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Blackwater Mercenaries on the USA-Mexico Border

by Lawrence S Sarni Friday, Jun. 29, 2007 at 6:09 PM 626-824-7987 646 Fairview Ave #34

very scary

Blackwater Mercenaries on the USA-Mexico Border

By Nancy Conroy

In San Diego County, California, a firestorm has erupted over plans

to build a Blackwater mercenary training camp in the hills behind

Potrero, a remote area east of the city. The residents of San Diego

are opposing the idea on the grounds that firing ranges are noisy

and mercenaries would be undesirable neighbors. So far the

controversy has been a localized, "not in my backyard," type of

debate involving planning commissions and citizen's action groups.

Americans tend to think in an American way, and therefore nobody

seems to have noticed that the location of this camp is right on the

US-Mexico border, just a few miles from Tecate.

From an international perspective, there are a number of

geopolitical reasons that could explain why this border location was

selected. This is probably not merely an issue for the local

planning commission, given that the idea of mercenaries along the

border has broader international implications.

Blackwater USA is a private army based in Louisiana that has

received billions of dollars in US government contracts to assist

with the Iraq war. These "contractors" are highly trained ex-

military specialists, many of whom come from foreign countries with

poor human rights records.

Blackwater, at its website, identifies itself as "… not simply

a `private security company.' We are a professional military, law

enforcement, security, peacekeeping, and stability operations firm

who provides turnkey solutions."

The presence of Blackwater in Iraq has generated controversy over

the concept of an "outsourced" war, using mercenaries instead of

regular US troops. The mercenaries do not answer to US military

commanders, their conduct is not governed by the Geneva Convention,

and they answer only to the people who are signing their paychecks.

Critics often compare them to the Nazi brownshirts.

A Blackwater camp on the border may be a covert attempt to

militarize the border without going through congressional oversight

or public debate. A so-called "training camp" could probably also

function as an operational base. Perhaps Blackwater will obtain

government contracts to patrol the border, gradually edging out US

agents and putting border security into the hands of a private army

away from public scrutiny.

And Blackwater could run immigrant detention camps using the same

methods they use in the Middle East. Even if this is not the plan,

the Mexicans would have good reason to suspect this motivation.

The proposed training camp is located near international drug supply

routes controlled by the Sinaloa Cartel. The remote, mountainous

terrain is like Afghanistan, where Blackwater has years of

experience running covert operations.

Six miles from the proposed Blackwater camp, northern Mexico has a

serious problem with "Men in Black" who coincidentally look, dress,

and act just like the Blackwater people. In Mexico, the Men in

Black are kidnappers, corrupt police officers, fake federal agents,

or Zetas, a narco-paramilitary group. Although Americans may still

be swallowing the argument that Blackwater is a "military auxiliary"

outfit, the Mexicans are not fooled about who the Men in Black are,

what they do, and who they work for. That these same people are now

camped out on the US border, or are somehow involved in border

enforcement, will lack credibility in Mexico.

Since the Iraq war, business at Blackwater has been booming, which

is why they need the new "Blackwater West" facility. Most of

Blackwater's contracts come from the US government, at least those

that are publicly disclosed. But, Blackwater is a private army that

is available to run "corporate security" missions for anyone that

can afford it. This suggests another possible motivation for the

border location: to serve emerging markets in northern Mexico.

There are surely plenty of possible clients with money in the Baja

California area who need special operations. Since Blackwater

personnel look just like the Mexican Men in Black, they should have

no trouble blending in.

Another possible reason for the border location is the potential to

perform "extraordinary renditions" into Mexico. "Extraordinary

renditions" is a euphemism for off-the-record prisoner processing,

the subjects of which are known in Latin America as "los

desaparecidos" ("the disappeared" ). Blackwater conducts

extraordinary renditions in the Middle East, quietly transferring

prisoners to third countries where interrogation techniques are not

monitored. From their new border location, Blackwater could perform

extraordinary renditions into northern Mexico far away from prying


Blackwater has said that the reason for the site selection is to be

close to the San Diego area, where many branches of the US military

need extra training. Still, the location so close to the US-Mexico

border raises international issues that local San Diego citizen's

groups are not aware of and generally do not think about. Americans

should consider the possible international dimensions, and

responsible Mexican citizens should evaluate the potential impact of

this camp on their own country.

As well, if Mexicans were more informed about this issue, the

specter of mercenaries along the border has the potential to create

an international controversy.


Nancy Conroy is the Publisher of northern Baja California's biweekly

Gringo Gazette North. She can be reached via e-mail at


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