by David Phinney
Sunday October 25th 2020

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Coalition of the Billing

Foreign Policy magazine fingers private security contractors and their enlistment of unemployed mercenaries formerly employed by South American dictators. Under the banner “Top Ten Stories You Missed in 2005,” the magazine suggests that the phenomenon is a story that “fell through the cracks but will have a lasting impact for years to come.”

Private security firms in Iraq are hiring an increasing number of ex-guerrillas and soldiers from Colombia, Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Chile. A recent ad on Iraqijobcenter.com, for example, offered the services of “a thousand Colombian combat-trained ex-soldiers and policemen” for security work in Iraq. This year, U.S. security firm Halliburton employed Colombians to protect oil installations in several Iraqi cities. Blackwater, another private security firm, has had a group of soldiers who once served for Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet on the payroll. Recruits often come from militaries known for human rights abuses or paramilitaries with ties to narcotrafficking. So why are U.S. contractors hiring Latin American mercenaries? “If a contractor is killed,” says Peter Singer, an expert on private military firms at the Brookings Institution, “it is less likely to make the news [than if it’s a U.S. soldier]. If it’s a contractor from another country, it is even less likely.”

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