A series of investigative reports by journalist Jesús Dávila from New York’s El Diario/La Prensa has found the government of Puerto Rico is a major investor in a local subsidiary of DynCorp, the military contractor and private security firm. The company operates an air base in the northwestern part of the island that contributes services to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. This is the second of two reports published by the newspaper and translated by NACLA.
by Jesús Dávila
The private security and military corporation DynCorp—a business associate of the Puerto Rican government—is seeking congressional approval for 1,000 of its agents to be dispatched to the U.S. border with Mexico. But the plan has hit some snags due to the company’s controversial history and recent revelations about a base it operates in the Caribbean nation of Puerto Rico.
The petition will be decided by the next session of Congress and, if approved, would allow DynCorp to reinforce the U.S. Border Patrol with 100 DynCorp agents during the first three months of the contract. The number would grow to 1,000 over the course of 13 months.
This is the same company that has been under investigation by the General Accounting Office for alleged accounting discrepancies of more than $80 million in its Iraq operations. From that sum, more than $36 million in arms and equipment are still unaccounted for.
The current situation caps a stormy history, which includes complaints that DynCorp fired two employees for publicly denouncing the presumed participation of its employees in a prostitution ring in Bosnia; its supposed operation of a clandestine CIA prison in Afghanistan; a case brought against the company’s supposed use of noxious pesticides on the civilian population in Ecuador; and its alleged participation in accidentally shooting down a plane carrying U.S. missionaries in Peru.
DynCorp denies these accusations. Robert Rosenkranz, a representative of the company, explained to a congressional subcommittee, “We provide quality technical services to our government.”
Rosenkranz argued that DynCorp’s plan for the Mexican border would make a “vital contribution” to the U.S. Border Patrol, adding DynCorp operates in 35 countries, including the war fronts in Iraq and Afghanistan and has close to 4,000 operatives “of which 142 have made the ultimate sacrifice.”
In this context, the company’s base in Puerto Rico on the shores of the Mona Canal (the waterway dividing Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic) has complicated things for the company.
For years, public knowledge maintained the base was merely a helicopter repair station. But after a university professor claimed to have seen the arrival of an airplane protectively flanked by helicopters, it has come to light that the base provides equipment and personnel to the war fronts in the Middle East and Central Asia. The base is operated by a DynCorp subsidiary of which the Puerto Rican government is a majority shareholder. The subsidiary is called Puerto Dyn Corp Rico.
The Puerto Rican government’s attempts to clarify the matter have only muddied the waters.
Correspondence obtained by El Diario/La Prensa under the authorization of Fernando Bonilla, who represents the majority holders of Dyn Puerto Rico Corp as a Secretary of State and Director of the Ports Authority, explains the plane sighted by the professor could not have arrived because it was not officially registered by the control tower, nor was the manager of the airport aware of such a flight. Nonetheless, Bonilla, as the government’s representative in the corporation, was unable to categorically deny it first hand. On the contrary, he provided a register for the day in question in which a military plane is listed without a registration number as well as a half-dozen aircraft under the name of the DynCorp subsidiary.
The case has come to the attention of the national media in Puerto Rico and El Nuevo Día newspaper published a letter by Bonilla on August 7 in which he admitted the board of the subsidiary has not held a meeting in nearly two years. DynCorp has also failed to submit required financial statements.
Jesús Dávila is a correspondent for El Diario/La Prensa. This article was originally published by El Diario/La Prensa and translated by NACLA.