Theater of Cruelty

Blackwater – from Iraq to Venezuela

SOLDIERS / What are the consequences of «outsourcing» the war in such a sensitive area as the Middle East?


The 13 – 15. In May, several of the world's largest arms companies gathered at the Stockholm Fair in Älvsjö to market their products. Participants include several weapons companies that manufacture nuclear weapons and companies whose weapons are used against civilians in the war in Yemen.

Among the companies that came to set up there are several black
listed, for example
British Babcock International, which is central to the production of a new British fleet of Trident nuclear submarines. Babcock International is included in Nordea's and Swedbank's lists of companies that the banks do not invest in, due to their involvement in nuclear weapons production.

Also on display were buyers from the US paramilitary company Academi (formerly Blackwater USA and Xe Services), founded by Republican billionaire Erik Prince. He is the brother of Donald Trump's Education Minister Betsy deVos and a member of Trump's inner circle. Blackwater was started in 1997 and was quickly hired by the US government to be the spearhead in the fight against Colombian drug barons. The campaign was presented by President Clinton in 2000 and was aimed at training Colombian police and soldiers in the fight against terrorism and civil war. Amnesty International was already criticizing the company's methods, and Colombian politicians felt that the company's involvement in the fight against the drug was a dim curtain to fight the domestic guerrillas, FARC and ELN.

Blackwater off

But it was not in South America that Blackwater acted – after already in 2003, they were assigned the task of protecting US higher commanders and officers. Their fees were six-figure sums, and ordinary soldiers left the army to be recruited by the company.

They were given discharge and became "untouchable" – no judge or police could judge them.

Five witnesses testified that the guards fired without being provoked, and that both civilian and Iraqi police were allowed to run for
life to seek protection.

On September 16, 2007, all of this changed in what would be called the Nisour Square Massacre, where 17 Iraqi civilians were shot and killed by Blackwater's legends.

Five witnesses testified that the guards fired without being provoked, and that both civilian and Iraqi police were allowed to run for life in search of protection. Five of the guards were charged and convicted of murder and abuse of power in a lawsuit in the United States. But the verdict was rejected by a higher authority, and the company secretly paid large sums to the victims' families.

This incident affected diplomatic relations between Iraq and the United States. Blackwater was temporarily suspended from the country. But soon they came back under a new name and operated under the false flag. The charges against their methods have followed the company's rocket speed in the stock exchange, and today Academi is one of the highest-rated companies in its industry. President Trump proposed replacing the US soldiers who are leaving Syria. The Israeli newspaper Haaretz is concerned about such a development and warns about the consequences of "outsourcing" the war in such a sensitive area as the Middle East.


Now, a group of wealthy Venezuelans have raised money to form an army of 5000 members of Academi who can spearhead an invasion of Venezuela. They are already familiar with the area from the time they were operating in Colombia and would certainly contribute to a serious incident in the crisis-hit country, but no one is prepared to pay such a high price. Maduro's rival for the presidency, Juan Guaidó, misjudged the loyalty of the Venezuelan military to Maduro and is now seeking support from the United States. But in Trump's immediate circle, no one wants to risk a new Vietnam. Maybe Academi will be able to take the first step.

In Baghdad, I got to know a young man from Peru. He was one of those who protected the hotel where we international journalists lived. He longed home and called me several times, we exchanged letters. The other day he called and told me that he was in Colombia now, at the border, and that he and his allies were participating in military maneuvers. When I asked if they had anything to do with Venezuela, he laughed briefly and said, "Don't believe everything that magazines write. I'll call if there is any change. "

Ana L. Valdés
Ana L. Valdés
Valdés is a writer, anthropologist and activist.

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