Weekly Chart: Military Spending in Latin America and the Caribbean

By Elizabeth Gonzalez

Most countries cut spending in 2016, with Venezuela leading the pack.

Updated May 12, 2017 - Though global military spending rose over the last year, Latin America saw a big drop. The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute released 2016 data last month showing that, after the Middle East, Latin America and the Caribbean’s military spending fell the most: 7.8 percent* from 2015 to 2016. The region’s $5 billion drop was largely affected by the overall downward trend among oil-exporting countries, which registered 13 of the largest 15 reductions in military spending around the world. 

Leading the pack is Venezuela, with a 56 percent cut to its military expenditures. Ecuador, Mexico, and Peru were also among the 15 countries with the greatest drops, though to a smaller extent. Similarly, Latin America’s biggest spender, Brazil, cut back military expenses some $1.8 billion.

Colombia and Argentina, on the other hand, upped spending by $803 million and $681 million, respectively. Since 1995, Colombia has spent the greatest portion of its GDP on the military in Latin America. Last year, the country’s military spending hit 3.4 percent of GDP, surpassing the U.S. level of 3.3 percent. Colombia is set to increase its 2017 military budget again to support the peace deal reached with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, known as the FARC.

AS/COA Online looks at the latest trends in Latin America’s military spending, with a spotlight on Venezuela.


*Editor's note: The introductory text previously and erroneously stated that Latin American military spending decreased by 7.9 percent in 2016. The decrease was 7.8 percent.