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Thursday, March 03, 2005

Firms tap Latin Americans for Iraq

Christian Science Monitor Report: Firms tap Latin Americans for Iraq
A history of recent wars makes the region attractive to private companies recruiting for security forces.

Excerpt: SAN SALVADOR – Last week, El Salvador President Elias Antonio Saca stood at the country's international airport, welcoming home a unit of soldiers returning from service in Iraq. He called them "heroes" and passed on President Bush's personal thanks. School children waiting on the tarmac waved American and Salvadoran flags.

Police Sgt. Roberto Arturo Lopez is heading to Iraq soon, but he expects no such attention - when he leaves or returns. That's because he, like a growing number of Salvadorans, will play a different sort of role in Iraq: that of a hired US hand.

El Salvador, the only Latin American country to maintain troops in the US-led coalition in Iraq, has 338 soldiers on the ground. But there are about twice as many more Salvadorans there working for private contracting companies, doing everything from the dishes and the driving to guarding oil installations, embassies, and senior personnel.

Private security firms contracted with the Pentagon and the State Department are dipping into experienced pools of trained fighters throughout Central and South America for their new recruits. With better pay than what they can earn at home, some 1,000 Latin Americans are working in Iraq today, estimates the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA). These recruits are joined by thousands of others - from the US and Britain, as well as from Fiji, the Philippines, India and beyond. Close to 20,000 armed personnel employed by private contractors are estimated to be operating in Iraq, making up the second largest foreign armed force in the country, after the US.

Click Here to Read Entire Christian Science Report

Hard Comment: This really isn't anything new, this story was talked about over a year ago, but it gives a fresh look at reality.

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