A Bolivian President & a European Terrorist

— Carlos Mesa & Edward — 

by Anthony C Heaford, 13 June 2019
(1800-words / 12-minute read)

I met Carlos Mesa on 25 November 1994 after being invited to join his meeting with a self-confessed European terrorist. I was a young backpacker touring South America and he was a future President of Bolivia, serving from 2003-05.

1994 - Copacabana Guesthouse, Sorata, Bolivia

The circumstances of my meeting with Carlos Mesa in the Andean town of Sorata were completely random; late one night and like a scene from an Indiana Jones movie, Carlos Mesa burst into the common room of the guesthouse we were staying in. He was accompanied by at least four men – Edward, the guesthouse’s German owner and three of Mr. Mesa's own immaculately dressed bodyguards. 

There were half a dozen guests in the common room, a mix of young European tourists including myself and a friend from Manchester. Carlos Mesa went around the room, repeatedly asking each of the guests their names and nationalities before introducing himself:

“I am Carlos, the President of Bolivia’s right-hand man!”

Edward had already sat down, set out some glasses and was pouring himself a very large rum. One bodyguard stood silently inside the door of the common room and two others waited outside besides a top-end diplomatic car that Mesa must have arrived in. Within minutes of Carlos and Edward’s entrance the room had cleared of guests, save for my Mancunian friend and myself; we’d already decided to hang around, quietly sipping our beers and watching events unfold.

Carlos stared at us as he settled at the table with Edward and I think that should have been our cue to leave. But instead Edward called us over, inviting the two random backpackers from Manchester to join him and Carlos.


As Edward poured us ridiculously large measures of rum I saw Carlos cradling his head in his hands in an exaggerated act of theatrical despair. Oblivious to Carlos’s gestures our host began to introduce himself. His name was Edward he said, the son of a German U-boat captain who'd surrendered to neutral Sweden at the end of World-War-Two. He said his mother was Swedish and that his parents had met during his father’s post-War internment there. He set up a chessboard while continuing with his life story - Edward was doing all he could to hold our attention and delay his meeting with Carlos Mesa.

Carlos was just short of being outright menacing and looking back I think Edward was possibly in fear of his life. The two bodyguards outside were armed with assault rifles and the third was carrying a compact machine-pistol; these men weren’t messing about. We were being used by Edward as a human shield, a couple of tourists in the wrong place at the wrong time, caught up in the highest echelons of supposedly clandestine shenanigans. Carlos interrupted Edward to make clear to us what he was there for; he was delivering a message from the then President of Bolivia, Gonzalo Sánchez. This was another obvious cue for us to leave, but perhaps emboldened by the rum we paid Carlos little heed and instead remained engaged with Edward’s conversation and chess playing.

Upping the stakes, Edward confessed that he had been a member of the German Red Army Faction (active from 1970-98), one of several terrorist groups that formed across Europe in the 1970s. He told us he'd been in trouble with the law at that time but the influence of his well connected family had "bailed him out of prison” a couple of times. He then spoke about living in Japan and teaching martial arts there before moving to Bolivia seven years ago, circa 1987. And now (1994) he claimed to be:

“… one of the fifteen most wanted men in Bolivia.

Edward told us he’d been on Bolivian television and radio agitating on behalf of the campesinos (poor farmers) and campaigning for an indigenous president. He spoke about the social and economic divide between the indigenous population and the descendants of the Spanish conquistadors, and of his hopes to correct that injustice. He then said that they - Bolivian politicians and German diplomats - thought he was organizing the indigenous population,

“… which is politically dangerous for the politicians in power.”

He went on to say the German government had twice threatened to cut diplomatic ties with Bolivia because of his activities and that was why Carlos was here, to 'check on him over a friendly drink’. 

Carlos Mesa

At this point of the conversation Carlos's head tilted forward; he let it fall slowly until it hit the tabletop with a gentle thud. I looked over nervously, first to Carlos and then at his bodyguard who was now approaching the table. Edward continued with his boisterous conversation but I could see it was time to leave. Carlos’s patience with Edward’s delaying tactics had run out and I sensed the bodyguard standing behind me like a nightclub bouncer. My friend and I made our excuses and we bid the men goodnight, even declining a challenge to a game of chess from Edward on our way out - his last effort to keep me and my friend between him and his fate. Outside we passed the two bodyguards armed with assault rifles; that was the first and last time we saw Edward or Carlos.

Carlos Mesa’s bodyguards were dressed almost identically in impeccable suits and carrying the some of the most advanced weapons of the day. Mr. Mesa’s day job in 1994 was an historian and television presenter (news and documentaries) so I guess that employer did not provide his security detail. It appears that whatever message he was delivering, it warranted the protection (or services) of a detachment of the president’s own security team.

The president for whom Mesa was delivering the message was Gonzalo Sánchez whose first term in office was 1993-97 and his second from 2002-03. Sánchez's nickname is el Gringo, due to his close links to the USA and because he speaks Spanish with a Miami accent. It's a fair reflection of his political persuasion too - an ardent capitalist. His second presidency was cut short after more than sixty people were killed by Bolivian security forces during public protests against the privatization of Bolivian natural resources, specifically gas. Gonzalo Sánchez was forced to resign on 17 October 2003 and his Vice-President, Carlos Mesa, became president. The Bolivian Gas War protests continued throughout Mesa’s tenure until finally 500,000 protestors converged on the capital La Paz in June 2005, forcing Mesa’s resignation. In April 2018 ex-president Gonzalo Sánchez and his Minister of Defense were found guilty under U.S. law of the extrajudicial killings committed by the Bolivian security forces during the civil protests of 2003.


In late 2018 I noted two news reports: 

1. Carlos Mesa standing for President of Bolivia again
InterPol manhunt for a European Red Brigade terrorist on the run in South America
    (the suspect was eventually caught in Bolivia in January 2019)

Suddenly my information about a European terrorist meeting with a senior Bolivian politician in 1994 became currently actionable intelligence. Anyone wanting to thoroughly investigate European Red cell terrorist members on the run in South America in 2018, as InterPol were doing, would benefit from having my information.

Following the correct reporting chain, I first passed my information to British police on 27 December 2018. Despite my evidence submissions being relevant to an active InterPol manhunt in South America and being clearly marked for InterPol's attention, it took over one month for Greater Manchester Police (GMP) to share my report with them. InterPol arrested the European Red Brigade terrorist in Bolivia on 12 January 2019, but it wasn’t until 29 January that Chief Inspector David Gilbride (service number 06952) of GMP chose to pass my reports to InterPol’s South American desk. 

I was given this InterPol reference number as evidence of my intelligence submissions: CP-104723891-19. 

According to police Chief Inspector Dave Gilbride this InterPol reference number means there’s a formal record of InterPol having been informed of Bolivian presidential candidate Carlos Mesa’s meeting with a self-confessed member of a European terrorist organisation. But despite recent boasts from InterPol of an ongoing initiative  called "Support to fugitive arrests in South America", and the recent arrest of a fugitive Red Brigade member in Bolivia, InterPol have never contacted me about my allegations of Carlos Mesa having colluded with a long-term fugitive European Red cell terrorist residing in Bolivia. InterPol’s apparent indifference to the possibility of a President of Bolivia having colluded with European terrorists extends to Carlos Mesa's election campaigning and attending meetings in Europe unhindered. Just two weeks ago in May and June 2019, he attended a meeting of the Club de Madrid  in Spain. Club de Madrid is a privately funded organization whose members comprise mostly ex-presidents and ex-prime ministers “working to promote democracy and change in the international community”.

 Today two of Club de Madrid’s members, ex-Bolivian presidents Carlos Mesa and Gonzalo Sánchez stand accused or have already been found guilty of most serious crimes: receiving corrupt payments from Bolivian drug cartels and  a US conviction for crimes against humanity over the extra-judicial killings of protestors. And now ex-president Mesa also stands accused of colluding with international terrorists. But still InterPol have expressed no interest whatsoever in formally investigating my meeting with Carlos Mesa and Edward in 1994.  If InterPol have investigated the matter without advising me and found no wrong doing, then they have a professional duty to let me know, which they have not done. So for me this remains an open case.

Carlos Mesa has not responded to numerous messages posted to his twitter account on this matter.

Edward’s fate since the night of 25 November 1994 remains unknown.

My Analysis

Edward’s claims of being a European terrorist and of instigating an insurrection in Bolivia did not match his apparent disposition – owning a guesthouse, living at liberty in one town for seven-years, receiving messages from the President of Bolivia which were delivered by bodyguard escorted messengers, etc. I think Edward’s circumstances and claimed career history better match those of an agent provocateur, a deep-state actor and likely player in the CIA’s Strategy of Tension

A "Strategy of Tension" is a policy whereby violent acts by malign actors are encouraged rather than prevented by state security agencies. The CIA utilized this policy as part of the Cold War, specifically in Europe and Latin American the 1970s and 80s. It’s not unreasonable to speculate that Carlos Mesa and Edward were both playing their part in a CIA sponsored "Strategy of Tension" aimed at the Bolivian people. That would explain Greater Manchester Police & Interpol’s determination not to investigate my verifiable testimony (a second witness and our contemporary diary entries) detailing a Bolivian president's collusion with a European terrorist. If those suspects were on the payroll of an allied nation’s secret services agency, then their cases simply would not get investigated by the likes of InterPol (who haven’t responded) or the British police (who obstructed my initial reporting efforts).


Some people are above the law, and we are living in a globalised police state

Today Carlos Mesa is running for office again, hoping to unseat President Evo Morales in the October 2019 Bolivian national elections. Polls had the two candidates running neck-and-neck until April when a criminal investigation of Mr. Mesa’s finances was announced and his ratings fell by a thirdCarlos Mesa stands accused of receiving a drug cartel tainted $30,000 payment from Gonzalo Medina in 2009. Mr. Medina is a former head of a Bolivian Special Force for the Fight Against Crime regional unit and was recently placed under investigation and preventative detention for maintaining links to a known drug trafficker, Pedro Montenegro.

Truly, for some of us nothing is written, unless we write it 
© Anthony C Heaford - The Quiet Mancunian