The Colombian War System's New Cash Crop: Mercenaries!

Nazih Richani 5/15/2011

In the age of hyper-capitalism coined as “globalization” the export of mercenaries and private security armies has become an integral part of the international political economy. But when a country like Colombia, in a state of civil war since 1964, sends men to fight in a foreign nation like the United Arab Emirates it does not only raise eyebrows, but questions the global spill-over effects of a “war system” gone awry and all of its distortions.


The New York Times on Sunday, May 15, ran a front page story that starts: “Late one night last November, a plane carrying dozens of Colombian men touched down in this glittering seaside capital.” This is Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates and the goal of these men was to join a battalion of mercenaries created by Erik Price, the founder of the now defunct Blackwater and now head of a new security company Reflex Response. This mercenary force includes, alongside Colombians, nationals from the U.S., Britain, South Africa, and France. It is designed to conduct special operations, protect pipelines and key sectors, and most importantly be prepared to defend the ruling dynasty from the winds of democratic rebellions that are sweeping the Arab World.  


The irony is that Colombia—following the paths of Israel and South Africa (two pioneers in the business of mercenaries)—is exporting the commodity of war in the form of labor. This can be attributed to a number of factors:


  1. The availability of “skills” and “know how” accumulated during its protracted conflict.

  2. The existence of a surplus of labor that its war system does not need.

  3. The much higher wages that these “skills” fetch in the global market.


It seems that alongside the country’s traditional cash crops: coffee, oil, gold, coal, and cocaine, its “war system” is finding a new niche in the lucrative global market of killing and suppression.

Like this article? Support our work. Donate now.