Thursday, May 1, 2008
Raymond Lutz, who is a candidate for California Assembly District 77, actively opposed Blackwater's presence in Potrero. His website, Citizens' Oversight Projects , tracks issues of interest to voters, including current efforts by Blackwater to gain a foothold in the sensitive border area.
Blackwater's new location is only a few blocks from the U.S.-Mexico border, and between two airports. Brown Field and the Tijuana Airport are both within minutes of their facility. It turns out the U.S. Border Patrol is just two doors down. Blackwater, in addition to their contracts in Iraq, is a recipient of a border-security contract awarded by the Bush administration, to provide wide-ranging support in global counter-narcotics operations.
Fortunately, three of our local representatives held a press conference last Friday to express their opposition to Blackwater's presence in Otay Mesa.
Rep. Bob Filner (D - CA) questioned the "vocational" nature of Blackwater's business. He described them as a mercenary army that has historically demonstrated that they are not answerable for their actions and he expressed concern for their lack of transparency. Filner observed, "Mercenary soldiers are a prelude to problems in a democracy... mercenary soldiers are the way people come to power, undemocratically". He called it & "a dangerous, dangerous development... and not what our community needs."
Perhaps most passionate of the three was the address by Ben Hueso, councilman for District 8. "We don't know what authority has been bestowed on them by the federal government and even who is guiding them." Hueso, who has worked for six years to engender a spirit of cooperation between Mexico and the United States in this area, feels that a Blackwater presence is "contrary to everything we've worked for." He concluded his statements with a disturbing observation. "This is a private company that will profit from instability and insecurity on the border... it's of interest to them that we have conflict, that we have problems, because the more there are, the more they'll profit."
Council President Scott Peters said, "Blackwater does not share our community's values -- human rights, ethics and integrity and respect for the law." He also said & he's concerned that they exploited a loophole in San Diego's zoning code and used a subcontractor's name on the permit to keep our community in the dark. Peters is a candidate for city attorney, so it is & gratifying to see him step up to the plate on this issue.
Historically, the emergence of a paramilitary force has been dangerous to the rights of ordinary citizens.
We must ask "Who do they take orders from and who defines their mission? What controls are there on their actions? What is their true objective in planting themselves in this border region?" Without answers to these questions, we run the risk of abdicating our autonomy, just a little at a time.