Millions watch CSI in its various incarnations on US television as investigators sift through crime scene evidence, follow leads, and unravel crimes. Yet it would appear that few in the international media have learned anything from this popular drama. Soon after the Bolivian government announced that the Bolivian security services had foiled a plot to assassinate President Evo Morales in the hostile province of Santa Cruz the US and European press began a lemming-like campaign to cast doubt on the official claims.
Never mind historical precedence: the well documented thousands of provocations and assassination attempts against progressive, leftist, and socialist leaders over the last sixty years. Never mind the reluctant US government revelations that US security services have been engaged in de-stabilization, provocation, and assassination in nearly every corner of the world since the onset of the Cold War. These facts carry no weight with the “free” press. Just the assassination attempts against Fidel Castro alone fill an entire book.
But even the recent attempts to destroy the Morales government are ignored as background to the official Bolivian government claims. No monopoly media account that I know of mentions the earlier attempt on Morales life last spring by ultra-right youth who were promptly released by the Santa Cruz police. None mention the slaughter of workers rallying behind Morales – an act that went unpunished - or the assassination attempt on one of his ministers last fall. None had the integrity to frame the plot in the context of the violence and bitter hatred evident in Santa Clara province. Instead, they hide behind the cowardly quotation marks – a “plot” – as did The Wall Street Journal on April 20.
Accounts agree that five individuals - mostly of foreign origin – were suspected of planting an explosive devise at the home of a Catholic Cardinal in Santa Cruz. When the authorities attempted to arrest them, they fled to a four star hotel where a gun battle ensued. Three were killed. Bolivian authorities claim that evidence of a far ranging assassination plot and a weapons cache were discovered.
Attention has focused on the suspected ring leader, a man of Hungarian and Bolivian nationality and Croatian citizenship (though his passport status is unclear) who has a history as both a soldier of fortune and a dedicated anti-Communist. His military exploits in Croatia in the Balkan wars were documented in a book that he authored and the subject of a projected film. Since his death, a Hungarian journalist has come forth with a filmed interview of his intentions to organize and fight on behalf of the Santa Cruz secessionists. Apologists, along with the kept press, have focused on his off-handed dismissal of any intention to attack Morales: “I am not going there to organize the attack of La Paz and chase away the president, that doesn’t even cross the easterners’ minds…” This quip is taken as evidence that he meant no harm to Morales, as though he would candidly express his plans to a journalist. Where is CSI when we need them? Imagine the hysteria of the US press if he were a jihadist discussing his forthcoming adventure in the US!
Much consideration – especially in the Irish press – has been given to the young Irishman who was killed in the gun battle. We know that he was employed in security work in Ireland and appeared to have some para-military training before leaving for Bolivia last year. We do not know why he chose Bolivia. Nor do we know how an unemployed 24 year old financed his travel or his stay in expensive hotels on Lake Titicaca and in Santa Cruz. But this – along with his association with his unlikely acquaintances – should pique the interests of a vigilant press, if one still exists in the monopoly-dominated universe. In the face of Northern skepticism, the Bolivian security officials on Saturday, April 25 previewed for the press a three minute video purporting to show the Croatian, the Irishman and the their Romanian companion discussing a bomb attempt on Morales at a visit to Lake Titicaca. They left Lake Titicaca on April 3 and lodged at the four star Hotel Santa Cruz until their encounter with the police on April 16.
Rather than agreeing to share information with the Bolivian security officials, Croatia, Hungary and Ireland have all called for independent investigations of the Santa Cruz incident, a hasty and blatantly chauvinistic response that challenges Bolivian competence and integrity. One searches one’s memory for an equal skepticism over the contrived US invasion of Iraq by these self-righteous governments.
While much still seems uncertain, even more should be apparent to even the most casual observer unless blinded by ideology or dependency:
● Several individuals of diverse and unlikely backgrounds came together in Bolivia and found some common cause for at least three weeks of close, organized activity.
● None appear to have the independent, financial means to justify their prolonged stay within Bolivia, especially their joint occupancy of expensive hotels for an extended period.
●All have incomplete, but confirmed histories involving para-military or security work.
These circumstantial facts alone should establish prima facie credence to the Bolivian security service’s claims.
The question remains: who could have brought these personalities together and provided the financial support to explain their activities in Bolivia?
Speculation naturally falls upon US security services, the godfather to thousands of similar provocations and intrigues. President Obama assured the Bolivians that his administration knew nothing of the plot. This statement may well be true, though we have many precedents where US agencies acted outside of White House approval or knowledge. In any case, US security services quite often are completely aware of independently formulated plans, render clandestine encouragement and support, and simply watch for the outcome – a method of passive action that insures deniability and avoids administrative scrutiny. Such was likely the case with the assassinations of General Schneider and Orlando Letelier during and after the Allende era. And this might also have been the case with the attempted coup against Hugo Chavez.
Certainly the connection between a seemingly inconsistent attack upon both an ally of the Santa Cruz secessionists – a Catholic Cardinal – and the arch proponent of Bolivian unity – President Morales – fits the pattern of previous destabilization campaigns. Even if unsuccessful, these acts would foment further friction, hostility, and chaos in Bolivia – a crisis that might encourage foreign intervention and make the disintegration of the nation more likely. Those who failed to see this process at work in the Balkan wars and the dismemberment of Yugoslavia have a chance to see it again in South America.
If a plot to assassinate the democratically elected president of Bolivia is not an act of terror, then nothing is. This incident, along with the intrigues against Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, challenge those who endorse the US sponsored “War on Terror”. Sincerity dictates a call for full support for the Bolivian investigation of the assassination attempts and vocal condemnation of those involved in any way in their planning and encouragement.