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Russia-Ukraine War: More and more Latin mercenaries arrive to fight, but end up in limbo

Tony had a dream. He wanted to fight. He bought camouflage pants. Soldier clothing. He packed a backpack. Tony did not want to fight for Peru, his country, but for the Ukraine, a nation that he did not know and that until then had had nothing to do with his life.

He went to see a consul. He never thought that he would talk to a consul. He felt valued. He said that he was combatant, who knew what he was doing, who was willing to die. That he preferred to fall fighting for that unknown and cold land, before retiring in his humid Lima and cloudy skies.

He signed some papers. A contract. He was promised a sky-high salary: $2,500 per month. Plus a bonus for destroying war tanks. A bonus for each throw into the void. Lastly, a coveted residency visa, once that beleaguered country was liberated from the Russians.

Before leaving, he posted a message on Facebook. “I start a dream, I start a path, I know that this will be the best for my life,” she wrote. He posted photos: Tony with his friends, Tony with his relatives, Tony and all his people.

He started taking planes. Airports, scales, a stop in Madrid. Warsaw. Finally, the border. He stopped in Lviv, the “western capital”. He thought it was a stopover, that soon he would arrive in kyiv, they would give him weapons and he would start fighting with some gang on the outskirts of the capital. If they sent him to Donbás, he thought, Tony, yes, it would be like winning the lottery.

But none of this happened: the dream of being part of the foreign legion shipwrecked. Tony left. He went to Poland. He feels defeated.

So he told Clarion, by phone. Like Tony, there are hundreds of Latin American volunteers who have offered to come to Ukraine to fight and are now adrift. They are promised a hefty salary and the possibility of settling in this country. But when they finally arrive, everything becomes confusing.

Latin mercenaries were left in limbo in the Ukraine.

They wander through hostels and gyms, where they manage to stay and remain in a limbo waiting for someone to summon them, provide them with weapons and officially assign them a destination. There are men from Chile, Colombia, Peru, Mexico.

In parallel, but perhaps with more resources and following a more precise and sophisticated course, are the American mercenaries who have already fought in Afghanistan and Iraq. Those do not stop arriving and go straight to the battlefront. There is talk of more than 20 thousand foreign soldiers who crossed the border to fight for Ukraine. But depending on the origin, the experience is different.

There is also a question of timing, of how demand varies depending on the moment the war is going through, now moving to a new uncertain phase.

Latinos don’t have it easy. In the last days, there were more than 50 “soldiers” wandering around Lviv. They waited to be received and even trained, before leaving for the battle front. But none of that happened. Many began to tire. They exhausted themselves and left the country.

Jhon, Colombian, tattooed from the arm to the neck, looking like a bodyguard, approached the envoy of Clarion and introduced himself as a “cop trainer.” He explained that he was also waiting, that soon he would be transferred to the Yaboriv military base (bombed days ago by the Russians) and that he assumed that there he would begin to give military training, use of weapons and self-defense.

One of the places where Latin mercenaries sleep in Lviv.

One of the places where Latin mercenaries sleep in Lviv.

“But at the same time we do not know well, bro, how things will be because nobody tells us anything well and the boys are getting tired. There are brothers from all over Latin America, broThey have come to fight and then stay here to live,” he added.

Clarion He had access to the contract signed by the fighters who come to fight. It is called “Algorithm for the entry of foreigners into the Foreign Legion of Territorial Defense of Ukraine”.

It says, in its first paragraph: “We thank you very much for your will to defend our Homeland. In order to come and participate in the struggle for freedom in Ukraine, you would first have to travel to Poland, where our representative will receive you. Please consider that Ukraine cannot pay the cost of the passage to Poland. The cost of passage from Peru, Colombia, Ecuador would be up to 1,000 dollars one way. At the same time, upon arrival, they would give him the proper coordination and support to come to Ukrainian territory and receive the necessary weapons and equipment. Even if the contract is signed with you to enter the Ukrainian army”.

Sounds serious, encourages many war veterans to a rematch on the ground. The contract continues: “It is mandatory to have experience in military or police service/combat, in the same way a certificate of your criminal record would be required. Remuneration is presumed (100 thousand hryvnias per month – approx. US$ 2,500), plus bonuses in the case of war achievements (destruction of war machines). With all the volunteers we will carry out the interview. It would also be required to have a criminal record certificate. After approval, the coordination of its deployment is carried out by the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine”.

That’s where everything gets stuck and the interstice begins, the limbo, the nothing. The eager soldiers wait without being called. They start to run out of money. The cold and confinement exhausts them.

Lviv is a city largely untouched by war. Little or nothing happens compared to the rest of the country. Latinos feel that sleep is eluding them. The bombs sound far away and they begin to feel that they don’t really know why they came.

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