Death in Santa Cruz: a family’s quest for answers

Relatives claim Michael Dwyer was summarily executed by Bolivian authorities

Caroline and Martin Dwyer, and their daughter Aisling, pictured at the inquest into the death of their son Michael Dwyer, at the Dublin County Coroner’s Court, Tallaght, Co. Dublin. Photograph: Eric Luke Staff Photographer

Caroline and Martin Dwyer, and their daughter Aisling, pictured at the inquest into the death of their son Michael Dwyer, at the Dublin County Coroner’s Court, Tallaght, Co. Dublin. Photograph: Eric Luke Staff Photographer

 

Michael Dwyer travelled to Bolivia in 2008 telling his family he was going to the South American country to take a bodyguard training course. He had recently graduated in construction management but with the start of the recession at home was finding work in the sector hard to come by.

The bodyguard course did not materialise once he arrived in Bolivia but he decided to stay on telling family and friends he had found work there with a local businessman, Eduardo Rózsa-Flores.

Killed alongside Dwyer, Rózsa-Flores is the central figure in the mystery about what his group was doing in Bolivia and who it was working for. The government claims it was setting up armed resistance to the state at the behest of the country’s political opposition. But leading opposition figures claim he was an agent provocateur brought over from Europe by the government to discredit it.

Dwyer’s family have always refused to believe their son was knowingly caught up in any political or subversive activity while in Bolivia.

Instead it has gathered evidence that it says proves he was summarily executed by its authorities.

They have submitted the case to the UN’s special rapporteur on extrajudicial killings who has written to the Bolivian government seeking an investigation into the circumstances of Dwyer’s death. The Dwyers have also lobbied the EU parliament in Brussels and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights in Washington to take action.

Last year Dwyer’s mother Caroline and sister Aisling brought the family’s campaign to Bolivia itself. As well as visiting the hotel where he died they also formally presented their demand for an international inquiry into his death to senior government officials.

Though they have not definitively ruled out an international inquiry, Bolivia’s authorities have always refused to allow any outside investigation of the circumstances surrounding Dwyer’s death.