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.
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