Middle East

Latin American Security Contractors Bitter After Participating in US War

Bogotá: Vladimir Flores of Peru defended the US Consulate in Afghanistan when a suicide bomber blew up a truck outside the gate, killing eight Afghans and causing a gun battle that lasted for several hours. Like many former Latin American soldiers, Flores suffers from the condition he endured at that time and his treatment since then. Others say they were used as “cannon feed.”

Flores, then 32, worked alongside Colombians and Salvadors in the US diplomatic estate in the northwestern city of Herat on September 13, 2013. He says he was hired to ensure his safety, not to fight as a soldier. The explosion of the truck caught by the camera was very powerful. “It flew me and I fell to the ground,” Flores said. “It took me two minutes to react. When I woke up, people were screaming, seeing everything burning.” Then, before the U.S. military arrived, he was with a Taliban fighter. Spent two hours in the fight. “They never gave me $ 1 (extra) for saving the Americans,” Flores told AFP.

“Without proper weapons”

Francisco Randiness of Colombia says Latin Americans were left to fight for the United States “without protection or proper weapons.” He states that they were “totally at a disadvantage to much better armed enemies.” In essence, they were used by the United States as “cannon feed,” he said. Randiness, a retired soldier, runs a retired Veterans Foundation from Miami, and the group has the rights of non-American security contractors hired to protect the interests of the United States in Afghanistan and Iraq. I’m fighting for

They seek the same pensions and residence rights as US veterans. According to a Brown University study, more than 3,900 security contractors have died in Afghanistan, most of them citizens of other countries. “Many of these deaths have not been reported,” said the study’s authors. The US State Department refused to comment on the veterans’ campaign.

Post-traumatic stress

A former Colombian sergeant who uses the pseudonym Jorge Esteves keeps several military souvenirs, including a black badge labeled “Afghanistan 2013” and a photo of him holding an M4 assault rifle. Estevez was paid $ 1,400 per month by a private security company to patrol Kabul, Mazar-i-Sharif and Herat. That’s a lot more than the Colombian military pension of about $ 350. However, according to official data, it’s still lower than US military draft wages, ranging from $ 1,600 to $ 8,700 per month.

Estevez returned to Bogotá’s family in 2015 after five years of work, but still has the scars of war. He frequently has nightmares, takes antidepressants for post-traumatic stress disorders, and says he has no social life. “We were anonymous, forgotten, and accustomed,” he said violently.

“Coveted”, but the payment will be less

Colombian mercenaries attracted attention last year after about 20 people were involved in the assassination of Haiti’s President Jovenel Moise. Three people were killed in the assault and another 19 were arrested. However, many Colombians reject the term mercenary. This is illegal, according to the United Nations. They are security contractors working in the “moving around the world” legal industry, said Colonel John Marlanda, president of the Columbia Association for retired military personnel.
He says they work primarily in countries with “critical security conditions” that provide critical services. Colombians are “coveted” because they are cheap and have had a hard time fighting left-wing guerrillas, he added. Marulanda says they are easily attracted because 10,000 people leave the Colombian army each year and are abandoned by their destiny.

“Frontline” surprise

Another former Colombian soldier used the pseudonym Freddie to fight rebels in his hometown before fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan and al-Qaeda in Iraq. “I didn’t expect to fight on the front line. I went there because I believed I was going to protect a facility like a security guard,” said a 49-year-old who covered his face for fear of never being contracted again. Told. He wore a shirt with the American flag and the words “Are you really caring about us or have you forgotten us?”

Security contractors are already protesting in Bogotá, Lima, Miami, and Washington, with photos of their mission and written acknowledgments from the State Department. They keep a copy of the contract. Some are contracts with International Development Solutions, and Foreign Policy magazine states that it is a “subsidiary” of the former name Blackwater, a notorious U.S. company that has undergone several rebranding since the 2007 Iraqi civil slaughter. Says. In 2018, the United Nations advocated more effective regulation of military and private security companies through an international legal framework. – AFP

https://www.kuwaittimes.com/latin-american-security-contractors-bitter-after-serving-in-us-wars/ Latin American Security Contractors Bitter After Participating in US War

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