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The "Natural" Presence of US Armed Forces in Latin America

  • Some figures illustrate the degree of dependency of the Latin American Armed Forces: the sale of US arms to Latin America and the Caribbean in 2014 amounted to 1,606’861,326 dollars and in 2012 was 2,408’527,664 dollars. The Latin American military who received training in 2013 were 12,157 effectives, while in 2014 they were 14,600.
  • Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador largely responsible for some of the highest murder rates in the world.

Silvina M. Romano, Latin America in Movement / Upside Down World (photo: Latin America in Movement) 

2016 January 18 | The discourse on freedom, democracy, diplomatic contacts and friendly relations with Latin America, so characteristic of the Obama administration in their eagerness to reinforce the "soft power" of his foreign policy, finds its real limits in the need for "order" and "stability" (watchwords that were familiar during the implementation of the National Security Doctrine in Latin America). Currently, the US Armed Forces in the Hemisphere are present not only in more than 70 military bases, but also through various multi- and bilateral security agreements: Plan Colombia, the Andean Regional Initiative, the Mérida Initiative, the Initiative for Regional Security of Central America, among others. These pacts include training programmes, capacity building courses, the sale of arms and equipment involving the companies providing these materials and US security agencies such as the DEA and the FBI, as well as the governments, companies and police forces of Latin American countries [1].

The reason for this presence is the "security of the United States", that implies by definition security and "stability" in territories that could constitute a threat to the United States. In the training manuals of the end of the 1960s, one can clearly read the link between them: "The lack of political stability and socio-economic order in a Latin American country puts in check US national security. Consequently, in matters of training and programs of military aid, the United States should adopt tactics destined to avoid the risks of such instability, through economic development and the imposition of order" [2].

Silvina M. Romano is a researcher with the Instituto de Estudios de América Latina y el Caribe, UBA, CONICET, Argentina.

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Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador largely responsible for some of the highest murder rates in the world, Compiled by David Culver, Ed., Evergreene Digest

  • Concerns over the safety of justice advocates have heightened since the arrests. The former military men arrested today have close ties to Guatemala’s organized crime networks. 
  • Bloodshed in El Salvador
  • Part 1: 18 Former Guatemalan Military Officers Arrested for Crimes Against Humanity
  • Part 2: El Salvador is on pace to become the hemisphere’s most deadly nation