Sunday 24 October 2010

Special: Hired Guns on the Cheap

Long story short: researching for a new blog on globalization and outsourcing, I came across a true gem of irony and surprising coincidences, published Sunday, September 25th 2005 on the Chilean newspaper La Nacion - Pistoleros a sueldo (mínimo). As the original text is in Spanish, this is my translation of the title and summary:

"Unknown chapters of the Chilean mercenaries in Honduras.
Hired gunmen (on minimum wages).

The untold story of the bosses, humiliating working conditions, the dangers awaiting them in Iraq and their instructors' hidden past. The aspirants to fight someone else's war may yet miss out firing upon anybody"

And this is my summary of the main body of La Nacion's story:

After the Honduran daily La Tribuna denounced the presence of 120 Chilean ex military being trained in the Lepaterique township as "private guards" by Your Solution Inc. (a Triple Canopy Inc. subsidiary), for their deployment in Iraq, the Honduran government denied entry to 48 further Chilean trainees.

The Lepaterique facilites were used in the 1980s by the feared Battalion 316 of the Honduran Army, specializing in counterinsurgency, torture, interrogation and psychological warfare.

From 1979 and until 1980, under the supervision of John Negroponte, at the time US Ambassador to Honduras, tens of military instructors from Argentine Army Intelligence Battalion 601, together with CIA staff, trained Honduran effectives in their fight against leftwing insurgents.

Mr. Negroponte was appointed US Ambassador to Iraq by President Bush, and served in that capacity from mid 2004 to early 2005.

Together with Blackwater and DynCorp, Triple Canopy was awarded US$ One billion to provide security to installations and diplomatic personnel in the 27 riskiest destinations around the world.

"Responsible sources estimate that at least 16% of armed foreign personnel operating in Iraq, servicing the coalition headed by the US, are private contractors. Twenty five thousand people, a true army on hire…"

Chilean "security guards" will be paid between US$ 900 and 1,300 per month. However, "the problem arises when comparing the incomes the company, for the same work, offers its American employees: between US$ 400 and 700 per day."

Chilean and Honduran staff sign a contract for one year, while American contractors sign up for 3 months, at the end of which the company pays them their return trip home.

American staffers are given private accommodation, while Latin American contractors are lodged in barracks. American staffers are given booze, unlike their Latin American colleagues.

As of September 2005, private contractors had suffered 268 casualties: the second largest number, after the US regular armed forces.
Who ever said outsourcing isn't a wonderful thing?

Related links:

Triple Canopy, Inc. - Wikipedia
John Negroponte - Wikipedia
Google translation

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