The Hungarian Far-Right in Bolivia--Eduardo Rózsa-Flores
It didn't quite work out. The Bolivian police, under not entirely clear circumstances, killed three foreign "terrorists" and arrested two. The group is accused of plotting to assassinate Bolivian president Evo Morales. The Bolivian president is convinced that Washington is behind the assassination attempt, but this is highly unlikely given the cast of characters. Unfortunately, most of the news accounts that I read shed little light on the would-be assassins. What, they asked, was the common bond among the five men (names often misspelled) involved in the plot? Perhaps the Balkan wars where at least two of the five fought on Croatia's side against Serbia. My feeling is that Croatia and the Balkan wars have mighty little to do with this case.
The leader of the group, now dead, was Eduardo Rózsa-Flores. He was born in Bolivia but spent his teens and most of his adult life in Hungary. We can find ample information about him and his family on his blog "Sic Semper Tyrannus" (http://eduardorozsaflores.blogspot.com/), roughly translated as "Death to the Tyrant."
His father, György Rózsa, was a painter and university professor who left Hungary in 1948 and married Nelly Flores Arias, a Spanish high school teacher. The couple settled in Bolivia, where Eduardo was born in 1960. In 1973 they moved to Chile, but the family left after Pinochet's military coup. For a couple of years they lived in Sweden as political refugees. In 1975 the Rózsa-Flores family moved to Hungary, where Eduardo attended a Budapest high school. He then spent three years at the country's military academy but left without graduating. Two years later he enrolled at ELTE, the Budapest university, from which he subsequently received an M.A. He was the last KISZ (Communist Youth Organization) secretary of ELTE. He later claimed that the only reason he took the job was to show that he could win the post against the wishes of people like Ferenc Gyurcsány. (I suspect that this is revisionist history.) After university he dabbled in journalism, taking advantage of his fluency in Spanish. For example, he wrote articles for La Vanguardia, a Spanish daily. He also supplied news to the BBC's Spanish language radio. He first reported from Croatia as a journalist but later volunteered to serve in the Croatian army. He fought in the battles of Osijek and Vukovár.
The Croats appreciated his services and bestowed citizenship on him. President Franjo Tudjman promoted him to the military rank of major. A year later he became a colonel. He was wounded at least three times in different battles. In 1994 he returned to Hungary and published seven volumes of poetry. I didn't manage to find the seven volumes of poetry, but I did find five other books dealing mostly with the Croatian-Serbian war. During his stay in Croatia his name was associated with shady deals involving weapons and drug sales. According to rumors two journalists, one from Switzerland and another from Great Britain, who were investigating these transactions disappeared into thin air. In 2002 Ibolya Fekete made a documentary of his life, "Chico," that won first place in the documentary category at the Thirty-third Hungarian Film Festival. Next Tuesday MTV will air another documentary that is apparently the last testament of Rózsa-Flores. It was made in September before he embarked on his journey to Bolivia. One has to wonder how truthful these recollections are. Here, by the way, is a recent picture of Rózsa-Flores.
In 2003 he converted to Islam and called himself the spokesman for the Independent Iraqi Government, but that flirtation was short-lived and soon enough he showed up in Hungarian far-right circles. Yesterday the Jobbik website mourned his loss.
And this leads us to two other alleged co-conspirators. One is Árpád Magyarosi who is among the dead and the other is Előd Tóásó who is in Bolivian custody. Both are Transylvanian Hungarians who most likely knew each other for a long time because both attended high school in Sovata (Szováta) in Romania. After finishing high school both moved to Hungary. Magyarosi sounds like a real loser: he kept changing high schools and tried several colleges as well. He had musical ambitions with only scant talent. He organized several rock groups that all failed. And as we can see from this photo, Magyarosi's interests weren't confined to music. The other Transylvanian, Előd Tóásó, was another drifter who never managed to finish any of the colleges he attended. He too was interested in the military and attended the Miklós Zrínyi Military Academy for a while. He speaks Romanian, English, and Spanish in addition to Hungarian. Both men joined a group, founded in 2002, that purported to promote rock climbing, the Székely Légió (Legion Siculus). In 2006 the group became front page news in Hungarian papers because Ziua, a Bucharest daily, claimed that the Legion was a paramilitary organization planning attacks on Romania in order to establish an autonomous Hungarian (Szekler) area in the middle of Transylvania. The Romanian paper claimed that there were thousands enrolled in the Legion. The leaders of the Legion protested: it is an innocent organization that gives advice to young men and women interested in rock climbing. However, the Legion's internet website talked about survivor trips where the members carried heavy backpacks (20 kg) in addition to "weapons." They were schooled in marksmanship and the ability to detect mines. These don't sound like innocent rock climbing activities.
The third man who died in the raid is an Irishman called Michael Martin Dwyer who was apparently obsessed by weapons and who is described as a "soldier of fortune," a man obsessed with guns and assassins. According to accounts, he served as a mercenary in the Balkan wars. Rózsa-Flores who is described as the head of the group, might have met Dwyer in Croatia. I found this picture of Dwyer on the internet. As you can see, he is obsessed all right.
And now comes the real bombshell. There is a periodical called Kapu (Gate) http://members.chello.hu/kapu/ The last issue can be downloaded in pdf form. Real right-wing stuff. Rózsa-Flores was an important contributor and a good friend of the editor-in-chief, Zoltán Brády. Brády, after hearing of his friend's death, told MTI (Magyar Távirati Iroda) that it was Rózsa-Flores and he who were responsible for leaking Ferenc Gyurcsány's infamous speech at Balatonőszöd! He didn't reveal from whom they received the transcript or to whom they passed it on. Maybe yes, maybe no. In any case it is intriguing.
Meanwhile Rózsa-Flores, Árpád Magyarosi, and Michael Martin Dwyer are dead. These guys all seemed to be well versed in guerilla warfare. The Hungarian crew, at least, was also involved in far-right activities. Why they went to Bolivia I don't know, but perhaps it's a good thing they went there. The plot was foiled. Can you imagine if they decided to kill, for example, the Hungarian prime minister or the president? I think they would have been capable of it. The Hungarian far right is convinced that there is a communist dictatorship in Hungary and, after all, "sic semper tyrannis."
Pablo Ortiz and Liliana Colanzi
Now, a private, La Paz-based television channel has broadcast a video showing Bolivian police officers allegedly bribing the prosecution’s key witness, Ignacio Villa Vargas. According to the video, in exchange for cash, Villa Vargas accused political and business leaders from Santa Cruz of meeting Rózsa to conspire against Morales. In response, many Santa Cruz leaders were either arrested or fled the country to Brazil, Paraguay or the United States.
But the raid against Rózsa and the others had been plagued with other flaws. For one, as mandated by Bolivian law, the police did not possess a search warrant or initiate the raid accompanied by a public prosecutor. This meant that any information found could not be used as evidence. Further, since the group was supposedly infiltrated by counterterrorism officers, it is questionable how they could have detonated a bomb in the house of Cardinal Julio Terrazas the evening before the raid without prior police knowledge.
Until the murder of Rózsa and others, Santa Cruz was leading the four Media Luna departments—Santa Cruz, Tarija, Beni, and Pando—in opposition to the president’s policies and had called referendums to declare autonomy. This was viewed as a direct assault on the central government’s authority, leading to social upheaval and eventual armed confrontation. In September 2008, for example, 13 deaths were attributed to pro- and anti-government clashes.
Since the Rózsa counterterrorism operation, the political opposition has seen its power weakened and its capacity to mobilize diminished. The opposition has also lost the economic support of local entrepreneurs out of fear that they too could directly or indirectly be tied to financing terrorist activities.
Additionally, new laws allow for the government to confiscate goods that belong to those accused of terrorism and to remove authorities who open judicial proceedings against the government. The national security threats of the Rózsa group provided the spark for this clampdown.
The result: Tarija is no longer controlled by the opposition and pro-government entities are trying to turn the tide in Beni and Santa Cruz as well. Rubén Costas, Santa Cruz’s governor, is currently facing five charges while his brother is accused of being Rózsa’s main financial backer.
But these new revelations may turn the case against the government. Now, relatives of those killed in April 2009 are asking for explanations and seeking to prosecute the Bolivian government.