BAGDHAD ON THE BAYOU: LOCAL NOPP (New Orleans Private Patrol) BRINGS IN MEN FROM CHILE AND BRAZIL TO WORK IN NEW ORLEANS 'SECURITY' INDUSTRY
There is a New Orleanian private security company that guards most of "Uptown and the Garden District", private homes and the stores and who is also involved in port related security. And the have a program of not hiring locals who "need" work, but hiring men from South America who want to travel to the United States on a 3 month work visa and training them on the job, for security positions. The same security contractor houses them and charges them rent.
Chile. Brazil. New Orleans security. Are these men technically 'mercenaries'?
Here's a brief synopsis of what happened on my brief walk to the corner store to get a sandwich:
I was walking around the corner to the corner store down the street from me. I saw a NOPP patrol car pulling away. I saw, in front of the newly renovated building a few buildings from mine, about 6 men who were new to the neighborhood - and I found, to this country. One of them was wearing a NOPP jacket. 5 of the men (who were very nice and very polite) were from Chile, one from Brazil. I welcomed them to the neighborhood and that is when they told me that they are just here for 3 months on a working visa, taking in 'the culture' and working 40 hours a week in security.
It seems there is a cottage industry of sorts for hiring 'out of country', mercenaries to do security in the US while they are here enjoying the culture!
I heard it used today against the homeless. Someone from Unity from the Homeless told me that the people who were left in 'tent city' didn't want help. 10 minutes later I met a husband and wife pushing a shopping cart with all their belongings. They told me that they were told there was not housing for them or a room. They want housing, they want a warm room to put their belongings in and go to work from.
Also, I know a 'little bit' about Chile and I asked them - "You know with your own country's history with abuse by the military and the killing of it's citizens, I would think you would be really leery of hooking up with private "security" companies. Private security companies such as BlackWater are becoming as powerful as the military. And that can;t be good for this country. I said to them, "The next time there is a 'terrorist' incident on US soil, there is going to be a lot of 'security' happening in this country - and not for the 'safety' of it's citizens - but I am afraid security being used 'against' them."
"You guys know what I am talking about when it comes to abuses of political power, right?" "No," they collectively said to me, sincerely. I grappled in my mind for references to what I was speaking to. "Pinochet." I said. "Pinochet, he was Chilean right?" All agreed yes. "I remember," I said to them, he killed alot of people and abused power." "No, no they said to me." "Pinochet was good for the country. Pinochet was good."
Again circuits are blowing - firing - going crazy in my brain. I have conflicting thoughts and emotions occurring these men are very sincere and credible. Yet I am certain Pinochet was not 'good' for many people in Chile.
I told them that I wanted to come back and speak with them some more about the subject and would come and visit another day and said goodbye.
I had to walk away. My intuition was telling me that something was very wrong with hearing the words "Pinochet was good for Chile" and associating these words with men who are on US soil hired to do 'private security' in New Orleans - our "Bagdhad on the bayou".
Moments later I am ordering my sandwich and I say hello to the woman on my left and then the man on my right.
Oddly enough - (not really, in my 'reality') - my neighbor on the other side of the corner store about a block and a half from me, is from CHILE. What are the odds? I speak with him about what I just heard from the guys here doing security concerning Pinochet. He reels back, not believing I just heard what I did from fellow Chileans. He is a graduate student from Chile.
He says his family was upper middle class and all for Pinochet very "right wing". His wife's family on the other hand suffered under Pinochet and were exiled to England. He confirms my thoughts that Pinochet did in fact "did murder" "alot of people".
And if I remember correctly as I am writing this, he "tortured them".
My Chilean neighbor also appraised me of a fact that I did not know - that a very large proportion of "mercenaries" in Iraq are from Chile.
And now they are here in our Bagdhad on the bayou.
Our Democracy is in sooo much trouble isn't it?