Frankfurter Rundschau 20.07.1998
“Mauss clicks in new role”
Since his cover was blown the agent has been enjoying the limelight
Eyes alert, Werner Mauss scrutinises his surroundings and everyone who is part of them. The change of role that has seen him emerge from the shadows into the light of publicity, from underground agent to peacemaker, is one he is comfortable with and clearly enjoying. When a reporter asks if he is feeling nervous before his first television appearance, he answers calmly: “Nervousness was something I could never afford.” And, in fact, the secret agent and mystery man did succeed in discarding his shady image during his conversation with Ruprecht Eser on his Sunday afternoon television programme on ZDF. Looking comfortable in his dealings with the media, he at times even dictates the direction of the discussion.
By courtesy of the publisher
After years of special missions, aliases and code names, much of the time working in the service of the German government, Werner Mauss is now preparing the transformation of his public image. Enough of the murky, shady world of the secret service, it’s time for a change to the sphere of international peace negotiation. “I never work with fists or guns”, he confides to us after the cameras have stopped rolling, “only with my head.” “One has to make one’s own success, it is not a matter of luck” he says, summing up his personal credo.
His mission nowadays is with the internal peace process in Colombia. It is something that he and his wife Ida have been working on for a number of years. He gives himself credit for arranging the talks designed to bring an end to the 40 years of civil war between government and guerrillas in Colombia. Mauss describes the talks which were held at Kloster Himmelspforten near Wurzburg under the auspices of the German Bishops’ Conference and with the knowledge of the German government as a “historic breakthrough”. The peace process was only “interrupted” because he and his wife were in prison in Colombia during the past year. Immediately after his release, Mauss put his energies into getting things moving again. He rambles on, repeating the details of his efforts over and over again.
Programme presenter Eser experiences a common difficulty in talking to Mauss and manages only with difficulty to get a word in edgeways. The Colombian environment minister had apologised to Mauss in Bonn on behalf of his president, Mauss reports. On the progress of the peace process he comments that: “Everything that was done was OK’d by Karl Lehmann, Chairman of the German Bishops’ Conference and by the Chancellor’s Offfice.” Mauss still maintains regular contact to Minister of State Bernd Schmidbauer (CDU) coordinator of intelligence services in Bonn.
Since his cover was blown, the secret agent is very willing to answer questions and likes to pose before the cameras. “I may be known, but I’m not completely finished”, he says with a wink in answer to Eser’s question about where he goes from here. “So far”, he says, “I’ve managed to cope very well with any situation that has arisen. This time will be no different.”
Pablo Beltran also shows his face on television along with Werner and Ida Mauss. He is the third man in the Colombian underground liberation army (ELN) and their military chief. He is optimistic about the chances of “an agreement perhaps being reached” to defuse the conflict. Using all his powers of persuasion Beltran pleads the case for the ELN to be regarded as a serious negotiating partner and one “independent of corruption and drug trafficking”.
Mauss and his wife are vehement in their refutal of allegations that they had been involved in “shady dealings”. Ida Mauss replies: “We are the most closely watched people in Germany.” The German intelligence service and Federal Criminal Police Office were never far away, not to mention other foreign secret services. “We simply cannot afford to do anything wrong.”