Not every security contractor in Iraq is a hotshot American making $500 a day. Many of the private security personnel roaming Iraq are poor Latin Americans, for whom the promise of $1,000 a month and full benefits is nearly irresistible, reports the LA Times. “I’d rather die in a war than die of hunger in my own country,” said one Peruvian former guard.
Roughly 1,200 guards have come from Peru alone. Most are former policemen or soldiers. “They know that we come from a military tradition, that we are disciplined,” said one veteran. Most are put to work in simple rent-a-cop jobs, like manning checkpoints, but the dangers are still real—and the injured can often find themselves in difficult fights with US insurers.