Bizarre details emerge in Bolivian plot

April 17, 2009
Terrorists tried to blow up Bolivia’s President Evo Morales on a naval boat on Lake Titicaca. Mercenaries, including a veteran of the Balkan wars, were plotting against Morales and his political opponents at the same time. A Roman Catholic cardinal was among their targets. Reuters correspondent Eduardo Garcia reports that these are just some of the bizarre allegations made by the Bolivian government after police killed three men in a shootout at a hotel. The government said the police foiled a plot to assassinate the leftist president.

The strange tale began on Thursday when Bolivian police killed three alleged terrorists or mercenaries and arrested two others in the eastern city of Santa Cruz. Morales said he ordered the men detained because they were plotting to kill him.  When police stormed the hotel, a gunfight broke out and three suspected were killed.

Where the dead men came from is still a mystery. Government officials said they traveled from either Ireland or Croatia to kill Morales and trigger a spiral of violence in the poor South American country. Morales said two of the men killed were Hungarian. But local media cite police sources saying one of them was from Ireland and one from Romania.

The third man killed was identified as Bolivian Eduardo Rozsa Flores, who the government says fought in separatist movements in the former Yugoslavia. In his blog, Rozsa describes himself as Muslim and in one entry he calls Morales’ hero, Argentine revolutionary icon Ernesto “Che” Guevara a racist and mass murderer. He also had this site.

Marton Dunai of Reuters in Hungary reports that Zoltan Brady, editor of the left-wing magazine Kapu, where Rozsa worked as a correspondent, said Rozsa had gone to Bolivia to fight with the separatist movement and against communism. Political opponents to Morales, a socialist, have demanded that the eastern part of the country have more autonomy from the central government.

Vice President Alvaro Garcia said the hotel gunfight lasted 30 minutes and that the three “highly dangerous terrorists” had guns, explosives and grenades. Yet the police emerged unscathed from the battle.

Two survivng men, identified as Hungarian and Bolivian, are under arrest.

Authorities also said they found evidence that the alleged mercenaries tried to put explosives on a navy boat when Morales and his cabinet traveled on Lake Titicaca, on the Peru-Bolivia border, a couple weeks ago.

Police also reported finding a stash of weapons including sniper rifles, high-caliber guns, dynamite and powerful explosives in Santa Cruz on the grounds of a trade fair organized by farmers and businessmen who are among Morales’ strongest opponents. No wonder some opposition politicians scoffed that the whole thing was staged. However, one of Morales’ arch enemies, politically speaking, Santa Cruz Gov. Ruben Costas also was among the targets of the alleged terrorists, the government said.

And, to top it off, police said the alleged terrorists used some explosives from their stash to attack the house of Cardinal Julio Terrazas earlier this week. There’s lots of friction between between Morales and church leaders.

Morales frequently accuses his political rivals and U.S. spies of trying to kill him but has never provided substantial evidence.  This is the first time security forces have backed up the accusations by killing suspects.



Top: Bolivian President Evo Morales, show speaking at the presidential palace in La Paz on April 14, 2009, said he was one of the targets of an assassination plot that was foiled by police. Photo by REUTERS/David Mercado

Middle: Bullets were confiscated after Bolivian police broke up an assassination plot in a 30-minute shootout at a hotel in Santa Cruz. Photo by REUTERS/Marisela Murcia

Bottom: Police seized a vareity of weapons after the shootout. Photo by Reuters/Marisela Murcia


We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see

It surprises me that no one in the media has at least been able to clear up the “mystery” whether one of the participants was “Hungarian” or “Romanian”. Arpad Magyarosi must be ethnically Hungarian, but hold Romanian citizenship, presumably because his family hails from the very large northern part of Romania that was once part of Hungary (it was taken away from hungary by the allied powers and given to romania after world war I). The area is called Transylvania (or Erdely in hungarian) and many of the towns and villages there are majority or totally hungarian.

Posted by Kati | Report as abusive

The waters are obviously muddy, but by whom? Chavez, like Morales have used the ruse of assassination attempts to create public support and sympathies for thier forced illusions of martyrdom to maintain public support. But alas, even thier own backers don’t believe them anymore.
It is a far more likely scenario that Morales hired these assassins to remove the cardinal and his political arch enemy. Then after the first failed attempt, deeming the overseas hired killers inept and a liabily, turned on them before his involvement became evident and undeniable. What do you believe?

Posted by Marshall | Report as abusive

The soap-opera could be called “The Bolivian caper”. Who is earth would want to kill Evo, he is such an insignificant leader with no influence whatsoever in South America?. Somebody has been sniffing a lot of cocaine in this bizanne alleged plot.

Posted by Richard | Report as abusive

Marshal, why is it more likely that morales hired the assasins when history suggests exactly the opposite??

Left wing leaders in central and south america have long been the targets of assasination by the west, with many attempts successful. The CIA has had an interest in the success of pro US governments in the region for a long time now.. What do I believe?
I believe right wing groups in central and south america need all the help they can get to fight against the success of peoples movements in the region, and the spread of socialism is a serious threat to the historical exploitation of these economies and fortunes in many countries, including the US.

Posted by brian | Report as abusive

Folks, follow the Irish Times tpage/2009/0421/1224245071356.html

plus –> “Related”

Posted by Matt Heil | Report as abusive