Death in Santa Cruz - updates on IRMS, Shell & Bolivia

Flores and Michael Dwyer pose with weapons and ammunitionBack in June I published 'The Shadow over Erris' an expose of the role of Shell, their Irish security company IRMS and the killing of Irishman Michael Dwyer during an attempt to start a civil war in Bolivia. In the period since  some further facts have emerged from Bolivia and from some journalists digging for information in Ireland.  The vast bulk of the media have however either ignore the story or even worse joined in the cover up attempts, Pat Kenny in particular should be singled out for mention.  I've been updating the comments section of the indymedia publication from time to time, this blog entry is published in the aftermath of the RTE  'Death in Santa Cruz' documentary.  This turned out to be better then expected, I mention it last in these updates.

For new readers in the spring of 2009 an Irish man called Michael Dwyer was shot dead during a police raid on a hotel in Santa Cruz, Bolivia.  It subsequently emerged he was part of a group engaging in actions designed to start a civil war there and with other members of that group had previously worked for the Irish security company IRMS on the Shell pipeline project in Erris. Shell also had a connection to events in Bolivia, see 'The Shadow over Erris' for the full story and the updates below for what has been found out since that was written.  The collection of articles on Rossport on this site brings together what I have written about the struggle against the Shell pipeline in Ireland.

I present the updates in more or less chronological order as I posted them except where it makes sense to keep updates on the same topic together.  I've added  some additional explanation for the purpose of the blog.
 


Mail on Sunday, June 28 - "Shell and its private army's link with child abducting Nile rebels" by Michael O'Farrell

Yesterday's Mail on Sunday had an investigation into I-RMS's African connections yesterday, below I give a quick summary of their findings

Turns out we've seen a lot more of Jim Farrell at Erris then the other founder of IRMS, Terry Downes because Terry has been busy down in East Africa where he is the CEO of Narobi based KK Lodgit. Paul Rees its managing director told the Mail that they had "withheld their website due to the risk of exposure to protesters in Ireland." The Mail was unable to find any evidence of I-RMS Africa which the I-RMS web site used to claim was based in Nairobi until I-RMS took their website offline after the killing of Michael Dwyer.

KK Lodgit is a cash transit business that is a joint venture with KK Security. KK Security uses ex British or America special forces to head up its operation in each country but the Mail has discovered the Sudanese branch is lead by a serving officer in the Sudanese People's Liberation Army (SPLA). Until 2000 the SPLA press ganged children into its army, up to 12,000 of them.

The Mail says that in the wake of the negative publicity following the killings in Bolivia and the sinking of Pat O'Donnell's trawler I-RMS have hired Dan Pender, the former PR advisor for Fianna Fail minister Matin Cullen. Pender Public Relations have a website and are located at Pavilion House, 31-32 Fitzwilliam Square.

The Mail has also been looking at the I-RMS accounts and reports that they are inconsistent with claims by Downes to have a turnover of 8 million. In fact not only are the accounts only showing a fraction of this in 2006 the company only paid 600 euro in corporation tax and they paid nothing in 2007! The accounts also do not show any PRSI or wage costs.

The Mail articles uses a cropped version of the indymedia photo of Farrell at Erris (without accredition) which they caption "DARK OPS: I-RMS Jim Farrell was an Army Ranger"


Discussion starts in Media - Thu Jul 16, 2009

There is beginning to be some mainstream media discussion outside of the publications I list in 'The Shadow over Erris', the Pat Kenny show is about to have a segment on it. The story has been at least mentioned in both the latest issues of Hot Press and The Village.

The Phoenix of July 3rd throws one interesting bit of information into the post. In the article 'More questions for Shell's Security Company' its reported that an IRMS spokesman revealed that Revesz "workers for a period of months last year and for less than three months this year" which is at odds with the earlier claim that he had stopped working for them in October (when he went to Bolivia.) In the July 3rd Phoenix article IRMS claimed he worked for them up to the point that Revesz's website came to their attention which would have been late April.

IRMS didn't seem to provide dates of termination to Phoenix or exact periods of employment ('period of months' last year could mean anything from 2 to 12). The obvious question to ask is whether Revesz was still working for IRMS while in Bolivia or whether he had quit to go there and then been re-employed on his return?

---
'Reply' of sorts to 'Shadow over Erris' in Sunday Tribune -  Sun Jul 12, 2009 18:48

First reply/mention that I've seen to 'The Shadow over Erris' article so far in an O'Reilly paper. 

The whole premise of the article had already been dealt with in the comments on indymedia and as Clifford the journalist responsible for this piece appears to be one of the commentators it is interesting he recycles a method already dealt with.  In brief his method is to use the personal tragedy of the Dwyer family to try and bury discussion of the role of Shell and IRMS in events in Bolivia.  Clifford describes Flores who killed two fellow journalists in the Croatian war merely as a 'shady character.'  There is no mentions of Dwyers involvement in explosives and the bombing of the cardinals house, instead we are told he may have believed he was "on a frolic"

The only mention of guns is in connection with Galway Shell to Sea supposedly displaying photos of Dwyer, in fact it emerged these were press clippings on their stall!  There is we are told no evidence Dwyers was linked to the far right, Clifford must have failed to notice the posts on fascist site Stormfront where known violent fascists claimed him as one of their own.  Clifford pretends to be sympatheic in general to Shell to Sea, in reality this is not the first hatchet job he has pulled on the left, during the bin tax struggle of 2003 when over 22 people were jailed he was also wheeled out as a 'progressive' in order to smear those campaigners.
 


A few comments on the Pat Kenny interview -  Thu Jul 16, 2009

For international readers.  The Pat Kenny show is the main regular serious news chat show on state radio, a huge proportion of the population would listen to it.

A few days after the Clifford story appeared in the Sunday Tribune Clifford was a guest on the Pat Kenny show where he tag teamed with Pat in once more attacking Shell to Sea and seeking to suppress once more the story of the connections between Erris and Bolivia.  The Pat Kenny show is  a major day time chat show on state owned radio.

I think there were a few points missed by the S2S spokesperson in the Pat Kenny interview broadcast which I list below. Of course this was always going to be a very difficult way to talk about what happened, a segment that was about whether or not it was decent to use a particular image on a street in Galway does not _really_ seem to be the main story here, its shameful that this is the way the mainstream media is coping with its failure to cover the actual story.

Clifford's introduction rolls back considerably on his article, he actually acknowledges that Dwyer was involved in 'shady groups' but is less than honest in saying he can't find anything else, unless we believe he hasn't read the 'Shadow over Erris' article. And his spin that 'sure don't we all do embarrassing stuff on our holidays when we are 24' seems a little insane in terms of bombing cardinal's houses and planning to start civil wars. Pat Kenny takes the same angle towards the end of the interview.

But Dwyer isn't the important story here, the IRMS-Shell-Bolivia story is. Here is what I think was missed

a. Kenny got away with implying that Dwyer was the only connection. This was countered by pointing to Revesz but it wasn't just the two of them. At least 4 and as many as 7 or 8 IRMS from Corrib went to Bolivia with the group. One of the men arrested in the hotel at the time of the shooting was one of them. Two or three of them worked for IRMS on returning from Bolivia including Revesz.

b. Kenny got away with claiming there was no connection between Flores and Shell. It should have been pointed out that Shell lost its Bolivian gas pipeline when Moreles nationalised it last year and that Flores was linked to Banco, the major individual shareholder in the Shell pipeline. By PK's 'whose interests would this serve' test Shell clearly would have an interest in the intended civil war.

c. Kenny (and its interesting its Kenny who does all the heavy spin in the interview) got away with painting Flores as a confused and foolish romantic. It needed to be pointed out that 'Journalists without Frontiers' tried to prosecute him for murdering two journalists during the Croatian war, he was a brutal killer and not just some crazed poet.

d. Kenny got away with suggesting that the sinking of Pat's boat made no sense for Shell because it was only bad PR for them. That would have been a good point at which to outline that Shell had no legal way to remove Pat's boat from the bay, that this had held up the operation last year and resulted in the Gardai arresting Pat on stupid pretexts and then playing 'cat and mouse' to avoid a high court case ordering his release. Shell's interests were in saving the millions that every day Pat remained fishing in front of the Solitaire would have cost. The sinking of one of his boats days before the arrival of the Solitaire achieved this (alongside his arrest on foot of an invented 'exclusion zones' and the impounding of his two remaining boats once the Solitarie had arrived). Shell clearly had a very well thought out PR response post sinking which Pat Kenny repeats (and has said on other shows) which is to suggest that the boat was really sunk by S2S. Multiple comments to that effect appeared on indymedia almost as soon as the sinking was reported, it would be interesting to know where these were posted from.

The structure of the whole segment is very interesting. Pat Kenny appears to have a reasonably good knowledge of the facts and is using the interview to protect IRMS / Shell by stepping very carefully around these facts and providing 'answers' that would only fool those without access to the full facts. The 4 points he raises above have nothing to do with the 'common decency' cover Cliffords provides for the operation but Pat Kenny retreats behind this point towards the end and hands back over to Clifford. Overall a very well managed piece of spin by Shell's friends which succeeded in repressing the coverage of the story that appeared to be about to spread in the press.
 


Dwyer & Farrell at Glengad  Mon Jul 20, 2009

The linked youtube video has been identified as Dwyer working in Glengad, he is kneeling on a S2S campaigner who had crawled under the fence. Cathar on politics.ie says the voice giving Dwyer the instruction "Mick let him get up, secure the area inside and let him get up" is that of IRMS chief Jim Farrell.





Elsewhere on this site Cathar updates the numbers of IRMS who went to Bolivia with Dwyer as "Tiboe Revesz, Elöd Tóásó, Tamás Nagy, Dudog Gabor, (All Hungarian) Ivan Pistovcák (Slovakian) Michael Dwyer and probably Daniel Gaspar worked for IRMS

 Now the Maths and Probability of 7 members of a ten man group working for the same company before travelling to Bolivia are ?? % (and some returned also to work for it)"


 More details from Jim Farrell via Mark Tighe - Tue Jul 21, 2009

Mark Tighe of the Sunday Times has published more details of an interview he did with IRMS chief Jim Farrell on his blog

 "Recently Jim Farrell, head of IRMS security, gave me a brief interview in Glengad, Co Mayo, where I got a chance to ask him what he knew about so many IRMS staff getting involved in the alleged Evo Morales assassination plot in Bolivia.

Unfortunately he didn't shine too much light on this topic.
...
Some of Mike’s (Dwyer) group spoke about doing a close-protection course. He was trained as an engineer. So he was more qualified to get other work when that course didn’t work out and he decided to stay (in Bolivia). Who knows what happened then, as we lost all visibility of him when he left us.

He links to this article at the end of the piece saying "Much has been made of this apparent right-wing link to IRMS by anti-Shell activists. As Michael Clifford in the Sunday Tribune points out much of this is distasteful and jumps to conclusions about Dwyer and others".



On the politics.ie Cathar points out that this interview tells us that "Mick Dwyer was a supervisor/ team leader in Glengad. His team was presumably Foireann Cahil. Tibor Revesz was a member of his team" and that as Dwyer, Révész, Dudog and Pistovcák arrived in Santa Cruz together this suggests they were all part of IRMS team Foireann Cahil. Two others who had also worked at the Shell compound in Glengad Elod and Nagy may have traveled separately. 

Farrell of course uses the interview to suggest that they had all left IRMS employment and had simply taken the decision to travel to Bolivia for a close protection course which fell through.

But in other interviews (see 'The Shadow over Erris') he has said that three of them including Revesz worked for IRMS this year. This along with the fact that Revesz site was appealing for volunteers for an expedition to Bolivia in October 2008 (see Shadow over Erris) at the time they went suggest that this 'close protection course' was a cover story. And then there is the speed with which IRMS pulled the references to providing “special services” and “international armed and unarmed security” after news of Dwyers death emerged. Phoenix reported that IRMS were not returning their calls back when they reported this, I'd guess they have yet to do so and are instead talking to more compliant journalists who seem to forget to ask this and other obvious questions.



I've no idea if the Tighe/Clifford reference to "jumping to conclusions" is meant to be a criticism of my original 'Shadow over Erris' article (at least Tighe links to it in his blog) but if you reread the article in the light of these latest revelations the 'Shadow over Erris' is if anything a little too cautious in pointing to what might emerge and spot on in terms of criticising the media who at that point in time didn't even mention IRMS or Shell by name in their limited articles on the events.



Also on the politics.ie thread El Libre re posts a clearer version of the image of Dwyer and Flores posing with a table load of guns and ammunition. In this version an additional detail is visible, the bottom of the sign on the table (which reads happy new year in 4 languages) has an arrow drawn from 2009 to a bullet.

Note 2009 pointing to bullet


Updates from South American blogs - Fri Nov 20, 2009

A fairly detailed account of new facts is in the Boliviaforum blog; from this

 "Another key piece of evidence presented by Soza was a video shot on a mobile phone showing a conversation between Rózsa, Dwyer and Magyarosi. According to reports, the audio is of poor quality but the words “Titicaca”, “frogman” and “explosive” can be understood. The witness who supplied the video claims that they were discussing a missed opportunity to use a frogman to plant a bomb on a boat carrying the president and several members of his cabinet on Lake Titicaca. The president had recently been on a boat on the lake with other government ministers to promote Titicaca as one of the new natural wonders of the world."  I have some comments on this below.
 but the piece continues..

"Shortly after the initial raid, police apprehended two other men with suspected links to the plot: Juan Carlos Gueder Bruno, a member of the Unión Juvenil Cruceñista, a quasi-fascist shock troop organisation, and Alcides Mendoza Malawi, both suspected of selling arms to Rózsa. In statements that have raised the political stakes, both detainees and another key witness, Ignacio Villa Vargas, who is believed to have been a local fixer and driver for the group, allege that a list of key civic leaders were involved. They include the recently retired president of the Comité Pro-Santa Cruz, Branko Marinkovic, as well as prominent figures from the business elite and the Santa Cruz prefect himself. Also identified as a conduit for financing of the group was lawyer Hugo Achá, president of the Santa Cruz office of the US organisation Human Rights Foundation. These have denied any involvement and have accused the government of orchestrating the scandal to denigrate Santa Cruz."

"

Photos of the bodies taken shortly after the raid showed them to have been in their underwear when they were shot, suggesting that they may have been sleeping when the police first entered the building. Initial police reports said that the men were killed following a 30 minute exchange of gunfire. Soza has since made public a forensic report which identified traces of explosives on the hands of the three dead men."


Note that on politics.ie someone who has looked at the original report says that last line is inaccurate, explosive traces were not found on Flores, just on Dwyer and Arpad.

The attack on the cardinals house is put into the context of a wave of attacks on other buildings;  "There have been some 30 attacks in Santa Cruz on houses and offices of people linked to the government (including members of congress, ministers, and social movement leaders) as well as some members of the opposition and attacks on the offices and personnel of human rights organisations."

"A translation of the Bolivan autopsy report for Dwyer has been posted to the politics.ie thread, the conclusions are quite different from the Irish autopsy report but I've only seen media reports about the Irish one, the actual document doesn't appear to be online.

Bolivian state TV broadcast the mobile phone video referred to above that appears to show Flores, Dwyer, Arpad etc discussing a missed opportunity to blow up Morala's and his cabanet on Lake Titicaca and this has been posted to youtube.



A pretty detailed summary of events includes what appears to be this transcript from the video.  The RTE documentary 'Death in Snata Cruz' discussed below broadcast a subtitled version of the video confirming the key points of this translation.  It was of higher quality making it easier to identify Dwyer. "Shit, if only I had known in time about the government session in Titicaca the other day. I would have sent one of these guys (an image of his comrades Dwyer and Arpak, along with Tadic next to a column, appears) in scuba gear to blow up the boat. Every single last one, every single last one of them was there; not one was missing," Rózsa says with the boastfulness of a leader. " 



The reference to scuba gear and a water borne attack on a boat is of considerable interest in relation to the sinking of Pat O'Donnells fishing boat by armed and masked men in June and the question of who might have had the necessary training to perform such an attack and successfully get away afterwards.



From the same summary
 "The government's strategy was explicit. In the words of the vice president: "It must be established who brought these foreign terrorists from Croatia, Ireland … who is maintaining them, who is giving them money to live in one hotel or another. The government is not going to rest one second until we find the other branches, the other terrorist and mercenary cells, but primarily the financiers, those who paid them to commit this type of attack.
 So it was on May 4 that the District Attorney Marcelo Sosa gave a brief press conference in which a few fundamental facts were disclosed. .. Sosa mentioned the former president of the Civic Committee of Santa Cruz, Branko Marinkovic, of Croatian origin, the governor of the State, Ruben Costas, the present civic vice president and leading rancher, Guido Nayar, and the president of the Private Business Federation of Santa Cruz, Pedro Yovio. He also spoke of the president of the Chamber of Eastern Agriculture (CAO) Mauricio Roca, Costas' attorney, Luis Alberto Hurtado Vaca,." 



Branko Marinkovic together with Shell owned the gaspipe line that Morales had nationalised a few months before these events.



Oner footnote is worth quoting as it answers the question of who was paying for the hotel
 "According to the May 6 edition of La Prensa, Hernán Rossel, manager of the Hotel Las Américas, confirmed that Hurtado Vaca made a 30-day reservation for six people and paid in cash. Evelin Leigue, of the Gran Hotel Santa Cruz, confirmed that Luis Hurtado registered the group between April 3-14, for which he paid 13,000 Bolivianos in cash. Rómulo Estivariz, lawyer for Lorena Rojas and manager of the Hotel Asturias, stated that Hurtado Vaca paid around 60,000 Bolivianos in cash for a 70-day stay, during which time seven people stayed at that establishment." 



One of the stranger revelations of the last couple of months have been the appearance of three photos of Capitán Wálter Andrade, who led the Special forces raid in which Dwyer and Flores were killed socialising with Flores in February. One government official has hinted that this is because he had infiltrated the group
.

Also an apparent revenge killing in June "Rufina Morales, aunt of the President of Bolivia, who was found dismembered in June in Cochabamba, denounced on Wednesday that this crime was part of a plan to kill president Evo Morales, hatched by the Croatian-Bolivian mercenary Eduardo Rózsa Flores, who headed an irregular group dismantled by police in April".

One Bolivian TV station broadcast a video of the aftermath of the raid on the hotel shot by the Special Forces team is at  it includes the discovery of what appears to be a bag of C4 explosives around the mid point (C4 had been used in the bombing of the cardinals house the previous day which was the trigger for the raid). The 'Karen' whose phone rings towards the end is another police officer who is also in a video with some of the successionists shot before the raid.



Death in Santa Cruz - Dec 3rd

The RTE documentary 'Death in Santa Cruz' turned out not to be an attempt to whitewash Dwyer as had been feared.  Although it only briefly mentioned Shell and IRMS it did put the killing in the context of the struggle around natural gas in Bolivia, pointing out that most natural gas reserves are in Santa Cruz and that the money made from the natural gas is sent to capital to develop the entire country.

An interview with an Irish priest in Santa Cruz has him saying that  "Racism is very prevalent." and there was a strong emphasis on Flores and fascist involvement in his 'international brigade' which "gained a murderous reputation."  Flores is quoted as saying "We are starting to organise the military department - the movement is anti Indian in character." Dwyer is described as a trusted associate of Flores and a mercenry who met him says "he knew perfectly what he was doing."

The role of the Eastern European far right was mentioned and so too were the souvenir badges although we were reassured these were sold without the consent of IRMS.  In terms of this program "IRMS declined to be interviewed but said in statement they were not aware of mens plans."  The program did disagree with the idea that Dwyer's tattoo was fascist in nature, producing an interview with a man who claimed to have been the tattoo artist.  Whatever the truth here they failed to mention that the description of the tattoo as fascist had originated with a regular poster on the neo-nazi site Stormfront who right after the killing claimed Dwyers as a 'white nationalist' and posted a number of details about him that were not then widely known.

It is revealed that Flores claimed "spent 25 million on cause" and Dwyer is shown counting out bundles of 100 dollar bills.  The money it is said "came from oil companies and gas companies and trading NGO's".  This is a rather obvious 'tell us more' moment in the program.  Which oil companies?  25 million is a hell of a lot of money in Bolivia, if that money paid for a group who had worked as a security team for Shell in Erris to be flown to Bolivia does this not raise lots of interesting implications.  All the more so when the company that employed them advertised international armed services up to the point that this story first broke.  A company tightly linked to the ruling Finna Fail party in Ireland and set up by ex members of the Irish special forces.  OK I'm not a professional journalist but isn't there something about these facts that makes you want to know more?

We are told "they trained 300 to 350 people - training was for defence of Santa Crua but documents talked of the liberation of Santa Cruz".  The program opens with new footage of Dwyer shooting at a gun training range in Bolivia, this and the photos of him counting the money was really the only new information in the program along with the fact that "400 military manuals were found on computers" they were using.

Of the bombing of the cardinals house we are told "that "police believe Dwyer played key role in attack: traveled with Flores in car" and the aim of the 'false flag' operation was "to turn influential catholic sections aganist the state." Dwyers apparent carelessness in covering up what he was involved in is explained by one local commentator as "Santa Cruz would feel like a very safe environment".
Importantly the video discussed above of Flores talking about the plot to use Dwyer and others to "blow up cabinet in frog men suits" is mentioned although no connection is made with the sinking of Pat O'Donnells boat in June.  Instead the end of the program focuses on the possibility that the raiding police team were operating at least a partial shoot to kill policy and the likelihood that the story of a 30 minute gun battle was fake.

The huge screaming failure of the program was in not bringing back the implications of events in Bolivia to Ireland.  After it I helped draw up the following list of question for a Shell to Sea press release that the program should have asked
• Are IRMS using Glengad as a recruiting and training ground for global mercenaries?
• Did the Irish government vet all security staff working for IRMS on the Shell sites in Co. Mayo?
• When did each of the individuals who went from the Shell compound in Erris to Bolivia cease to work for Shell/IRMS?
• When did each of the individuals who returned from Bolivia resume work for Shell/IRMS?
• What is the current connection between Shell and Banco, the 25% shareholder with Shell in the nationalised gas pipeline in Bolivia?
• What was the nature of the special armed protection services that IRMS advertised on its website before Dwyer was killed, and do they offer them in Glengad?

I don't expect we'll see any section of the state media ask these questions anytime soon. And the private media is mostly owned by a family with a large stake in oil and gas exploration so probably not much joy from that source either.  But all the same this program is a huge advance over the cover up back in July when the Irish media desperately tried to bury the story of what had happened in Bolivia.  Much of the facts of this program confirm what I published in the 'The Shadow over Erris' in June and as I suggest in the discussion above I am if anything was a little too cautious in outlining the implications.

Meanwhile in Rossport preparation goes on for the next stage of the struggle when Shell backed up by its private security company IRMS on the one hand and the not terribly distinct state security forces on the other will force the land pipeline through the area.  Shell have suffered a massive set back with the An Bord Pleanal ruling that the pipeline as proposed is unsafe, a vendication of those who have campaigned (and been arrested) on that basis for the best part of a decade.  But none of us are sitting back imagining this means its over.  An Bord Pleanala have been over ruled before.

Comments

Talking about security

Talking about security companies and civil war, why do they ever create such a chaos on minor reasons? I guess it’s high time that they understand human relations and act accordingly. Anyways thanks a lot for sharing the information.

The RTE documentary 'Death in

The RTE documentary 'Death in Santa Cruz' referred to in this piece has been put on your tube at http://www.youtube.com/view_play_list?p=49CC196EFFC59E92

  


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