Hope“ and another 70 million. And in 1989, thanks to Robert Jeker, South Africa’s regime took a breather when it came to repaying the outstanding loans of over eight billion francs. That was the starting point at the time that made me go underground in South Africa.

Then there was a small wink of fate that encouraged me in the plan. Like so many activists, I wrote a letter to the then “ SGB” (and today’s “ UBS”), which was very active in South Africa at the time and supported the apartheid regime, in which I informed the bank that I closed my account in protest against the financial policy and the « SBG» commitment and asked them to transfer the balance to another account. The bank made a mistake when balancing the account and so they transferred me 5500 francs more. I said to myself, „I’ll leave the money in my account for a year and if the « SBG »no longer reports, the money will go to organizations in the South African underground,“ as a compensation payment, so to speak. And that’s how it happened.

3. In the fight against apartheid in the South African underground

Because South Africa internationally banned was granted the South African embassy in Switzerland a „loose leaflet visa „that means a paper visa that was not included in the passport, so later no problems at entry to other countries g Aebe. First we lived a few weeks in the posh neighborhood of the whites in Hillbrow. Getting used to was initially once the s chwarze housekeeper who was included in the rent. Then of course the restrictions on the black population in all areas of public life. Racial segregation. With the appropriate pass laws for the respective ethnic groups. There was also the Indian community in Durban and the Malay mixed race in Cape Town. That was pretty complicated and pretty perverse. Vo r especially the resettlement plans that have been implemented into practice. So Millio was nen of black people forcedly relocated and de facto expropriated and in the so-called „Bantu zones“ moved.

I carefully familiarized myself with the local conditions, visited the « Khotso House» , where some resistance organizations such as the « Black Sash» but also the « UDF » union had their offices. The house was spied on around the clock and searched by the police several times. Many committed people have been arrested, tortured, and detained without charge. One of the most prominent victims of the apartheid regime along with Nelson Mandela was probably Steven Biko .

I arrived in South Africa just at the time when the „New Nation“ , one of the last liberal , critical leaflets of the Catholic bishops‘ conference under Desmond Tutu was banned and closed. I had a last interview with the dismissed editor-in-chief Gabu Tugwana appeared in the «WOZ» (weekly newspaper). I was the first foreign journalist who saw and photographed the decree of the hated interior minister, witnessed the closure of the “New Nation” and spread the news. The apartheid regime censored or banned many newspapers until all critical voices had fallen silent. The expenditures for internal security, that is, for maintaining the racist apartheid system, devoured over 20 percent of the gross domestic product.

Since nn dare I myself with the Vororts- train from down town Johannesburg to Soweto to, that is in the black townships to go where you were as Weisser at that time quite alone and very noticeable. Fortunately, I had long hair and didn’t look like a Bure or an Englishman. That probably stopped many from killing me right away. Since then the Neugie grew but r what I as doing here and then I could thanks to my in London and Zurich compacted „ANC“ – contacts perfectly satisfying, so they trusted me and me d ie townships introduced.

It was about the living conditions of blacks and their everyday under d he racist laws to know yourself. Soon I was able to live with a family of eight in Soweto and move around freely. So I was shocked as hell when I suddenly stood in front of an armored vehicle of the „SADF“ (South African Defense Force) and guns were pointed at me. When one of the policemen called down from above; „What are you doing here?“ F iel mi r nothing B esseres one, when to direct same question to him, only a tone sharper. Then I carefully pulled out my Swiss passport, which helped defuse the tense situation. They each let me go.

From that first trip was a deep connection to the land that I visited over 20 times and thereby Mandela scored twice. The first time shortly after his release in Soweto, the second time, as President of South Africa and newly crowned Nobel Laureate in the “ Zurich Dolder Hotel” , where he recognized me in front of the political and Federal Council celebrities and gave me a brief hug, which was very touching Moment was. And what all asked at once, who because of the long-haired freak here with the former National Bank President s Leutwyler was and consorts.

Fortunately, that remained a secret from me, Mandela and the South African ambassador in Bern, Dr. Konji Sebati, where I was once a guest at the embassy in Bern on a high- profile event. By d iesen Contact I came as a travel journalist and PR consultant at that time worked at a PR mandate for the South African Tourist Board ( SATOUR) and got to the mandate of the South African airline (SAA) for years.

I owed this to my diplomatic balancing act between the underground contacts , of which only a few knew , and the contacts with the white elite, which were also very discreet. And the fact that the Swiss in South Africa a central role in the gold rush in the „nuclear power plants“ in mil itärischer support of Ap artheid regime and finally in the debt restructuring and the transformation process played and incidentally took all gold trading .

As usual, everything is completely legal and neutral. The dark chapter Switzerland – South Africa would itself fill an entire book about Switzerland’s very profitable strategy of neutrality, the close interweaving of the secret service, espionage, the military and the Swiss economy with the Ap artheid regime. Since I an apprenticeship in the armory and machine tool factory “ Oerlikon Buehrle » have, which includes the „Contraves“ and „Pilatus factory“ belonged, is to me not only the problematic saint known , who also collaborated with the Nazis and the like billionaire Schwarzenbach art treasures hoarded, the partly in Zurich in Bührle-Museum are on display , but also many interesting events and documents in the export department noticed. What could not be exported from Switzerland due to sanctions was exported by other foreign “Oerlikon Bührle” branches, for example in France or Spain .

One murder every 40 minutes. 20 ‚ 000 per year

After the apartheid regime collapsed due to the UN boycott and the South African resistance, there was a bitter power struggle between the ANC (African National Congress) and Buthelezi`s IFP (Inkhata Freedom Party). The civil war claimed X thousand victims and made tens of thousands refugees. Another tragedy, because before that the white regime had forcibly displaced millions of black people like cattle in the course of racial segregation.

In post-apartheid South Africa, the people were preoccupied with one thing above all else: the constantly growing violent crime. In the past, the main aim of the police was to pursue political opponents, but now the security forces and politicians are fighting an almost hopeless fight against brutality and crime. The „taxi / minibus war“ in Durban has claimed numerous innocent lives for years. In Cape Town, a gang war raging less than 80000 young people. Johannesburg is also the scene of numerous crimes. Even as a tourist or business traveler you can feel the „atmosphere of fear“. The police forces operier t s as paramilitary organizations and have a bad reputation.

Unemployment concerning ug nearly 40 percent. Widespread poverty made crime soaring. Favored by the impotence and corruption of the self-absorbed judicial and police apparatus, which was paralyzed in the course of the radical restructuring. Were daily in South Africa more than 60 people a year against 20 ‚ killed 000 people. South Africa’s prisons are bursting at the seams . Criminal investigations remain unprocessed for years. Young people under the age of 14 are also detained.

Mandela’s release marked the end of apartheid

On August 5, 1962, Nelson Mandela and Cecil Williams were arrested while driving near Howick in Natal, on charges of leading the banned“ ANC “ underground. The arrest came after he had worked for almost a year and a half in freedom and in the political underground, interrupted by public appearances for the ANC abroad. The start of the trial was set for October 15, 1962 (two days before I was born). The result was Mandela’s sentencing on November 7, 1962 to five years in prison for inciting public unrest (three years in prison) and traveling abroad without a passport (two years). He took on his own defense in this court hearing. After the verdict was announced, he was sent to the prison island Robben Island at the end of May 1963 , but was soon brought back to Pretoria after the rest of the «ANC» leadership had been arrested on July 11th. From October 7, 1963, Mandela stood in Pretoria in the “Rivonia” trial with ten co-defendants for “sabotage and planning armed struggle” . On April 20, 1964, the last day of the trial before the verdict was pronounced, Mandela explained in his four-hour, prepared speech in detail the need for armed struggle, because the government did not respond to appeals or non-violent resistance from the non-white population in its quest for equal treatment and instead passed increasingly repressive laws.

A m 11 February 1990 was Mandela released from prison. President Frederik de Klerk had initiated this and lifted the ban of the “African National Congress” (ANC) days earlier. Mandela and de Klerk received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993. On the day of his release, Mandela gave a speech from the balcony of City Hall in Cape Town, and days later one in front of an audience of 120,000 in the football stadium in Johannesburg. There he presented his policy of reconciliation by inviting “all people who have given up apartheid ”to participate in a “ non-racial, united and democratic South Africa with general, free elections and voting rights for all”.

In July 1992, M andela unanimously elected President e n chosen the „ANC“. This enabled him to negotiate with the government on the elimination of apartheid and the creation of a new South Africa. In 1994 his autobiography „The Long Road to Freedom“ was published and wrote: „During these long, lonely years of imprisonment, my hunger for freedom for my own people became the hunger for freedom of all peoples, whether white or black.“

In February 1996 the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) set up by Mandela began under the leadership of Desmond Tutu, a Nobel Peace Prize winner . with the coming to terms with the crimes of apartheid. For some groups, the social improvements achieved during Mandela’s tenure did not go far enough, including in relation to the AIDS crisis. Critics also criticized the fact that the crimes of the apartheid regime were not punished.

Free health care was available to children under six, pregnant and nursing mothers; In 1996 health care became free of charge for all South Africans. With the “Land Restitution Act” (1994) and the “Land Reform Act 3” (1996) steps were taken towards land reform. During his tenure, numerous laws from the apartheid period were revoked. The army and police were reorganized.

When in 199 4 the newly elected South African President and Nobel Prize winner Nelson Mandela came to Switzerland and spoke to the local “ class politique” and the economic elite (National Bank President and bank representative) about his vision of a new South Africa, I was there too Photojournalist invited and took some pictures of Mandela . However, I was not prepared for the fact that he would be blinded by the flash as a result of his eyesight, which had been lost through the long imprisonment, and without a flash I had the wrong film speed in the can. As Mandela’s speech to the assembled political and business elite in Switzerland was over and he was in Ap e mixed ro with the crowd, I thought I was rather in the background.

But apparently Mandela had a good memory and very attentive eyes, maybe he even remembered where and when in Soweto I stood in the crowd of blacks after his release. In any case, that caused him to step up to me and ask me whether we have met before. I was amazed. And when I answered him, she shook hands with me, more amazingly . That touched me a lot. Suddenly I had the feeling that maybe I had really made a difference and that I received, so to speak, a celebrity thank you and an incredible appreciation.

Civil War South Africa 94: ICRC operations in the « ANC-IFP» civil war

1993 accompanied n me photographer friend Marcus Baker to a friend of us , Daniel Sidler, of the ICRC / Red Cross South African delegate to Johanne was stationed sburg, on his journey to the refugee camps, to make matters Probing make to the victims help and support the peace efforts to stabilize the country with a view to a democratic constitution and government of the „rainbow nation“. We drove to the hotspots of the time “Margate” and “Ladysmith”, “Ezakhweni” and “Emphangeni ” , “Mfung” and “Obizo” as well as “Empendle” recorded the burned down houses and the dead. Talks with bereaved relatives and tried to mediate between the conflicting parties. A difficult, if not almost hopeless, task. At that time, there was every 40 minutes to an em murder. 20’000 per year in total .

As part of my humanitarian engagement in South Africa, thanks to the Zulu healer Credo Vusama Mutwa, I was also able to visit Poolsmo or Prison in Cape Town – where Nelson Mandela spent the last years of his imprisonment – with a Canadian team of UN health inspectors. In the 3 ‚ designed 000 prisoners prison around 7 were ‚ 000 prisoners detained. Almost 30% were HIV positive at the time. Many have been detained for years without charge. Quite a few died. The conditions we encountered were terrible. And a tablespoon of tasting in the prison kitchen was enough that I had staphylococci / streptococci afterwards. It was also educationally strange that there was only a plastic gun as a toy in the children’s playroom.

I came to this unique mission because of a spiritual capacity in South Africa. The Zulu Sangoma (healer), Bantu writer & historian Credo Vusama Mutwa . I got to know him in the “ Shamwari Game Reserve“ together with Dr. Jan. player, the rhinoceros savior and “ Wilderness Leadership School“ founder. All night long the incredibly educated person told me the spiritual secrets and ethnic contexts, the cultural characteristics and peculiarities of the Bantu peoples from North to South Africa. It was fascinating and very educational. Only I was just with my two and a half year old daughter Aiala and her mother Roberta the road and had e i nige plans, appointments and meetings regarding other wildlife and ecological projects and could not just stay here and creed in the project „help Kaya Lendaba“.

He wanted the „Shamwari Game Reserve“ to build a multicultural village, would be represented in the all South African ethnic groups , and it should serve as Lightpole for the reunification of the „serve rainbow nation“ and help end the conflict. G erne I would have the training to a „sangoma“ So, a healer done since Creed zutraute me the skills and the mental-spiritual worldview. D ies filled me with pride and would probably a pioneering crossover in my life. Because originally I wanted to work as a game ranger in one of these newly emerging wildlife reserves. I can not help me S chöneres imagine , as a Wildlife Manager to work in an intact and protected environment. That’s why I kept traveling to Botswana, South Africa and Namibia.

4 . Mexico , Cuba, Carnival and US Invaders

Mexico 89: The Easter processions of the Mixtec Indians in Oaxaca

Mexico’s face shines brilliantly , the cradle of archaic high Indian cultures. Both the ancient temples and the richly contrasting, splendid colonial cities of Oaxaca and San Cristobal de las Casas protrude like jewels from the dazzling Sierra Madre. In the homeland of the Tzotziles, Tzetales, Chamulas and Lacandons , the indigenous people are about as original as Valais or Bündner mountain people. And yet the culture, history and landscape are not the same as ours. Their cultures are closer to nature, more anarchic, clan-like and more spiritual.

I spent a few days in Oaxaca , a r magnificent n Colonial City. On the way to pick up my laundry, I happened to look into a back yard where a woman with long, curly hair was standing at a strange machine doing a job that made me curious. She noticed me and called me in , and I saw what she was doing. She was standing in front of an ancient lithography system from the early 19th century and was just printing a few lithographs. Unexpectedly, was I in the studio of the famous oaxacenischen painter Tamayo purely run. We started talking for over two hours. She told me that over Easter she wanted to go to the mountains to see the Indians and their processions over the Easter holidays because she wanted to bring some school books to a teacher. That sounded tempting and inspired me. I’ve always wanted to Indios . Winnetou was the role model in my childhood. The Apaches my inspiration.

So concluded I am Marcela immediately and so we went the next morning with a public bus in the mountains to Zacantepec to almost 3000 meters. The ten hour drive was very arduous. All the while the handle on top holding on I stood between bags, chickens and sitting on the floor children, constantly back and forth rocking, as is the bus on a narrow gravel-pass road with large, deep holes into the mountains high screwed snarling. There were two rest stops due to the two tire changes. As the only gringo on the bus, I towered over the Indians by a head height.

In the dark with thick fog we arrived at the Zapotec Indio Kaff, which consisted of three stone houses, a zocalo and a church with a corrugated iron roof. There was a single Guest House above the only small shop that except a few Tonbüchsen and Mayon e se glasses a few peppers, some coffee and Mezcal schnapps offer had. For a week there was practically nothing to eat. Marcela, the beautiful painter and I were soon in a rather mystical mood. And then came the moment when deeply veiled Indian figures emerged from the ghostly mist from all directions and streamed towards the church. There a padre in a white soutaine gave a pastoral speech in the local Indian dialect in front of the „Virgen de Guadaloupe“ of the black Virgin Mary . But much more fascinating were all the marked by deep furrows Indio faces under their colorful Rebozos , colorful scarves, which they wore on their heads and shoulders . Sparse candlelight Kopal- incense fumes and a spread on the ground, fragrant sea of pine needles and splendidly costumed Honoratoren with silver-sticks as the insignia of their dignity, Transform te n the nave into a mystical world.

Until then, I would not have thought of seeing the Indians in such a Christian pose. I had an idea of ​​the Indians that was shaped by Winnetou films , although I had met some in the USA before. Then it started, that is, the Indian women shouldered the « Virgen de Guadaloupe» and the men of Jesus Christ on their shoulders and then the whole Indian tribe pulled up into the mountains. They split into two groups. I decided the women Fa c Kel and Kerzenlichterzug to join . And so we climbed up the narrow, slippery paths. On the way there were a few rituals of the Way of the Cross and at the 7th station the two trains gathered in a small clearing with a place around the standard bearers and kneeling women with the censer. Now the padre gave another speech and at that moment the sky tore completely open for the first time and the sun appeared like a divine spell on the small Indian community. The chants somehow put me in a trance. It was extraordinary to experience this spiritual experience as the only white and foreigner among the Mixtec Indians. I merged with you and your ancestors, so to speak. D ies must also have sensed Indians and gave me their trust.

When one of the dignitaries broke away and came up to me, I was terrified because I was taking hidden photos of the reunion of Jesus Christ and Mary the Virgin. I got S chiss, they would have caught me taking pictures and I would now be offered in sacrifice and impaled on the lance. But the fear was not unfounded, because tourists who photographed the indigenous Indians have already been killed in Chiapas. Instead, as a gesture of hospitality, I was brought to the center of the procession and was allowed to be one of the three standard-bearers. What a gesture and an honor for me, when I was so critical of them. I was very touched. On many other trips to the indigenous peoples around the globe, I found time and again that I have a special spiritual connection and that I have telepathic abilities.

I opened myself up to the Indians all the more and fell into a trance several times in the following days and in crazy processions . And all without the «Nanacatl» mushrooms or other drugs like Me s calin . Only with half a bottle of mezcal schnapps did I calm the hunger and the revenge of «Montezuma», that is, the upset stomach. And due to the lack of food and the altitude, the alcohol level had a particularly good effect on the intoxicated trance states. There were no longer any language barriers and what was universal overcame all cultural boundaries. And thanks to the young painter from the studio of the famous Mexican painter «Tamayo», I learned more and more about the history and identity of the Mixtecs. From then on I was particularly interested in the natives on all continents.

Witness to the Zapatista Indio uprisings in Chiapas

Thanks to the young Marcela, I learned more and more about the history and identity of the Mixtecs and spent a few more weeks on forays through the indigenous country with her. Years later I returned as a journalist back to Mexico, as as in Chiapas escalated in 1994, the indigenous uprisings and the Mexican military and the soldiers of the army in the region of six villages and in San Cristobal de las Casas marched to the “ MARCOS“ – To push back rebels and to crush the Indio uprising. The six letters “ MARCOS“ were the first letters of the six rebellious Indian communities in the vicinity of San Cristobal. “ M“ argaritas, „A“ ltimirano, „R“ ancho, „N“ uevo, „C“ omitan, „O“ cosingo and „S“ to Cristobal. Ten kilometers further on is San Juan Chamula , the village of the traditional Chamulas, where the uprising began on 1.1.1994. This resulted in the « Subcomandante Marcos » . The jewel and the focal point of the Chamulenic world of belief, where God and the gods merge, Christ rose from the cross to rise again as the sun, is the baroque village church from the 17th century.

There we drove past tanks and roadblocks, military helicopters circled in the sky and soldiers could be seen everywhere. The Chi a pas uprising was initiated by the „Ejercito Zapatista de Liberacion Nacional(EZLN), a so-called radical left movement that rebelled against new state requirements in the state of Chiapas. The Maya Indians suffered from the free trade agreement and the racist policies in administration. And they wanted to defend themselves against it. They were suppressed and excluded from participating in the political process. The conflict began as a EZLN offensive around occupied four cities to San Cristobal de las Casas in January 1994, which the Mexican clothes and eq the situation r spot with weight a l t and should end repression, while also inserting torture. In 2001 the Zapatistas, under the leadership of MARCOS, made a march from Chiapas to Mexico City and on 1st 2003 they took San Cristobal de las Casas. Finally, more and more NGOs advocated peace negotiations and put pressure on the government. Ultimately, however, not much has turned out for the better for the Indian communities. 

In Ocosingo we flew in that time when I with a nutritionist for infants of the UN aid agency (DIF) was there, the balls just as the ears and we had n lucky that no hit and only bullet holes remained . After I escaped from this highly dangerous place, I then experienced a severe earthquake in Chiapas and a hurricane in Yucatan . So Mexico really didn’t save on impressions. It has always been a hell of a hot country, not to mention all the drug cartels that were fighting each other back then. So much for Mexico. Now it’s on to Cuba, the socialist sugar and tobacco paradise in miserable times.

Cuba 93: Among the idealists who feed on hope

In 1993, when my daughter Aiala was just three months old, I flew with her and her mother Roberta with diapers for a month to socialist Cuba. It was about a Swiss film project with Fidel Castro and Geraldine Ch aplin . She was the door opener to the socialist rulers. It was the“ Periodo especial en tiempo de paz”, the time of emergency in peacetime, when Cuba plunged into an economic crisis after the collapse of the Soviet Union and the fall of the Berlin Wall and had to undergo a drastic change in system. By „Dollar liberalization“ in the socialist Caribbean paradise in order to pivot from the sugar industry to tourism, took place a revolution of „socialist heart to capitalist mind “ as I wrote in the media .

The classless society was now split into two camps: the one with the green US bills (“ fulanos “ ) and the one with the worthless pesos, the „esperancejos“, the hopeful. The hunt for the „fula“ (bad money) kafka has taken shape. The state tourism organization “ Cubanacan „pulls on the black market together all the goods to offer them to the paying with dollars tourists. Even the fresh fish do not end up on the plate of the starving population, but in a tourist hotel in Havana. At that time, was v ierstöckige department stores – except for a p aar glass beads and plastic rings, a few rifles, potato and a few agricultural products- empty. People stood in line for hours at the farmers‘ markets for a few eggs. There was seldom electricity. Entire districts were pitch black.

„I had never seen such a shocking standstill before“. Precisely for this reason was probably the propaganda machine of the socialist Castro -Regimes at full speed to get us journalists of the advantages of the socialist tourism -P to convince aradieses. Ü convincingly were only the „mojitos“ and the young, very pretty Cuban women as so-called themselves „jineteras» , horseback night entpup p th, which is at the pier of Varadero to the Touristenschiff and were pushed their luck.

But as „embedded“ journalist, I had access to aussergewöh n physical persons, such as the Green derin the women’s organization in the ’60s. So Cuba was way ahead of us. Then the famous oncologist Miranda Martinez who showed me the revolutionary health system and also their weaknesses revealed u nd a revolutionary of the first hour, with Fidel Castro fought side by side. Then I visited Ana Fidelia Quirot ( d as Olympic long-distance miracle) , d ie an explosion in the kitchen suffered as a pregnant woman serious burns and while her child from Sotomayor lost. An exclusive interview that TV stations had been waiting for in vain for a long time.

Even the political power center penetrated we thanks Geraldin Ch Aplin ago. It was yes to a film about Cuba and the „Cuban Star s“ with S wiss and Cuban filmmakers. When interviewed at the hotel „El International“ in Havana , where we lived, my three-month-old daughter sat Aiala on Geraldine’s lap while we conducted the interview. Otherwise it was completely uncomplicated to travel around C uba with a baby . All Cuban women immediately rushed to Aiala and entertained her well and caringly. For „Annabelle“ , a leading women’s magazine in Switzerland, the portraits of women were from all kuban i rule layers planned.

At the end, the sports journalist, who put the whole program together and arranged the contacts with the women, planned a presentation to the assembled Cuban press, radio and television, in which we would talk about the Swiss media landscape and journalism in Switzerland should. We had s not much time to prepare it, and wondered n us good at what we should say n , not too tightly to offend political. It was a balancing act of conveying information with low critical tones. I handed the presentation over to Roberta , because she spoke better Spanish and because we came to Cuba in the context of researching female characters and stories.

Because after we were interviewed by radio journalists and (always with just early the next morning, as we stood at 07.00 already in a mechanical woman workshop Aiala in Snuggli it) just shone an interview on the state broadcaster of yesterday’s presentation and Appearance. That was funny and a brilliant timing and again brought us a lot of sympathy and respect in the women’s workshop . It was an exciting 30 days on Sugar Island, but also an embarrassing state of the country and the hunger and poverty in the population. There was very little tourism back then. That changed quickly, however, because the Cubans urgently needed money and loosened the currency regulations.

The socialist Caribbean island attracted me again and again and thanks to the cooperation with the airline «AOM» I flew over to Sugar Island almost every year between 1993 and 1998 and stayed with a Cuban family, an elderly couple who lived in the tallest skyscrapers at the time on the Malecon next to the legendary Hotel „El International“ lived. There was a room there with its own entrance and a connecting door to their apartment. That was perfect for the social exchange with the married couple Claris and Nilo and my nightly escapades. Despite harsh controls and spying, I was able to cultivate my liasons , even cultivate them, bought myself a Chinese bike and rode all over Old Havana. Cuba was not a crowded tourist paradise then. But that changed quickly thanks to the regime’s efforts to open up the country to tourism and to create the first tourist enclaves.

Grenada 92: On the US John Rodgersfor press breakfast

This year I went on a sailing trip with the “ Paso Doble “ from Grenada to Trinidad and arrived at the time when the 10th anniversary of the „liberation“ or „occupation“ of Grenada, depending on the point of view, was being celebrated by US forces. I came with my friend Roberta and we found out in the Caribbean that she was pregnant.

Then we were able to attend the official ceremony with the Prime Minister of Grenada, Breathwater and the US Ambassador in the presence of high-ranking US military personnel, whereupon we were greeted by the US Ambassador’s PR lady for a press breakfast on the aircraft carrier “US- John Rodgers“ to be invited, which I did not want to miss. After all , that doesn’t happen every day at breakfast on a warship that had enormous potential for destruction. And so it happened. A US Navy boat picked us up on the beach and went over to where we talk about with the commander and his press-Adjudantin the US policy led. In retrospect, this visit was not a good idea because I had been on the radar of the US authorities and secret services since that incident and felt this at a later point in time in the Philippines and got me into some «troubles » , which ultimately led to «Persona non grata »was declared in the Philippines. Presumably my many visits to Cuba, which I made to the Caribbean tropical island in the 90s, were also followed critically.

Let’s briefly look back at why the Americans brought about an upheaval in Grenada. The trigger was Maurice Bishop of Grenadian, the son of parents born in Aruba from the age of 6 in Grenada lived Jura in England studied, where he the political ideas of the ’68 movement, the Black Power movement and the Trinidadian Marxist C. LR James before returning to the Caribbean in 1969 .

He began to build workers‘ councils in Grenada on the Soviet model, founded a socialist party, the New Jewel Movement (NJM, Jewel stands for Joint Endeavor for Welfare, Education and Liberation) and founded unions . He enjoyed the approval of the population , who were dissatisfied with the corrupt rule of Sir Eric Gairy and his Mongoose Gang, a “thugs”. After Gairy had probably falsified the elections , Maurice Bishop came to power on March 13, 1979 in an almost bloodless coup, which was supported by the people, and became Prime Minister of Grenada. The human rights situation improved under Bishop. He relied on social reforms , such as the introduction of a free health system and the building of new schools, and maintained good relations with the Soviet Union and Cuba, which supported Grenada with development aid and with the construction of the airport. That didn’t suit the USA at all. On October 25, 1983, the United States began an invasion code-named Operation Urgent Fury, in the course of which the government was ousted.

That was probably one of the few US operations that ultimately came off lightly for the civilian population and led to stabilization. The US invasion of Panama was not too disastrous either, but all other interventions, invasions and infiltrations on the part of the US from the Vietnam War to the Afghanistan mission, the failed Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba, the devastating Iraq war that led to IS has, the overthrow of Gaddhafi in Libya, the skirmishes in the war in Syria, in all these conflicts the USA failed miserably as the aggressor and world policeman. A “failed state” in my eyes. With unmistakable consequences for the whole world: The radicalization in the Muslim world, a boost for terrorist organizations like Al Qaeda and IS and so on, and has now reached a domestic political climax with Trump. The “War on Drugs” proclaimed by the USA was also a disaster for 50 years and now the United States are drowning on their hundreds of thousands of opiate deaths with increasing weed liberalization and have left behind a deeply divided society. Good night and bye bye good old America, one can only say.

Hell trip in Colombia in the service of Swissair

If one hears or speaks about Colombia, then mostly drugs, murder and corruption are mentioned. The sunny side of Colombian life and the beauties of the Andes and the jungle state rarely come to light. Anyone who fearlessly faces the Terra incognita in the Garden of Eden in South America despite poverty and violence will be drawn to the magic of Colombia and the fiery temperament of the population.

Only a few countries are dotted with the impressive variety of landscapes and an incomparable wealth of natural wonders, such as the V ated largest state Lat e inamerikas. In northern Colombia, the Eastern, Western and Central dominate – Cordillera. Three massive strands of the Andes with snow-capped peaks rising up to 5000 meters, the topographical panopticon of the country. They contain fertile valleys with volcanic ash soils on which coffee plantations, vegetable and grain fields and fruit trees flourish, and fragrant flowers and spice bushes bloom. Mining brings to light the most beautiful emeralds as well as gold, platinum, silver and also abundant coal and oil deposits.

In the Amazon it is as if time has stood still. Fitzgeraldo’s adventures come back to life on the spiritual horizon – there are still thousands of dangers lurking in the tropical rainforest. The Yaguas Indios are not a threat, although they still blow deadly poison arrows from their blowguns when hunting animals and birds. Crocodiles and pirahas prevent a swim in the cool Amazon. Along the Andean foothills, endless savannas with cattle pastures spread out in the north, which in the east turn into wild areas like the Guajira peninsula. White sandy beaches line the coasts of the Caribbean islands of San Andres and Providencia off Nicaragua’s coast. Over 40 nature reserves and national parks totaling 10 million hectares in size, which represent a kind of genetic treasure chest and information bank about the development of our planet, bear witness to the immense wealth of fauna and flora in Colombia. The harbingers of the jungle begin less than 100 kilometers from Bogota. But to get there you have to have overcome the grueling pass road of the Sierra Oriental at an altitude of 3700 meters above sea level and then mastered and survived the winding descent along abyssal gorges to a hundred meters above sea level.

The sun is just setting on the blood-red colored horizon over the steaming jungle, where shortly before dawn the tropical thunderstorm rained down heavily on the esmerald green jungle and also on the silver fuselage of the DC-6, with which we drove through the lashing propeller with a loud howl rain fl ying. The pilot’s forehead is also covered with thick water pearls. That looks like severe landing conditions. The propeller motors roaringly fight against the dense, swiftly passing clouds. The view from the small round windows sweeps over the Amazon basin, its rivers and islands. Now we are about to land and soon glide over the bumpy jungle runway.

For historians, architects and culturally ambitious the visit Cartagena, one of the most beautiful colonial-Reliq u ia very Lat e inamerikas, the highest of all emotions. The formerly important port city of the continent for the slave trade and seat of the then feared Inquisition Tribunal, a place of tragedy and heroes, adventurers and legends, is rich in castles, monasteries and museums, all of which are part of the world cultural heritage.

The original places, colonial metropolises of Colombia, the villages of the Yagua – Indians near Leticia in the triangle of three countries, the Caribbean flair of the holiday island of San Andres off the coast of Nicaragua and the dwellings of the farmers in the great natural areas combine to form a grandiose microcosm. Ü berragt of the Andes, embraced by the jungle and umwogt from the Caribbean and Pacific Symphony of the oceans, seething life of Colombians between happiness and despair, anger and powerlessness, commutes from exuberant joy of life, carried by cheerful dance music, through to the deepest sadness the victims of poverty, drug barons, corrupt politicians and tyrants. Colombians live, love and suffer life to the fullest. You will be carried away, dive in, maybe even under and with a little luck more well protected – almost on foot and leave the country again, peppered with unforgettable experiences.

In Bogota I met my professional colleague Hans-Jörg Egger. From there we flew in all directions. First n oh Letiza the border triangle Brazil, Colombia and Peru in the south of the Amazon, to Cartagena in the colonial pearl, according to Cali, then the drug stronghold of Pablo Escobar. Then to Villa Vicencio and finally up to the Caribbean island of San Andres , which lies off the coast of Nicaragua. A very ambitious program in one week and that was only possible because we arrived at the airport 15 minutes before the plane took off.

That worked perfectly, only on the last flight to Equador, which was again an international flight, we didn’t think that the procedure would take much longer. When we got to the counter and found out that boarding had already been completed, I showed two business cards to the staff at the check-in counter and said: „Stop the airplaine, now, immediately“. And just ran through the gate past the surprised securities onto the airfield. Hans-Jörg panted next to me, after all we had a lot of camera luggage in tow.

Without being shot at, we ran towards the plane, which had closed all doors and was taxiing. At the same time we saw a stair vehicle speeding towards the plane and the jet stopped. After a few dozen meters we made it and were allowed to hurry up the stairs, the doors were opened and we were on board. „Wo w, what awesome action“. Why did the plane stop? D ie a business card was that of Colombian aviation minister ’s and the other that of the Airport Director of Bogota. We had interviewed both people beforehand. And so it happened that for us two Swiss journalists in Colombia, a commercial aircraft on an international flight was stopped on the taxiway for departure and the board doors opened.

Since our boarding was already quite spectacular, we were allowed to take turns in the third pilot’s seat in the cockpit of this machine and experience the flight to Quito. It was then that I became aware for the first time how fast it goes when two commercial aircraft speed towards each other at 700 kilometers per hour. I was able to experience that on the spectacular approach to landing in Quito, when a machine that took off from there flew very close and very quickly past our cockpit. Only saw it only a tiny point that was enlarges rapidly and quickly to a spat over. Even more glaring was the flight with the military aircraft over the Andes, during which I was quite dazed as a result of the acceleration. I wasn’t as fit as a military pilot after all.

Guyana 1997/2003 : From the jungle straight to the space mission

Thanks to the cooperation with the «AOM», which linked the French departments d o utre Mer, ie French Guyana, Guadeloupe, Martinique, the South Seas or New Caledonia with Paris, I was able to fly to Cuba almost once a year and was also short in Guadeloupe, three weeks in the South Seas and now on the flight to French Guyana in the backyard of the Grande Nation, where the pepper grows, the political prisoners were banished and the European Space Station (ESA) is located in Kourou . The most exotic of all EU members is at best by the movie „Papillon“ , known as the former penal colony. The image of French Guyana, however, is also shaped by vague ideas and illustrious legends.

Guyana’s reputation as a dangerous country, populated with armies of poisonous insects, terrible tarantulas, deadly snakes, meter-long aligators and piranhas is probably true, but beyond that, the country where Europe expires is evaporating and one of them disappears in the green jungle thicket most stable in the region.

„The most dangerous creature here is humans, followed by wasps, „says Philippe Gilabert, the founder of „CISAME“ (Center Initiation Survie et Aventure au Millieu Equatorial), an idyllic camp in the middle of the green hell after a pirogue trip upriver about 60 kilometers Banks of the Approuague near the Brazilian border. “ D eople “ , so says the former parachutist Legion Etrangere and terrorism expert Gilabert, „is the most harmful creature for the fragile Eco circle of primary forest. D ann came the wasps but only for the unwary people are a threat, added d he then 43-year-old Frenchman ironically. He and Manoel, a Karipuna Rainforest Indio, it must know the n they specialize on bringing all the jungle closer (as they would like) and the hardest one 10 days Survival Training offer. So practicing Z ivilisationsgeschädigte once in archery, traps, climbing, canoeing, fishing, Feu ermachen and build shelters before he make his own experiences t as it is , having to survive in the jungle.

In Kourou , not far from Guyana’s capital Cayenne , in the European aviation center, the “Center Spacial” of the (ESA), reveals itself to the curious travelers to develop new living spaces rich in contrasts. From here goes / went the journey into space until Elon Musk tinkered new bases and spaceships. The town itself has nothing, except the usual lesson in the class hierarchy of the country. In the old town live the socially weakest, the Creoles, Indians and white laborers, surrounded by out of place concrete buildings for the middle class and on the beach the magnificent villas of the Europeans, the scientists and employees of the space station.

From the space station I take a boat to Devil’s Island, known as the penal colony in the film Papillon. The three islands off the coast, Ille Royaale, St. Jospeh and Ille Diable, where political prisoners were detained for years in extreme conditions before being guillotined. Some, it is said here, would have preferred to be eaten by the sharks on their flight through the sea than to have to continue to suffer the earthly hardships here . Guyana’s highlights include the country’s wild west. In particular, the picturesque colonial city of St. Laurent-du-Moroni, on Grenzflus s to Surinam is worth a visit. The colorful mix of peoples of Indios, jet-black pirogue guides, busy Indochinese and Hmongs who came here via France on the run from the Pol Pot regime, but also Haitian fabric dealers, Dominicans and Creoles of all shades and a few whites was impressively diverse .

2004: Stationed in northeastern Brazil

2003, I was for three months as a resident manager for a Swiss travel company in Fortalezza stationed in northeastern Brazil and was there a damn good time. W enig guests, so no stress, a hotel room just off the Beira Mar, which is like in Rio at the Copacabana u nd a good vehicle with which I as far as Jericoacoara to the fantastic sand dunes or in the south to Moro Branco could drive.

The Brazilian attitude towards life has already attracted me a lot on previous trips. Before that, I was in Rio de Janeiro , at the carnival in Salvador de Bahia , on the holiday island of Buzio and learned a little Portuguese as a result . Since I spoke Spanish well, it was easier for me to get started and I like the Brazilian dialects better. Au ch music a lle r Latin American sounds enchanted me: From the Tango in Argentina over the Bossa Nova of Gilberto Gil in Brazil and the folk dance Forro, as in Fortalezza, from salsa and Son on Cuba Merengue on the Dominican Republic, all these musical styles and T a nzformen talk to me. The eroticism is uniquely seductive. And so do the women. „Mamma mia. Simply hot and sweet as sugar at the same time ”.

I never quite understood why so many Swiss men were drawn to Thailand. Maybe I underestimate the seductive art of Asian, but I have just lat e inamerikanische and African cultures significantly closer. And since Fortalezza is, so to speak, the Bangkok of Brazil and weekly dozens of fully occupied cheap charter flights flew in from Amsterdam and Rome and fueled prostitution, I too made fiery acquaintances and a few amours. After three months of next came insert command and the culture shock would not have been glaring. Because the next stationary assignment should be in Sinai. But before in the Sinai and then to Lebanon goes , I would anticipate that I after Ä Egypt equal returned to Brazil and here lived another four months and reports now equal about it.

Z ack in Fortalezza, I lived only two months in the favela „Serviluz“ near the „Praia do Futuro“ at a friend’s. I had a simple room in his brick house and I felt very comfortable there. I soon knew a lot of people and the neighbors in the favela knew me, so I had no problems moving around freely. It was a comfortable hangover time because I had done good foreign exchange deals with tourists in Sinai and in Brazil before that. That was always a bearable additional source of income for the job. In Poland I almost became a zloty millionaire.

Then a friend from Switzerland visited me and we rented a “Highlux”, an off-roader, to drive up along the Brazilian coast from Fortalezza in the state of Ceara via the federal states of Maranhao and Piaui to Manaus and to make the return journey inland. That is a good 6000 kilometers that I covered in 11 days. the The terrain rides were almost more comfortable than the ride on the asphalt, which was completely covered with holes that were up to half a meter deep. D He asphalt looked , like after a nationwide Bombenbangriff. There, I drove almost permanently de m gravel strip on the right of the road to. You get ahead faster and stir up a lot of dust , which can be seen from afar.

The trip passed through Jericoacoara, a fantastic landscape of dunes, which in the next state of Maranhao was surpassed in beauty by the lakes in the sand dunes. A fascinating area. Deserts like me better , as jungles. You get on better. In the 4×4 at least. But here, I would be without the help of e inheimischen arg stranded fishermen. Numerous rivers had to be crossed on the trip and most of the time it went very well. But then we came to a river that was only very broad and shallow on our side, it was a small S andinselchen before the point where the river flowed through a narrow, traveling mouth like a funnel.

You could see it from 40 meters away. That was probably the most dangerous st e Stelle. If I couldn’t cross the last eight to ten meters to the tiny river island at full throttle, it would look bad. And that’s exactly how it was. So I drove with a lot of thrust through the 30-meter- wide, shallow spot towards the island, but there it came to a standstill and as a result I reached the raging flow with little momentum, with the bonnet at a 45 degree angle stuck three-quarters in the water. We managed to get out of the river only thanks to a boat in the lazy river that lifted the car a little and a car that pulled us back over the shallow river with a wire rope. We were lucky that there were fishermen nearby and that a vehicle came after three or four hours.

Another time, I was walking alone in the brooding midday heat and got stuck in the deep sand. It took four hours and endless Ruckelstösse for a few centimeters, until I return to could drive. The sand was burning hot and I s chaufelte for hours like a madman . I didn’t think I would be able to do it after being completely exhausted after two hours and having to take a break. After a few days we drove to the next state to Piaui and from there to Manaus .

2009: Amazon cruise from Iquitos (Peru) to Havana

In 2006 I had the unique opportunity to take part in an exclusive cruise on the „MS Bremen“, which went from the Peruvian city of Iquitos on the upper reaches of the Amazon to Manaus with scientists, nature and environmental experts on board. Thanks to the rafts , one could go so pure from the ship into the tangled side arms and learned a lot about the forest and the Indians, who in these remote Ö lived co-refuges. In the evening there was always talks and statistical facts about the loss of biodiversity, from the dwindling d s flora and fauna and associated with global warming at this location effects that affect the global climate.

On board were Dr. John H. Harwood , Amanzonian Neotropic and Biomass Expert (INPA), then Prof. Dr. Lothar Staeck from the Technical University in Berlin, an expert in biology and biodiversity, as well as Dr. Harmut Roder, historian and museum scientist and lecturer at the University of Bremen, Dr. Thomas Henningsen, expert in marine biology and river dolphins and campaign manager for forests and seas at Greenpeace Germany and Dr. Claudia Roedel, E x Pertin for biology and tropical east ecology. So a truly took exemplary team of experts, d as in such a diversified and high-profile cast is hard to find.

The plan was in Iquitos on board „to go MS Bremen“ going from Cachamarca in the highlands of Peru to the Inca thermal baths of via a stopover in Lima forth coming. But as a result of an appointment error, the „MS Bremen“ had left hours ago without me . Now I stood there and tried to charter a boat for three days to follow the luxury steamer. When I was finally able to travel to Manaus on a small speed boat , it finally took a week to catch up with the «MS- Bremen». On the wild boat sreise was me a backpack stolen and crossing the border from Peru to Brazil was still adventurous it . We arrived at the border in the dark of night. There was no hut to sleep there. On the other hand in Brazil, yes. Two fellow travelers and I found an old man who drove us over and kindly picked us up the next morning in Brazil and paddled back with us to Peru , as we had to cross the border properly in order not to arrive illegally in Brazil.

After the border crossing operation was successful and soon afterwards, after a 1000 kilometers of adventurous boat trip and six days later, I was burnt down and at the end of my tether on board the „MS Bremen“, I first relaxed on the luxury steamer and received delicious meals. Not only with valuable information and great lectures, but also with fantastic buffets and high-quality entertainment.

D ergestalt the journey on the luxury liner continued to French Guyana as a stopping off Cuba and the largest n track over open sea before us. The Ue berfahrt was quite calm. No wave to be seen. The sea as smooth as a mirror and the horizon endless. Nice in the morning at sunrise and even better in the evening at sunset. Otherwise boring if you didn’t give in to the social appearances. The coke helped perfectly over boredom and reached as far as Cuba. There I separated from the Munich couple and went my own way again. For the first time I arrived in Havana on a large cruise ship and that is a completely different , sublime sight and a different form of arrival . Much better than the castle across from the bay.

5. Committed to people, nature and the environment

86/89/93: With the Bushmen in the Kalahari

In 1986, after my first stay in South Africa with three Swiss tour guides from London , I set out on an expedition to the Okavango Delta in the neighboring state of Botswana . From Johannesburg we first drove with two Land Rover to Pretoria, then further north to the Limpopo river , where the first real challenge came . The Ü berquerung de s good 40 wide river could bewerkstellig only thanks to two vehicles and winches t we r the . This means that the cable winch of the vehicle in front is brought across the river by swimming or by boat and attached to a tree there. The winch of the rear vehicle is turned on at the back of the first vehicle and then it goes into the water, which sloshes over the bonnet. The pull of the front winch and the stabilization with the winch of the rear Land Rover standing on the bank requires good cooperation between both vehicle drivers. The crossing with the second vehicle then only takes place with the cable winch of the vehicle that was previously driven through the river and is a bit more turbulent but mostly smooth, because you have already laid a track .

Then we went through the Madikgadikdadi Salt Panels , a barren, salt-encrusted pan-flat pan to Maun and from there via Kasane to the 3rd Bridge, then to the Savuti Channel in the Moremi Game Reserve and finally we arrived at the Victoria Falls. That sounds very simple, but was a hellishly hot trip with many teaching pieces during Ü survive in the African wilderness. Fortunately, Johann was an experienced and reliable South African safari guide who introduced us to the dangers and Bush experiences. It was scary to sleep in a small tent and have are a few elephants in front or above one and the Ä ste down rattled when their trunks ate about us in the crowns.

At first we did not want to sleep in, on or under the Land Rovers and so surrounded us our tent with camping chairs for amateurish defense (and as an e Art audible alarm before be eaten) . Fortunately, our guide had a good ear and a sixth instinct and warned us one night with the words. “The lions are there , come here quickly and climb up on the roof.” So we jumped nimbly like gazelles with giants to the vehicles and when we got there we jumped up smoothly. Then the loud roar of lions could be heard and a considerable pack was walking around our vehicles. It would have been extremely uncomfortable in the tent . After all, the poor animals are very hungry and have to feed their babies.

Another night I woke up and had to rinse off all the beers we drank every night . So I used the flashlight out of the tent slot to search for reflective eyes that would flash in the light of the flashlight. Still a little dazed from the alcohol and the nightly heat of over 40 degrees, I saw nothing of the kind and wanted to get out. Then the hippopotamus, which was standing not two meters in front of the tent entrance and grazing , ran a few steps further and now I saw significantly more of the nocturnal surroundings, but as a precaution stayed noiseless in the tent because of the animal neighbor, because hippos are the number cause of death 1 in Botswana.

When we finally arrived at 3rd Bridge after a week of dust-dry tour at over 40 degrees, half dying of thirst (at night) , there was no stopping us when we finally saw water . All rushed into the Hippocrates and K ro k odil -Pool pure and splashing merrily around, as if there were no vascular hr. We were pretty „lucky“, because there swarms yes crocodiles, hippos and other wildlife. Late it in the feudal Wildlife- Lod ges Curved each a motorboat in a circle around the float, so certainly not a crocodile or hippo near the bathers guests was. 

Another time, while roaming the bush , I had to put an approaching lion to flight with stone throwing, stirring up dust and angry hissing and goddamn curses . I never found out what exactly was decisive for his majestic retreat. The pulse remained at a record high for a long time. But a stone fell from my fluttering heart

Then we came across Willy Zingg, a former Swiss military pilot who got stuck here in Botswana and grew into a legend. Not only his fearless alligator prey but also his daring acrobatics was widely known. He was a warrior as he is in a picture book. We got to know him under dramatic circumstances. We were driving towards one of the rarely seen safari troops and saw that a mighty elephant had grinded the Land Rover and was shaking it up vigorously. We later learned that it was about the oranges. The next thing we saw was a man who sped to the other vehicle, who then took off and drove into the elephant from behind. That worked. The elephant turned with a loud trompe te ngeheul left, but stomped accidentally over a tent, lay in the woman and was then injured his hip. Yes, there were a few such or similar hot situations on this trip. Thank god we were all spared. The madness.

Another adventurous situation arose when the said Swiss had completed his lan depiste near the Tsodillo Hills, the sacred mountains of the San, also known as the Bushmen of the Kalahari indigenous people, and wanted to make a sightseeing flight with the San chief. Since the landing gear did not want to fold out during landing, the experienced fighter pilot had to do a daring loop and roll over the aircraft in order to extend the jammed landing gear again thanks to the centrifugal force. That succeeded and the first San, who took off into the sky, was a bit „messy“ and slightly traumatized but very enthusiastic.

In the time of the Central Kalahari is home to around 16’000 Bushmen. Throughout southern Africa, their number is estimated at around 100’000. The San are master trackers, notorious hunter, gifted archer – and true environmentalists. They live according to the Eros principle, which connects everything with everything: «Everything belongs to Mother Nature and Mother Earth. Nobody owns anything. Everything is shared», the young San Suruka explains to me the worldview of the S an at the foot of the Tsodillo Hills with the ancient rock carvings.

To make this clear, the stunted, tough people with their short, pitch-black curls and peach-colored skin tones tell us about the hunt. They coat the shaft of their arrows with a poison that they extract from caterpillars. The dose of the poison is chosen exactly depending on the animal that is shot. Nothing is wasted – not even a drop of poison. The San have learned to survive even in the most inhospitable areas of the continent. However, this adaptability was born out of necessity, as Suruka continues to tell us: “We Bushmen know no private property, neither fences nor borders. Our rhythm of life is coordinated with the migration of animals and the tides. We live according to the principle that nature belongs to everyone and that everyone should only take what they need. As a result, our people have been hunted, driven away and killed like fair game for centuries. ”The perpetrators were both other African tribes and the European colonial rulers among them the Germans.

I then had a mystical experience when I climbed to the rock carvings that are more than 6000 years old in the jagged rocks. Suruka tried to make something understandable for me in his click loud language, in such a way that we will come across guards, but I shouldn’t be afraid. The guards were probably the two rattlesnakes that glided across from one ledge to the other before our eyes. From two sides at the same time. So I would have been alone if I hadn’t moved on. With Suruka I felt safe and could marvel at the rock paintings. About 12 years later I saw a film on „BBC“ in which Suruka reappeared and led the film crew to the Tsodillo Hills.

The Okavango Delta is a uniquely shimmering, almost unearthly natural paradise and animal kingdom, as long as people stay outside. And the government in Botswana has succeeded in doing this thanks to the abundant diamond deposits and one of the richest African countries. It promoted sustainable safari tourism very early on and placed many large areas under protection. I traveled to the Okavango Delta several times in the course of the 90s, but then more in a more luxurious way with visits to the most expensive luxury lodges of “Wilderness Safari”. 

Companion groundbreaking Wildlife & Ecoprojects

With a total of ten South Africa Travel between 1986 and Millen n ium , I have already in 1993 for the first time the “ Shamwari Game Reserve» near Port Elizabeth at the Addo Elephant Park visited. At that time, this was one of the pioneering animal protection and wildlife reintroduction projects that was unique in the southern hemisphere. For this purpose, former farmland was renatured and converted into bush, then the “ Big Fi ve ” were gradually resettled there. At the beginning of the 90s, Adrian Gardiner , the owner, the first five black rhinos from „Natal Parks Board“ bought for half a million euros and on the Garden Route near the Addo Elephant Park and Port Elizabeth reintroduced. During my first visit, the farmland was being renatured and I remember the self-made fire pots and chimney stacks with which every single tree trunk was fumigated. After a short time a wildlife sanctuary is in excess of 20 from the then 1,200-hectare farm ‚ 000 ha with a wild animal population of more than 10 ‚ became 000 wildlife. That happened in the period from 1993 to 1997.

In addition to the Long Lee Manor House has Shamwari Game Reserve five more exclusive lodges created , which in addition to the Eagles Crag and the Bushmen River Lodge also the Lobengula Spa Lodge belonged. In November 2005 Adrian Gardiner received the international award for the sixth time at the “Word Travel Market” in London (WTM) as the “ world’s best private zoo with the highest ecological requirements ”. The Shamwari Game Reserve was also classified as the “second most important project in the southern hemisphere” and received the “British Airways for Tomorrow Award”.

Not only this, other pioneering ecological and Wildlife- projects in South Africa and Botswana accompanied or I represented nearly a decade and reported repeatedly about d ie progress and obstacles because I every year in South Africa was , as I always the South African Visited tourism trade fair „INDABA“ in Durban. I was also at the Londolozi Game Reserve of the Varty Brothers , who made spectacular animal films, from the beginning and had the right nose. And this in various places around the world. In Australia, I had the Daintree Forest Lodge and in Botswana with the “ Wilderness Leadership School “ demonstrated a keen sense and I was the absolute top performers of that time. Added to this was en the Mara Mara , „Sabi Sabi and Phinda Game Reserve, and finally even the The Pezula in Knysna, where the Swiss Ten n is ace Roger Federer has his mansion. In the posh Mount Nelson Hotel in Cape Town, Margret Thatcher suddenly sat next to me in the hairdressing salon. That made the conversation very easy. Only the old lady of British politics made a very demented impression.

Based on my many contacts in South Africa, I received from the South African Tourist Board (SATOUR) over the message Contact the job South Africa in Switzerland with PR campaigns to represent, which I still remember the „S outh A frican A irways “ -Mandat approached u nd wrote two travel guides about South Africa following my many visits to South Africa. Whether it is to „Ecotourism – and its social significance“ (Confederation), to the startling report and the successful fundraiser for the endangered „Orang Utan in Re genwald of Borneo“ (bridge-builder) , to „save the whales“ (in the SonntagsZeitung) or the “ Climate catastrophe in the Alps” (Southeast Switzerland) , I always had a distinctive nose in the (head) wind and was often way ahead of my time .

This is also the case with «Swissair» , whose demise I already wrote in 1997 in «Der Bund» with the report «Will Swissair survive?» and anticipated two other newspapers . Also, the climate change, which today almost 30 years later, still a hot topic and the biggest problem on the planet Earth is occupied myself very early and I went consequences. I could cry about all the political lip confessions, the empty promises of trade associations, the k lima tax- exempt aviation, the deadly sins of budget airlines and the „SUVs“ , instead of cars, in the last 20 years – well aware of the poor condition of the planet, were made. The «Easy Jet» generation was too much for me again.

I never took an airplane in Europe. The train was popular there. Of course I can be rightly accused of having boosted global air traffic as a travel journalist with my travel reports. I cannot deny that. But I’ve always made the effort to promote environmentally sustainable projects and environmentally friendly travel. And I always took a lot of time in one place. Mostly I was in one country for 20-30 days. And as a consequence of the “ IPPC “ – report I have „Tourism and the established Environmental Forum Switzerland » and put me in this country sustainable for a rethink and swirling.

In addition to long-distance travel, I was more and more often in France, Germany and Ö most rich on press trips, most as four, lasted five days. D as the press – and picture agency business ran smoothly. Co operations with führenen photo agencies such as „Action Press“ and „dpa“ in Germany and „Ringer,“ „Keystone“ in Switzerland and the increasing number of publications as well as grown to well 30,000 slides from almost 50 countries Bildarc hiv, had a solid base .

Added to this was the cooperation with “Singapore Airlines” and with “ Malaysia Airlines ” . An exciting PR mandate in which I designed the PR campaigns for “Malaysia Airlines” , planned the advertisements and published many exciting trips and then published the reports . D ie cooperation with „Singapore Airlines“ took nearly 15 years. So I came several times to Sri Lanka, Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia, the Maldives and several times to Australia, where I visited almost all states except the Northern Territories and covered thousands of kilometers in the off-roader alone.

Climate change led to the establishment of the « Tourism & Environment Forum »

In 1997, the first report of the came „IPPC“ -Klimarats out and what was outlined and has surpassed all the horror scenarios by far and also the extent of destruction that I b s early years since 1993 notices had. The report should also change my work permanently. I from now on under the left many long-distance travel and focused more on short-term goals u nd I founded with two professional colleagues Gisela Femppel of the „Southeast Switzerland“ and Heinz Schmid , the “ Tourism & Environment Forum Switzerland » . Also the famous St. Moritz tourism director supported us actively

The „Tourism & Environment Forum Switzerland“ was at the airport Samedan domiciled , as I at the time up there in fancy Upper Engadine in the century-winter and the following two years lived , because I after separation by Roberta with my r girlfriend Eve , the an avid snowboarder who had moved from Zurich to the Engadin. It was all the more beautiful in the Engadine high valley because I was able to ride through the forests of the Alpine slopes and, for the first time, also rode in winter and in the thundering snow.

For the “ Tourism & Environment Forum Switzerland“ I created a web portal that linked scientific facts, environmentally relevant NGO projects, responsible authorities such as the Federal Office for the Environment ( SAEFL) and critical media reports with sustainable travel offers and tips for environmentally conscious travelers. For three years I was managing director and president for the environmental organization and also set some accents in Graubünden with touring exhibitions on climate change in the Alps. With a “Rail-Expo” of the “Rhaetian Railway”, three rail cars that were stationed in Davos, St. Moritz, Samedan, Pontresina and six other alpine locations in Graubünden and sent out the first warning signals . And since I moved to the Engadin, I have been reporting regularly to “Südostschweiz” on the threat of climate change and ecological forms of travel. I was also active at the holiday fairs and various forums and gave environmental lectures. „This was the first long-term institutional “ C orporate S ocial R esponsability „-Commitment my own press agency in this country. I’ve already had a few projects abroad that I supported. „

At that time I published numerous environmentally critical publications and comments such as “A Requiem on the Coral Reef” in the “Mittelland-Zeitung” or “A time bomb is ticking in the diving paradise of the Maldives” In the comment I wrote the following : “It is not El Nino ’s fault . It is d he man who too far away below. The alarm bells are ringing around the globe. Central America was devastated and set back decades. The coral reefs in Äquatorialgürtel is threatened or already largely destroyed, polluted the seas, the wildlife here and there exterminated, installed the Alps and dirty. “ In 1997 I went to “Südostschweiz” as a reaction to the IPPC climate report on climate change in the Alps and raised the subject under the title “Nobody gets away scot-free – the Alps particularly hard hit by global warming ”.

This devastating climate change Conclusion and urgent appeal I addressed already before about 25 years to Switzerland and the „international community“ and at that time held certain: „The dramatic trail of destruction that the industrialized man and the (un) leave civilized Tourist , is mostly carried out on the back of the 3rd world nations and is becoming more and more dramatic». But we here in the Alps are also particularly affected by climate change. The temperature rise is likely much higher , as a rise in global average. Also, the glaciers are melting as well as the biodiversity has been dramatically reduced.

A s President of the « Tourism & Environment Forum Switzerland», I published other critical reports and gave critical presentations on my own travel industry, which was asked to do more for the environment and for the enormous damage caused by air traffic and mass tourism. That made me more enemies than friends . The tourism propagandists were not pleased that the global impact of their business model was increasingly criticized . I strongly urged the Federation of Travel Agencies out , to give more than just lip service. To express it contemporary with the words of Greta von Thunberg : „When there is a fire, people often rub against the fire alarm instead of putting out the fire“. And I was inwardly so to Mute, „I want you to panic“ to say .

Chronology of good intentions

The authorities were then as now everywhere in a state of emergency. Whether it is compliance with the Clean Air Ordinance , noise levels to protect the population, international agreements on the reduction of CO2 emissions or the fulfillment of declarations of intent and objectives such as “ Agenda 21”, the “ Charter of Lanzarote „or the “ declaration of Crete „go wherever we look, we have to conclude that none d he targets only approximately satisfied been is. “ The crux of the matter is that the necessity of environmentally and socially compatible tourism is undisputed, but still not much happens”, which I criticized in the presentations and reports as President of the “ Tourism & Environment Forum ” .

The tour operators, above all the three big “ Kuoni Reisen“, “ Hotelplan“ and “ Tui Reisen“ hardly took care of the water and energy supply and waste management on site, which led to devastating pollution of the beaches and especially on the Maldives and other islands Seas. An investigation by the “ Higher Technical School for Tourism” (HFT) came to the conclusion that the “ Declaration of Crete ” remained a dead paper tiger.

In the journal “ Touring“ and “ bridge-builder“, both media appeared with millions of readers audience more critical reports that echoed far beyond Switzerland, since I the “ UNEP“ Director Klaus Toepfer , the head of the UN Environment Program, and with Michael Iwand , then director of environmental management at “ TUI“ (Touristik Union International) and Iwand counterpart interviewed by the German environmental aid Association and the Wildlife protection Society and intervened at the ITB of the largest tourism trade fair in Berlin to take the issue on the agenda. Also Prof. Hansruedi Müller from the Research Institute for Leisure and Tourism (FIF) called for “ more Heart-liner as a hardliner “ .

From this and the following experiences and examples, one can confidently say , that the resolution adopted by people “ Corporate responsibility initiative“ and rejected by the stands Volksme h r now also be much more lead paper without effect and remain toothless is. Once again , Switzerland and the corporations that control it have got around to assuming their global responsibility. So we haven’t come a step further in the last 30 years.

At that time, members of the “ Tourism & Environment Forum ” protected the “ BUWAL / FLS ” , the Swiss National Park, the Entlebuch Biosphere Reserve , the “ Research Institute for Leisure and Tourism ” at the University of Bern and the “ Europe Institute ” in Basel, but also the fresh Launched car rental “ Mobility ” and “ Toyota ” with the first hybrid vehicle, the “ Prius ” , along with some tourist offices , hotels and the media. There were three permanent three-month exhibitions at the train stations in St. Moritz, Samedan and Pontresina and a traveling exhibition with the “ Rhaetian Railway ” . The proposal was good and I got three rail cars that drove past six Grisons places and there for 14 days jeweil s at the stations were stationed. In addition, we organized a live concert with the Larry Alexander Band to kick off the exhibition. Also at the annual holiday fairs in Zurich and Bern was “ Tourism & Environment Forum “ with Refer ata and exhibitions present. Travel more consciously, experience more, destroy less, was the motto for the travelers and the aim was to take the necessary measures to reduce CO2 and bring about an energy transition at home .

Where are we today?

We clean Swiss are world champions in consumption, consumption, waste and CO2 emissions. We have it to number four in the world ranking of polluters and CO2 Emmissionäre geschaf f t and our large footprint exported abroad and there compensated . So which is waste of over all masses consuming and resource flogging society banished from our eyes and our environment . R esources intensive areas we have in recent decades by China , Vietnam and Bangladesh laid. Most of the CO-2 emissions are outsourced to structurally weak or human rights-defying regions. For that have “ My climate“ -Kompensationszertifikate and similar instruments created to soothe our conscience, but not , to defuse the situation. U ur record is not good and clean but quite simply miserable.

Only now, in November 2020, the Federal Council for consultation to “ presented Sustainable Development Strategy (SDS). And they are again a sign of poverty for Switzerland. The balance sheet of the model Switzerland looks even worse when you consider the economic factors of the largest offshore financial center. At the end of 2019, Swiss banks were managing a quarter of global assets. An incredible 3742.7 billion Swiss francs. But the m ense assets are hardly invested in sustainable projects. On the contrary . The gold mine and tax haven Switzerland favors and protects hundreds of potent headquarters m ultinationaler corporations and contributes massively to the outflow of private assets a us developing countries and thus to global n redistribution from bottom to top at . There is no limit to exploitation and greed, not even in times of Covid-19. On the contrary, it favors the global techno giants and the super-rich. And this great shadow falls back on Switzerland. No matter how we know the image of washing and how beautiful we us a talk or preach.

It’s just not comprehensible bar that despite all the knowledge that in the early 90s, at the latest in 1997 with the “ originals IPPC“ credit report and gave the lonely callers in the desert right little grippy measures taken or consistently implemented were. Between 1961 and 1990 alone, temperatures had already risen by two degrees Celsius, while they rose by only 0.6 percent on average worldwide. The forecasts for the Alpine region at that time ranged up to five degrees more in the next 30 years . In keeping with the “ Kyoto Summit ” in December 1997, “ El- Nino” swirled through the headlines and with it animals died of thirst in Australia, fields sunk in the mud in Malaysia, forest fires in Indonesia and elsewhere. The warning couldn’t be clearer enough. At the 1992 environmental summit in Rio , politicians had promised to protect the climate system for today and for future generations. But the development went in the opposite direction. The “ Generation Easy Jet“ was rolling in or was just flying in, everyone was jetting off to London or New York for a few days to shop, to Ibiza for “ raves“ etc. and to Milan to buy a pair of shoes. Suddenly a plane ticket to London cost less than the train ride from Zurich to Bern or Geneva. A catastrophic turnaround that did not bode well.

A social paradigm shift is needed

Where is the problem? Now, the thin protective layer in the atmosphere is t in the free market economy a penny worth it costs nothing and pollute them either. The natural resources are mercilessly exploited. The young and the next generation will be stunned to realize that we in the consumer frenzy after Ö oil crisis in 1975 and especially since the beginning of the 90s almost as much gas, coal and east have burned l like in a million years of earth before. And this , although the sun has always been sending 10,000 times more energy to the earth’s surface than humans need and, despite scientific knowledge, humanity is not able to follow politically and certainly not be able to act adequately. The dump of humanity is now in sight, the entferntesten regions of the world bar on and under the Meeresoberflä che to see. And, as everyone knows, that’s just the tip of the iceberg. The plastic and pesticide toxins have long since i m groundwater and i the food chain n arrived and set up there massively further damage and great suffering to.

In Switzerland too, biodiversity, bodies of water, glaciers and air pollutants are in bad shape. The „My-Climate“ CO2 compensation business is just window dressing and does not help anyone if we increase our consumption and squandering of resources steadily , rather than to reduce drastically and radically rethink our throwaway society . From an accounting perspective, more than 30 million tonnes of CO2 ( instead of on Swiss soil ) would have to be saved outside the country’s borders. That will not only cost billions of dollars, it is also totally nonsensical, both economically and ecologically. These amounts would be missing for the domestic CO2 reductions and the economy. The “ decarbonization of society” would not progress a millimeter, the dependency and mess would grow, if only due to the increasing population density.

According to Copernicus, the decade from 2011 to 2020 was the hottest year since measurements began. In Europe, too, but especially in the Arctic, record values of up to six degrees were recorded in the period from 1981 to 2010 above the average. 2020, high temperatures are particularly extreme, the they were made without the El Nino effect in the previous year. As a result of the La Nina effect , a rise in temperature is likely to be recorded again in 2021 . And that although we had very limited air traffic for a Covid-19 year . The increase in CO2 will certainly continue to rise. The Arctic will continue to melt and when it comes to the worst case scenario and the Atlantic roller no longer moves you as it has before, we look forward to gloomy times.

It is true that in 2020 the “ Paris Coalition of High Ambitions” will be revived at the United Nations‘ first virtual climate protection summit , where 75 nations have committed themselves to the goal of “ net zero emissions”. Most states aim for the target by 2050. This means that the “ Coalition for Carbon Neutrality ” proclaimed by UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres has a good 65 percent of global CO2 emissions, which could increase if the financial commitments for the green climate fund advance to CHF 100 billion a year. The carbon price, which is also recognized by the EU and is expected to rise steadily until 2030, is the central instrument.

In 2015, Nobel laureate in economics, William Nordhaus , suggested creating a climate club that would benefit from the sharing of climate protection and exclude free riders. Just so you’ll be au s out the prisoner’s dilemma. The coalition of the willing should grant the greatest possible benefit and advantages for the members. In this way one can counteract the problem of usufruct without one’s own efforts and contributions. The capital market would also be well advised to invest in sustainable and green products and resources and to quickly get out of coal.

For UN Secretary General Gutterez , this is an important step forward, but it is not enough. We must not forget that the world is still on the way to a global temperature increase of over three degrees, which would amount to a catastrophe. In other words. We are still on the road with 180 km in terms of fossil consumption. A speed reduction is necessary. The pandemic in particular has shown what is possible and can be mobilized in extraordinary situations. The patient Earth is in the intensive care unit and gasps in the last gulps. It is high time to act and implement drastic measures. The longer we wait, the more expensive and hopeless it becomes.


Maldives 93: Only e signs of climate change were visible

Via Sri Lanka I arrived in the Maldives and visited Zuer s t the tourist island Ihuru . The almost 1,800 coral atolls stand out from the deep blue Indian Ocean like a bright white pearl necklace. A mosaic of light and color surrounds the chain of islands spread across seven degrees of latitude from north to south . Islets fringed by turquoise-blue lagoons and wreath- shaped reefs, which rise from the depths of the sea floor and turn its opulent underwater splendor upwards . The outer reefs shield the atoll, which often protrudes only a few centimeters above the surface of the water, from the surf. Colorful coral gardens were home to an enormous variety of species. A picture-perfect idyll of sea, sun and palm beach and secluded island romance as well as an Eldorado for divers and water sports enthusiasts.

The downsides: A fragile ecosystem that is particularly endangered by tourism. An island kingdom that is threatened in its existence by global warming and the rise in sea levels, and which is probably irrevocably doomed. And the mountains of rubbish that tourists leave behind on the islands and on the nearby Garbage Island are testimony to the growing pollution and the destruction of fragile ecosystems . On «Ihuru». I saw at that time , as local fishermen ship cargoes of sandbags zoom guide t s and on the beach ramparts against the erosion piling up . D ies So I led already almost 30 years ago in mind that there is a climate change are , at that time still under the “ El- Nino effect “ was played down (over the then realization that sea levels rise and demolish the climate-critical Atlantic roller abruptly will , published I number of reports and comments. As already distinguished itself global warming from, that he then four years later the first „IPPC“ credit report detailed set was.

In 1993 the “El nino Effect” dramatically destroyed the submarine coral world of the Maldives. It bleached and died . Fortunately, I experienced the incredible colors of the shimmering soft coral gardens on my first dives on Ihuru and Rihive li as well as on the sister islands « Dighofinolu » and « Veliganda Hura » . Four years later I traveled to the Ari Atoll on Makafushi Island and took part in a freighter sinking , which was supposed to create an artificial coral reef again. But these are all drops in a bucket and so the Maldives will sink back into the tides.

In 1992 at the Rio Conference on Sustainable Development, tourism was not yet an issue. That changed quickly with global growth. In 1994 the “World Travel and Tourism Council” (WTTC) and the “World Tourism Organization” (WTO) together with the “Earth Council” published “Agenda 21 ” for the travel and tourism industry ”and appealed to the United Nations to anchor “ Agenda 21 ” better. But it was not until April 1999 that the commission presented its first four-year program on «Tourism and Sustainable Development». Meanwhile, a flood of originated Ö co-Gütelsiegel and Ö co- certifications and the CO2 compensation models such as „My Climate“ when flying, all exhibit a kind of environmental clearance certificate, which of course is not the case.

Borneo 96: Stalking through the jungle with a handicapped orangutan

The orangutan, in Malay the „forest man“, has been threatened with extinction since the mid-1960s. Despite international agreements on species protection, at that time still extremely restrictive trade agreements and the two rehabilitation stations in Semengho in Sarawak and S e pilok in Sabah on the Malaysian island of Borneo, the close relatives of Homo Sapiens are acutely affected. Greed n oh tropical timber and palm oil destroyed their habitat, the primary forest. Due to the destruction of their refuges, they are now isolated in small groups. Known them by the Swiss environmental and human rights activists Bruno Manser became that for the indigenous people of the rainforest, the former head hunters used has and then disappeared without a trace disappeared and may have been murdered.

1996 the journey went to Malaysia to r celebration of 50 years of independence from the British Crown and to de r State celebration with all Asian leaders flew me to Borneo and in Sarawak landed. The aim was to explore the situation of forest clearing for palm oil production and the situation of the orangutan, whose habitat was destroyed. At Lake Batang Ai “ I started the expedition in the rainforest and rent te a leader with the dugout to me living here Iban Headhunters should thus lead to the head hunters. After two day trips from Lake Batang Ai with a canoe up the river through the sea of ​​floating tropical tribes, I ended up in one of those longhouse villages . These longhouses are built on stilts, up to 100 meters long and have a continuous wide corridor that leads to the longitudinal veranda. One apartment is then lined up next to the other in the nave. Everyone knows what the other member of the clan is doing.

Unfortunately, it was very awkward to talk to the headhunters about their traditions and way of life, as no one could speak English. So everything was just about observation and «low-level» communication. I also got malaria and it laid me completely flat. I had swallowed a few „Lariam“ tablets, but I felt very bad. After three days in the „longhouse“ of the headhunters , I took the dugout canoe back to a jungle camp that had a radio station. There I tried one on the radio link and with Switzerland which held to the radio telephone handset , take with my family contact. As to home in Switzerland, the tape recorder was because it was there in the middle of the night, I just said briefly that I wanted to say goodbye, because I probably would not survive more night. Dan oh I lay down further bouts of fever churned out back under the starry night sky. At least I wanted to die in the open air and not in the tiny and stuffy shack in which I had been quartered.

What happened next was unique and brought me fundamentally. It is still not clear whether it was just a halo or whether I was actually brought back from the Ascension. In any case, I could already see the stars coming towards me with meteoric breakneck speed and felt weightlessly pulled up into orbit. It felt a like the spaceship „Enterprise“, which with the speed of light jetted through the orbit . As the stars do not come to me to , was clear to me that I either had lifted and now the speed of light the glittering firmament contrary ra ste or my astral body his antics drives with my fevered brain . The journey to the stars was exciting and truly enlightening. But: There was a scream and a screeching in my ears and I heard my daughter and her mother howling in horrified tones, but couldn’t understand a word. „What the hell are they doing up here ? “ I thought for a moment. Then I worked the voice of my little daughter so much that my light speed flight lost to the stars suddenly momentum and I took a loop back to Earth and thought to me that the time to assign is not yet come when it ja there are still two people who need me . So I swallowed three more „Lariam“ tablets and had now reached the dose for an elephant, as a tropical medicine doctor told me a few days later. But it was then slowly uphill again.

With the help of the jungle camp residents, I got back on my feet and traveled on to Kota Kinabalu to the orangutan rehabilitation station in Sepilok and came at just the right time because at 11.00 a.m. the feeding of the orangutan took place from a platform about two kilometers further in the forest found . Two groups of tourists were already ahead of me a uf the boardwalk wanders off , the two meters above ground in the rainforest to the big s visitor platform and the behind located two feeding places in the trees leading pure. When I with my telephoto lens l TO ISSUE angsam on the scene and the young orangutans on feeding stations , and the adult orangutan on the wire rope hanging realize that was stretched between the two feeding stations, I also heard the calls of individual visitors to wanted to get the big orangutan to turn around, because he just stuck his bum towards us all. The isolated calls were in vain. I too was a photographer interested , d ass d he fat Ker l show his face we would . So I let out a few loud grunts like I had heard them before. Lo and behold , the orangutan turned around in no time and looked curiously over at us . Perfect for the photo shoot.

After that I stayed a while, watched the babies get their food and devour it and then disappear back into the trees. But I did before the others returned to the rehab – station to be and made my way back to the bridge and came to a em young those handicapped orangutan , with a choppy , but already healed arm over, the on the web was and blocked the passage . When I tried to sneak past, he grabbed my lower leg. What should i do ? When I be e hand that my leg clutched , dissolve gently wanted , close m he me by the hand and nd we both ran, the young orangutan and still feverish and sweaty photographer at the station. That was a damn good approach when I got there with the great ape on hand to speak to the station manager. And the report came in the Swiss media well and, together with the seven days newspapers , which reprinted the report, published also the „bridge-builder“ at that time the S tory with an appeal for funds , to which some ten thousand francs together and de r Orangutan Rehab station in Sepilok came to good use .

How is the situation today? The habitat of the great apes has further reduced drastically and so their population has not increased but has been further decimated. Genomists at the University of Zurich recently discovered a new species in Sumatra, the Tapanuli orangutan, whose refuge is in the rugged mountains of the Batang Toru region in Indonesia. A shot orangutan in Raja was examined more closely and classified as a new species by the scientists. At the same time, it will also be the quickest to disappear again. As in Borneo, the estimated 800 primates are also affected by palm oil plantations, deforestation, urban sprawl and a dam project. And not only they are dying out silently.  One million species are threatened with extinction in the next few decades. That is the devastating conclusion of the “ World Biodiversity Council ” (IPBES) of 2019. Reptiles and birds have a hard time, but more and more mammals are also dying out. 540 species of land vertebrae were eradicated in the 20th century. Most in Asia.

And Switzerland is currently planning to conclude an economic agreement with Indonesia, and in the agreement it relies on RSPO standards that were developed in cooperation with companies, environmental organizations and aid agencies. According to the draft ordinance, certifications would be checked according to four standards. In addition to the “ Round table on sustainab e l Palm Oil “ (RSPO) the “ Standard ISCC Plus “ (International Sustainability and Carbon Certification) and the so-called “ POIG “ (Palm Oil Innovation Group). But that is neither deforestation nor Staudam m stopped projects and also the habitat of the Orang Utan and many other species is doomed.

Philippines 95 : Incredible Spirit Healing Skills

In a second trip to the Phili ppinen it went to a cruise on the island of Palawan from Busuanga Iceland by the Coron Islands to make and then Philippine psychic healers in Luzon seek . Because six months ago an almost 25-year-old healer came to Switzerland and Germany who obviously already had cult status. In any case, waiting time in Zurich people certainly three dozen on a short session with the spirit healer. One after the other, the people found themselves in a darkened room and briefly told the spiritual healer, who was in a trance, their request, whereupon he examined and felt them and did such strange and strange things in front of my eyes, like opening the body with the fingertip at certain points, and then the flesh wound gaped and he dipped his fingers into it. But his fingers dematerialized under the surface of the skin and merged with the tissue. There were no more fingertips or tips to be seen, only the base of the finger above the surface of the skin. When he pulled out his fingers, it closed the gaping wound immediately , leaving a slightly reddened area on the surface of the skin. Absolute madness. I have never seen anything like this before and only once afterwards with another spiritual healer , the one here in Luzon.

D hese s spiritual craft fascinated me so that I myself went into a session without hesitation. My concern was the severe chronic cough as a result of smoking. So he first entered my larynx with his hand, then when he entered my chest, I felt a slight spreading pressure on the ribs but not painful. And in the end he also penetrated my abdominal cavity. As was I when fully conscious watching , as his fingers into the gash dived and disappeared. Simple and nglaublich the skills of this young spiritual spirit healer who his magic directly from the “ Virgin Mary “ gets donated, he said. But the craziest thing is that the cough instantly went into thin air, the lung function was considerably better, and that condition certainly lasted three or four months. Also at Roberta , d he mother of my daughter, a Pap smear with a PAP3 findings had during pregnancy and therefore went to the healer, and regenerated the cancer cells by this session. Nobody would believe the story if I didn’t have a few photos of these surgical cuts and manual , spiritual interventions.  

So I wanted to find out more about the healing methods of the Filipino spiritual healers on the island of Luzon and went there. After asking around for a long time, I found another spiritual healer there who also treated western tourists. Similar to Ayurveda in India, word got around among the sick in European circles that there might be hope of being cured in this way if Western medicine came to the fore.

At the healer’s in Luzon I took part in an electrical cable session in which the participants shook hands in a circle and were then connected to a low voltage connection. The local spiritual healer also opened the bodies with his hands and muddled around in them. Sometimes he would pull out small pieces of tissue and throw them into a plastic bucket next to the exam bed. “ That s ind been metastasis ,“ he said. I would have loved to take the tissue samples with me and have them examined. Here with this spirit healer, I was somehow not quite so convinced that this was not a hocus-pocus. Because of course there were followers who tried to make money with Western tourists with the reputation of the spiritual healer . The young Filipino, who was in Switzerland, enjoys my respect and trust. Finally, I was able to verify the effect of the extraordinary treatment even on some people. 

At the end of this trip to the Philippines Erleb I te still an uncomfortable Ü surprise. I was arrested at the airport when I was leaving. Allegedly because I have the name of a person who advertised in the Philippines was and was searched . In fact, having border guards on my first entry me in detail about my name and r origin questioned and wanted to know if I was ever in the Philippines? When I said no, they let me enter the country.

So I had to go to the tourism minister, who invited me to the Philippines, to be released after two days of feverish and chills incarceration . If it hadn’t been for him, I would have had to travel to Manila and present myself to the Justice Department. Fortunately , I was spared that and so other tourists in Switzerland would also be spared that.If this happens to you, I published the Justice Minister’s phone number in the newspaper with the reference that in such a case you should contact the head of justice directly turn to hearing. This information in the media was not appreciated by the Philippine embassy . Even more. A few years later at another press invitation to the Philippines, I was suddenly unloaded again and my efforts at the Philippine embassy in Bern were unsuccessful, although I sent them all the passport extracts with my trips abroad. When the Philippine Militärattach e came forward with a negative response with me and me persona non grata stamped , I knew certainly also US authorities were behind it. They certainly had detailed knowledge of my numerous trips to Cuba and the Eastern Bloc. So I was definitely on the “ NSA and “ CIA radar “ arrived.

Vietnam 97 : Smuggling into the restricted area with matriarchal agony   (???) 

When I arrived in Vietnam, that is to say in Saigon, late in the evening , the unbearably humid heat and the deafening noise of the moped were my first impressions of the lively metropolis. I was irritated when the female restaurant operator near the hotel tried to feed me while I was eating. To this day I don’t know where and why this is the custom. Already at 6 a.m. I was back on my feet with the motorcycle and less than an hour passed before I saw the first accident with two dead truck drivers. There were an incredible number of road traffic victims in Vietnam. No wonder, there were no rules and it was the biggest traffic jumble I had ever seen. At that time there were almost no cars, but millions of mopeds. If you wanted to cross the street as a pedestrian, you just had to push yourself into the flow of traffic with a lot of trust in God and a good karma and hope that the moped swarm could avoid it. That worked surprisingly well and that’s how I got to the Swiss who had been living in Saigon for a few years and who knew a Vietnamese journalist who could lead me to the matriarchy on the Chinese border.

This area, in which some strictly matriarchally organized village communities had been located for centuries, was, however, closed to foreigners as a military restricted area. So the local journalists put me in the trunk of the car we drove through the barrier. So with the help of the Swiss man, the journalist from Saigon and the local TV journalists, I came to one of these villages and was amazed at the customs there.

The women did some of the farm work with their children, while many men looked after small children and taught them. When two women quarreled over a man, they had to press their heads under water in the forest and whoever had the longer breath won. The inheritance was always passed on on the maternal side.

As me again undetected smuggled the TV crew from the military zone had , I invited her for a drink. Instead, everyone sat around a round table and took out a large mason jar with berry schnapps. Custom now required that I should clink glasses and drink a drink with everyone. The fact that I had to drink as much schnapps as any of them six times in the shortest possible time was intentional and probably part of a fun ritual with a foreigner that I played with for a while and then stumbled away quite drunk.

7 . Australia: Aboriginal and evolutionary pearls

The Northern Territories are the R egion to discover the culture of the indigenous people of Australia, a world of many contrasts between the green tropical north and the red glowing hearts Austaliens, the Outback. Arnhem Land in particular is Aboriginal land. It borders the Kakadu National Park to the east . More than 40 Aboriginal dialects are spoken here. Alice Springs is the second largest city and Darwin the seaside capital of the Northern Territories. The treasury of the Native is located in Kakadu National Park, to the one UNESCO World Heritage Site. The hot thermal springs of Mataranka south of Ktherine in Elsey National Park are also famous , where 30 million liters of water flow out of the depths every day . Kings Canyon is Australia’s largest canyon and is up to 300 meters deep.

The magnificent microcosm to the desert and beautiful beaches b from the rain forest of the world’s most beautiful Ta is u ch sufficient reasons, beyond all boundaries. No wonder some people are infected by the Australian virus. At the moment only the Corona Virus is more contagious. The east coast is considered the ideal introduction to the mythical world of Australia. If you fly to Brisbane and straight up to Cairns , you get directly to the rainforests at Cape Tribulation , on the shores of the Great Barrier Reef . Or you drive over from Brisbane to the evolutionary pearl Fraser Island .

The starting point for many travelers to Queensland is the “ Tapukjai Cultural Village”, where visitors are introduced to the culture of the local Aborigines. The history and culture of the indigenous people are impressively demonstrated to us. If you drive further north along the coast , you will first come to Palm Cove , a small, charming nest, then continue to Port Douglas, where the famous Thala Beach Lodge and the Daintree Forest Lodge have been named Australia’s most environmentally friendly accommodation several times. In the Wawu-Jirakul Spa (which means something like “ purification of the spirit“ in the language of the indigenous people ) , the five elements earth, water, fire, air and ether are celebrated in a fantastic wellness cocktail in the middle of a waterfall in the jungle, which served the Kuku Yalanji Aborigines as a sacred cleansing kraal and Brook Shields as a yoga location. In addition to essential oils, various sandstones are used for the spa treatments, which the Aborigines not only use for their body painting but also as food.

The Aboriginal walks around the spring and reaches into the loamy earth in three places and smears a smear on my bare leg. Immediately I see that one of the stripes is sand-yellow, the second is clay-gray and the third is reddish. You see here we have zinc, copper and calcium mineral-containing layers. When you have no food, you wash down the clay and you get minerals, he explains.

Shortly before the millennium, I made a special kind of Australia lifestyle trip. The best hotels, spa lodges and restaurants were on the range. This led to the flagship of the Australian hospitality industry Hayman Iceland in the Whitesunday Iceland , the newly opened Palazzo Versace hotel and luxury Outback Feeling Lodges Peppers Hidden Vale and Spicers Peak Lodge . On the way to this my off-road vehicle on the wet dirt and gravel road got into a skid through an evasive maneuver as a result of jumping out kangaroos and into a barbed wire fence that scratched the entire hood, windshield and roof, so that the brand new vehicle looked totally ready for scrap but still drove. Only the scratched windshield spoiled the driving pleasure.

On the largest sand island in the world, tropical forested dunes rise up on the banks of crystal clear freshwater lakes in the midst of emerald green rainforests. Before Fraser Island coast they frolic whales and dolphins. But the Inselbi o top is not only a refuge for rare plant species and animals, but also homo ecotourism is increasingly nesting here.

Sand dunes up to 240 meters high , 120 kilometers of beach and a sheltered bay, Hervey Bay , where whales cavort between August and October, are the charm of the island’s microcosm. Not only for geologists, botanists, nature, animal and bird lovers, but also for sailors, surfers and those seeking relaxation, Fraser Island offered paradisiacal conditions 20 years ago. 2020 but there were devastating forest fires and otherwise is Ö ecosystem a little spin out of control, as in the whole Great Barrier Reef . The entire archipelago is suffering from global warming and pollution from oil and plastic waste.

Fraser Island is ancient, 123 kilometers long, 14 to 22 kilometers wide and has an eternity of over 220 million years of evolutionary history under its belt. Sand has been washed ashore and piled up on the island for two million years. The landscape was shaped in the Ice Age. It has existed in its current form for about 6000 years. With the warming of the climate 140 ‚ 000 years and the first traces of the Aborigines appeared. But it is assumed that the “ Butschulla “ natives only settled on “ K Gari “ Island 20 million years ago . For the western world, Fraser Island was discovered by James Cook in 1770.

The gigantic fresh water reservoirs contain ten to twenty million mega liters of fresh water. The crystal clear drinking water of Lake McKenzie , lined with bright white sandy beaches, is ideal for a swim. Dingoes can also be seen on the bank. But they don’t come to the watering place, but because of the bulging food bags of the tourists. Many a nice bite for the wild dogs falls off.

Even in the run-up to my trip to Australia, I spoke out in favor of a whaling ban and reported on it in various newspapers, including the Sonntags Zeitung under the title Better to cannibalize tourism than slaughter. Now I wanted to fulfill my dream and take part in a whale watch.

Hervey Bay is just one of a dozen places in the Great Barrier Reef where the whales frolic. Around 100 people jostle their way to the railing on the “ Kingfisher ” catamaran and search the horizon for fountains or a towering tail fin. “ There they are, ” shouts one. The crowd cheers. Perhaps a 30-ton behemoth with certainly more than 16 meters long body shoots like a silvery arrow into the air for a Pirou e tte and plunges headlong back into the water one. What a sublime sight. Fortunately , they are protected here. “ Whale- watching “ has in the 90 years to a 600 to 700 Mi l blossomed lionen heavy tourism branch. You travel to Baja California , Brazil, Patagonia or South Africa to see the swimming mammals. Australia, too, had over 50 million annual income from whale watching in 1994. No wonder, the giants of the seas are fascinating in every way.

Their tones from the depths of the ocean sound like encrypted messages (today they are probably lamentations). Ae similar to a sonar, echo sounder system of navigation, they determine their course with radar signals. They send out exact transmission intervals and, with their sensitive instinct, are able to pick up the signals of the sound waves again and analyze them precisely so that they can orientate themselves over thousands of kilometers. The chants, which last up to thirty minutes, are used to communicate with fellow dogs.

Opal seekers in Coober Pedy: Hope lives underground

G between Adelaide and Alice Springs somewhere in the midst of a hot lühend, inhospitable Mo is ndlandschaft the then 5000 Se e l s counting Nest Coober Pedy, auc h “ Opal Miner City “ called. The inhabitants live in underground mole-like buildings and also spend the day underground. In the tunnel. Loaded with dynamite. Insights into the life of the opal miners in the dynamite-charged underground. Driven by the hope of getting rich quick and the risk of failure as a mouse. Real luck seekers from all parts of the world. But what is it that draws people here? Solitude, scorching heat, a lot of dust and rubble and strains without end. The grandpa prospectors are spared nothing here. Four fifths of the population live underground, in the tunnels that have ventilation shafts. The supermarket, the gas station and the church are also underground.

Men from Albania, Italy, Croatia, Greeks, Serbs, Poles and also Swiss mine here. They are all looking for opal. At that time, you could simply stake out a “ claim ” and start drilling and blasting. The lucky ones who left Coober Pedy as rich men are few. But the cemetery in the desert nest is quite large.

There is also a postman for the region here. The tour of the postman John Stillwell shows the local dimensions very clearly. Twice a week John drives from Coober Pedy to William Creek , a provincial nest with nine houses, and then to Oodnadata , a dilapidated Aborginies settlement and supplies three farmers with the mail over the 650 kilometers. John has been riding the tour for six years and has done the route over 700 times.

The tour leads over the Moon Plain Area , a dry, stony, sandy and lunar landscape covered with small hills to the Anna Creek cattle farm , the fence of which is over 9,600 kilometers long. The farm is almost as big as the Netherlands. Then we drive on to William Creek and although there are only nine houses there is one, probably the most expensive satellite radio telephone booth, as well as a shady parking lot with parking meter. We continue along an old Aborginies Trail along underground hot springs and the “ Great Overland Telegraph Line “ from London to Sydney to the indigenous town. At sunset we played another round of desert sand golf.

South Seas dreams: At the gate to paradise

A mosaic of light and colors plays around the widely scattered chain of islands. Each of these islands covered by emerald green vegetation is fringed by turquoise-blue and wreath-shaped reefs. They limit the depth of the sea, turn its opulent underwater splendor upwards and unfold the beauty of the colorful coral gardens with their abundance of species and shield the islands, which are often only a few meters above the sea surface, from the surf. .

After an infinitely long flight from Zurich, via Paris, New York, San Francisco and Hawaii, I landed at the “gate to paradise” in Tahiti – also known as the “island of love” and a synonym for the stuff dreams are made of. The French overseas territory with its 118 islands is divided into the Austral and Society Islands , the Marquesas   and the Tuamotu Archipelago. Since the fall W ahl heavy. But basically there are two types of islands to choose from, combining to form a brilliant ensemble: high volcanic islands such as Moorea, Huahine or Tahiti and flat atolls such as Tetiaroa .

Tahiti, the «island of multicolored waters» is also a symbol of the transfigured myth that covers the South Seas and its sparkling firmament with magical impressions. In the South Seas the Creator once wanted to show what he could do, the poet Robert Brooke wrote . Gaugin too fell into a painterly, impressionistic rush of colors and senses. Vo rallem  Moorea the half an hour by Katamoran of Papeete is located, is closed by many the heart. Famous was the resort island, stand on a number of volcanic peaks such as lances in the sky, by Dino de Laurentis film „Mutiny on the “ Bounty “ next to the 900-meter towering Mount Rotui is the famous Cook Bay .

Indeed, one cannot avoid painting the South Seas in the most beautiful colors and praising it in the highest tones. In view of the meek and strong charisma of the islanders, one is tempted to make their world a paradise on earth. When graceful, strong men row their canoes through the water at lightning speed or graceful creatures sit under the coconut palms, mango, papaya, avocado and breadfruit trees.

Since then, Europeans have measured the South Seas with the yardstick of their desires and dreams; fantasize, tell stories and put together a lot of crazy beautiful poets of all co u leur. However, despite all matriarchal customs and permissive sensuality , the South Pacific is not a place of vicious pleasure . But a striking number of transvestites ( raerae) give sic h in Papeete rendezvous. And a Polynesian peculiarity are the Marus – sons celebrated by their mothers from an early age , mostly the last-born in a family that has no daughters. They behave like women and do the housework. Both fringe groups enjoy high Company All f lish acceptance.

30 years after the French invasion of Tahiti and Mururoa by an army of nuclear physicists, engineers and military personnel, the South Sea islanders not only know the god of love, but also the god and the power of money. Life in paradise has its price. The price of luxury is high. Problems with alcohol and other drugs, as well as poverty and slumness, are increasing.

Nevertheless , as a travel reporter, one cannot avoid describing the South Seas in the most beautiful colors and, given the gentle and contemplative way of life of the extremely hospitable islanders, stylizing it into paradise. High volcanic islands like Moorea, Huahine and Tahiti, shallow atolls like Marlon Brando’s kingdom of Tetiaroa. Like Tahiti, Huahine is divided into a large and a small island. In between is a strait that is very popular with surfers. In a sense, Bora Bora has the most spectacular and beautiful lagoon in the world. Indeed, the atoll is only 30 square meters small but 30 million years old and a precious jewel in the Pacific. At that time, many tourists also took Moorea in their hearts because of the famous pirate film that was shot in Oponohu ​​Bay

8 . ICRC mission in Kenya and EZA projects in Namibia

In 2008 I came to Kenya, first visited the region near the Samburu National Park and was stationed at “ Joys Camp ” . It was a nice relaxing trip  Then went the trip to Mombasa to the tourist enclave know and met in Haller Park , a , d it from a Swiss rehabilitated s Wildlife- reserve. That was very impressive. From chimpanzees to crocodiles and giant tortoises there was almost everything. School children came in droves. For them it was not just her trip to the zoo but also a lesson about Bestial chutz and the importance of their Ö ecosystems, speak of their environment and the behavior of the local population. Exemplary.

The journey continued to the “ Ol Pejeta Rhino & Chimpanzee Sanctuary ” near Mount Kenya . As the name suggests, rhinos, in particular, were protected from poachers and a large colony of chimpanzees was cherished and cared for . I touched the shell of a rhinoceros there for the first time when I stood in awe next to one of these cops and the Land Rover , hoping that the two tonne muscle would consider me a harmless sparrow. So happened.

Haller Park, a limestone quarry that was renatured by a Swiss, was also impressive

After I had satisfied my curiosity about wildlife, the humanitarian mission returned. Back in Nairobi I went to the « ICRC » headquarters and did an interview with the Deputy General Secretary James Kisia about the situation of the refugees in the Rit Valley after the bloody unrest and ethnic displacement. U nd another interview with the Minister for Tourism, Najib B alala, I also spoke to the conflict and indeed surprised but very confidently responded. Finally I flew up to Eldoret and went to the local “ ICRC Red Cross Committee ” . I drove around the refugee camps with the local staff for three days and looked at the reconstruction projects . It seemed to me still a long way to be back to normal and the misery in the refugee camps with a total of over 100 ‚ 000 was oppressive.

I was glad that my next mission was again in the bush with the wildlife . The misery here in the Rift Valley has already left its mark . Because of Nairobi, I traveled via Johannesburg , Gaborone and Maun once again into the Okavango Delta and indeed to the prestigious “ Wilderness Wildlife Fund “ (WWF) Bush Lodges and visited the HIV “ Foundation “ Children in the W ilderness “ .

Swiss development cooperation in Namibia

Through my many travels and experiences of conflict I wanted in development cooperation ( ‚ Development Cooperation “ ) get in and via “ Inter team “ drive, a Swiss aid organization to Namibia, where from 2011 stationary three years in the field of tourism and development cooperation a stay ork and work. Specifically, it was about a project with the local parastatal organization “ NACOBTA “ , which wanted to integrate the indigenous people into the tourism industry in an ecological and sustainable manner and let the indigenous tribes participate in the development.

Unfortunately, a couple of other foreign aid organizations cut their budget for “ NACOBTA ” and so unfortunately my “ EZA ” assignment in Namibia did not take place . Nevertheless, the « Interteam / NACOBTA » assessment made me curious about the South West African country with a German colonial past and decided to travel there. I first spoke with the Interteam representatives there, then with representatives from « NACOBTA » and after a visit to a hospital in Rehoboth I decided that the Swiss would be financed to travel across the country and visit the protected wildlife reserves.

There was , first of all, the Etosha National Park with its fantastic animal wealth that even the Okavango Delta exceeded what giraffes, antelopes and zebras concerned. I drove about 5000 kilometers in Namibia but relatively little off-road. But from the Caprivi Strip in the north to the Fishriver Canyon, the second deepest in the world.

But the “ Cheetah Foundation “ (CFF) in Ojjowaringo was an impressive Wildlife project with unique experiences . Although I saw these noble, elegant animals for the second time in free wilderness, but but also equal in hunting, as some poor rabbit to warm up and as were released buffet bites. Later, further down south in Fish River Canyon and the Giants Playground we took a farmer on his huge farm around and met two magnificent cheetah copies, which we walk closer te n and could sniff them. Or rather, the other way around. They crept up to us on their velvet posts and were not shy about contact with people. But they didn’t behave like tame house cats for a long time. The up-close contact with the dangerous Schmusekatzen ended for me with feelings of happiness , Daich was below the snout of the animal and from there Nahaufnahe n wanted to do and also could. But the feeling of lying under this wild cat, as its prey , so to speak , just holding the camera in front of my face , was a first rate adrenaline rush.

Instead, I saw and experienced in Maltahöhe the “ HIV-children project “ Oa Hera „

9 . Orient: In Sinai, Lebanon and the Iranian embassy

When we arrived in Sinai, or more precisely in Sharm el Sheikh, the situation looked very different. I had around 700 guests a week with various flights on almost every day and tons of trips to manage every day and that under difficult conditions. That was a real challenge and a bit like it was in London in 1987. First, the local tour operator was lousy and incompetent, so after two warnings I stopped working and reorganized. I had already done that very quickly in Brazil and made the right decision in both cases, which I then made use of. On the other hand, of course, I had quite a few “ troubles“ with the co-operation partners that had been canceled and the excitement in the travel center. But since I had already proven my talent in Brazil, they trusted me and that trust was never disappointed. Operationally, I was an ace and a master of improvisation. I had an undisputed, crisis-tested background, but of course they didn’t know it.

The many journeys through conflict regions and the most inhospitable places in the world in well over 50 countries have sharpened my keen sense and eagle eyes, refined my sensitivity and intuition to telepathy. Thanks to my analytical and tactical-strategic skills paired with quick-wittedness, rhetorical dominance, expertise, a good portion of cheek from the 80s and the full trust in my guardian angels, I have always dared the extraordinary.

That would no longer be possible today, which is why I often describe the 80s as the zenith of freedom and anarchy in the last and this century. Since then, the quality of life as I define it has lost its freedom, quality and depth bit by bit, year after year, and has experienced an ultra-rapid acceleration with digital and anti-social media, which I find abnormally grotesque and therefore definitely with the Methusalems have arrived.

Back to the Sinai: For the first two months as a resident manager, I lived in the “ Radisson“ hotel with all the tourist amenities, good infrastructure and a nice atmosphere. Then I was put in a Spartan concrete block for the tour guides, whereupon I got a special permit from the Governor General for the military restricted areas in Sinai (due to the UN peacekeeping mission after the Six-Day War, so that I can also go to the restricted areas outside the desert at night of Sharm-el-Sheikh was allowed to drive. Because right behind Sharm-el-Sheikh last hotel is the checkpoint that evening closes at 18.00.

What was the idea behind it? What did I want there? As always, access to the local color or to the local human resources outside the tourist hotspots. In this case, access to Bedouin life in Sinai. And then I had already made the acquaintance of “Faroud” at the shipwreck “ Maria Schroeder”. Now I could go out to him in the desert at any time, escaping the tourist hustle and bustle, caring for a few spiritual and poetic hours.

But that wasn’t that easy, because I covered the 35 km through the desert and sand dunes in a normal company vehicle, a conventional car. In pitch-dark surroundings it was said to drive through at full speed without stalling, because without a 4-wheel drive there was usually nothing to be done here. But I found my ideal route and crashed into the desert twice a week at night to chat in the open with the young Bedouin, to philosophize and to enjoy the twinkling stars without civilizing light pollution. Ü By the way I have since seen the entry of the last space shuttle into Earth’s atmosphere in an unforgettable spectacle glowing in the sky. For about a minute and a half, the luminous satellite comet and point of light with a trail of fire that must have been several hundred kilometers long whizzed across the globe and disappeared on the horizon at the destination. It was an enlightening spectacle even without opium.

There I got to know opium that the Bedouins eat in order to get through the desert. That really helps a lot when you cross the Sinai or other deserts by camel. I also did the same with “the Bedouin and his brother who lived near the“ Maria Schröder ”shipwreck. The rocking journey on the dromedary went from Sharm-el-Sheikh via Dahab to the monastery in St. Catherine at the foot of Mount Moses. At over 45 degrees in the shade. That was hard. But thanks to the opium ration, I rode through the desert like a dervish. That must have had a similar «powerfull» effect, like the «pervert» who allowed the Nazis to march through France and who was also used on the battlefield on the war front in the east.

Witnessed three terrorist attacks in Sinai

During the time I was in Sinai, there were three terrorist attacks. The first was in Taba , the second in Sharm-el-Sheikh , the third in Dahab . Fortunately, nothing happened to any of my guests. But you were afraid and the security measures in front of every hotel were rigorous. Each car was mirrored and felted at the entrance.

On the evening of April 24, 2006, a terrorist attack was committed in Dahab , in which three cluster bombs were detonated. The first detonated at a busy intersection in front of the “ Ghazala” supermarket opposite the police station. Two more exploded a short time later. Around 30 people, almost all Egyptians, lost their lives in the attack. Many more people were seriously injured. Similar attacks had already taken place in Taba in October 2004 and in Sharm El-Sheikh in July 2005 . In the terrorist attack in Sharm el-Sheikh on July 23, 2005, at least 88 people were killed and more than 100 injured in several explosive devices.

At that time there was high alarm in Sinai and military controls increased. The „MFO“ troops were also on the highest alert. So here, too, I couldn’t complain about the lack of action on the fringes of world politics and my tour guide activity, which makes the trip with two vehicles and seven crazy Swiss tourists who absolutely wanted to take me on a trip to Cairo in the car all the more impressive . And that through the whole Sinai from the southern tip of Sharm el-Sheikh in one day to Cairo including the return journey with a distance of over 1000 km and more than 30 military barriers.

My co-driver and I managed the feat and it took 27 hours. Three hours longer than planned, because I overlooked the penultimate military lockdown in my tiredness after more than 24 hours at the wheel and raced through at about 80 kilometers per hour. And my companion behind me did the same. Then we had to turn off the road into the desert after about 10 km to be on the safe side and find a way through the sand dunes to Sharm-el-Sheikh, because otherwise we would have been at the radio-controlled barrier terminus. So my guardian angels, from whom I have a whole specialist group, were also on duty there. Apart from the great moments with the Bedouins and the camel trip, I don’t miss anything. The culture of Ä Egyptians remained foreign to me. Again, primarily a language problem. If I could speak Arabic, it would look different. And the “ Pasha Club”, to which thousands were drawn, could remain stolen from me. I’m not into techno at all.

2006: In Beirut in the Palestinian refugee camp « Shatila »

Once again it was an old „airline connection“ that shipped me to Lebanon. I’ve always wanted to go there. When I was young, Lebanon was the “ Switzerland of the Middle East ” . So a heyday in the Orient. In addition, from the Beeka plain came the world’s best shit in my eyes, i.e. hashish harvested by hand from the hemp flowers, with the finest taste and the best feeling as well as a special flavor note. Tempi passati when I finally came to Lebanon. The country was already marked by the war with Israel and economically on the ground, as well as deeply divided between the ethnic groups such as the Shiites, Sunites, Druze and other ethnic groups. That was hot ground and a delicate mission, even for a crisis-tested reporter. The biggest problem was that I didn’t speak or understand a word of Arabic.

I’ve already visited many conflict regions and experienced hot phases, but I didn’t dare to venture into Hezbollah quarters without the appropriate contacts and connections. And the time to departure within a few days was too short for that. In addition, one of the most important protective factors in my work, not only to speak the language of the population but, if possible, not to be recognized as a foreigner or stranger at all. I couldn’t use those aces.

During my short stay I was stopped and interrogated three times by the Lebanese army. And it was even more uncomfortable in Hezbollah quarters. On almost every third corner you were stopped and asked who you were and what you wanted here. So I withdrew from this quarter without any contact or any protection and instead arrived at the Palestinian refugee camp in Shatila   . There I was shown the three massacre sites.

An action by phalangist militias, i.e. Maronite-Catholic people, which was directed against the Palestinian refugees living in the south of Beirut, is referred to as the massacre of Sabra and Shatila . In September 1982 – in the midst of the Lebanese civil war – the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps were stormed, which at the time were surrounded by Israeli soldiers and hundreds of civilians were massacred.

Since the fighting was a conflict between Christian militias and Palestinian fighters, international outrage was sparked by the Israeli share of responsibility. Because after the withdrawal of the Israeli military into a security zone in front of the Israeli border, Syria took over military control of the area around the refugee camp. Since Syria was also interested in weakening the “PLO” fighters and Palestinian nationalists who remained in Lebanon, the situation of the people in the refugee camp did not improve. In the course of storage wars the Shiite committed Amal militia in May 1985 a tolerated by Lebanese and Syrian army associations massacre of civilians in the same Palestinian Flüchtlingslag ren of Sabra and Shatila . The Lebanese civil war lasted until 1990. The massacre was classified as genocide by the General Assembly of the United Nations on December 16, 1982.


Müller’s first reports came from Soweto, where he lived underground with the oppressed black population and reported on the inhumane repression of the Apardheit regime . Müller also experienced the civil war between ANC and IFP and got a picture with an ICRC delegate in the refugee camps and with UN inspectors in prisons like the notorious Pollsmoor Jail in Cape Town. He’s humanitarian, social and environmental projects and visions Gland ieben and 5 0 countries visited.




Daniel Hauser, notary and lawyer

Silvio Imseng, bookworm, philosopher, painter and graphologist

Prof. Dr. Bernhard Kutscher,

Aiala Cella,


Switzerland: Nelson Mandela, Dalai Lama, Chinese MP Wen Jibao (WEF Davos) , Federal Councilor Eveline Widmer Schlumpf (RHB 100 years) , Dalai Lama (Kongresshaus Zurich) , Ali Reza, Iranian Embassador in Switzerland in the Iranian Embassy in Bern, Niklaus Meienberg (Historian / journalist / writer), Jimmy Cliff, Bob Marley (AJZ)

South Africa: Nelson Mandela, Mangosutu Buthelezi IFP Chief & Kwa Zulu Natal Minister, Credo Vusama Mutwa (Zulu-Sangoma / writer), Walter Msimang (Satour Director South Africa), South Africa Ambassador in Bern Ms. Dr. Konji Sebati, South African Embassy in Bern, Dr. Jan Player, (Rhino Saver / Wilderness Leadership School), Margrit Thatcher (Former British Prime Minister), Alex Joc hheim (Satour Director Switzerland) , Miss South Africa 1994 ??? and Chris Hani’s daughter ???

Grenada: Prime Minister Breathwater

Cuba: Geraldine Japlin , Pope Karol Józef Wojtyła

India: Prime Minister Narenda Moodi,

Poland: General Jaruselski! Henry Zwirko (Minister of the Civil Aviation Authority) , Pope Karol Józef Wojtyła

Austria: Gorbachev’s Foreign Minister Shevardnadze. (In Lanserhof)

Trinidad: Mighty Sparrow, King of Calypso, Calypso & Steeld. Festival, legends,

Kenya: Dr. James Kisia; Deputy Secretary General of the ICRC Kenya Red Cros s


Nomadic life for reportage photography                                         

Online book excerpts at a glance                                                       

Print publication overview                                                                     

To the GMC picture archive                                                                                   


The youth riots at the beginning of the 80s                           

Uninhibited desire to be liberated from all constraints             

Drug trips in Spain, Morocco, Portugal,                                         

Contrasts in Sengegal, Poland and London                                         

South Africa: In the fight against apartheid underground             

In the swirl of Swiss political scandals                                                       

Apartheid: The pitch black chapter of Switzerland                           

Visit to the Bushmen in the Okavango Delta                           

The Bushmen, whose life will soon be history                           

Niklaus Meienberg and the                                                                     

On the aircraft carrier US John Rodgers                                         

Initant of the Calypso & Steeldrum Festival                                         

Grenada: On the aircraft carrier „US John Rodgers“             

Mandela’s visit to Switzerland                                                       

Always socially committed and ecologically intervening                           

Social and political engagement in Switzerland                           

Maldives 93: The first signs of climate change             

Among the handicapped orangutans in Borneo                           

Adventure in Mexico                                                                                   

Hell trip in Colombia in the service of Swissair                           

Climate change: Foundation of the Tourism & Environment Forum


Highlights in Brazil                                                                                   

With the Bedouins in Sinai                                                                     

Lebanon: In Beirut in the Palestinian refugee camp             

Visiting the Iranian Embassy in Bern                                         

India: shortly before Moody’s election in Gujart                                         

Namibia: Interteam mission and HIV project Oa Hera             

India: shortly before Moodi’s election in Gujarat             


Online book excerpts in an overview   /  print publication overview

The youth unrest at the beginning of the 80s   /  Uninhibited desire to be free from all constraints

Drug trips in Spain, Morocco, Portugal 

Contrasts in Sengegal, Poland and London

South Africa: In the fight against apartheid underground 

Apartheid: The pitch-black chapter of Switzerland

In the swirl of Swiss political scandals     /    With Niklaus Meienberg at the asylum reception center

Visit to the Bushmen in the Okavango Delta   /  The Bushmen, whose lives will soon be history

Grenada 94: On the aircraft carrier US John Rodgers             

1993: Initant of the Calypso & Steeldrum Festival                            

1994: Mandela’s visit to Switzerland             

Always socially committed and environmentally intervened / Social and political commitment in Switzerland                           

Maldives 93: The First Signs of Climate Change 

Borneo 96: Among the handicapped orangutans in Borneo             

Mexico: Easter processions and Indian uprisings

Colombia: a hell of a trip in the service of Swissair                           

Climate change:  Foundation of the Tourism & Environment Forum                            

Australia and South Seas highlights:                            

Highlights in Brazil

Egypt 2004: With the Bedouins in Sinai

Lebanon 2006: In Beirut in the Palestinian refugee camp

Iran-Switzerland: Visiting the Iranian Embassy in Bern

India: Just before Moody’s election in Gujart

Namibia: Interteam EZA deployment and HIV project Oa Hera


India: In the realm of loving hands with the Ayurveda pioneers

Indien/Ayurveda: Abhayanga Treatment at DUKES Forest Lodge in the dschungle


The author, Gerd Michael Müller, born in Zürich in 1962, traveled as a photo-journalist to more than 50 nations and lived in seven countries, including in the underground in South Africa during apartheid. In the 80 years he was a political activist at the youth riots in Zürich. Then he was involved in pioneering Wildlife & eco projects in Southern Africa and humanitarian projects elsewhere in the world. As early as 1993, Müller reported on the global climate change and in 1999 he founded the «Tourism & Environment Forum Switzerland». Through his humanitarian missions he got to know Nelson Mandela, the Dalai Lama and other figures of light. His book is an exciting mixture of political thriller, crazy social stories and travel reports – the highlights of his adventurous, wild nomadic life for reportage photography .

In 1996 I flew to India for the first time, to the southern tip of Kerala, the land of the up-and-coming Ayurveda resorts and clinics. I had already been in close contact with Ayurvedic medicine in Sri Lanka and had done a Pancha Karma cleansing cure. On the tropical island I visited seven of the best Ayurvedic resorts at that time and compared them with each other. These were the „Aida“ in Bentota, the „Lanka Princess“ in Beruwela, „Lawrence Hill“ in Hikkaduwa, the „Paragon“ in Unavatuna, the „Surya Lanka“ in Matara and the „Vattersgarden“ in Kottegoda. The report about it found tearing paragraph in various Wellness magazines. I was so fascinated by the Ayurvedic medicine that I learned about here that I decided to travel to Kerala and there I met the South Indian Ayurvedic pioneers the cgh earth group, which has already made a name for itself with very exclusive resorts.

Ayurvedic medicine was discovered over 5,000 years ago by highly gifted Indians in the depths of their meditation and spirituality, but as a result of colonization and professional bans by the British colonial government, it was suppressed for over 50 years before experiencing a revival in the 1990s. „A lot of knowledge was lost as a result,“ says Dr. Jayawardhana of the University of Colombo. What was developed thousands of years ago in northern India is a holistic system of nature that considers body, mind and spirit a unity, because nthe Ayurvedic philosophy assumes that all matter, including humans, can be traced back to the five elements of earth, water, air, fire and space.

Three basic constitutions, the so-called doshas, are formed from the combination of the five elements. The elements air and space form the Vata-Dosha and stand for the life principle movement. It therefore controls the movement processes in the body, breathing and the nervous system. The Pitta energy is responsible for all reactions that generate heat, i.e. the digestive tract and metabolic processes. The elements earth and water influence the third dosha, kapha. Their energy is structuring, shaping and responsible for cell and skeletal structure, at the same time regulating fluid balance. And then there are the three pillars of health: these are „Ahar“ (Nutrition), “ Nidra“ (Sleep) and “ Bramacarya“ (Mental Ethics).

Now, every human being has his individual combination of doshas from birth and this unique combination influences his health and physique as well as his character traits. Only when the Doshas are in balance, body and soul are healthy. This is the goal of Ayurvedic treatment, especially in the area of chronic diseases. Like migraine or neurodermatitis, Ayurveda can show considerable success. The Ayurveda cure usually begins with a pulse diagnosis, where the Ayurvedic doctor gently presses three fingers above the base of the thumb on the forearm and measures the pulse beat. She determines whether it „throbs strongly, glides through the body like waves, hops like a frog or trots along like an elephant.“ This is how the harmony of the three doshas is determined.

Ayurveda assumes that everything grows in nature that is needed to make and keep a person healthy. Thus, plants, minerals, ashes, salts, barks, woods, roots and animal products are cooked and powdered and then made into pills, ointments and oils. The delicate yellow sesame oil is the base of all massage oils. It is rich in unsaturated fatty acids and makes brittle skin soft and smooth. To the sesame oil the doctor mixes other natural ingredients that are specifically adapted to the particular dosha type. The oil can thus have an optimal effect on the individual constitution of the person. No other medicine in the world has such a universal, profound and holistic cleansing system as Ayurvedic medicine and the Pancha Karma cure in particular. It is the mother of all cures! During 21 days first all toxins are eliminated from the body and the tissues down to the bones are rubbed with the healing oils. The appropriate diet and the beneficial treatments lead to the fact that after the Pancha Karma cure one is bursting with vitality and feels like a new person.

As the wellness and wellbeing tourism industry began to establish itself at the end of the 90s, I focused very strongly on this branch of tourism for a few years and visited the best spa resorts around the world, as I had now secured many more noble glossy magazines for publications in addition to cooperating with the daily newspapers and eventually not only delivered reports for publications such as the „Relax and Style“, „World of Wellness“ and „Wellness live“, but also generated advertisements and thus also profited from the publishing business. From then on, Ayurvedic medicine developed at a rapid pace in Europe as well. Ayurvedic centers shot up like mushrooms, because Far Eastern medicine quickly wanted to establish itself in the medical sector as well as in the wellness sector, and nutritional counseling in particular would be in demand, experts agreed at the time. „You are what you eat,“ Hypocrates had once said and was, so to speak, the first Western Ayurveda ambassador. More and more people are turning back the clock and letting themselves be convinced by ancient healing methods, or at least trying them out. The fact that yoga and meditation do not fail to have an effect on a healthy life has also become increasingly accepted in the western world. At least yoga has become an unmistakable trend.

Arriving in Kerala, I was allowed to visit the crown jewel of the „cgh earth group“, the old Maharajah’s palace „Kalari Kovilakom“ and experienced a truly royal reception and got one of the twelve palace rooms. The authenticity of the ancient culture and the sanctity of an ashram gave this Ayurvedic temple a unique ambience. Whoever enters here leaves the old world behind and lives a completely different primal experience cut off from the outside world and a highly qualitative treatment. Especially in Germany, the „Somatheeram“ and „Malatheeram“ in Chowara near Trivandrum became famous. The two resorts were regularly awarded as „best Ayurveda resorts“ by the Department for Tourism and received the „Greenleaf Award“. Another highlight was the „Duke’s Forest Lodge“ in the middle of a rubber plantation in Anapara. The bijoux, which consists of five spacious pavilions is embedded in the magnificent tropical fauna in the middle of the forest. Another highlight was the „Coconut Lagoon“ in Kumarakom, which is located on an enchanting lake in a magnificent garden setting and captivates with its traditional Kerala houses. Both the food and the therapists were top notch. Also a very exciting place is the „Spice Village“ in Periyar, which is located in the middle of a tea plantation at an altitude of about 1000 meters and is therefore very pleasant from the climate. If you are looking for an international luxury hotel with a very good Ayurveda department and many spa treatments, you will find it in „The Leela Meridien“ at Koralam Beach. Enough of the good well-being in India, now we briefly take a look at the second trip to India when Narenda Moodi was in campaign mode and had orchestrated one of the most professional international election campaigns (that I have ever seen/witnessed) and at the same time propagated a tourism promotion program for the state of Gujarat, from which both Moodi and Ghandi originated.

After that, we will again deal with a health-related topic that has suffered a fate similar to that of Ayurvedic medicine worldwide, namely cannabis, i.e. the hemp plant, which not only has extremely potent healing powers for many diseases and ailments, but is also one of the most versatile plants and can be used for many purposes, from fiber to flower. But before that, a detour to the Indian state of Gujarat

8. Chapter: Spiritual Journeys with Cannabis & Co. from the Incas to Today

Hempplants (Cannabis) withTHC (Tetrahydrocanabinol) and legal CDB (Cannabidiol), used for medical treatment, in a private garden


The author, Gerd Michael Müller, born in Zürich in 1962, traveled as a photo-journalist to more than 50 nations and lived in seven countries, including in the underground in South Africa during apartheid. In the 80 years he was a political activist at the youth riots in Zürich. Then he was involved in pioneering Wildlife & eco projects in Southern Africa and humanitarian projects elsewhere in the world. As early as 1993, Müller reported on the global climate change and in 1999 he founded the «Tourism & Environment Forum Switzerland». Through his humanitarian missions he got to know Nelson Mandela, the Dalai Lama and other figures of light. His book is an exciting mixture of political thriller, crazy social stories and travel reports – the highlights of his adventurous, wild nomadic life for reportage photography .

(please note that translation corrections are still in progress and images will follow soon)

Let’s take another spiritual journey from the advanced civilizations of indigenous peoples to today’s lowlands, trials and tribulations of drug use, delving into the international and state repression machine in dealing with psychoactive substances and focusing on the local drug policy, which mainly protects and supports the pharmaceutical industry, but has little to do with prevention and public health. For while the globally acceptable drug alcohol, causes far more health damage and deaths, the hemp plant and THC consumption are still stigmatized and are banned in Northern Europe, i.e. in Germany, France, Great Britain and Switzerland. Spain and Portugal, as well as Czechoslovakia, have relaxed the laws and allowed consumption on a limited basis in so-called social clubs.

In addition to the USA and Canada, which have long since legalized the drug, Mexico is now following suit. In Switzerland, a 5-year pilot project trial phase will start in 2022, making it clear that it could take another 10 years in this country for the policy to change. The hemp plant and its substrates the cannabinoids and terpenes are condemned against better knowledge for nearly 50 years as a devil drug, condemned and criminalized, thereby donates the ancient culture and cult plant worldwide for thousands of years valuable healing and food.

Thus, the hemp oil is very rich in unsaturated omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids and only in the optimal ratio. The applications in medicine are incredibly wide-ranging. Cosmetics have also rediscovered the healing properties of hemp, and in France some winegrowers are beginning to enrich their wine with hemp. By the way, this was already done by the Romans. They knew about the potentized effect of alcohol and cannabis. And the indigenous high cultures in Latin America, above all Teotihuatlan, were the strongholds of experimental drug highs. Anyone who wanted to belong to the elite had to undergo a week-long drug hell trip in the dark temples. The cocktail consisted not only of cannabis but mainly of psychoactive mushrooms and cacti such as Don Pedro and mescaline.

Once we appreciated the intoxicating and horizon-expanding aspects of the THC substance in our youth in the 60’s and 80’s, as we grew older and gained new knowledge, other valuable medicinal effects were added, such as mental and physical relaxation, a good night’s sleep and ability to fall asleep, more intense and creative sex, improved skin texture, and veritable health aids for many diseases, as we will see in a moment. Mary Jane has often been blamed as a gateway drug to harder substances, ignoring the fact that alcohol use is the first and most important step toward all other drugs, and conversely, drug addiction is not to be disparaged.

Today, the mix of alcohol, designer drugs and stimulant medications is particularly sought after and dangerous. Synthetic Spice products can also be deadly. A consequence of Nixon’s misguided, globally repressive and very mendacious, racially and politically motivated drug policy and thus originated in America. Under President Nixon it was claimed „cannabis turns people“ into animals. The target of the discriminatory campaign of the „War on Drugs“ were the blacks and the white opponents of the war. And in Switzerland posters were hung with the slogan „Hasch macht doof“. Here, too, the hippies, the freaks, and the „moved“ were meant.

In the 90s, first Zurich, then the whole of Switzerland became a hemp Mecca with the legendary hemp pellets and scented sachets or bath additives containing THC-containing weed and hashish. Even ping pong balls filled with MariJane with holes in them were available. At the time, weed was legal as such, as long as it was not explicitly used for „drug abuse,“ i.e., trafficking and distribution of the flowers. There were lax regulations for the production of fragrances or for brewing hemp flower beer, which also did not depend on THC content.

So tons of outdoor cannabis was legally and inexpensively traded on a large scale like in the witch’s cauldron or in video stores, clothing boutiques, drug stores and other shops. This only changed when Switzerland wanted to join the UN, which insisted that Switzerland recognize the Single Convention Act of 1961. In addition, neighboring countries Germany and France put pressure on Switzerland to roll back liberalization, which the Federal Council proposed to parliament in 2002 and which was approved by both chambers the following year, because drug tourism was a thorn in their side. With the reform of the BetmG, the status similar to the EU was adopted, with the exception that in our country the tolerance limit for commercial hemp is somewhat higher and CBD has been legalized since 2016.

The only problem is that you can badly half legalize a plant and still criminalize it. That is why the current article for the five-year pilot projects in the four cities (Basel, Bern, Geneva and Zurich) with 5000 people per city is also called „experimental article“. But the conditions are somewhat abstruse. It is equally frustrating to get an exemption permit for dronabinol (synthetic THC) under certain medical criteria, but it is not covered by health insurance. Instead of promoting the area-wide, sustainable, ecological and landscape-protecting outdoor cultivation, which could be used for medicine, cosmetics, food, building materials, textiles, etc. and could also be used as avalanche protection and for CO-2 reduction, which would offer mountain farmers an economic organic basis, the focus continues to be on indoor cultivation and the one-sided synthesization of the ingredients for pharmaceutical products.

Although in the USA hemp, weed, hash etc. have been largely legalized in many states for a long time, in Switzerland we are just allowing a few pilot trials, which are unsuitable in this form and which only serve to favor the pharmaceutical industry and protect it in the event of liberalization. In its „Perspectives on Drug Policy 2030“, the Federal Council announces its intention to examine the advantages and disadvantages of the sanctions procedure and thus to reassess the opportunities and risks of legalization. In other words, the government is considering decriminalization and legalization over the next ten years.

Whereas Portugal already took this path ten years ago, in 2001, with quite positive consequences. The fact that the Swiss government needs 30 years or more to do this is not exactly exhilarating. There was an attempt, but Federal Councilor Ruth Dreyfuss narrowly failed in parliament with her bill. Yet Switzerland, which in the 1980s in the face of the great heroin crisis and the many drug deaths, developed a methadone distribution program that was unique in the world and decriminalized and virtually eliminated heroin use. This successful model made Zurich, and with it Switzerland, a pioneer of a humanitarian drug policy that recognized the potential for addiction. Since then, the government has relied on the four-pillar principle (prevention, therapy, harm reduction and repression).

While hundreds of traffic deaths and thousands of acts of violence under the influence of alcohol are accepted as normal, cannabis has not yet killed anyone and tends to lead to a calm, peaceful if not apathetic stoned state. Where is the widely praised proportionality and Helvetic insight into the facts? With the popular drug alcohol, one accepts all the traffic deaths, family violence excesses, rapes and aggressions? Grotesque, isn’t it? When the 2012 World Cup took place in Portugal, the government banned alcohol for three days but turned a blind eye to cannabis use. Lo and behold, it was the most peaceful soccer games ever. Now let’s delve into today’s medical facts and the political big picture.

Cannabis is admittedly no longer internationally equated with heroin since the „United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs“ (CDN) voted in December 2020 at a meeting in Vienna on various proposals made in 2019 by the World Health Organization (WHO) to reclassify cannabis. At issue was removing cannabis from Schedule IV of the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs and decriminalizing it. Because cannabis had previously been on Schedule IV along with heroin and methaphetamine, the illicit opiates and cocaine, many conservative states continued to invoke the age-old regulation. drug policy shaped over 50 years ago by messianic and hypocritical U.S. policy (and the ambitions of an out-of-work U.S. alcohol prohibition chief) is in upheaval worldwide.

Prohibition has never worked, the medical potential has been neutered

Drug prohibition is supposed to protect us, we are told everywhere. Our health is enforced by coercive and criminal means. In a very flimsy, hypocritical way, although the WHO defines addiction per se as a disease. Whether it is binge eating, alcohol addiction, heroin or opium addiction, or cannabis „abuse.“ But what is the reality? An obscure, Kafkaesque tangle that defies all logic. Do the police ring the bell when diabetics, the recommendations of doctors disregard the prescription information? Do the police sanction and fine offenders for „Ritalin“ or prescription pill abuse? There have been hundreds of thousands of deaths in the U.S. due to money-grubbing pharmaceutical companies and loose prescribing policies of opiates such as „oxytoxin“ as painkillers.

A disaster of biblical proportions, exceeded only by Trump’s primitive Corona epidemic policy. In the meantime, cannabis has been legalized in many states in the USA, in Canada and in Uruguay, as well as in some countries in Europe (Spain, Portugal, Czech Republic), Switzerland is lagging behind as always and everywhere. This is probably due to the fact that the pharmaceutical giants do not want to miss out on this big business, a market worth more than five billion Swiss francs, and are lobbying the federal government to ensure that no actual liberalization is being pursued, but only pharmaceutical regulation. In other words, it will probably remain forbidden for Kreti and Pleti to grow and harvest this ancient crop in the garden next to the tomatoes and other herbs.

If this were the case, Switzerland could shut down half a nuclear power plant if the growers in this country were not forced to grow the crops under lights in cellars and industrial plants with an immense demand for electricity, while hemp could secure our mountains and avalanche slopes if it were planted outside on a large scale. The only thing that is certain is that the green gold, like almost everything else in Switzerland, is turned into lucrative coal by the pharmaceutical industry and cannabis is only dispensed medically, clinically and possibly even synthetically on prescription for expensive money. Thus the CBD or THC preparations legally available at present for very few persons (approximately 3000) cost between 600 to 800 francs and the health insurance companies do not take over the costs only still or only in the rarest cases. Thus, such a legalized distribution will not eliminate the black market. And the path to a special permit has so far only been possible in four cases: for spasticity such as multiple sclerosis, for chronic pain patients, for HIV disease and for cancer and chemotherapy. It’s worth taking a brief look back to the 1980s.

„If you look back at the heroin crisis in the 1980s, you can say today that illegality and criminalization caused the greatest damage,“ says Toni Berthel, a psychiatrist who headed the „Federal Commission for Addiction Issues“ (EKSF), which has since been renamed the „Federal Commission for Addiction and Prevention of Noncommunicable Diseases“ (EKSN). Berthel and other addiction experts are convinced that in a free society, adults do not need „lifestyle know-it-alls,“ and that this also applies to psychoactive substances of all kinds. Berthel is convinced that bans are useless, and that regulated distribution combined with addiction prevention is the better way to go, and that „a drug-free society is an illusion. And it is no longer tenable to ban a drug with a low addiction potential and few harmful indications, such as cannabis, while a substance with such a high addiction potential as alcohol is consumed naively.

On this point, Berthel and pharmacopsychologist Boris Quednow, who researches substance use and its consequences at the Psychiatric University Clinic in Zurich, agree. He, too, believes that consumption should be decriminalized as soon as possible, „otherwise you continue to punish the most severely affected.“ But regulating each substance individually is enormously complex, he says. And beyond that, there are many other questions about whether these substances would then become prescription drugs and what the requirements would be for the substances produced. So we are also talking about legalization steps for cocaine, of which more than five tons are consumed in Switzerland every year. Or about crystal meth, LSD and mescaline. However, it is also clear that without a tight framework for dispensing, one immediately loses control, because the tobacco lobby or other (also dubious) interested parties are waiting in the wings. But back to cannabis, which is the focus of the cantons here and now also in the pilot projects approved by the FOPH over a period of three years (2022 – 2025). A substance that has been used for thousands of years and has a long-proven, high medicinal potential has been unjustly stigmatized. This much is already clear today. Because:

The catalog of diseases for which cannabis has been proven to have a positive but little or no negative effects, for a long time much wider. In medicine, THC and CBD are therefore increasingly used for therapeutic purposes, for headaches and migraines, nausea or vomiting. It has anxiety-relieving, antipsychotic effects, relieves pain from nerve injuries, inhibits inflammation, suppresses muscle spasms and seizures, stimulates bone growth, lowers blood sugar levels and intraocular pressure, and can also destroy cancer cells. That’s not all, let’s take a closer look at the rich medical and scientific potential of this semi-legal, semi-illegal plant.

Israeli researchers are leading the world in the study of medical cannabis. Dr. Raphael Mechoulam, discovered THC 50 years ago and later CBD. Research conducted by the „Jewish University“ and „Tel Aviv University“ has shown that THC and CBD can promote the healing of bone fractures and activate lysylhydroxylases (the enzymes necessary for bone healing) in cells. THC binds to the canna-binoid receptors CB1 and CB2 in the body. When docking to CB1 receptors, it affects signal transmission to synapses, which transmit information to the central and peripheral nervous system, resulting in a feeling of happiness, relaxation and pain relief. In Israel, the healing effect of cannabis on colon cancer cells and adenomatous polyps has also been demonstrated. Here CBG was shown to cause cell arrest in colon cancer cells and apoptotic cell death. The most common form of cancer is skin cancer. i.e. melanoma.

Let us now turn to one of the main causes of death in the Western world, type 2 diabetes. Obesity a key risk factor closely linked to the disease. Certain molecules produced in the cannabis plant can help prevent and treat the disease. Type 1 diabetes is a genetic disorder in which the body cannot produce insulin. Type 2 diabetes or diabetes mellitus is much more common and occurs when the pancreas, does not produce enough insulin. If this is the case, normal blood glucose levels cannot be maintained. A UK-based is currently developing a cannabis drug that potentially eliminates the need for insulin injections in diabetes. The company has already launched an oral spray called „Sativex“ to help with the muscle spasms associated with multiple sclerosis. This drug targets the use of the cannabinoids CBD and THCV (tetrahydrocannabivarin), which are molecules that lower blood sugar levels and improve insulin production.

THCV is a potent cannabinoid and has been shown to be an appetite suppressant to begin with. A study published by the American Diabetes Association examined the efficacy and safety of THCV and CBD in patients with type 2 diabetes. The researchers, found that THCV also significantly decreased fasting plasma glucose. In turn, the cannabinoids CBD and THC mutually reinforce each other’s therapeutic properties. Cannabigerol (CBG), like cannabidiol (CBD), is a non-psychoactive cannabinoid from the cannabis plant. CBG content is usually higher in indica varieties than in sativa varieties and has anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, analgesic, and intraocular pressure-lowering effects. Researchers from the „University of Barcelona“ have proven that CBG is a partial agonist of cannabinoid receptor 2 (CB2) and acts as a regulator of endocannabinoid signaling.

Italian researchers proved that inflammation and oxidative stress play a central role in neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and multiple sclerosis, and found that cannabis also exerts neuroprotective effects against inflammation and oxidative stress, protecting against neuronal cell loss. Researchers from the „Universidad Complutense“ Madrid in Spain studied the effects of CBG and identify genes associated with Huntington’s disease (e.g., gamma-aminobutyric acid A receptor (GABA). The study was conducted under the supervision of scientists from 18 countries. The Journal of Investigative Dermatology published a study in which mice with melanoma were treated with THC and CBD, and an international team of researchers found that these substances lead to the death of cancer cells through apoptosis and autophagy.

The term autophagy refers to a process in which the cell disassembles itself to get rid of damaged parts. Apoptosis is the natural suicide of the cell. It breaks apart and then the immune system cleans up the rest. Through studies on animals, it has been shown that THC and CBD can stimulate and support both processes. In their study, the researchers used THC and CBD in equal amounts, as given in the drug Sativex, which is currently undergoing a testing phase as a pain medication for cancer patients. The researchers discovered the potential of cannabinoids to treat melanoma back in 2006, when they found the CB1 and CB2 receptors in melanoma cells. These receptors are also the binding sites for THC in the human body. By activating these receptors, the researchers were able to slow down the growth of cancer cells because apoptosis and autophagy were triggered by the treatment. As we can see, the purely medicinal spectrum of the hemp plant is enormous, not to mention that the plant, i.e. the seeds and the oil are very good for nutrition, because they contain an extremely high proportion and ideal ratio of unsaturated fatty acids and amino acids.

The hemp plant has indisputably a lot of medicinal potential that should be used increasingly by the pharmaceutical industry. But please not exclusively and under discrimination of those who want to grow the phytomedicinal qualities with sunlight and rainwater, CO2-neutral with lower THC potency free of charge and consume at any time carefree legal, no matter whether as a joint, as Hasch-Keckse or as hemp oil. That alone would already serve the public health and help the economy as well as the state, the police and justice. Tax revenues for youth protection and prevention, for the state and cantons, the relief of law enforcement agencies from the senseless stoner hunt, an economic innovation boost also in textiles and building materials. A few examples:

The skin is our largest organ and serves as a protective shield against infections and injuries. It is an extremely complex membrane with the epidermis and pores at the top, then in the derma with the sebaceous and sweat glands and hair follicles, followed by the subcutis with the adipocytes and then the muscle structure. The lipid layer is a physiochemical barrier with antimicrobial properties that controls the skin microbiome. The sebaceous glands (sebocytes) contribute with their lipid-rich sebum and, in case of unbalanced production, determine acne, dehydrated skin and other dermatological diseases. According to recent findings, there is an interesting link between cannabinoids and the metabolic processes in the skin. In a systematic study of the effects on the skin of the use of synthetic cannabinoids, which can be purchased over the counter, scientists found that there is an active interaction between cannabinoids and skin homeostasis.

In 2015, at the dermatological University of Münster, Germany, human cannabinoid receptors CB1 and CB2 were detected in the sebaceous glands for the first time. Another group of researchers found that the potential of cannabinoids has a significant impact on the homeostasis of sebum production (sebum). In one experiment, CB2 receptors were specifically turned off in sebocytes, which resulted in a reduction of sebum production. In the second experiment, exogenously applied endocannabinoids were found to increase lipid pro-duction, indicating the importance of the CB2 receptor in sebocytic lipogenesis.

In other words, the phyto-cannabinoid cannabidiol clearly shows anti-acne effects by normalizing sebum production, increased proliferation of keratinocytes and bacterial inflammation. CBD does not inhibit sebum lipogenesis, but brings it into proper balanace. Also essential oil that is extracted from the hemp plant consists of a variety of terpenes and antimicrobial properties against P.acnes and are also anti-inflammatory. As a result, terpenes can or must be increasingly emphasized as another building block in the complex effect of the hemp plant for medicinal purposes and health aspects. Moreover, cannabinoids also have a key function in the skin, which is not limited to the immune cells. The modulatory effect is also active in the sebaceous glands and many other cell types that contain phatogenic and hazard-associated recognition receptors. These cells coordinate and formulate local immune responses and the production of pro- and anti-inflammatory mediators. And all this happens under the strict regime of the human cannabinoid system (ECS), as explained by the source of these exciting findings, Dr. Christian Löfke, cell biologist at the organic hemp producer „BioBloom“.

Hemp fiber was already highly valued in shipping, and recently it has come back into the conversation as a building material, opening up entirely new, sustainable construction methods for building everything from micro houses to apartment buildings. The excellent, breathable insulating materials can be used for floors, interior and exterior walls, false ceilings and even the roof. First of all, there is hemp lime for exterior walls, which can be used very flexibly in a wide variety of constructions. The hemp can be used in blocks of any size (like bricks) or it can be used to construct entire walls and floors in a tailor-made way.

Hemp clay is used in interior walls and floor construction because of its excellent thermal mass. Hemp wool shines due to its exceptional insulating properties combined with high lightness and toughness. Hemp fleece, in turn, is a good impact sound insulator. And hemp lime opens up completely new, sustainable applications in the construction and wood industries. For example, a farmhouse with timber framing can be completely restored and the outer walls sealed with hemp lime. Which notabene fulfills all energy standards without additional use of other insulating materials. Hemp lime is made from hemp shives (chopped hemp stalks) that are already used as animal litter and then, with the addition of lime and water, results in a kind of natural concrete. The procedure can be made also with loam instead of lime, whereby the building method could be opened again for many other world regions. A small house requires about two tons of hemp hurds and fibers, while a single-family house can require 15 tons of hemp hurds and four tons of hemp fibers. 

According to estimates by the U.S. firm Grand View Research, cannabis companies will generate $73 billion worldwide in 2027. The London-based firm „Prohibition Partners“, which specializes in cannabis, estimates the market volume for Europe at 115 billion euros by 2028. The sales potential for Switzerland is currently estimated at a good five billion, but it could be much higher. Currently, Canadian companies are leading the way, followed by companies in the U.S. and the U.K., but there are also some quite big players in Switzerland. Drug prohibition never worked, the medical potential was neutered. We’ve known that for 50 years now. So we should at least give grass now, instead of letting valuable time pass with abstruse pilot projects. The population is mature enough for this and no longer wants to be patronized and taken for fools.

2013: Eye-opener in Gujarat and meeting with Narenda Moodi

Press conference with Gujarats Tourism-, Transport-, Chief Minister Nahredra Modi at the Gujarat Travel Mart in Ahmedabad-City


The author, Gerd Michael Müller, born in Zürich in 1962, traveled as a photo-journalist to more than 50 nations and lived in seven countries, including in the underground in South Africa during apartheid. In the 80 years he was a political activist at the youth riots in Zürich. Then he was involved in pioneering Wildlife & eco projects in Southern Africa and humanitarian projects elsewhere in the world. As early as 1993, Müller reported on the global climate change and in 1999 he founded the «Tourism & Environment Forum Switzerland». Through his humanitarian missions he got to know Nelson Mandela, the Dalai Lama and other figures of light. His book is an exciting mixture of political thriller, crazy social stories and travel reports – the highlights of his adventurous, wild nomadic life for reportage photography .

(please note that translation corrections are still in progress and images will follow soon)

In March 2013, at the annual tourism trade fair „ITB“ in Berlin, in the hall where India and Indian tour operators presented themselves, I was approached about a press trip to Gujarat and gave my business card to the initiators. Just two months later, I flew via Dehli to Ahmedabad, the capital of the state of Gujarat, and there, to my amazement, I met about 150 journalists and influencers who had flown in from all over the world to get to know the tourist attractions of Gujarat. After splitting into different interest groups, we were carted around for five days and introduced to the tourist highlights. First was the Rani ki Vav stepwell near the town of Patan on the banks of the Saraswati River. A Unesco World Heritage Site, the temple complex was dedicated in the 11th century in honor of the king’s daughter of Khengara of Saurashtra of the Solanki Dynasty. The temple complex was a huge eight-story water reservoir and contains over five hundred frescoes from the mythology of the time and still valid today. Another highlight was the Hindu Sun Temple in Modhera, this temple complex is also located on the banks of a river, the Pushpavati River. The sacred site was built between 1026 and 1027 BC during the era of King Bhima I of the Chaulukya Dynasty. The temple complex consists of three complexes: The Shrine Gudhamandapa, the Association Hall Sabhamandapa and the Water Reservoir Kunda. Then the journey continued in the jeep and took us into an inhospitable, dust-dry land to the Rann of Kutch, a saltwater marshland on the border between India and Pakistan. The Rann of Kutch is divided into two regions: The Great Rann Kutch and the Little Rann Kutch. The Great lies in Pakistan, while the Lesser Rann of Kutch borders its big brother to the southeast and extends to the Gulf of Kutch. 20,946 km2 of the Little Kutch are protected area with a Wildlife Sanctuary, which was established already in 1973. At the end of the trip we spent one more night in the Maharaja Palace in Poshina and before it went back to the capital of Gujarat Ahmedabad, where I visited the Ghandi Museum and then it came to the final meeting of the journalist event with the appearance of Narenda Moodi, of which until the hour none of the media representatives knew. It was only when some heavily armed soldiers with mine detectors and search dogs showed up that it was clear that there was about to be a high ranking visitor. Then a small escort drove up and Narenda Moodi ascended in the presence of the tourism minister of Gujarat and some other officials and made clear to all his ambitions for the Indian presidency, a goal that he then also achieved and has since divided India with his Hindu nationalist course.

Lust for life and protest to the sounds of calypso in London, Trinidad and Zurich

Fantastic costumes at the parade along with hot Calypso-sound at the Carnival in Port of Spain on the caribbean island Trinidad

Let’s stay in the Caribbean for a while. At the end of the 80s, I traveled for seven weeks from Barbados via St. Lucia, St. Vincent, Grenada and the Grenadines down to Trinidad and Tobago off the coast of Venezuela, in other words through the entire Westward Islands. And the highlight was the carnival in Port of Spain. What started in 1777 with the French immigrants and was reserved for a colonial minority, developed into a musical protest movement after the liberation of the slaves. Thus, the carnival in Trinidad and Tobago is for many the event that has become the purpose of life. It is celebrated in ecstatic joie de vivre inspired by hot calypso sounds. For several months, a whole family is busy preparing for the costume creations and the parade. In addition to glamour, prestige plays a major role; the family’s fame and prestige increase considerably when a queen or king of the carnival can be added to the family chronicle. To be there is everything, to win is even more beautiful. Long before the parades, the favorites among the steel bands are determined in elimination procedures. Not only the playing virtuosity counts, also the provocative originality of the lyrics is evaluated and awarded. Because calypso knows no taboos. everything is allowed what pleases and arrives. Even after the slave era, the calypso remained the satirical and also cynical mouthpiece of the oppressed. The lyrics of the singer-slaves were peppered with socially critical undertones and rebellious political slogans.

Then, at last, come the three magical days of steel drum parades through downtown Port of Spain, their sound setting the movements of the drifting dancers to a swinging rhythm with eruptive force, transforming Queens Park Savannah into a seething witch’s cauldron. In the process, the dancers hugged each other close to the skin and rubbed against each other provocatively and lightly clothed. And the girls had fun to dock in pairs from the front and from behind, to take you in the sandwich and to rub against you with heated bodies. So you learn to dance in a flash and to move rhythmically to the hot Calypso sounds. And this happened in an environment that was as Catholic as it was Muslim and Chinese, for Trinidad is a melting pot of all these and many Caribbean and Latin American nations living peacefully together on an island no larger than the canton of Bern. In 1833, tens of thousands of Indian contract workers also arrived on the southernmost, small Caribbean island off the coast of Venezuela. The island, which also includes the neighboring island of Tobago, has been independent since 1962. Trinidad owes its name to Columbus, who remembered the holy trinity, Trinity, at the sight of the three mountain peaks. When Columbus arrived in 1498 on his third voyage, there were two Indian tribes living there, which were wiped out within a few years of the Spaniards‘ arrival. But back to Carnival and the calypso to which Trinidad’s folklore owes so much.

Long before the opening of the carnival, in relentless elimination procedures, the best steel bands are chosen to participate in the parade. However, it is not only the pure musical virtuosity on the sound instruments welded together from gasoline barrels that counts – much more important are the cheeky, provocative lyrics, because calypso knows no taboos, neither when singing or playing nor when dancing. Anything that catches on and pleases the strict jury is allowed. The original folk songs and dances of the suffering slaves remained satirical to cynical mouthpieces of the oppressed against the colonial masters and authorities even after the end of slavery. The lyrics have always been peppered with socially critical and rebellious political tones, this tradition continues today with much wit and charm. The band’s motto usually also determines the choice of costumes. Here, too, an enormous amount of imagination and creativity is involved. An excellent band has no chance of making it to the final round without original costumes. The graceful glittering robes exceed the body size by several times. This daring gigantism can only be accomplished with sophisticated technology and elaborate landing gear. For several months, entire family clans are busy making the costume creations and mythical creatures.

It is already midnight before the start of the carnival, which begins with the opening parade at four in the morning, as it does here. Time drips by. Minutes turn into hours. Alcohol is already flowing and will continue to do so for the next few days. Finally the time has come, everything is streaming outside, the narrow streets lined with tropical bushes are flooded by a pulsating stream of people moving towards the city center and epicenter of the carnival. Apart from glittering eyes and garishly painted faces, not much can be made out in the darkness just before sunrise. Diesel engines roar abruptly: The first semi-trucks start moving and join the stream of people creeping forward. On top of them, 20 to 30 steel drums and other instruments are united and large towers of loudspeakers are set up, whose sound with eruptive power and hurricane-like bass vibrations catches the movements of those drifting in the stream and sets them to a swinging rhythm.

Steel bands come from all points of the compass, transforming Queens Park Savannah into a seething cauldron of witches. Silhouettes of the parade ramp and grandstands loom in the dawn. Stalls are set up all around, dazzling booth magic beckons, and everywhere the loudspeakers are cranked up to the max. An indescribable cacophony that makes you lose your hearing and sight. In the afternoon, the bands and their costumed entourage parade behind them through the streets of Trinidad and up to the grandstands in Queens Park Savannah, where the jury is also seated and the hawsers parade down an alley between the grandstands. Now you can see the gigantic, filigree, magnificently glittering and fan-like swinging works of art, which are decorated with thousands and thousands of glittering sequins, especially well. The giant fan and wing-like birds of paradise flutter rhythmically dancing through Trinidad’s streets. A city out of control, but with all the anarchy and the apparent dissolution of all laws, the precise timing of the end of the carnival seems incredible: As if swept away by a thunderclap, the spook dissolves at midnight after two intense days and nights.

On a second sailing trip from Grenada to Trinidad, which I organized for some friends, the carnival in Trinidad swept us away in such a way that we wanted to bring it to Zurich. And we succeeded, thanks to the Trinidadian percussionist on board the schooner. Ralph R. and his wife Angi, who both played steel drums passionately and Ralph also taught several steel drum bands and children’s bands in Zurich, were the ideal candidates to bring the most famous calypso musician Mighty Sparrow on board. Through Ralph’s contacts we were able to invite Mighty Sparrow, the eight-time „King of Calypso“ to an exclusive gala concert at the „Hotel International“ in Oerlikon. For this we arranged an open-air at the market place in Oerlikon with eight Stelldrum bands the day before, on a Saturday. Thanks to the cooperation with the „British West India Airlines“ (BWIA), which flew new to Zurich at that time, we were able to fly Caribbean top chefs to Zurich during six weeks before the „Calypso & Steeldrum Festival“, with all fresh ingredients and plenty of tropical decoration, to offer Caribbean flair, tropical cocktails and delicious exotic specialties and dishes at the „Hotel International“ in Oerlikon. Through the „Calypso & Steeldrum Festival“ I was allowed to cooperate with Roger Schawinski’s „Radio 24“ and was his guest for an interview and a special broadcast. Also „Radio DRS 3“, which did a one-hour show about the Calypso from Trinidad and about Mighty Sparrow, gave a big boost to the promotion. In addition, Frederic Dru of „Radio Tropic“ was also interested in really celebrating this event. Swiss Television was inspired by the Mighty Sparrow concert and the Caribbean for their first travel show, since „SRF“ travel editor Kurt Schaad. and the music editor of Swiss Television had freaked out at our gala concert. Although we had to seat people due to fire regulations, people soon stood up, clapped, sang and danced and so we quickly cleared the chairs away. It was a bomb atmosphere and definitely the craziest concert ever held there.

Equally gratifying was that as a result I began working at „Radio Tropic“ on a voluntary, unpaid basis and then soon produced my own travel shows with the airlines, tour operators and tourist boards, and had complete freedom to do so. What a brilliant experience! I was able to do two-hour specials on Australia, Africa and the Caribbean on the commercial-free radio station, and two years later I had the opportunity to produce shows at „Radio Kanal K“ as well. The station in the canton of Aargau, which is also known as a music and culture radio station, also gave me a lot of leeway and so, to everyone’s amazement, I invited the four cantonal party presidents to the studio for the hotly debated „Asylum Initiative“ of the SVP and moderated the debate. Among them was Gerry Müller, who later became mayor of Baden. The next protagonist was Andreas Glarner of the SVP from the Aargau municipality of Arni, who achieved media presence through his scandals in matters of migration policy (ban on veiling and minaret initiative). In addition, the two cantonal FDP and CVP presidents also came to the studio for the debate. This was my first highly political and at the same time high-profile interview with four top politicians on one of the hottest topics in Germany at the time. And it was a very committed and controversial discussion, which I, as the moderator, had a good handle on. Through the cooperation with the British West India Airlines (BWIA) at the „Calypso & Steeldrum Festival“ in 1993 and later with the French airline „AOM“, I was able to fly frequently to the Caribbean and during one of these trips and a side trip to Grenada, which I visited for the second time, we received a special invitation.

Cuba 93: With the socialists who feed on hope

Cuba: schoolkids crossing a street in Havanna city


The author, Gerd Michael Müller, born in Zürich in 1962, traveled as a photo-journalist to more than 50 nations and lived in seven countries, including in the underground in South Africa during apartheid. In the 80 years he was a political activist at the youth riots in Zürich. Then he was involved in pioneering Wildlife & eco projects in Southern Africa and humanitarian projects elsewhere in the world. As early as 1993, Müller reported on the global climate change and in 1999 he founded the «Tourism & Environment Forum Switzerland». Through his humanitarian missions he got to know Nelson Mandela, the Dalai Lama and other figures of light. His book is an exciting mixture of political thriller, crazy social stories and travel reports – the highlights of his adventurous, wild nomadic life for reportage photography .

(please note that translation corrections are still in progress and images will follow soon)

In 1993 when my daughter was just three months old, I flew with her and her diapered mother to socialist Cuba for a month. It was for a Swiss film project with Fidel Castro and Geraldine Chaplin. She was the door opener to the socialist rulers. It was the „Periodo especial en tiempo de paz“, the time of emergency in peacetime, when Cuba, after the collapse of the Soviet Union and the fall of the Berlin Wall, fell into an extreme economic crisis and had to undergo a soft system change. Through „dollar liberalization“ in the socialist Caribbean paradise, in order to switch from the sugar economy to tourism, a revolution from the „socialist heart to the capitalist mind“ took place. The classless society was now split into two camps: Those with the green U.S. bills („fulanos“) and those with the worthless pesos, the „esperancejos,“ or hopefuls. Thus, the hunt for the „fula“ (bad money) has taken on Kafkaesque forms.

The change was characterized by the unwavering will not to give up the socialist achievements. And yet, since the liberalization of the dollar, a dramatic, unstoppable change in values has taken place. La Habana – the Latin American splendor of the 19th century presented a picture of monumental desolation. Entire neighborhoods were in danger of collapse, the Malecon was a mile-long, run-down colonial-style ensemble, and the decay of the old city was far advanced despite financial help from Unesco, which wanted to preserve, renovate or rebuild parts of the urban ensemble. The two-million metropolis was a conspicuous symbol of the fact that the country lay in ruins after the fall of the Berlin Wall and the withdrawal of the Soviets. The ramshackle ruins of the five-story colonial-style buildings were removed or pointed by hand, pillar by pillar, under life-threatening conditions until the building sections collapsed.

Just behind the time-honored witnesses of early colonial sugar aristocracy, between the magnificent neo-baroque Garcia Lorca Theater and Havana’s oldest hotel, the Inglaterra, lay the more popular everyday stage: the black market. Since economic aid and subsidized fuel supplies from the Soviet Union stopped, the mercado negro, where 85 percent of all goods are traded, has become Cuba’s main artery. Almost everything had to be imported at high cost, even the staple food rice. Export revenues fell from over eight billion in 1989 to barely two billion U.S. dollars within three years. Crude oil was only available in half that amount, the transportation system collapsed, the electricity supply functioned only on an hourly basis, and the supply situation was precarious. The peso was worthless and the age of dollar apartheid had dawned.

„Our money is worthless and prices have increased tenfold in a short time,“ complains Ernesto Solano, a pensioner who had to get by on 80 pesos a month. Despite the miserable situation, he has not lost his sense of humor and sums up the predicament of the „Periodo especial en tiempo de paz,“ which has now lasted two years, with a joke, alluding to the slogans „luchan y resistan“ (fight and persevere) and „Long live the revolution – persevere compãgneros: A man comes home hungry and calls out to his wife to fry the fish he brought. „We have no oil, is her reply, and no gas for cooking, nor water, nor a lemon.“ So the only thing left for the man to do is to resignedly throw the fish back into the sea, whereupon the fish happily cries out, „Long live the revolution.“

The state tourism organization „Cubanacan“ gathered all the goods on the black market to offer them to tourists paying with dollars. Even the fresh fish did not end up on the plate of the starving population but in a tourist hotel in Havana. At that time, four-story department stores were empty except for a few glass beads and plastic rings, a few cans, potatoes and a few agricultural products. At the farmers‘ markets, people stood in line for hours for a few eggs. Electricity was rare, and entire neighborhoods were pitch black. „I had never seen such a shocking „standstill“ before“ (in 2020, the drama will repeat itself again after Venezuela’s collapse). Precisely for this reason, the propaganda machine of the socialist Castro regime was probably running at full speed to convince us journalists of the advantages of the socialist tourist paradise. The only convincing things were the „mojitos“ and the young, very pretty Cuban women who turned out to be so-called „jineteras,“ the „horsewomen of the night,“ who crowded onto the tourist ship at the pier in Varadero, looking for their fortune and a little fun and distraction.

„Cuba now has socialism where capitalism does as it pleases,“ a Gran Ma newspaper vendor says to me. „Here there is no longer a carrot without dollars“.  Tourism is the new cash cow but a necessary evil for deserving socialists, but it will fuel envy among the people, said well-known Nueva Trova co-founder Sara Gonzales at the time. For many Cubans, tourism is a bitter pill, but the only one that can halfway ensure survival as long as the U.S. embargo against Cuba is not lifted. As an „embedded“ journalist, I had access to extraordinary people, like the founder of the women’s organization in the 60s. Then the famous oncologist Miranda Martinez, who showed me the revolutionary health system and also revealed its weaknesses, and a revolutionary of the first hour who fought side by side with Fidel Castro. Then I visited Ana-Fidelia Quirot (the Olympic long-distance wonder), who suffered the most severe burns in an explosion in her kitchen as a pregnant woman, losing her child by Sotomayor (high jumper). She gave me an exclusive interview that TV stations had been waiting for in vain for a long time.

We penetrated into the political power center thanks to Geraldine Chaplin, who was in Havana for a film about Cuba and the „Cuban Stars“ with Swiss and Cuban filmmakers. At the interview in the hotel „El International“ where we stayed, my three-month-old daughter Aiala sat on Geraldine’s lap while I conducted the interview with her. Also otherwise it was completely uncomplicated to travel around with a baby in Cuba, because all Cuban women immediately pounced on Aiala and entertained her in the best and most caring way. For „Annabelle“, one of the leading women’s magazines in Switzerland, the portraits of women from all Cuban backgrounds were planned.  At the end, the sports journalist Marta G., who put together the whole program for us and who arranged the contacts with the women, asked for a presentation in front of the assembled Cuban press, radio and television, in which we were to report on the Swiss media landscape and journalism in Switzerland. A clever move on her part and a delicate task for us. After all, we wanted to contrast the freedom of the press, the diversity of the press and the political processes of Cuban socialism without being arrogant or too critical of the system.

There wasn’t much time to prepare this, and we thought carefully about what to say so as not to tread too firmly politically. It was a balancing act of conveying information with quiet critical tones at the state censorship. I turned the presentation over to Roberta because she spoke better Spanish and because, after all, we had come to Cuba in the context of research on women figures and stories. Afterwards we were interviewed by radio journalists and just the next morning early, when we were standing in a mechanical women’s workshop (always with Aiala in the Snuggli with us) at 07.00 a.m., an interview was just beaming over the state station from our presentation and performance yesterday. This was perfect timing and again gained us a lot of sympathy and respect in the women’s workshop we were in. It was an exciting 30 days on Sugar Island, but also a distressing sight given the run-down state of the tropical island and the obvious hunger and abject poverty. There was very little tourism at that time. This soon changed when the Cubans relaxed the foreign exchange regulations and thus boosted tourism, which then became the main source of income for years.

Through Marta G. I also got to know Ana Fidelio Quirot, the middle-distance sprinter and Olympic champion at the World Championships in Barcelona and undefeated in 39 races until the day she was seriously injured by a kerosene explosion while standing pregnant in her kitchen and her child was delivered by cesarean section by Sotomayor, who, however, only briefly survived the tragic accident. The consequences were unmistakable. Third degree burns on the once beautiful face of the Dior model, as well as scars on the arms and the entire upper body. And the beginning of an incredible ordeal with countless skin transplants and plastic surgeries. Thanks to Marta, we also got to meet many other exciting personalities, such as a famous oncologist and a revolutionary who fought side by side with Fidel Castro, as well as the founder of the Cuban Women’s Association. All these contacts were planned for an exclusive report in the women’s magazine „Annabelle“. But since they only wanted ten to fifteen lines of text about each of these exciting and historical people, I rejected this as too superficial and sold the stories to the Welt am Sonntag and a dozen daily newspapers, and the exclusive interview with Ana Fidelio Quiro to the sports magazines.

Through cooperation with some leading photo agencies in Europe and the emerging tourism in the socialist island nation, I chartered a military helicopter on the second visit to take aerial photos of Varadero and that was an impressive thing to kneel unsecured at the open heli door of the Russian military helicopter and take photos. Also in the Domincan Republic and in the South Seas I had the luck and the possibility to fly around with helicopters. I was always very enthusiastic about that.

Then I met Swiss namesakes, a family from Winterthur, who had moved to Cuba with their two school-age children and were trying their luck here. The irony of the story is that both had previously worked in a bank, so had grown up capitalist, so to speak, and were now trying their luck in the socialist empire, according to the motto: „that money and prosperity are not synonymous with happiness and joie de vivre,“ as Margrit Goydke Müller, who grew up in Lucerne, recounts. Certainly, the Müllers helped the regime at that time to build up the separate and overlapping currencies (pesos/dollars).

During another trip to Cuba, the Polish Pope Pontifatius Karol Józef Wojtyła, of all people, also came to visit Cuba and drove his Papa-mobile through Havana’s streets and Revolution Square, lined with a sea of people, not two meters past me. After all, I had already seen him from a privileged place when he returned to Poland. And then I also traveled on to Santiago de Cuba and listened to his speech there in the presence of Fidel Castro. And since the world is so small and full of surprises, the next day I saw the Buena Vista Social Band playing under a tree, at a time when they were not yet world famous.

The socialist Caribbean island attracted me again and again and thanks to the cooperation with the airline „AOM“ I flew over to the sugar island every two or three years between 1993 and the millennium and later lived with a Cuban family, an older couple, who lived in one of the highest skyscrapers at that time right on the Malecon next to the legendary hotel „El International“. There I had a room with my own entrance as well as a connecting door to their apartment. This was perfect for socializing with the couple Claris and Nilo and my nightly escapades. I bought a Chinese bicycle for $20 and crisscrossed Old Havana. At that time, Cuba was not yet a crowded tourist paradise, which subsequently changed with the opening to tourism and the first tourist enclaves. During my last visit to Cuba in 2011, I saw the beginning of a tender glimmer of hope for Cubans, who could now pursue self-employment under restrictive conditions, and visited the first small private pousadas, or guest rooms for tourists. It seemed as if socialism was slowly taking off on the sugar island. Due to the tourism boom, Cuba was doing better for a while, however, the elite did not do their homework, but instead became dependent on Venezuela for their energy supply, and when the price of oil dropped sharply with Venezuela plunged into chaos.

Due to Cuba’s dependence on Venezuela and its decline, which led to the fact that Cuba’s economy is up to its neck again in 2021, as tourism collapsed due to the Corona pandemic and thus also the most important source of foreign currency besides the bubbling source of oil of the brother state dried up. Airports and ship terminals are completely deserted. The owners of private restaurants or accommodations are left empty-handed. Now the „traitors of socialism“ have no support from the state, and that is bitter sugar or tobacco for many Cubans. Since the cheap oil from socialist Venezuela dried up, the lights are going out again in Cuba, as in the early 1990s during the „special period.“ On top of that, Donald Trump has turned off the money spigot to the Cubans living in the Cuban enclave in the U.S., and financial aid from the U.S. has shrunk to half around three billion dollars. To add to the misery, the „Paris Club“ has also cut off its aid. Cuba is back where it was after the collapse of the Soviet Union. The socialist regime must now finally tackle far-reaching reforms, or the regime and the Caribbean island face complete collapse. The violent protests that recently flared up for the first time in decades show the plight of the communist island state.

4. Mexico, Cuba, Carnival and US Invaders

Mexico: Church in San Juan de Chamula near San Cristobal de las Casas | Die Kirche in San Juan de Chamula nahe San Cristobal de las Casas,


The author, Gerd Michael Müller, born in Zürich in 1962, traveled as a photo-journalist to more than 50 nations and lived in seven countries, including in the underground in South Africa during apartheid. In the 80 years he was a political activist at the youth riots in Zürich. Then he was involved in pioneering Wildlife & eco projects in Southern Africa and humanitarian projects elsewhere in the world. As early as 1993, Müller reported on the global climate change and in 1999 he founded the «Tourism & Environment Forum Switzerland». Through his humanitarian missions he got to know Nelson Mandela, the Dalai Lama and other figures of light. His book is an exciting mixture of political thriller, crazy social stories and travel reports – the highlights of his adventurous, wild nomadic life for reportage photography .

(please note that translation corrections are still in progress and images will follow soon)

Mexico 89: Mystic Easter Processions of the Mixtecs Indios

Mystical Easter processions of the Mixtec Indians in Oaxaca Mexico’s face shines brilliantly, the cradle of archaic high Indian cultures. Both the ancient temples and the richly contrasting, splendid colonial cities of Oaxaca and San Cristobal de las Casas protrude like jewels from the dazzling Sierra Madre. In the homeland of the Tzotziles, Tzetales, Chamulas and Lacandons, the indigenous people are about as original as Valais or Bündner mountain people. And yet these cultures, history and landscape cannot be equated with ours. Their cultures are closer to nature, more anarchic, clan-like and more spiritual.

I spent a few days in Oaxaca, a magnificent colonial-style city. On the way to pick up my laundry, I happened to look into a back yard where a woman with long, curly hair was standing at a strange machine doing a job that aroused my curiosity. She noticed my presence and called me in, and I saw what she was doing. She was standing in front of an ancient French lithography system from the early 19th century and was just printing a few lithographs. Unexpectedly I ran into the studio of the famous Oaxacen painter Tamayo. We started talking to each other for over two hours. Her name was Marcela and she told me that over Easter she was going to the mountains to see the Indians and their processions over the Easter holidays because she wanted to bring school books to a teacher.

That sounded tempting and inspired me, because I always wanted to join the Indios, for whom I had a weakness since childhood through the Winnetou films. He was the role model in my childhood, the Apaches my inspiration. So I immediately joined Marcela Vera and so the next morning we took the public bus into the mountains to Zacantepec at an altitude of almost 3000 meters. The ten hour drive was very arduous. Holding on to the handle the whole time, I stood between sacks, chickens and children sitting on the floor, constantly rocking back and forth, pressed close to the other passengers and Marcela, as the bus hissed over a narrow scree pass road with large, deep holes screwed up into the mountains. There were two rest stops due to the two tire changes. As the only gringo on the bus, I towered over the Indians by head height and so I could not only see the passengers rocking but also memorize their furrowed facial expressions and lively gestures for hours.

In gloomy darkness and thick fog, we arrived in the Zapotec Indio town, which consisted of three stone houses, a zocalo (village square) and a church with a corrugated iron roof. There was a single inn above the only small store that had to offer except for a few clay cans, mustard jars, mayonnaise tubes a few bunches of peppers, some coffee and mezcal liquor. For a week, there was practically nothing to eat. After only three days, Marcela, the picture-perfect painter, and I were in quite a mystical mood, often snuggling close together in the cramped, barren, cold room.

Our hearts began to throb more and more wildly and soon we were making unrestrained love. Still in complete darkness before dawn, the next morning a dark, somber voice in the Indio dialect suddenly rang out from a crackling loudspeaker from the village square, accompanied by heavy somber church music. In addition, melancholy music with wind instruments, drums and marimba sounds echoed through the darkness. We looked out our room window and saw the ghostly fog pouring in from all directions, deeply cloaked Indio figures streaming toward the corrugated iron church.

We left the room and went there too. The women separated in the nave from the poncho-clad men, who for once held their sombrero in their hands to take their seats in separate pews. Children and elderly women knelt in front of the incense burners. Sweet-smelling clouds of smoke filled the room and enveloped the padre, who was the only one dressed in a white cassock, giving him a ghostly, mephysto-like appearance. Now a padre was giving a pastoral speech in the local Indio dialect before a statue of the Virgen de Guadaloupe, the black Virgin Mary. But more fascinating were all the awe-struck Indio faces under their colorful rebozas, the scarves they wore as head coverings and slung over their shoulders.

The sparse candlelight, the clouds of copal incense and the fragrant sea of spruce needles spread out on the floor, as well as the magnificently costumed honorifics with their silver-tipped canes as insignia of their dignity, transformed the nave into a very spiritual and mystical world. The flickering candles illuminated all the serious faces marked by hardships. For once, pride melted away. The uncomplicated, cheerful and hot-blooded attitude to life that concealed the harsh reality gave way to the revelation of the hardships and fears of their long-suffering indigenous mountain existence.

Up until this point, I never thought I would see Indians in such a Christian pose. I had an idea of Indians influenced by Winnetou movies, although I had encountered Sioux Indians in the U.S. before. Then it started! The Indio women shouldered the Virgen de Guadaloupe and the men a statue of Jesus Christ on their shoulders, then the whole Indio troop moved up into the mountains. They split into two groups and I decided to join the women’s torch and candlelight procession and so we climbed up the narrow, slippery paths.

Along the way there were a few Stations of the Cross rituals and at the Seventh Station the two processions gathered in a small clearing with a space around the banner bearers and the women kneeling before their thuribles. Now the Padre gave another speech and just at that moment the sky fully opened for the first time and the sun appeared like a divine spell directed at the small Indian community, as if it were specially blessing this gathering. The chants also put me in a trance. It was extraordinary to live this spiritual experience as the only „gringo“ and foreigner among the Mixtec Indians.

Devout and overwhelmed by this authentic spectacle of deepest indigenous beliefs and moving emotions, we also became part of this world. I merged, so to speak, with them and their ancestors. The Indians must have sensed this as well and gave me their trust and a tribute. When one of the banner bearers came out of the circle of dignitaries and approached us, at first I was very frightened because I was secretly taking pictures of the reunion of Jesus Christ and Mary Virgin. I was afraid that they had caught me taking pictures and that I would be offered as an expiatory sacrifice and impaled on one of the lances. The fear was not unfounded, as tourists have been killed in Chiapas for taking pictures of the local Indians. Instead, as a gesture of their hospitality, I was taken right to the center of the procession and allowed to be one of the three banner bearers. What a gesture and honor for me, which touched me very much, where I had been abysmally critical of them for the time being!

We looked out of our room window and saw how the ghostly fog spewed out deeply veiled Indian figures pouring in from all directions and pouring out towards the corrugated iron church. We left the room and went there too. Inside, a padre in a white cassock gave a pastoral speech in the local Indian dialect in front of a statue of the Virgen de Guadaloupe, the Black Virgin Mary. More fascinating were all the awe-struck Indian faces under their colorful rebozas, the scarves that they wore as headgear and slung over their shoulders.

Sparse candlelight, billows of copal incense and a fragrant sea of ​​spruce needles spread out on the ground, as well as splendidly costumed honoraries with silver-clad sticks as insignia of their dignity, transformed the nave into a very spiritual and mystical world. Until then, I would never have thought of seeing Indians in such a Christian pose. I had an idea of ​​the Indians influenced by Winnetou films, although I had met Sioux Indians in the USA before. Then it started! The Indian women shouldered the Virgen de Guadaloupe and the men a statue of Jesus Christ on their shoulders, then the whole Indian convoy pulled up into the mountains.

They split up in now united, men and women walk the remaining seven Stations of the Cross together until the removal of the carved image of the saint on the Zocalo. The entombment and mass are followed by the blasphemous burning of Jesus Christ. Now the gods and ancestors are worshipped again in the traditional way. According to the Aztec and Mixtec conception, divine authority must be acquired, the teacher of the village school of Zacantepec explains to us. According to tradition, Nanauatzin, who dared to jump into the fire the first time, became the sun, while Teciciztecatl, who followed him, became the moon.

One thing seems clear, that the Christian god is one of the many gods in the Indio world. Therefore at this point the question is allowed, whether it really plays a role in which God, faith or in which Gods and dogmas one believes? Is Allah better than God and are now the Sunnis, Shiites, Wahabites or Alewites on the right path? The Christians or Buddhists more enlightened? Back to the Indians. At least here there is no „holy war“ proclaimed by humans. The Indians prefer to leave that to the gods.

All the more I opened up to the Indios and in the following days and other wacky processions I often fell into a trance to the point of ecstasy, and that without the Nanacatl mushrooms or other drugs like mescaline. Only with half a bottle of mezcal liquor a day, with which I calmed Montezuma’s revenge, that is, the stomach upset. And as a result of the lack of food and the altitude, the alcohol level had a particularly good effect on the intoxicating trance states. There were no more language barriers and the universally unifying overcame all cultural boundaries. Thanks to the young painter Marcela Vera from the studio of the famous Mexican painter Tamayo, I learned more and more about the history and identity of the Mixtecs. From then on, the indigenous peoples on all continents particularly interested me, not to say magically attracted me.

Witnessing Zapatista Indio Uprisings in Chiapas

10 years after my first extended trip through Mexico, I returned to Mexico as a journalist in 1994 when the indigenous uprisings escalated in Chiapas and the Mexican Army soldiers entered the region of the six villages and San Cristobal de las Casas to push back the „MARCOS“ rebels and crush the indigenous uprising. The six letters „MARCOS“ were the initial letters of the six rebellious Indio communities in the area around San Cristobal. „M „argaritas, „A „ltimirano, „R „ancho, „N „uevo, „C „omitan, „O „cosingo and „S „an Cristobal. Ten kilometers away is San Juan Chamula, the village of the traditional Chamulas, where the uprising began on January 1, 1994. From this arose the „Subcomandante Marcos“, known as the leader and always veiled.

The jewel and the crystallization point of the Chamulan world of faith, where God and the gods merge, Christ rose from the cross to be resurrected as the sun, is a baroque village church from the 17th century. There we drove past tanks and roadblocks, military helicopters circled in the sky and soldiers and troop movements were everywhere. In Ocosingo, during the time I was there with a nutritionist for infants from the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (DIF), bullets were flying around our ears and we were lucky that none of them hit us, leaving only bullet holes in the walls of the houses.

The Chiapas Uprising was started by the „Ejercito Zapatista de Liberacion Nacional“ (EZLN), a so-called radical leftist movement that rebelled against new state impositions in the state of Chiapas and was very similar to the Mexican Revolution. The Mayan Indians were suffering from the free trade agreement of globalization and racist policies in the Mexican administration, and they wanted to resist because they were being oppressed and excluded from participating in the political process. The conflict began when, in January 1994, an „EZLN“ offensive occupied four towns around San Cristobal de las Casas, whereupon the Mexican military used violence and repression to end the situation on the ground, including the use of torture methods.

In 2001, under the leadership of MARCOS, the Zapatistas made a march from Chiapas to Mexico City, and on January 1, 2003, they took San Cristobal de las Casas. Only after that did more and more NGOs advocate for peace negotiations and put pressure on the government. In the end, however, the fate of the indigenous communities did not change much for the better.

After I escaped from this incendiary place, I experienced another severe earthquake in Chiapas and a turbulent hurricane in Yucatan. So Mexico really didn’t skimp on impressions. It has always been a hellishly hot country, not to mention all the drug cartels that were fighting each other at the time. Impressive was the river trip through the Sumidero Canyon, on whose slippery up to 1000 meters high rock walls trained climbers pull themselves up over the heads of ravenous crocodiles and also already dozens of vultures waiting for their victims. The misty valleys and enchanting lake and river landscapes of Lago Monte Bellos on the Guatemalan border and the wildly gushing cascades of Agua Azul were also among the highlights of this trip.

I avoided the tourist strongholds, such as Acapulco, Cancun in the state of Yucatan, Ixtapa in Guadalajira and Loreto as well as Los Cabos in Bahia de California and preferred small dreamy places such as Puerto Angel north of Huatulco. But I also visited many Mesoamerican temples from Teotihuatlan to Monte Alban, Palenque, Chinchen Itza and Uxmal and was deeply impressed by the sophisticated drug-flooded high culture. Because one thing has now been scientifically proven clearly come to light: The high priests owed their power and wisdom also and above all to their intensive drug experiences with psychoactive substances and impressed their surrounding tribes and cultures with their spirituality and borderline experiences.

My fascination with indigenous peoples increased steadily with my first encounter with the Mixtecs in the highlands of Oaxaca and with the rebellious Chamulas in Chiapas, as well as with my acquaintance with the Khoi San and tribes in Southern Africa. I felt very connected with them and experienced impressive, not to say supernatural moments and hidden abilities in terms of instincts, intuition and mental abilities such as telepathy. If there was (for me) a life before today’s, then I was for sure an Indian, a shaman or a bushmann.

3. In the South African underground fighting against apartheid


The author, Gerd Michael Müller, born in Zürich in 1962, traveled as a photo-journalist to more than 50 nations and lived in seven countries, including in the underground in South Africa during apartheid. In the 80 years he was a political activist at the youth riots in Zürich. Then he was involved in pioneering Wildlife & eco projects in Southern Africa and humanitarian projects elsewhere in the world. As early as 1993, Müller reported on the global climate change and in 1999 he founded the «Tourism & Environment Forum Switzerland». Through his humanitarian missions he got to know Nelson Mandela, the Dalai Lama and other figures of light. His book is an exciting mixture of political thriller, crazy social stories and travel reports – the highlights of his adventurous, wild nomadic life for reportage photography .

(please note that translation corrections are still in progress and images will follow soon)

Zürich-City: Nelson Mandela’s speach as president and nobel prize winner at the Dolder Hotel in front of the swiss economy elite

Politically sensitized by the youth unrest of the early 1980s, as an opponent of nuclear power plants, a pacifist, and a conscientious objector on the political left, as well as focused on South Africa from a humanitarian point of view through my professional activities during my apprenticeship at the „Oerlikon Bührle“ Waffenschmiede, I decided to fly to Johannesburg at the end of 1986 with the aim of getting to know the tense situation and the inhumane conditions on the spot. I had made contacts with ANC exiles in London and had also made contacts with the „Anti Apartheid Movement“ (AAB) in Switzerland. And since one of the tour guide colleagues in London had a brother living in South Africa and we were planning an expedition to the Okavango Delta in neighboring Botswana in 1987, I had an ambitious and adventurous program ahead of me.

First, my former supervisor in London and I lived for a few weeks in the posh white man’s quarters in Hillbrow. The first thing to get used to was the black housekeeper who was included in the rent! Then, of course, there were the restrictions on the black population in all areas of public life, that inhuman racial segregation and discrimination, with the corresponding pass laws for the respective ethnicities.

There was also an Indian community in Durban and the Malay mixed race in Cape Town, which was quite complicated, especially the resettlement plans, which were also put into action. Thus, according to the Ministry of Home Affairs and the NGO „Black Sash“, over half a million black people were forcibly resettled in the homelands and dispossessed. This gave the white farmers access to their large farms in high-yield regions. I carefully familiarized myself with the local conditions, visited the „Khotso House“ in Johannesburg where some resistance organizations like the „Black Sash“ but also the „UDF“ union had their offices. The house was spied on around the clock and often searched by the police. Many committed „ANC“ activists were arrested, tortured or imprisoned without charge. One of the most prominent victims of the apartheid regime, along with Nelson Mandela, was Stephen Biko.

Biko participated in the founding of the grassroots Black Community Programs (BCP) movement in 1972, which was banned by the government. He was also involved in the establishment of the „Zimele Trust Fund,“ a fund for victims of the apartheid regime. In August 1977, he was arrested by the security police for violating conditions. They interrogated and tortured Biko and dragged him unconscious 1000 kilometers to Pretoria, where he died on September 13, 1977. Biko’s violent killing led to an international outcry. Biko became a symbol of the resistance movement against the apartheid regime.

I arrived in South Africa just at the time when the „New Nation“, one of the last liberal, critical papers of the Catholic Bishops‘ Conference under Desmond Tutu was banned and closed down and conducted a last interview with the just dismissed editor-in-chief Gabu Tugwana, which appeared at that time in the „WOZ“ (weekly newspaper) and was thus the first foreign journalist to see and photograph the decree of the hated Minister of the Interior. The apartheid regime censored or banned many newspapers until all possible critical voices were silenced. Spending on internal security, that is, on maintaining the racist apartheid system, gobbled up more than 20 percent of the gross domestic product. Then I dared to take the suburban train from Down town Johannesburg to Soweto, that is, to the black townships, at that time an extremely dangerous thing to do. Once you arrived in Soweto, you were quite alone and conspicuous as a white person at that time. Fortunately I had long hair and looked neither like a Boer nor like an Englishman, which probably kept many from killing me in the townships. Then the curiosity rather grew in them, what I had to look for here and so I could calm them down thanks to my „ANC“ contacts made in London and Zurich, so that they trusted me and introduced me to the Town Ships.

For a few weeks I lived with a family of eight in a small wooden shack surrounded by tens of thousands of other wooden shacks without light, electricity or water. The goal was to experience the living conditions of the blacks and their everyday life within the framework of the racist laws first hand and to explore them with my own eyes. Soon it was possible for me to move freely and safely with my black friends in Soweto. And so I myself was scared as hell when I suddenly stood in front of an armored vehicle of the „SADF“ (South African Defence Force) again and firearms were pointed at me.

Mandela’s release and his visit to Switzerland

From this first trip I developed a deep connection with the country that I visited more than 20 times and met Nelson Mandela twice. The first time shortly after his release here in Soweto, the second time, as President of South Africa and newly elected Nobel laureate in Zurich’s „Dolder Hotel“ in front of the „class politique“ and economic elite (National Bank President and bank representatives), when Mandela spoke about his vision of a new South Africa as a „rainbow nation“. I was also invited to this historic meeting and took a few pictures of Mandela. However, I was not prepared for the fact that he would be blinded by flash light as a result of his lost eyesight due to his long imprisonment, and I had the wrong film speed in the box without flash light. I could have slapped myself for not having another roll of film with me.

When Mandela mingled with the crowd at the aperitif after his speech, I stayed discreetly in the background. But obviously Mandela had a good memory and very attentive eyes, maybe he even remembered where and when in Soweto I stood in the crowd of blacks as the only white person shortly after his release. In any case, this prompted him to approach me and ask if we had ever met. I was taken aback. When I replied, „yes in Soweto,“ he amazingly extended both hands to me. That was very touching! The feeling that I had made a difference and that I had received a prominent thank you and unbelievable appreciation. Thereupon everyone in the room stared at me and wondered who the long-haired freak was here. Fortunately, this remained a secret between me, Mandela and the South African ambassador in Bern, Dr. Konji Sebati, with whom I was once a guest at the embassy in Bern for a high-ranking event.

Through this contact, I came to work as a travel journalist and PR consultant at that time, and received a PR mandate for the South African tourist office „SATOUR“. In addition, I received the PR mandate of the South African airline („SAA“) for years. I owed this to the diplomatic balancing act between the underground contacts (of which only a few knew) and the contacts to the white elite, which also took place very discreetly. And also to the sad fact that the Swiss played a central role in South Africa in the gold trade, in the „AKW’s“, in the military support of the apartheid regime with fighter jets and pilot training, and ultimately in both the debt restructuring and the transformation process, and thus also took over the gold trade. To this day, Switzerland has remained the gold trading superpower, handling nearly 80 percent of the precious metals trade.

At this point, let’s look back just under two decades, to August 5, 1962, when Mandela, together with Cecil Williams, was arrested during a car ride near Howick in Natal on the charge that he was leading the banned „ANC“ underground. The arrest came after he had spent nearly a year and a half at liberty and working in the political underground, interspersed with public appearances for the „ANC“ abroad. The start of the trial was set for October 15, 1962. As a result, Mandela was sentenced on November 7, 1962, to five years in prison for inciting public disorder (three years in prison) and traveling abroad without a passport (two years).

He undertook his own defense at this trial. After the verdict was announced, he was taken to Robben Island prison at the end of May 1963, but was soon brought back to Pretoria after the rest of the „ANC“ leadership was arrested on July 11. From October 7, 1963, Mandela stood trial in Pretoria in the „Rivonia“ trial with ten co-defendants for „sabotage and planning armed struggle.“ On April 20, 1964, the last day of the trial before the verdict was handed down, Mandela gave a detailed explanation in his four-hour prepared speech of the need for armed struggle because the government had not responded to appeals or to the nonviolent resistance of the nonwhite population in its quest for equal treatment and had instead enacted increasingly repressive laws.

On February 11, 1990, Mandela was released from prison after 26 years. President Frederik de Klerk had arranged this and days earlier had lifted the ban on the African National Congress (ANC). Mandela and de Klerk received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993 for their services. On the day of his release, Mandela gave a speech from the balcony of the City Hall in Cape Town, and days later he made another appeal to the 120,000 or so listeners at the soccer stadium in Johannesburg. There he presented his policy of reconciliation („Reconciliation“).

South Africa 94: ICRC interventions in the „ANC-IFP“ civil war

After the apartheid regime collapsed due to the UN boycott and South African resistance, a bitter power struggle between the „ANC“ (African National Congress) and Buthelezi`s „IFP“ (Inkhata Freedom Party) ensued. The civil war claimed X-thousand victims and turned tens of thousands into refugees. Another tragedy, because previously the white regime had forcibly relocated hundreds of thousands of black people like cattle in the course of racial segregation. Now there was again a wave of displaced people in the country and trench warfare among blacks. It was a declared strategy of the outgoing or endangered rulers to sow discord among the blacks by all means, and so the Botha regime put up Buthelzi as a counter-candidate to Mandela. All means of destabilization were used and the seeds were sown. The civil war was terrible.

In post-apartheid South Africa, people were concerned with one thing above all: the ever-growing violent crime rate. Whereas in the past the police had primarily targeted political opponents, the security forces and politicians were now fighting an almost hopeless battle against brutality and criminality. The „taxi/minibus war“ in Durban claimed numerous innocent lives for years. In Cape Town, a gang war raged among 80,000 youths, and Johannesburg was also the scene of numerous crimes. As a tourist or business traveler, one felt the „atmosphere of fear“ intensely. The police forces operated like paramilitary organizations and had a bad reputation in the respective cities. Unemployment was almost 40 percent, causing widespread poverty and crime to skyrocket, aided by the impotence and corruption of the self-absorbed judicial and police apparatus, which was paralyzed in the wake of radical reconstruction. More than 60 people were killed every day in South Africa, for a total of about 20,000 annually. South Africa’s prisons were bursting at the seams. Criminal investigations remained unresolved for years. Even young people under the age of 14 were often imprisoned for long periods.

At the end of 1993, I accompanied a friend of mine, Daniel S., who was stationed in Johannesburg as an ICRC/Red Cross South Africa delegate, on his trip to the refugee camps to assess the situation there, to help the victims and to support the peace efforts to stabilize the country with a view to a democratic constitution and government for the „Rainbow Nation“. We went to the then hotspots „Margate“ and „Ladysmith„, „Ezakhweni“ and „Emphangeni„, „Mfung“ and „Obizo“ as well as „Empendle“ logged the burned houses and the dead, talked to bereaved families and tried to mediate between the conflicting parties. A difficult, if not almost hopeless task. In 1994, another interesting meeting took place, with Miss South Africa Basetsana Kumalo and at her side Kwezi Hani, the young daughter of Chris Hani, who had just been murdered. Chris Hani was Secretary General of the South African Communist Party (SACP), a senior member of the „ANC“ as well as Chief of Staff of its be-armed arm „Umkhonto we Sizwe“ (MK).

As the end of apartheid loomed in the early 1990s, he was one of the most popular leadership figures in the „ANC“ after Nelson Mandela. Hani was assassinated in April 1993 by the Polish immigrant Janusz Waluś. Behind it was a plot whose mastermind was former Member of Parliament Clive Derby-Lewis of the Konserwatiewe Party. The goal was to destroy the negotiation process that was supposed to lead to the end of apartheid. A diabolical plan that worked. The meeting with Basetsane took place in a casino and was obviously being watched. It was, after all, a red-hot time and the spying on political actors and their families and surroundings was a well-known fact. And so I also became a target of observation. First a black man and later two white gentlemen tried to question me discreetly but emphatically. And another illustrious person tried to contact me even in Gabarone, in Botswana, and to involve me in South Africa’s internal power struggles. I rejected all overtures and thus escaped unscathed from the turmoil of the political power struggles.

In February 1996, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) set up by Mandela and headed by Nobel Peace Prize laureate Desmond Tutu began to come to terms with the crimes committed during the apartheid era. This was used primarily to settle accounts with and dismantle Winnie Mandela, who had suffered much more and had to fight harder than her husband in those years after Madiba’s release. It was the ANC leadership at the time that decided Winnie had to separate from Nelson to secure him election as president. Winnie’s star was always below Nelson’s, but she was the real power woman who was Mandela’s eyes and ears during his imprisonment, and it was she who mobilized the masses.

For some groups, the social improvements achieved during Mandela’s time in office, including those related to the AIDS crisis, did not go far enough. Critics also complained that the apartheid regime’s crimes were not sufficiently punished. Children under six and pregnant and nursing mothers received free health care for the first time; in 1996, health care became free for all South Africans. Steps toward land reform were taken with the Land Restitution Act (1994) and Land Reform Act 3 (1996). During his term, numerous apartheid-era laws were revoked. The army and police were reorganized. As part of my humanitarian work in South Africa, thanks to the Zulu healer Credo Vusama Mutwa, I was also able to visit Pollsmoor Prison in Cape Town (where Nelson Mandela spent the last years of his imprisonment) in 1997 with a Canadian team of UN health inspectors.

The prison, designed for 3,000 inmates, held about 7,000 prisoners. Nearly 30% of the inmates were HIV-positive at the time and many prisoners were held for years without charge, quite a few died. The conditions we encountered were shocking. A spoonful of food in the prison kitchen was enough to give me staphylococci and streptococci. It was also pedagogically disconcerting that the only toy in the children’s playroom was a plastic firearm. In this way, a new generation of poverty-driven criminals is bred from childhood on.

I met the Zulu Sangoma, Bantu writer & historian Credo Vusama Mutwa in the „Shamwari Game Reserve“ together with Dr. Jan Player, the rhino rescuer and „Wilderness Leadership School“ founder. All night long this educated man told me the spiritual secrets and ethnic connections as well as cultural characteristics and peculiarities of the Bantu people from North to South Africa. He was also the first to recognize climate change and to explain to me what it means for the peoples and regions when one or another beetle, various insects, the turtles or other species of wild animals and marine mammals become extinct and this leads to droughts and plagues. In prophetic foresight, Credo recognized the conflicts that would arise from this, as well as it always comes to conflicts with dams, because that changes the livelihood of many people in several countries. He also predicted the plagues we have experienced in the last 20 years.

And that was a good 10 years before the first IPPC climate report. Only I was traveling with my daughter and her mother and had appointments and meetings regarding wildlife and eco-projects and could not stay here to help Credo with the „Kaya Lendaba“. I was torn. The Zulu healer wanted to heal the wounds of the Rainbow Nation and build a multicultural village at the Shamwari Game Reserve where all South African ethnic groups would be represented. It was to serve as a beacon for the reunification of South Africa and help end the conflicts. I would have gladly trained to become a „sangoma,“ or healer, because Credo believed I had the qualifications and the spiritual worldview. This filled me with pride and would probably have been a groundbreaking switch in my life.

For originally I wanted to work as a game ranger in one of these emerging wildlife reserves. I couldn’t imagine anything more rewarding than working as a wildlife manager in an intact environment that was protected or worth protecting. So I kept traveling to Botswana, South Africa and Namibia to fulfill a little bit of this dream and it was always a great feeling to be out in the bush and wilderness.
Now let’s move on to the current situation at the Cape of Good Hope, which has by no means become rosier. After the outrages of the apartheid regime came a new black elite, who enriched themselves just as shamelessly as their white predecessors. Two examples

2011: Gadaffi’s billions in Zuma’s and Ramapho’s hands in hiding

Aziz Pahad was appointed by Mandela as deputy foreign minister in 1994 and worked for the government from 1999 – 2008. Before that, he collected donations for Mandela’s election campaign and also received about 15 million from Gadaffi. The Libyan dictator also supported Tabo Mbeki. But Mbeki did not want to comply with Gadaffi’s wish to become „King of Africa“ and refused to support him, which led to Gadaffi buying Jacob Zuma as his next choice and helping him to become South African president. Through the decades of relations with the „ANC“ Gadaffi planned to have in the worst case a retreat and base abroad from where he could start the counterrevolution and for this he had a part of his unimaginable fortune of about 150 billion dollars (Forbes) flown to Johannesburg on 26 December 2010.

The plane landed directly on the military base Waterkloof, which was deserted on the 2nd day of Christmas. Reportedly, there were a total of 179 such flights from Tripoli, all of which were carried out by military pilots. Flight data was also erased, after each operation. Allegedly, the value of the cargo, which was in ICRC crescent labeled containers with Libyan dialect from Syrte was about 12.5 billion. US dollars. Besides mountains of cash also tons of gold and diamonds. Serbian George Darmanovitch, a Secret Service agent known as Zuma’s henchman, photographed the shipment upon arrival in Johannesburg and confirmed to investigators that the money was picked up by trucks from the „ANC.“ He was apparently a little too vocal about the contents and size of the cargo. In any case, a short time later Darmanovitch was shot dead in the street in Belgrade, where he was meeting his family, and his two killers were also subsequently found only as corpses. So this had been a bit too big for Darmanovitch and his killers.

From then on, Gaddafi’s billions disappeared somewhere in South Africa and few know where they are. In 2012, the first rumors surfaced that considerable assets of the dead dictator were in South Africa. As a result, the transitional Libyan government contacted Eric Goaied, a Tunisian who was a close friend of Gaddafi. He was to search South Africa for the missing assets. Among other things, because the new government needed to build an army and procure over 200 combat helicopters and G5s and other war material for a good five billion, but had no money. When the Libyan government, namely Taha Buishi, confirmed the high finder’s fee (of 10 percent, i.e. $1.25 billion) for the repatriation of the Gaddafi assets, this attracted a few treasure seekers who did not want to miss out on this deal.

Goaied, a Tunisian, contacted his friend Johan Erasmus in South Africa, a former agent of the apartheid regime and a flamboyant arms dealer with good contacts to arms companies like „Denel“ in South Africa but also in Libya. Darmanowitch was also involved in the weapons of war deal. And it was he, after all, who revealed to the Libyans that some of their national wealth was here. He also sent Fannie Fondse, then the head of a special unit of the „ANC Secret Service“ and a special mercenary force that operated in Libya in violation of international law to protect Gaddaffi. During the uprising, the mercenaries had to flee headlong. He also knew Darmanovitch and received the photos with the containers from him.

When Taha Buishi, the Libyan envoy contacted the former head of security of the „ANC“ Tito Maleka and accused the ANC of having appropriated the Gadaffi assets, the latter went with his friend Dr. Jackie Mphaphudi, who knew Winni Mandela well and treated Mandela’s daughter Zondwana Gadaffi Mandela to Jacob Zuma to ask about the missing billions. The latter replied that although he was the President of South Africa, „this is the business of the Minister of Finance, Matthew Phosa.“ Then there was another meeting of high-ranking „ANC“ members on the subject of Libya funds, which Jackie Mphaphudi recorded. Finally, Jackie also organized a meeting between Taha Buishi, the Libyan government representative, and South African President Jacob Zuma at the latter’s estate in Khandla regarding the $12.5 billion that Gadaffi shipped to South Africa in 2010.

So Zuma, Esposa, and some other ANC leaders knew about the money, but they told the Libyan envoys that there had to be a formal request from the Libyan government as to the value of the money. And this request would have to be legitimized by a stable government and signed by the acting Libyan Prime Minister, the Minister of Finance and the Governor of the National Bank as well as by the head of the repatriation authorities. With the Libyan mandate and the belief that they are serving the South African government, Tito Maleka’s team not only wants to clean the dirt off the ANC and put a stop to the looting of the state, but to return the money to the Libyan people.

Mohammed Dschibril, Prime Minister Transitional Government of Libya 2011, met with Zuma and wanted to make it clear to him to get Gaddafi to step down. That didn’t work. But in the spring Zuma flew to Libya, then Zuma calls Jibril for meetings with Zuma and Phosa, but then everything got out of control: apparently Gaddafi gave Zuma money to stay in power and Zuma could help him Gaddafi escape Libya. Matthey Phosa, as treasurer, led the operation to get Gadaffi and his assets out of the country. Both teams come to the same conclusion that Phosa was the key figure. He wanted part of the commission. Fannie has the receipt for „the commission payment.“ So Phosa made his claim to some of the money. He also made that clear to Tito’s team, who had meanwhile booted out Taha Buishi in Libya.

As if this were not exciting enough, the treasure hunt thriller has been enriched by a dubious chapter. For Gaddafi’s finance minister, Bashir Al Sharkawi, alias Bashir Saleh, a man now wanted by Interpol for years, is still on the loose in Johannesburg, while Gaddafi’s son Said, who has gone into hiding, is preparing to run for president in unknown exile. After ex Gaddafi’s Johannesburg banker was injured in an assassination attempt and his laptop stolen, he fled the country. In 2018, Zuma was forced to resign due to „state corruption on a grand scale“ and Libya sank into civil war. Now for the next chapter of corruption and kleptocracy in South Africa.

Gupta Leaks: South Africa as prey to Indian klepocrats“.           

Human rights lawyer Brian Currin was leaked information in 2017 that came from a Gupta clan laptop. This led him to the trail of a huge corruption scandal that reached the features of state capture by private entrepreneurs. The country at the Cape of Good Hope was systematically plundered. The Guptas made billions in deals in the energy and transportation sectors, laundered the money in Dubai, the Arab Emirates and Hong Kong, and when it got to them, they absconded to Dubai with all the stolen money. The two investigative journa-lists Susan Comrie and Thanduxolo Jika (Sunday Times/Mail & Guardian) also researched how the South African state looting came about.

The Guptas first attracted attention when they flew in some 200 wedding guests by charter plane to military airfields, escorted by police vehicles and security. The Guptas diverted the costs of about two million dollars for the wedding from the dairy industry through „Estina“ and plundered the contributions for the black farmers for it. The money was laundered with the help of „KPMG“ in Dubai and then used to pay the cost of the wedding in millions. Also „McKinsey“ and „SAP“ profited considerably from the shadow elites and corrupt ministers in the service of the Guptas. Pravin Gordhan, South Africa’s Minister of Finance (2009 to 2014) says that South Africa had a gigantic blackout just weeks after Zuma’s enthronement and that it was no accident. Barbara Hogan, then minister of state-owned enterprises was fired by Zuma. She also comes down hard on him, saying, „Zuma promised gigantic investments in the country’s infrastructure, but we didn’t have the money. „He just didn’t get that,“ Hogan says, and went on to say, „He’s not about the country, he’s not about the problems of South Africa, he’s only about his chosen few.“

The mischief started with Malusi Gigaba when he came into government and successively filled all the important posts in state-owned enterprises with Gupta confidants. Where is most of the public money spent and how do we get it? That was the business model of the three Indian brothers who came to South Africa with their mouse-poor father in 1993. First came „Transnet.“ „Transnet“ manages all airports, train stations and transport companies. Malusi Gigaba appointed Brian Molefi as CEO and Arnosch Sinn as CFO (2 orders for locomotives worth 5 billion went to two Chinese companies) „Mc Kinsey“ received more than a billion for consulting contracts from Salim Essa, business partner of the Guptas. 450 million commission jumped out for the Guptas on the locomotive deal. Money that flowed through offshore companies to Hong Kong and the Arab Emirates. Then Duduzane Zuma, Zuma’s son, came into the picture. He was closely associated with the Guptas and worked with them to perfect corruption and promote kleptocracy.

Also, Cyril Ramaphosas, once a union leader who became a billionaire through the mining company licenses at the end of apartheid, becomes Zuma’s vice president and shortly thereafter travels to Russia for a nuclear deal and the construction of eight nuclear power plants in South Africa that would cost more than $100 billion. US dollars, after which the „Shiva“ uranium mine was bought by the Guptas and Zuma’s son was given a leading position. This was how they positioned themselves for the nuclear deal, which would increase the windfall. And Russia wanted to make South Africa dependent on the donor country, and the Zuma clan, with the help of the Guptas, intended to engage in even greater plundering of the state.

Moe Shaik, head of South African intelligence (2009 -2011) was hired by Zuma, but when the Americans were concerned that the money for the nuclear power plants was coming from Iran, the then head of intelligence had to talk to his boss, President, i.e. Zuma about it and unceremoniously resigned from his job because of the disagreement. Zuma is like Trump, only his own interests count. Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene, who simply could not conjure up the money for the nuclear deal with Russia, did not fare much better. He was also dismissed and replaced by friends of the Guptas. Desmond van Rooyen was then chosen as the new finance minister, came to the Ministry of Finance with three advisors, but was in office for only four days, then Zuma was forced to remove the trio and replace them with long-time Finance Minister Pravin Gorham because of the protests and huge price drops on the stock market.

From 2016 onwards, there were more and more revelations about the kleptocracy of the Guptas and a courageous ANC member, the then deputy finance minister Mcebesi Jonas, revealed that he had also been offered a ministerial post by the Guptas. Mcebesi was the first to openly voice and criticize the venality of individuals and the tight web of corruption between Zuma, the Guptas and some ANC profiteers. He refused to become a vassal of the Guptas because it would be a stab in the back to South Africa’s hard-fought democracy. The Guptas Leaks confirm the crooked deals with the state-owned corporations „Escom“, „Transnet“ in coal mining and at the arms company „Denel“. In 2015, Brian Molefi is also made the head of „Eskom“ and Arnosch Sinn also joins. The two plunder the company shamelessly and make the Zuma clan and the Guptas much richer.

Mandela would turn in his grave and foam with rage if he saw how quickly the black elite has enriched itself and exploited the country at the Cape of Good Hope. Therefore, we are now leaving South Africa for a trip to the neighboring country of Botswana, which is one of the richest African countries thanks to its diamond mines and, moreover, because of its wealth, has also been able to protect its wildlife better than the surrounding countries. The Central Kalahari and the Okavango Delta, the world’s largest inland delta are also the habitat of the Bushmen and women.

Species extinctions & pandemics: Will we survive or are we the next endangered species?


The author, Gerd Michael Müller, born in Zürich in 1962, traveled as a photo-journalist to more than 50 nations and lived in seven countries, including in the underground in South Africa during apartheid. In the 80 years he was a political activist at the youth riots in Zürich. Then he was involved in pioneering Wildlife & eco projects in Southern Africa and humanitarian projects elsewhere in the world. As early as 1993, Müller reported on the global climate change and in 1999 he founded the «Tourism & Environment Forum Switzerland». Through his humanitarian missions he got to know Nelson Mandela, the Dalai Lama and other figures of light. His book is an exciting mixture of political thriller, crazy social stories and travel reports – the highlights of his adventurous, wild nomadic life for reportage photography .

(please note that translation corrections are still in progress and images will follow soon)

Australia, Queensland, Daintree Eco-Lodge & Spa, Award Winner, Gourmet-Restaurant Australien, Queensland, Daintree Eco-Lodge & Spa, eine der weltbesten Lodges Aborigines, Ureinwohner, Regenwald,Gourmet-Restaurant, Yoga, Wellness

The Earth is suffering from three diseases: Species extinction, climate change and pandemics! This is as if the patient had liver cirrhosis, heart failure and kidney insufficiency at the same time. Consequently, there will be many complications: Even more wars, diseases, conflicts, natural disasters and civil wars if we do not get the population growth under control. Food shortages, distribution struggles and migration flows can already be seen as a consequence. If we do not change our behavior, it is very likely that the end of humanity is near and our population will largely collapse. This will not be the end of evolution, but certainly the end of an era as we know and love it! And it is also not excluded that with the big species extinction also our species will be wiped out to a large extent and the human being will become the planetary history.

The human being has raged on the planet earth and will ruin it soon completely. First we have wiped out the Pleistocene fauna in North America and in South America, then in Australia the large giant marsupials and birds, and when man populated Polynesia, the large megafauna elements disappeared all the way to New Zealand. When these are missing, it also has an impact on the entire fauna and flora. For example, in the last 10,000 years we have destroyed about half of the earth’s natural forest cover and altered the biosphere to the point that entire animal populations have been wiped out. Whereby the Red Lists show only a fraction, barely ten percent, of the species described, let alone of all species living on Earth. In other words, the 800 species that have been shown to have become extinct in the past 500 years do not represent the number of animals and species that have disappeared or are currently disappearing. We are losing many species in the last remaining primary forests long before we even discovered and scientifically described them.

Today we know that 78 percent of flying insects have declined in 40 years. In the near future, we will lose about one million species. First we changed vegetation and wildlife with agriculture and resource extraction, then we poisoned into the geosphere, first with CFCs, now with greenhouse gases. What do we need to do to stop the destruction of our planet? Well we would have to take a whole series of drastic measures. The pandemic gives us a foretaste of what awaits us, or rather, at the end of 2020, Switzerland should have taken stock of where it stands with regard to the protection of its biodiversity, to review the objectives achieved both in the Swiss biodiversity strategy and the global biodiversity convention: it says: „The conservation status of populations of National Priority Species will be improved by 2020 and extinction prevented as far as possible.“ But among birds alone, partridge, snipe, curlew, red-headed shrike and ortolan are extinct or present in tiny numbers as breeding birds by the end of the decade. Switzerland is on track for only one target of the biodiversity strategy, and that is forest biodiversity. For one third of the targets, the result is lower, for one third no progress can be seen, and for the last third, developments are going in the opposite direction. The picture is also almost congruent with the national strategy for the „Aichi“ biodiversity targets, which were agreed in 2010 as part of the Biodiversity Convention: Switzerland is on track for only one-fifth. For 35 percent of the targets, however, there is no progress at all.

The Swiss flora was one of the richest and most diverse in Europe. However, more than 700 plant species are considered to be threatened with extinction. Researchers from the „University of Bern“ and the Data and Information Center of the Swiss Flora have analyzed the results with the help of 400 volunteer botanists and visited and verified over 8000 old known sites of the 713 rarest and most endangered plant species in Switzerland between 2010 and 2016. This unique treasure trove of data has now been analyzed by the „University of Bern and the results published in the scientific journal „Conservation Letters“. In their „treasure hunt“, the botanists often came up empty-handed – 27% of the 8024 populations could not be recovered.

Species, which are classified by experts as most endangered, even lost 40% of their populations in comparison to the findings from the last 10 – 50 years. These figures are alarming and impressively document the decline of many endangered species in Switzerland. Particularly affected are plants from so-called ruderal sites – areas that are under constant human influence. The affected plant species include the marginal vegetation of agriculturally used or populated areas. These populations showed losses more than twice as large as species from forests or alpine meadows. The intensification of agriculture with a large use of fertilizers and herbicides, but also the loss of small structures such as rock piles and field margins are particularly affecting this species group. Plant species of water bodies, banks and bogs are similarly affected. Here, too, the causes are home-made, according to the researchers: water quality losses due to micropollutants and fertilizer pollution from agriculture, the loss of natural river dynamics due to river straightening, the use of rivers as a source of electricity, or the draining of moorland.

In Germany, 80,000 measurements were carried out by interdisciplinary working groups from Germany, Austria, Switzerland and the Netherlands as part of the „Jena“ experiment. They had sown different numbers of plant species on more than 500 experimental plots, ranging from monocultures to mixtures of 60 species. In addition to plants, all organisms occurring in the ecosystem were studied – in the soil and above it. In addition, the material cycles of carbon, nitrogen and nitrate and also the water cycle over the entire period of 15 years. In this way, the scientists were able to demonstrate how species diversity affects the capacity of the soil to absorb, store or release water. The Jena experiment showed for the first time how much the nitrogen cycle of a soil depends on many factors such as species diversity, microbiological organisms, the water cycle and plant interaction.

Species-rich meadows had higher productivity than species-poor meadows over the entire period of the „Jena Experiment“. Increased management intensity through additional fertilization and more frequent mowing achieved the same effect: if a farmer promotes and fertilizes certain species, he is on average consequently no more successful than nature. The biomass energy (bioenergy content) of species-rich meadows was significantly higher than that of species-poor meadows, but at the same time similar to many of today’s heavily subsidized species, such as Chinese reed. Species-rich areas had better carbon storage. The number of insects and other species was significantly higher. Interactions between species such as pollination occurred more frequently. Species-rich meadows transported surface water into the soil better. Species-rich ecosystems were more stable to disturbances, such as droughts or floods, than species-poor ecosystems.

In France, 80 percent of insects have been lost in the last 30 years. In Switzerland, the figure is about 60 percent, and in Germany, species loss is also dramatically high. In view of the rapid loss of biodiversity and the desolation of the cities, I have been asking myself for a long time why all the useless lawns in front of all rental and apartment buildings are not converted into gardens for inclined hobby gardeners and self-supporters among the residents, and especially the poorer people and those with a migration background and agricultural know-how could grow their food partly in front of the house. This would also counteract poverty a little and guarantee the survival of many families as well as be meaningful. Why should we all import food from Africa, China and Latin America when we could beautify our cities, increase biodiversity and counteract climate change with local cultivation. As soon as a blade of grass makes itself felt, the lawn robot is already there. Useless thuya hedges as far as the eye can see. Most people don’t know what to do with nature anymore. We should think about what our communities actually do with their communal areas. They create large cultivation structures instead of promoting small-scale, local cultivation.

The core problem we all face is that 80 million people are added to the population every year, and those just born now theoretically have a longer life expectancy, even in the developing world. By the end of the century, there will be eleven billion of us, so we will need even more living space and even more agriculture for food production. By totally transforming the earth’s surface for agriculture and feeding future generations, we are destroying the treasure troves of biodiversity for all eternity. It cannot be that we destroy alone with the cattle economy for the meat production whole species existence and important ecological systems irretrievably. A vegan diet is therefore becoming the supreme credo for the growing world population. And what about an even more important resource, drinking water? Through the use of pesticides, we are poisoning our drinking water, the rivers and the lakes – also in Switzerland. There is only one solution: to abandon pesticide-intensive cultivation and return to mixed crops, which have proven their worth over centuries and promoted biodiversity.

The palm oil industry has cut down more than half of the rainforest (the size of Germany) in the Indonesian provinces of Kalimantan and Sumatra in the last 30 years and is now starting to destroy the virgin forest on a grand scale in Papua New Guinea as well. The timber industry is happy about this, as are the oligarchy and the military. In the process, small farmers are inevitably expropriated, which is quite legal in Indonesia. The Indonesian parliament also recently passed a law that radically curtails national environmental, labor and social standards and provides for zero environmental impact assessments. Therefore, the progressively worded agreement is another illusory paper tiger that will lead to the worrying destruction of huge rainforest areas in Brazil, Indonesia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea. With the free trade agreement with Indonesia, Switzerland would legitimize this state of affairs and once again declare the completely insufficient eco-labels as standard.

End times: The Sixth Mass Extinction has begun – are we going down with it?

Australia: A big bush fire due to the dryness due tot he global climate change


The author, Gerd Michael Müller, born in Zürich in 1962, traveled as a photo-journalist to more than 50 nations and lived in seven countries, including in the underground in South Africa during apartheid. In the 80 years he was a political activist at the youth riots in Zürich. Then he was involved in pioneering Wildlife & eco projects in Southern Africa and humanitarian projects elsewhere in the world. As early as 1993, Müller reported on the global climate change and in 1999 he founded the «Tourism & Environment Forum Switzerland». Through his humanitarian missions he got to know Nelson Mandela, the Dalai Lama and other figures of light. His book is an exciting mixture of political thriller, crazy social stories and travel reports – the highlights of his adventurous, wild nomadic life for reportage photography .

(please note that translation corrections are still in progress and images will follow soon)

According to the journal Nature Ecology and Evolution, a dramatic insect extinction is occurring with serious consequences for the ecosystem and human societies. Forecasts show that we will lose over a million animal species in the next few years, and many species will be so decimated in their populations that they will no longer matter. With maximum impact on humans: The destruction of the rainforests as well as the loss of biodiversity of the native fauna and flora will lead to an increased incidence of e.g. Lyme disease. It has been proven that with less small mammal biodiversity, there is a higher Borrelia load in the ticks. Due to climate warming with hotter and drier summers, more and more pandemics are emerging in the temperate zones as a result of the loss of biodiversity.

On a 20 percent of the earth’s surface, 80 percent of the biodiversity hot spots of all species are found in the tropics. One of the most comprehensive studies by Anthony Warden of the University of Cambridge, in which around 100 economists worldwide examined how the global economy benefits from nature, found that if 30 percent of the earth’s surface were protected with the most important protected areas, then the benefits of protecting these areas outweigh the costs by a ratio of 1:5. This means that if we invest one euro in protection, we gain four euros in the long term. But it will be a long time before this realization is accepted in the lowlands of the resource-intensive economy. It is simply incomprehensible that, despite all the findings that were already available in the early 1990s, and at the latest in 1997 with the „IPPC“ report, and which proved the lonely callers in the desert right, hardly any effective measures were taken or consistently implemented.

Between 1961 and 1990 alone, temperatures had already risen by two degrees Celsius, while the global average had risen by only 0.6 percent. The predictions at the time for the Alpine region ranged up to five degrees more in the next 30 years. Fittingly for the „Kyoto Summit“ in December 1997, „El-Nino“ swirled through the headlines and with it animals dying of thirst in Australia, fields submerged in mud in Malaysia, forest fires in Indonesia and elsewhere. The warning could not have been clearer enough. As recently as 1992 at the Rio Earth Summit, politicians had promised to protect the climate system for today and future generations. But the development went in the opposite direction. The „Easy Jet Generation“ was just rolling or flying in, everyone was jetting off to London or New York for a few days of shopping, to Ibiza for „raves“ etc. and to Milan to buy a pair of shoes. Suddenly a plane ticket to London cost less than the train ride from Zurich to Bern or Geneva. A catastrophic turn of events that still does not bode well. Air traffic should finally be taxed internationally.

We, the supposedly „clean“ Swiss, and our German neighbors, who are almost on a par with us, are world champions in consumption, waste and CO2 emissions. Switzerland has made it to fourth place on the world ranking list of polluters and CO2 emitters, but we have exported our large footprint abroad. Thus the civilization garbage of our over all mass consuming and resources squandering society from the origin to the destruction is banished from our eyes and our environment. One of the dirtiest industries, the textile industry and other polluting productions have been moved to China, Vietnam and Bangladesh in the last decades. CO-2 emissions are thus largely outsourced to structurally weak or human rights-denying regions. My climate“ compensation certificates and similar instruments have been created to ease our consciences, but not to alleviate the situation.

Our balance sheet is by no means good and clean but simply miserable. It is only now, in November 2020, that the Federal Council has presented the consultation documents for the „Sustainable Development Strategy“ (SDS), and they are once again an indictment of „clean“ Switzerland. The record of showcase Switzerland looks even worse when the economic factors of the largest off-shore financial center are taken into account. At the end of 2019, Swiss banks managed a quarter of the world’s assets. A whopping 3742.7 billion Swiss francs. But the immense assets are hardly invested in sustainable projects. On the contrary. The goldmine and tax haven Switzerland favors and protects hundreds of potent headquarters of multinational corporations and contributes massively to the outflow of private wealth from developing countries and thus to the global redistribution from the bottom to the top. The exploitation and greed knows no limits, not even in times of Covid-19. On the contrary, it favors the global techno-giants and super-rich. And this big shadow falls back on Switzerland. No matter how white we wash the image and how beautiful we tell ourselves or preach to others!

In this country, too, biodiversity, waters, glaciers and air pollutants are in a bad way. The „My-Climate“ CO2 compensation business is pure eyewash and helps no one if we constantly increase our consumption and the waste of resources instead of drastically reducing and do not radically rethink our throwaway society. In accounting terms, more than 30 million tons of CO2 (instead of being emitted on Swiss soil) would have to be saved outside the country’s borders. This will not only cost several billions, but is also economically and ecologically nonsensical. These amounts for the CO2 reductions not achieved domestically will be missed by the economy. The „decarbonization of society“ will not progress one millimeter in this way, the dependency and mess would become bigger and bigger, simply because of the increasing population density. Now the thin protective layer in the atmosphere is not worth a penny in the free market economy, it costs nothing and to pollute it also not.

The mineral resources are exploited mercilessly. The young and the next generation will be stunned to realize that in the consumption frenzy after the oil crisis in 1975 and especially since the beginning of the 1990s, we have burned almost as much gas, coal and oil as in a million years of earth’s history before. And this, although the sun has always sent 10’000 times more energy to the earth’s surface than man needs and mankind is not able to follow politically and even less to act adequately, despite scientific knowledge. The garbage dump of mankind is meanwhile not only visible in the most distant regions and in the oceans, on and under the sea surface equally recognizable. Fortunately, we cannot yet see all the junk in space by eye. And as we know, this is only the tip of the iceberg. Micro-plastics, nanoparticles and pesticide toxins have long since reached groundwater and the food chain, where they cause further damage to health and great suffering.

It is extremely regrettable, but not surprising, that the Swiss population in 2021 has rejected both the drinking water and the pesticide initiatives, as well as the CO2 initiatives. So it may continue to be sprayed for all it’s worth, which makes the farmers happy. Nature-based farmers and organic farmers have also opposed it. All right, the Covid-19 crisis has diminished the appetite for new restrictions and new innovations. But the Swiss economy as a whole got off lightly, except for certain circles such as the tourism, catering and event industries, but they were also well compensated.