Monday, July 16, 2007
We've all heard about how the US military subcontracts security assignments in Iraq out to American mercenary outfits like Blackwater. Now maybe this has been covered before and I just missed it, but it turns out that companies like Blackwater subcontract their security assignments in Iraq out to South American mercenary outfits that recruit ex-soldiers from places like Peru, Ecuador, Honduras and Chile.
One Chilean legislator estimated that as many as 1,000 Chilean mercenaries are currently in Iraq, and a United Nations panel headed by José Luis Gomez del Prado is currently in Chile investigating claims of poor training and misleading recruiting practices:
"Presently, we know that there are ex-military and ex-police recruited by a Chilean company with headquarters in Uruguay, a company that has the support of a U.S. company," said Gomez del Prado. "These [private security] companies come to Latin American countries and recruit people for $31 a day, which is what we just saw in Peru. And once they are on a plane or bus, recruits are made to sign an English contract with a sister company from the United States, a contract that leaves them completely unprotected."
Elsewhere the article refers to wages ranging from $3,000 for guarding an embassy to $12,000 for participating in riskier assignments. That explains why so many recruits from these poor countries are willing to go to Iraq. Poor training and lousy equipment explain why so many of them break their contracts and come back early.
Just one more way in which the perverse effects of the Iraq War and its peripheral operations ripple outward in concentric circles.