Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Our underpaid protection.

The Miami Herald reports that many former Latin American soldiers are heading to Iraq to work for security contractors who pay them about $1,000 to $1,500 a month, or about 5 to 7 dollars an hour. (Nice work if you can get it -- at Wal-Mart.)

The Herald:

"Peruvians guard the outer perimeter of a U.S. installation in Basra. Chileans protect the governmental Green Zone in Baghdad. Hondurans have provided security within the terminal at Baghdad International Airport. Salvadorans once protected the Green Zone in Baghdad, but they and some Ecuadoreans reportedly have left the jobs after media in their home countries labeled them 'mercenaries.'''

One of the companies employing these poor bastards is a firm called Triple Canopy, who Source Watch says had by 2005 already "accumulated over $90 million in government contracts." Triple Canopy guards the "heavily fortifided" Green Zone, and you know how well that's been going of late.

In 2005 the company beat Global Strategies Group to get the contract to guard the much mortared enclave.

According to Source Watch a big concern back then was:

"That Triple Canopy employees have been recruited mainly in Latin America and speak little English. Global Strategies relies heavily on British-trained Nepalese Gurkhas and Sri Lankans, a majority of whom speak at least some English and often speak it well. . .

'A delay in communicating a problem because the guard cannot speak English down his walkie-talkie can have fatal consequences,' said a security specialist familiar with procedures in Baghdad."

And even better than that, the Herald Reports that these "Latin Americans typically served in the military back home -- many fought leftist guerrillas in places like El Salvador and Colombia -- and were taught by U.S. instructors, making it easier for them to use U.S. weapons and work under American security procedures. "

Which is great but, "Fights already have broken out between Peruvian and Chilean guards, according to an American businessman living inside the green zone. 'Apparently they had some scores to settle from past conflicts in that continent,' he said."

No wonder our diplomats are having to scurry around in flak jackets inside the Green Zone. Well, I guess, you get what you pay for.


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