From Puerto Rico with Love

A series of investigative reports by journalist Jesús Dávila from New York's El Diario/La Prensa has found the government of Puerto Rico is a major investor in a local subsidiary of DynCorp, the military contractor and private security firm. The company operates an air base in the northwestern part of the island that contributes services to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. This is the first of two reports published by the newspaper and translated by NACLA.

March 10, 2008

Puerto Rico’s government is a major stockholder in an operations base run by a subsidiary of the DynCorp firm, a corporation that recruits private security personnel for armed conflicts, including in Iraq. The base is located in the Aguadilla civilian airport in the northwestern part of the island. In fact, the government’s involvement is so extensive that it has a majority presence on the board of directors of the subsidiary and does not charge a cent for the use of four hangars and other installations, according to official documents.

The business partnership between Puerto Rico and DynCorp dates back to at least 2001, when an “Investment Agreement” for the creation of the subsidiary Dyn Puerto Rico Corp was signed by the U.S. company’s head of “Latin American Operations” and the government’s then-director of ports, Miguel Pereira.

The business deal was made separately from the government’s subcontracting of DynCorp for security provision at 84 of the island’s port installations.

At the archives of the Port Authority, El Diario/La Prensa obtained copies of the “Investment Agreement” dated October 31, 2001, which established the subsidiary; a “Supplemental Agreement” from January 10, 2002; and resolution 2004-94 from the board of directors dated December 24, 2004.

According to the documents, the Aguadilla base has had at least two expansions—one in 2002 and another in 2004—that doubled its capacity for helicopter repairs, meaning it now occupies four hangars and an administrative zone. A resolution passed December 29, 2004—the most recent known to date and signed by the subsidiary’s then-president Fernando Fagundo—ratified “the expansion of Dyn Puerto Rico Corp’s operations and by extension the services it provides the U.S. Department of Defense.”

When the corporation was formed, a news item published by Caribbean Business newspaper only described the company as a helicopter repair and air services outfit. What the article failed to mention were the military components of the new company. An investigation by El Diario/La Prensa has found that the base in Puerto Rico is used to send equipment and personnel to the U.S. war fronts in the Middle East and Central Asia.

The Puerto Rican government’s knowledge about the inner-workings of the operation are evident in the Port Authority’s own resolutions which describe the base as “providing services to the U.S. Department of Defense in the repair of military helicopters that the U.S. Army will later donate to friendly countries.” From the start, the base was meant to serve as a base of operations for one of DynCorp’s subsidiary airlines, according to documents.

Flight lists from the Air Force show the base has been used to receive combat helicopters from military installations in New York and New Jersey with the purpose of preparing them for use in Pakistan. Meanwhile, the International Union of Machinists says the Puerto Rican base is used to repair aircraft damaged in Iraq and Afghanistan. For its part, DynCorp has sent out employment announcements from the base for “consultants” to be sent to conflict operations near Lebanon’s southern border.

Jesús Dávila is a correspondent for El Diario/La Prensa. This article was originally published by El Diario/La Prensa and translated by NACLA.

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