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  • irishtimes.com - Posted: April 20, 2009 @ 10:44 am

    ‘It won’t be romantic, it will be merciless’

    Deaglán de Bréadún

    Naturally one feels enormous sympathy for the family of the late Michael Dwyer who was shot dead by police in Bolivia last week. Complete and accurate information about the incident is not yet available and we may never know the full facts.


    Michael Dwyer (1984-2009)

    It was a thoughtful and humane gesture by Minister of State Dick Roche to state publicly that there was no Garda record of any misbehaviour of any kind by the young Tipperaryman.

    Insofar as we can judge from the information that has emerged at this stage, Mr Dwyer met his death, not in a gunbattle, but in what was effectively an execution by an armed police squad, as he lay sleeping in his hotel bedroom.

    He was not the first young Irishman to head off, looking for adventure, and Latin America was the obvious place to go. Dwyer was very young – 25 next June apparently – and just out of college. There are many other young Irish people currently travelling around the world seeking out fun and excitement.

    Usually the fun is going to all-night parties on the beach and the excitement, taking a trek to some ancient Aztec city. Dwyer appears to have become involved with a rather more colourful crowd than normal, to put it mildly.

    Eduardo Rósza Flores (49), shot dead in a hotel room two doors away from Dwyer’s, was a well-known international adventurer who comes across as a type of right-wing Ché Guevara (the latter also died in an execution-style shooting in Bolivia). For more on his background, click here.

    It is understood that Dwyer was working for Flores as a bodyguard. The Irishman had been on a three-month weapons training course for security guards in Bolivia and was offered a job there by Flores, we are told.

    If it weren’t so tragic and sad, one could see it as the script of a Hollywood movie. Clearly young Dwyer was not cut out to be a clerk in a county council office: he wanted more out of life than that.

    One mustn’t rush to judgment but it would appear that he got in with the wrong crowd and may not have been fully aware of the full implications of his involvement. The Bolivian authorities say the Flores group was planning to kill several public figures, including President Evo Morales.

    Even if that proved to be the case, one would still have to ask why they could not have been arrested? We are told that photographs of Dwyer’s body show him in his underwear, suggesting that he was asleep when the police arrived. It is strange that no member of the group appears to have been on guard duty, but this is a murky affair and we need to know a lot more.

    Although lacking any coherent ideology and willing to throw in his lot with left or right for the sake of adventure, Flores sounds like a charismatic character who would be likely to impress the young and naive. His doings even became the subject of a film: click here. There is a point in the YouTube clip where Flores applies to join the right-wing Croation Ustashe and is told the facts of life about war: “It won’t be romantic, it will be merciless.” Once again those words have been proved true.

    • robespierre says:


      You are right of course but he was in an area where trouble has been fomenting against central Government for some years.

      If someone were in Chiappas or in Somalia or in the Cote D’Ivoire and they were knocking about with the colourful characters he was found to be associating with I think a similar fate could have come about.

      Any traveller needs to be aware of where they are and act appropriately. This is not for a second to diminish the grief his family must be enduring, they deserve our fullest sympathy as does he in the sense that he was denied the right to a fair trail in what appears to have been an extra-judicial execution. He does however bear a burden of responsibility for where he found himself and who he selected for friends but certainly not the terrible end that was meted out.

    • Joanna Tuffy says:


      I agree with what you have to say about Minister Dick Roche’s comments. I think they were timely and considerate of his family and the issue of proper process, etc.

      And in that regard, I was surprised at The Irish Times for the photo it used on its front page when it initially reported on this young man’s death.


    • Kynos says:

      Young man, likes weapons and adventure, will travel. This is a story that’s been sung since Homer’s day. I wonder what deus ex machina the Bolivian authorities will wheel out to justify and cover up for what looks to me like a shoot-to-kill policy with neither heroes nor villains. Just tragedy, which is all it ever is. God help his grieving family.

    • Jennifer says:

      This is the saddest thing I have seen in a long long time. Micheal was really only a child still. Going out in the world looking for adventure. To me it looks like murder & our government needs to stand up to the Bolivan government & demand Justice for Michael & all the people of Ireland. If these people can do this once they will do it again and they just have no right!

    • Ned says:

      The next time a Sinn Féin activist is reprimanded by state forces in South America, I look forward to reading Dick Roche tell us all that s/he had no criminal record . . . . in Ireland.

      Dwyer’s family have, on the one hand “called for privacy”, and then gone ahead to do interviews with the Sun, Daily Mail, and RTE. They want to clear the name of their son. In my opinion, they can’t have it both ways. They can’t shut up any criticism of the political nature of his work, while simultaneously trying to deny it.

      Dwyer was a disgrace to us all. He, like his fascist friends, deserved no mercy. As an Irishman, I am glad for the people of South America that they are standing up against imperialism, and using the ballot box to change their lives for the better.

      It would be nice if Irish Times journalists showed as much sympathy to the people of North Mayo, as they do to this mercenary and his shower of thugs. Instead, we are told (by Harry Browne in Village Magazine, on information from a former colleague) that the brutality shown by Gardai to protestors in Rossport was greeted with jeers by Irish Times staffers when shown on the 6.01 News. Who knows, maybe Dwyer was doing his “private security work” that day too? We now know for sure that Dwyer was hanging around with Nazi thugs. We now know for sure that Dwyer was introduced to the same thugs while intimidating the people of North Mayo on behalf of Shell. We know that he was armed. We know that Flores intended to provoke unrest in Bolivia. We know that as a graduate, he was old enough and big enough to make his own decisions in this world.

      And we know that he lay down with the dogs of war.

    • Deaglán says:

      Your comments are harsh and unfeeling towards this unfortunate young man and his griefstricken parents. All the available evidence suggests he was shot down in cold blood, unarmed and lying in bed, possibly even asleep. Whatever the nature of his activities in Bolivia – and nobody seems to know for sure what he was involved in, perhaps not even the lad himself – no government should allow its security forces to conduct themselves as the Bolivian police seem to have done. You are typical of a certain type of political ideologue who can see the wrongs that General Pinochet and the Argentine junta did but not the human rights abuses committed by the other side. Human rights are indivisible. You should try a dose of humanity some time – it would do you good.

    • Patrick Hennessy says:

      You hit the nail on the head. I have lived in Burkina Faso when under curfew, Cote D’Ivoire in 1999 when it blew up and in Sudan under Sharia law, while currently living in Thailand.

      One thing that is super-risky is to be in a high-risk country without knowing the language. You are a sitting duck.

      In all cases I did simple checks on any characters that tended to be in my drink circle but seemed shady, and by the way in the expat communities in these countries there is a lot of shade!

      With so many young Irish taking off, now more than ever, to try their luck in the big bad world there should be more awareness programmes in Ireland on basic self-security and how to stay away from trouble.

      The case of Michael Dwyer is very sad but, given what we now know about those in his company, he was right in the line of fire for trouble.

      No words can diminish the grief of the family who seem to be the salt of the earth. My heart goes out to them


    • pouca says:

      Deaglán, I couldn’t find any of your blog entries about the Colombia 3 and how we should presume their innocence and sure isn’t it the most natural thing in the world for young men to go out adventuring with strange types in South America. Dwyer was a hired thug who was hanging around with neo-nazi killers. In fact one of the guys he died with was wanted for the murder of two journalists during the Balkan war. There is nothing innocent about these guys and nothing innocent about Dwyer as can be sen from photos posted of him posing with weapons in his 5 star hotel room in Bolivia. Good riddance. You can see them here

      We’ll see if the IT can change out the communion photo you’ve been using for one of these.

    • Deaglán says:

      Your link to the alleged photos of Mr Dwyer with guns of different types doesn’t work, try again. As for the Colombia Three, I wasn’t blogging at the time but did travel to Bogota on assignment to cover their trial. No one complained about lack of fairness, accuracy or impartiality in my coverage.
      Are you saying that anyone who is interested in guns should be shot dead while asleep in the middle of the night? His girlfried said there were no guns in the room when she visited. I don’t know what he was up to and would severely disapprove of any involvement in an assassination plot but that is not proven as far as I can see. In the meantime, a young man is dead, his parents and friends and community are devastated. And you’re dancing on the lad’s grave. Try this from Wm. Shakespeare:
      The quality of mercy is not strained.
      It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
      Upon the place beneath. It is twice blest:
      It blesseth him that gives and him that takes.
      Tis mightiest in the mightiest; it becomes
      The throned monarch better than his crown.
      His sceptre shows the force of temporal power,
      The attribute to awe and majesty,
      Wherein doth sit the dread and fear of kings.
      But mercy is above this sceptred sway;
      It is enthroned in the hearts of kings;
      It is an attribute of God himself;
      And earthly power doth then show like God’s
      When mercy seasons justice.

    • Renato says:

      Michael was an innocent victim for political objective, please read news of Bolivia and they will see that Evo Morales is putting an end to his opponents.

      Michael was not terrorist, it is a great lie.

      Their objective was completed, my sincere condolences for its family and friends.

      Best regards from Bolivia

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