Although military spending rose worldwide 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: 7.9 percent from 2015 to 2016.
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The region’s $5 billion spending reduction was due largely to lagging economies, the result of a downward trend in income among oil-exporting countries. In all, 13 of the 15 largest military spending reductions in around the world were among Latin American countries.
Another factor in the reductions is the fact that there are no major conflicts between countries in the region.
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.
Ecuador cut its military budget from $2.3 billion to $2.1 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.