Though Puerto Rican law prohibits ownership and bearing of most long-guns and especially semiautomatic weapons, the streets of the stricken US colony now throng with mercenaries in tactical gear bearing such arms, their faces masked. They wear no insignia or nametags and won’t say who they work for, apart from vague statements in broken Spanish: “We work with the government. It’s a humanitarian mission, we’re helping Puerto Rico.”
Rosa Emilia Rodríguez, head of Puerto Rico’s Federal Prosecutor’s Office, initially dismissed reports of the mercenaries, then, after reporters from the Centro de Periodismo Investigativo pressed her she said she’d “check it out.”
After Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans, Erik Prince’s Blackwater mercenaries flooded the city again, turning it into an “armed camp”, after Brigadier Gen. Gary Jones, commander of the Louisiana National Guard’s Joint Task Force announced “This place is going to look like Little Somalia. We’re going to go out and take this city back. This will be a combat operation to get this city under control.”
Erik Prince is now reportedly considering a senate run as a Trumpist candidate in Wyoming. His sister, Betsy Devos, has used millions from her husband’s pyramid-scheme fortunes to fund efforts to destroy public education, and now serves as Trump’s Secretary of Education.
Though the mercenaries in Puerto Rico won’t identify their employers, there’s good evidence that Blackwater (now called Academi) is or will soon be operating there, as well as other notorious mercenary gangs like Ranger America and the Whitestone Group.
Security firm Academi —known by its former name, Blackwater, which won $21 million contract with the U.S. government to provide security services during the Iraq war in 2003— said that they already have offers from the local and federal government and by the Red Cross to come to Puerto Rico.
“We’re ready to go,” said Paul Donahue, Chief Operating Officer of Constellis, Academi’s parent company, in a phone interview with the CPI. He explained that if the government of Puerto Rico accepts the proposal made by Academi to respond to the government’s offer, they would be providing security services for water transportation. The company already operates in the Caribbean islands of Dominica and St. Martin, where they arrived after Hurricanes Irma and Maria made landfall. This company, described as an army of mercenaries by investigative journalist Jeremy Scahill, has changed its name three times since its founding in 1997 by a former Navy Seal Officer (United States Marine, Air and Land Teams.)
Masked and Armed With Rifles: Military Security Firms Roam Streets of San Juan [Joel Cintrón Arbasetti/Latino Rebels]