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With Increased Arms Spending, Latin American States Jockey for Regional Position

Sunday, April 29, 2007

CARACAS, Venezuela -- Known for military strongmen, Latin America has mostly embraced peace since the end of the 1980s era of right-wing dictatorships. Now flush with profits from a commodities boom, however, many Latin American countries are beefing up their military capabilities as they seek to ascend the ranks of regional power players.

Brazil, Chile and especially Venezuela have invested heavily in arms purchases. With $4.3 billion in purchases since 2005, according to the Pentagon's Defense Intelligence Agency, Venezuela's recent spending surpasses even Pakistan, at $3 billion, and Iran, at $1.7 billion -- major military powers in their own regions. Buoyed by high copper prices, Chile led the region in 2005 with $2.8 billion in arms purchases, followed by Venezuela with $2.2 billion and Brazil with $1.3 billion, according to the Latin American Security and Defense Network (RESDAL). ...

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