Cablegate: Public Debate in Peru Over Contracting of Security

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.




E.O. 12958: N/A

REF: A. LIMA 4544

Sensitive But Unclassified, Please Handle Accordingly

1. (SBU) SUMMARY: Peruvians going to Iraq to work as
contract security specialists for a U.S. company have become
the focus of wide-spread media and official interest.
Several hundred Peruvians have signed contracts with Peruvian
representatives of the U.S. firm Triple Canopy Inc. The
President of the Consumer Defense Commission of the Congress
criticized the manner in which the Peruvians were hired, and
said he would require three Ministers to testify on the
matter. Press reports questioned the propriety of the
Peruvian Army's participation in training the security
personnel; examination of this issue may be a source for
further controversy. Post expects that barring new
revelations, interest in this story will fade, but will be
revived if there are Peruvian casualties. END SUMMARY.

2. (U) The recent departure of Peruvians for Iraq to work as
contract security specialists for U.S. companies has drawn
extensive media and official interest. Television crews
staked out Lima's Jorge Chavez International Airport to
report on the groups of several dozen Peruvians at a time
embarking for Iraq. Although exact numbers varied depending
on the source, most reports agreed that several hundred
Peruvians have signed contracts with Peruvian representatives
of the U.S. firm Triple Canopy Inc. for positions as security
agents. Although many of those departing were reluctant to
speak with the press, the ones who did said they were former
military or police officials, and that they were traveling to
Iraq willingly, because of the poor employment prospects they
faced in Peru. The contract employees were said to be
receiving around $1,000 to $1,200 per month.

3. (U) The President of the Consumer Defense Commission of
the Congress, Yohny Lescano, on 10/19 criticized the manner
in which the Peruvians were hired for service in Iraq,
stating that the Peruvian Government needed to ensure that
there were guarantees for the safety and human rights of
these individuals. Lescano said he planned to require
testimony on this point from the Ministers of Foreign
Relations, Labor and Justice. Lescano also speculated that
the presence of Peruvians in Iraq could bring about
retaliatory attacks by Al Qaeda against Peru. Lescano's
attorney-advisor, Rosario Sacieta, alleged that the personal
services contracts were illegal, since the Peruvian
intermediary, Defiont SAC, was not properly registered with
the Labor Ministry. Subsequently, the Defense Commission of
the Congress scheduled a 10/26 hearing with Defense Minister
Marciano Rengifo.

4. (U) Most major newspapers here (e.g., "Peru.21" and
"Correo") have covered this story on both their news and
editorial pages. Leading Lima daily "La Republica" published
several articles, mostly critical, on the hiring of Peruvians
to work in Iraq. On 10/21, the paper criticized the
"privatization" of the war in Iraq via subcontracting as a
means of getting around restrictions on the regular military.
A report on 10/22 questioned the propriety of the Peruvian
Army's participation in the contract carried out by the local
firm Gun Supply SAC for training 218 of the contractors
destined for Iraq. The article noted that through the
quasi-official Army Munitions Factory, the Army contracted
with Gun Supply to provide facilities and ammunition for
training these individuals. (NOTE: A key issue that could
prove damaging for the testimony of Minister Rengifo is
whether the trainees were improperly given permission to use
military equipment for their exercises. END NOTE.) A
follow-up piece on 10/23 stressed the vulnerability of the
Peruvian personnel, noting that the local hiring firm,
Defiont, disclaimed any responsibility for their welfare --
Defiont said this was the obligation of Triple Canopy, the
prime contractor in the U.S.

5. (SBU) Peru's Foreign Ministry took a neutral stance,
although as noted in Ref A, the situation has delayed the
Ministry's issuance of a statement in support of the Iraq
public referendum. Foreign Minister Maurtua stated on 10/22
that the GOP cannot prohibit its citizens from going to Iraq
to carry out security functions, and that the Ministry's role
was limited to alerting Peruvians to the risks they may face
if they chose to do so.

6. (U) There has been press play here on the investigative
reports about the similar situation of Chileans being hired
to work in Iraq (Ref B). There is recognition, however, that
the circumstances are different in Peru, both in terms of the
legal situation of the companies doing the recruiting
(apparently more tenuous in Chile), and the duties for which
employees are being sought (less sophisticated work in the
case of Peru).

© Scoop Media

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