Latin America former political leaders and security experts, several of them, expressed concern over the consequences of an arms race in South America and in Central America's Nicaragua, happening right now. Brazil, the biggest country, is also the most conspicuous spender.
The area's investment in military hardware in the last five years has almost doubled from US$ 24 billion in 2003 to 47 billion last year according to Colombian political analyst Javier Loaiza.
According to figures presented by Loaiza, Brazil has most invested in military hardware, with US$ 27.5 billion equivalent to 3.44% of GDP, and a 50% increase since President Lula da Silva took office.
During a forum in Prague, Loaiza pointed out that while Colombia and Mexico invest in arms to combat domestic problems generated by drug cartels and paramilitary forces "other countries with no major internal problems" are launched in a race to acquire offensive weapons.
Former Bolivian president Jorge Quiroga said that the region is facing "a process of rearmament in South America and not in Latin America" and accused Venezuela of going ahead with "the most dangerous project of our history" in reference to the so called Bolivarian revolution promoted by Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez.
Former Guatemalan Defense minister General Francisco Bermudez said he was surprised that the Inter-American Security Junta from the Organization of American States has remained silent "about the arms race in three or four countries, when it should be promoting confidence building measures".
Bermudez also remarked that the Central American Armed Forces Conference should also be involved in the issue because "it interferes directly with a 20 year process to ensure peace and distension in the region, thus avoiding conflicts".
He insisted that the military cooperation requested by Nicaragua to Russia is contrary to the letter and spirit of the Democratic Security Framework Treaty for Central America, subscribed in 1995.
"The activities of Nicaraguan president Daniel Ortega generate mistrust when he is involved in the rearming of the Sandinista army that is in flagrant opposition to the Central American Democratic Security treaty, of which we are all members and was specifically agreed to prevent conflicts", said Bermudez.
"Latin America needs development investments not an arms race".
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