Image by Coda Hale via Flickr
Hannah Allam, a Cairo-based McClatchy Newspapers correspondent writes the blog, Middle East Diary. She visited Iraq last month and wrote about The New U.S. Embassy in Baghdad. Makes you kind of wonder if the private security contractors’ other shoe will drop here before too long:
Today, I arrived at the embassy with half an hour to spare before my appointment. I couldn’t enter until my escort arrived, so I passed the time talking with a Peruvian guard — in his broken English and what little Spanish I remembered from high school.
“Are you press?” he asked.
When I confirmed that I was a journalist, he lowered his voice and looked around to see if his American supervisor from Triple Canopy was watching the interaction.
“They no respect the contract, this company,” he whispered. “The contract says we work one, two, three, four, five, six, seven days, and then we should have a day off. But I work 12 hours a day for 12 days and then one day off. They no respect the contract.”
He went on to tell me about his 11-year-old daughter and how it breaks his heart to be so far away from her. Over the Internet, he said, she tells him to quit and come home, that the money isn’t worth the job, which from his description sounded to me like a few short steps away from indentured servitude.
“My girl, she tell me, ‘Come to Peru, come to Peru, why you work 12 hours a day for 12 days?'” he said. “I told her if I say something to the company, they say, OK, go back to Peru and they bring other guards.”
He shrugged and said, “What I do? I work.”
Read the whole thing here.