HomeNewsBriefMexico, Guatemala Have Lowest Military Spending in LatAm
BRIEF

Mexico, Guatemala Have Lowest Military Spending in LatAm

GUATEMALA / 8 AUG 2012 BY HANNAH STONE EN

Guatemala and Mexico have the smallest military budgets as a percentage of GDP in Latin America, according to Mexican newspaper Excelsior.

Excelsior reported that Mexico’s armed forces receive 0.49 percent of GDP, while Guatemala’s receive just 0.40 percent. At the other end of the list are Chile, with 2.43 percent of GDP spent on the military, and Colombia, with 2.3. The United States, meanwhile, spends some 4.06 percent.

InSight Crime Analysis

Colombia, Guatemala and Mexico are amongst the countries that face the biggest threat from organized crime in the hemisphere, and all have deployed their militaries domestically to fight drug trafficking. However, their levels of military spending relative to GDP vary greatly, as shown on graph, below.

Guatemala’s military spending has dropped sharply in recent decades, down from 1.59 percent of GDP in 1988, while the civil war was still raging, to its current figure of 0.4 percent, according to figures from the World Bank.

The 1996 peace accords set the army’s budget at 0.66 percent of GDP, but in 2004, the government set the limit at 0.33 percent of GDP, and cut troop numbers from 23,000 to 15,500. Last year, then-President Alvaro Colom repealed the limit, saying it had been a “historic error.” The Defense Ministry said that the budget limit had allowed organized crime and drug trafficking to grow in key parts of the country like San Marcos, Quiche and Izabal, which were left “at the mercy” of organized crime.

Mexico’s military spending is also low due to historical political factors — Reuters has attributed this to the country’s “rejection of military intervention after decades of post-colonial warring that culminated in its bloody revolution of 1910-1920,” as well as its embrace of non-alignment doctrine.

Colombia’s military spending has historically been far higher than that of Mexico or Guatemala, as it has been fighting a civil conflict within its borders since the 1960s. Spending was given a big boost with the inception of US aid program Plan Colombia in 2000, which has handed over some $7 billion, mostly in military aid, since then.

Compartir icon icon icon

What are your thoughts? Click here to send InSight Crime your comments.

We encourage readers to copy and distribute our work for non-commercial purposes, with attribution to InSight Crime in the byline and links to the original at both the top and bottom of the article. Check the Creative Commons website for more details of how to share our work, and please send us an email if you use an article.

Related Content

GUATEMALA / 11 JUL 2011

After the murder of Facundo Cabral, a well-known Argentine singer, Guatemala's government was quick to offer an explanation: the hit…

MEXICO / 7 OCT 2016

The number of Mexican soldiers in policing roles has doubled under President Enrique Peña Nieto, but a new report illustrates…

ARMS TRAFFICKING / 21 NOV 2011

Contralinea magazine details the routes by which guns are trafficked into Mexico, including the flow of arms from the U.S.

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

We Have Updated Our Website

4 FEB 2021

Welcome to our new home page. We have revamped the site to create a better display and reader experience.

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Events – Border Crime: The Northern Triangle and Tri-Border Area

ARGENTINA / 25 JAN 2021

Through several rounds of extensive field investigations, our researchers have analyzed and mapped out the main illicit economies and criminal groups present in 39 border departments spread across the six countries of study – the Northern Triangle trio of Guatemala, Honduras, and El…

BRIEF

InSight Crime’s ‘Memo Fantasma’ Investigation Wins Simón Bolívar National Journalism Prize

COLOMBIA / 20 NOV 2020

The staff at InSight Crime was awarded the prestigious Simón Bolívar national journalism prize in Colombia for its two-year investigation into the drug trafficker known as “Memo Fantasma,” which was…

ANALYSIS

InSight Crime – From Uncovering Organized Crime to Finding What Works

COLOMBIA / 12 NOV 2020

This project began 10 years ago as an effort to address a problem: the lack of daily coverage, investigative stories and analysis of organized crime in the Americas. …

ANALYSIS

InSight Crime – Ten Years of Investigating Organized Crime in the Americas

FEATURED / 2 NOV 2020

In early 2009, Steven Dudley was in Medellín, Colombia. His assignment: speak to a jailed paramilitary leader in the Itagui prison, just south of the city. Following his interview inside…