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 Last year, then-President Alvaro Colom repealed the limit, saying it had been a "historic error."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.

share icon icon icon

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

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.

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

Related Content

KIDNAPPING / 26 AUG 2021

The ongoing search for members of Mexico’s Yaqui Indigenous community, missing for well over a month, has become a rallying…

AYOTZINAPA / 20 APR 2020

Of the tens of thousands of investigations into the use of torture in Mexico since 2006, less than one percent…

ELITES AND CRIME / 21 SEP 2015

Authorities in Mexico have arrested several high-level prison officials for their alleged role in the recent jailbreak of famed Sinaloa…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Tackles Illegal Fishing

15 OCT 2021

In October, InSight Crime and American University’s Center for Latin American and Latino Studies (CLALS) began a year-long project on illegal, unreported, unregulated (IUU) fishing in…

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Featured in Handbook for Reporting on Organized Crime

8 OCT 2021

In late September, the Global Investigative Journalism Network (GIJN) published an excerpt of its forthcoming guide on reporting organized crime in Indonesia.

THE ORGANIZATION

Probing Organized Crime in Haiti

1 OCT 2021

InSight Crime has made it a priority to investigate organized crime in Haiti, where an impotent state is reeling after the July assassination of President Jovenel Moïse, coupled with an…

THE ORGANIZATION

Emergency First Aid in Hostile Environments

24 SEP 2021

At InSight Crime's annual treat, we ramped up hostile environment and emergency first aid training for our 40-member staff, many of whom conduct on-the-ground investigations in dangerous corners of the region.

THE ORGANIZATION

Series on Environmental Crime in the Amazon Generates Headlines

17 SEP 2021

InSight Crime and the Igarapé Institute have been delighted at the response to our joint investigation into environmental crimes in the Colombian Amazon. Coverage of our chapters dedicated to illegal mining…