- April 9, 2007
Baja California-San Diego News
Private Military Company Plans Border Camp
A proposal to establish a private security force training
camp on the US-Mexico border is stirring controversy. The
camp in question would be set up in San Diego County,
California, by the North Carolina-based military contractor
Blackwater USA. Now undergoing official review is a plan
for an 824-acre training camp envisioned for a site near
the small town of Potrero, California, which is located
several miles north of the Baja California municipality of
The proposed camp site is close to an area called
the "Mushroom Zone," where undocumented workers are known
to cross the border, and near a wilderness area.
According to reports, Blackwater seeks approval for a camp
operated by 60-100 former military personnel who will train
up to 300 students at a time in firearms, urban assault
techniques and other skills. If opened, the facility is
expected to include dormitories, 15 shooting ranges and a
helicopter landing pad.
Residents of Potrero, a town of about 900 people, are
voicing their opposition to the camp. Reportedly, about
half the registered voters in Potrero have signed a
petition against the proposed facility. Resident Carl Meyer
told a San Diego television station that the camp could
disturb animals in the zone, while another unidentified
resident expressed concern about noise.
Owned by millionaire Erik Prince, Blackwater defines itself
as the "most comprehensive professional military, law
enforcement, security, peacekeeping and stability
operations company in the world." Author and journalist
Jeremy Scahill, who has written a new book about the
company, regards Blackwater as the world's largest
According to Scahill, Blackwater USA holds a $300-million
State Department contract to provide security for Iraq.
Military contractors in the country receive up to $1,000
per day, according to a General Accounting Office report
cited by Scahill in a recent article. Killed or wounded
personnel from Blackwater and other military contractors
are not included in the official US military casualty list.
In addition to its work in Iraq and Afghanistan, Blackwater
was contracted to provide security in New Orleans after
Hurricane Katrina. On the West Coast, California Governor
Arnold Schwarzenegger has held discussions with the company
about providing emergency disaster relief operations.
"Blackwater now envisions itself as the FedEx of defense
and homeland security operations," writes Scahill.
There was no immediate word about the possible missions of
graduates from a future Blackwater US-Mexico border camp.
The San Diego County government will have the final word
over whether or not the proposed Blackwater camp opens.
Sources: El Universal/Frontera/La Jornada /Notimex, April
6, 2007. Blackwaterusa.com. San DiegoReader.com, February
22, 2007. Article by Don Bauder. Counterpunch.org, January
25, 2007. Article by Jeremy Scahill. Calitics.com.
Frontera NorteSur (FNS): on-line, U.S.-Mexico border news
Center for Latin American and Border Studies
New Mexico State University
Las Cruces, New Mexico
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