The Corner


Ermal Gets Ten

Many years ago, I was in Albania, which for almost 40 years had been a totalitarian state, ruled by one man: Enver Hoxha. “Sole Force,” they called him. There was nothing else like it on earth, except for Kim Il-sung’s North Korea.

Nosing about Albania, I wondered, “What must it be like to be a son or daughter of Hoxha?” And this led to my general book, Children of Monsters.

There is a little news today, but, before giving it, I wanted to excerpt that book. I’m talking about a grandson of Hoxha’s, Ermal:

He married a popular Albanian singer, Rezarta Shkurta. A hot tamale.

A reviewer of my book didn’t like that phrase, “hot tamale” — but it applies, trust me. Anyway, back to Ermal:

Evidently, he also found a very, very lucrative line of work: illegal drugs, and in particular cocaine. In January 2015, when he was 40, he was arrested, along with a dozen other people, including two Colombians. The bust took place in a village called Xibrake, near the city of Elbasan. The police seized 264 pounds of cocaine, worth about $33 million. In Ermal’s car was $347,000 in cash. Another $38,000 was in his apartment.

Immediately, his parents, Ilir and Teuta, said that he was a victim — of people wanting to discredit the name “Hoxha.” As of this moment, Ermal faces 20 years in prison.

He got ten. That’s the news today. What a life, what a fate. It would be interesting to interview him one day …

P.S. Ermal’s grandmother, and Enver Hoxha’s widow, is Nexhmije Hoxha — who was the perfect partner of her monster husband. They were co-monsters (as Nicolae and Elena Ceausescu were, as Mao Zedong and Madam Mao were, etc.). She is 96 and still kickin’. Proudly unrepentant, and just plain proud. In Albania, they call her “the Crow.” A fascinating, shocking society, Albania.