Generally speaking, I am not a fan of war movies. There is one though that I have watched several times — The Dirty Dozen, which was first released in 1967.

 During WWII, Major Reisman (played by Lee Marvin) is charged with training a team of soldiers to parachute across enemy lines and assassinate German personnel at a French chateau. The soldiers, recruited from convicted criminals on death row, are promised commuted sentences. The 12 men proved to be a competent unit and accomplished their mission.

 The film is based on a novel of the same name that was inspired by a real-life group called the “Filthy Thirteen.”

 We watched this movie again recently and it got me to thinking. What if the U.S. and major countries of the world recruited some of their death row prisoners to form a massive international army to combat the horrific problems in Central American countries that are causing the people there to flee to our borders in order to save their lives?

 This new world army of enforcers could be trained to wipe out organized criminal groups like gangs and drug traffickers, and identify the police, prosecutors and judges who are allowing these criminals to get away with their crimes and put them on the hot seat. Send ‘em all to Guantanamo Bay detention camp or some deserted island. I read Gitmo only has about 40 prisoners now, down from 245 back in the day.

 If members of this special army are successful, they can get their sentences commuted, or if they really prove themselves worthy, can remain in Central America to keep the peace as law enforcement officers — forever. If they are not successful, and actually become part of the problem, they go back to death row.

 In the meantime, the smart young people in these countries, who must be frightened and tired of living the way they do, can be called upon for ideas to rebuild and strengthen their countries. And, instead of spending billions on a wall to keep them out of the United States, maybe those billions could be spent on building schools, medical facilities, affordable housing communities, churches, small start-up businesses and more to boost their economy and make them want to stay home.

 Shoot, if our president built a couple of hotels and a golf course in Honduras, it would put thousands of local citizens to work. Costa Rica, which is just over 400 miles from Honduras, entertains 1.7 million tourists a year from the U.S. and Canada. Earnings from tourism, according to the Costa Rican Embassy, amounts to more than $1.7 billion U.S. dollars per year.

 Think this is a dumb idea? Well, it’s no dumber than what’s happening now. Just sayin’!

Opinions offered in Just Sayin’ are the author’s alone and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of the Tri-County Times or its staff. Email Vera at

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