Bolivia: general who captured Che Guevara questioned in destablization plot
The retired general who captured legendary guerilla leader Ernesto "Che" Guevara in 1967 was summoned March 19 by Bolivian authorities for questioning in an alleged plot against President Evo Morales. Ex-Gen. Gary Prado Salmón allegedly exchanged "ultrasecret" encrypted e-mail with Eduardo Rozsa Flores, a Bolivian-born Hungarian who was killed in an April 2009 raid by an elite police unit in the eastern city of Santa Cruz. Authorities maintain that Rozsa and two others killed in the raid—an Irishman and an ethnic Hungarian from Romania—were involved in a conspiracy to create a separatist right-wing militia in the eastern Santa Cruz region. Morales said after the raid that a plot to assassinate him had been foiled.
Prado denied any link to an anti-government conspiracy, and said he would refuse to travel from his home in Santa Cruz to La Paz for questioning. He told Fides Radio that his only contact with Rosza came when he asked Prado for an interview, saying he was a foreign journalist. "What 'ultrasecret' communication did I have with Rosza, other than that interview? None," Prado said. "I did not have anything to do with that group."
Also summoned was Prado's son, Gary Prado Araúz, who is running for mayor of Santa Cruz. He said the allegations were worse than a "bad soap opera," and pledged: "They will have to take me by force, because I won't go willingly." Santa Cruz rancher Svonko Matkovic Rivera was also detained for questioning in the case. Prosecutors say his "Z" ranch served as a staging ground for the conspiracy. Matkovic also denies any link to Rosza. (AP, Diariocrítica de Bolivia, March 19; El Dia, Santa Cruz, March 9)
On March 17, former Santa Cruz opposition leader Branko Marinkovic's longtime personal assistant Juan Judelka confirmed that Marinkovic was financing Rozsa's "La Torre" group that is accused of masterminding the conspiracy. Judelka declared under oath before a prosecutor in La Paz that Marinkovic had on several occasions given him money in closed envelopes to deliver to Rozsa. Judelka said, "If I did not testify earlier it was because of pressure by Mr. Marinkovic's lawyer." He said that Rozsa went by the code-name "Germán." The government accuses Santa Cruz opposition leaders of diverting some of the $40 million they collected to finance the regional autonomy campaign into hiring foreign mercenaries in the destabilizaiton effort. (Bolivia Weekly, March 18)
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