Changing Role of Military in Latin America: Some Approaches and Interpretations

-Manpreet Sethi, Researcher, IDSA



Latin American militaries have traditionally been characterised by frequent intromissions in politics. All countries of the region have, at one time or the other, experienced an active participation of their armed forces in domestic political affairs. Either at the behest of the civilians or of their own accord, the military has often donned the mantle of a political actor to undertake several political and extra-military functions. With an almost rhythmic regularity, military regimes have alternated with civilian governments.

At different junctures of history, the militaries have performed a whole range of roles: they have been a nationalist force struggling to overthrow colonial or exploitative oligarchical regimes; a moderator amidst extreme positions; a redeemer of unhealthy or deteriorating social conditions; a director of the political system; a pressure group for articulating class aspirations or espousing popular demands; a moderniser seeking industrial development and economic growth; and most often, a saviour of the nation, not so much from external threats as from internal disorder and chaos.

The reasons for the armed forces to have undertaken such a wide variety of tasks are complex as they were rooted in the complicated socio-politico-economic reality of these countries. A lack of effective political institutions, an economically rigidly stratified society, the presence of a large marginalised populace and an inherent economic duality of regions within the country were some of the factors that explained the tendency of the armed forces to intervene in politics.1 These were futher complemented by the existence of a highly politicised military that self-righteously believed itself to be the providential saviour of the country from all kinds of crises.2

The Latin American socio-politico-economic reality has, however, been undergoing a metamorphosis over the last several decades. Effective political institutions have developed, social organisation has changed, political participation of the masses has increased, economic class structures have become relatively more open and the militaries have become more professionalised. As a consequence, the traditional roles of the military in Latin America are beginning to be replaced by newer ones. With a swing in favour of democracy since the 1970s, the armed forces have returned to their barracks. Having relinquished their political tasks to civilian institutions they are evolving novel means to occupy themselves. It is the objective of this study to examine the changing role of the armed forces in the context of the profound and continuing transformation of Latin American polity and economy.

Traditional Role of Military in Latin American Politics

Historically speaking, the military was introduced as an active participant in Latin American politics ever since the discovery of the New World. In the Spanish conquest that followed, conquistadores fought the native Indians and subsequently settled down, not as mere soldiers but as the nobility and aristocracy wielding considerable economic influence and political power. From the very beginning, therefore, Latin America failed to build a tradition of a separation of civil and military power. The relationship was further cemented during and after the wars of independence in the early 19th century. National Armies played an important role in the struggle for independence. Subsequently, when a period of chaos and riotous disorder prevailed in the nascent states, the military emerged as the only institution strong enough and with some legitimacy to maintain the cohesiveness of the nations. Civilian political institutions were limited in their reach, confined only to urban areas.

Consequently, almost the entire Spanish American region experienced a political and institutional vacuum with the disappearance of the colonial administration.3 It was a period marked by the rise of local leaders, frequent civil wars and a rapid succession of military coups. These circumstances among others, contributed to the emergence of caudillos who were powerful men, maintaining their own armed groups to secure stability and order.

Gradually, as incipient political institutions began to emerge with a larger participation of the oligarchy, the armed forces became their tool to maintain control on a largely politically marginalised and economically weak society that had not yet experienced the rise of the middle sector. At the time, the military became one of the instruments used by the dominant classes to impose order during times of crises. Throughout the 19th century, the military identified itself with the propertied elite and was largely a preserver of the status quo. This tradition continued in most of Latin America until World War II. In fact, at the time of the War, conservative Generals were presiding in Bolivia, Ecuador, Peru, Venezuela and some other countries; and civilian regimes were being maintained in power by the military in Argentina, Panama and Haiti.

However, soon after the War, the military, in some nations, transformed itself into "sponsors of change and reform, the underminers of traditional institutions and the proponents of public welfare measures."4 The change of role from a supporter of status quo to an engine for modernisation and development was a necessity imposed by the changing times. The great Depression, World War II and the resultant Cold War alongwith the ideological impact of Socialism and Communism caused a fracture in the old order. As hardships suffered by the middle and lower income groups intensified, social stresses and strains created conditions for a revolt against the old order.

The military too, which by now was comprising a majority of young officers of middle class origin, had grown "restless under a static armed forces organisation that offered little opportunity for change and advancement."5 Consequently, they joined hands with the urbanised middle class civilians in an effort to reshape the character of Latin American politics. The first such revolt took place in Argentina in June 1943 when the Group of United Officers (GOU) toppled the traditionalist regime.6 Bolivia followed the Argentine example in December of the same year as some idealistic young officers led the proletariats against the domestic oligarchy. Thereafter, similar events reverberated all over Latin America--in Ecuador in May 1944, in Guatemala in October 1944, in Venezuela in 1945, in El Salvador in 1948, and so on.

However, within a few years of these pro-reformist regimes, the armed forces were cast in another deciding role. This time, at the behest of the oligarchy or the middle classes, it was to halt further leftward revolution. So, the military intervened to stall the revolutionary spirit that it had itself contributed to create some years ago. Between 1947-59, each of the reformist military regimes was overthrown either by conservative Army officers or by young ones whose zeal for reform had withered before the winds of labour-leftist extremism. Having reversed the trend, the military receded from the political scene so that by the early 1960s, only three countries in Latin America had military Presidents.7

Within a decade, however, the military was back in power in some of the major states of the region, namely Argentina, Brazil and Chile, on the pretext of saving their nations from the excesses of social tensions arising from extremist-reformist labour demands. The institutionalisation of new forms of capital accumulation with capitalist development led to the emergence of new economic and political actors that naturally implied changes in the prevailing class structures and social relationships. The state then got caught between being the instrument of dominant social classes for consolidating a mode of accumulation and a tool of the upwardly mobile classes who demanded a larger share in the formulation of economic policies of the government. This caused an intensification of social contradictions that brought about a disorganisation of the social strata, the appearance of industrial conflicts and an emergence of radical anti-establishment forces. In order to cope with these multiple threats and to rebuild the crumbling socio-political structure, the military stepped in. Given its rigid hierarchy, discipline and orderly structure, the military was, in fact, considered the most able guarantor of public order and national security.

However, that the military failed in its avowed mission, for a variety of reasons, a discussion of which does not fall within the limited scope of this paper, was proven when, discredited in almost the entire region, it retired once again to the barracks and a wave of redemocratisation began in Latin America. Since then, democracies have largely prevailed in the region and military activism in politics has declined.

Characteristics of Today's Armed Forces

The primary function of any military under the Constitution and law is to defend the nation from external aggression and to aid the government in preserving internal order. Latin American Armies, broadly speaking, confront no external threats. In this century, less than a handful of regional wars have taken place: between Paraguay and Bolivia in 1932, a border clash between Peru and Ecuador a decade later and then, more recently in 1995, and a war over Malvinas (Falkland Islands) between the United Kingdom and Argentina in 1982. Apart from these, the countries have been free from external military intrusions.

Therefore, Latin American Armies have no real fighting mission to perform. Owing to this, the military in Latin America has become, as suggested by Davis, "...little more than heavily armed police forces, whose principal task then becomes to preserve order."8 Consequently, the military has often acted as the political arm of the state.

With the recent civilianisation of Latin American politics, the military has retracted from the political sphere, leaving the task of governance to civilian political institutions. In the ensuing scenario then, the military has felt not only a loss of power and position but also a lack of justification for its existence. This seemed a jolt to its traditionally high profile status accompanied by a realisation of role limitation. Perhaps in order to compensate for this loss, the military in the region has begun to occupy itself with a number of other activities.

Before discussing what these new roles of Latin American militaries are, it would be pertinent to examine the salient characteristics of the region's military today. In fact, the basic question of the role of the military rests on the extent to which the armed forces subordinate themselves to the President and the Constitution. Supporters of military reform believe that such subordination will guarantee the security of future democratic governments by putting an end, once and for all, to military takeovers. In this context, the most remarkable feature evident today is an acceptance of civilian authority by the military. Under the Constitution of all nations, the armed forces are subordinate to the state. But, uptil now, this reality had been largely ignored or flouted by the military when it assumed the seat of governance. Now, however, with the return to democracy and with a new found respect for the Constitution, militaries have acquiesced to this statutory position. Consequently, they have submitted to confining themselves to a role circumscribed by the Constitution. General Martin Balza, Chief of Staff of the Argentine Army expressed a widely prevalent feeling when he said, "We must respect constitutional authority; coup d'etats and war belong to the past."9

The second feature of contemporary Latin American militaries is that every service is undergoing a process of massive restructuring. In this context, one could quote the example of Argentina, and this is true of almost the entire region. The Army has cut down the number of its officers including Generals. In 1983, there were 6,000 officers and 70 Generals and by 1996, the numbers had reduced to 5,200 and 33 respectively.10 Over the next five years, the Argentine Air Force aims to cut down its personnel in an endeavour to reverse the trend in which personnel funding was over six times that spent on equipment modernisation, maintenance and operations. Of the annual budget of US $500 million, only US $75 million goes into operations, equipment acquisitions and maintenance. The balance amount pays for the Air Force's 23,000 uniformed and civilian personnel. The necessary restructuring would involve halving the number of air brigades, reducing deployments and streamlining further recruitments.

Thirdly, Latin American militaries, like their counterparts elsewhere, are having to cope with a significant reduction in defence budgets. The available figures highlight the prevalence of this trend. South America spent a total of US$19 billion on its armed services in 1985 and had added only US$1 billion more to that sum in so many as the next ten years.11 Moreover, there also has been a decline in security assistance dollars coming into the region. The continent had received more than $1 billion in Foreign Military Financing (FMF) and $147 million in International Military Education and Training (IMET) from the USA in 1986.12 But, by 1990, FMF from the US had fallen to $11.5 million and IMET stood at $4 million. In 1997, the figures had fallen further with the FMF being merely $18 million and IMET at $2.5 million.13 Domestic funding too is no longer forthcoming and defence budgets have undergone cuts of as much as 90 per cent over the last decade.

Yet another important characteristic of modern Latin American militaries is that they do harbour a determination to build a modest inventory of modern and particularly, light weaponry that can assure them of tactical advantage and strategic mobility. Given the scarcity of financial resources, the attempt is being focussed at procuring defence products that would hold the promise of a range of benefits, both for countering external threats, as well as internal insurgency problems. The desire is to create "swift, up-to-date, flexible, versatile forces," that have a good capacity for projection and be capable of tactical and strategic mobility.14

Lastly, armed forces in the Latin American nations have begun to participate in joint military exercises in a big way in an effort to benefit through cooperation. In 1997, the Western Hemisphere and the South Atlantic region hosted three major such exercises: Operation ALTASUR between South Africa, Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay; Exercise Fuerzas Unidas involving the USA with the four Mercosur (South American Common Market) members, Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay; and Operation Cruzeiro do Sul between Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay. Besides these multinational exercises, several nations were engaged in bilateral military manoeuvres. For instance, Argentina and Brazil cooperated to improve training levels for their Navies. In 1995, the Argentine Navy landed its S-2 Tracker anti-submarine aircraft, Super Etendard fighters and Sikorsky helicopters on Brazil's aircraft carrier. Argentina's own aircraft carrier has been non-operational since the late 1980s because of lack of funds to upgrade its propulsion system. Brazil, meanwhile, has the carrier but no fixed wing fighters to operate from it. Therefore, both Navies could benefit from such a joint exercise.

As a consequence of many such joint military exercises, 1997 also heard talk about the possibility of the creation of a defence agreement under the umbrella of Mercosur, the South American Common Market. To a large extent, this concept can be attributed to an increase in mutual trade under Mercosur and other sub-regional economic groupings which have enhanced a sense of trust. With greater economic integration and a concomitantly increased interdependence, even the armed forces have shed their inhibitions in order to jointly participate in military exercises and gain through shared experiences.

Current Roles of Latin American Military

Defending state boundaries from external invasions and the security of the people from any internal threat have been the traditional roles of any military. Apart from these, Latin American militaries have begun to increasingly engage in providing assistance for disaster relief and eliminating organised crime, extending logistic support for anti-drug operations and participating in peace-keeping missions. These are discussed in the following paragraphs.

Military Involvement in Internal Crises

Threats to the internal security of the state fall within the gamut of military duties. For instance, the Mexican armed forces helped to quell the rebellion in the southern state of Chiapas. Within hours of the start of the revolt, air groups of the Mexican Air Force had begun moving troops and supplies into the area and had launched air attacks while the Army cordoned it off. Meanwhile, in Gautemala one can witness the military assuming yet another role. It has become a part of the government delegation in UN mediated peace talks with the guerillas of the Guatemalan National Revolutionary Party (URNG).

Military objectives and planning have also come to include dealing with lawlessness and organised crime, especially where it involves weapons proliferation, drug trafficking, profiteering from illegal immigration and exploiting areas in megacities where government controls and services have eroded. Crime and violence have increased in some Latin American states as a result of the difficult economic circumstances, high unemployment and weakened political, legislative and judicial institutions that are perceived to be inefficient and corrupt. The inability of the police to deal with acute crime has forced states like Brazil, El Salvador, Guatemala and Mexico to temporarily use their militaries to deal with the situation.

An illustrative example of this role of the military is provided by Operation Rio that was conducted by the Brazilian Army between October 31, 1994, to January 31, 1995. The armed forces were called upon to provide support to civilian authorities to restore public order in Rio de Janeiro so that the government could re-establish control and services. The operation was an experiment in employing the armed forces in an urban environment to support the civil authorities.15 In the three years leading up to the operation, urban violence, highlighted by bank robberies, drug wars and armed street assaults had created a frightening climate of insecurity. A public outcry against the state government's inability to maintain order compelled the federal government to order the armed forces to step in. This is, therefore, a new role for the Army. In fact, Ralph Peters has gone to the extent of saying, "A military unprepared for urban operations across a broad spectrum is unprepared for tomorrow."16

In Colombia the armed forces were deputed in October 1997 to oversee the safe conduct of nationwide municipal elections. President Samper had provided 20,000 soldiers to be deployed primarily in the countryside where rebels control large areas, to ensure the security of voters.17 In yet another novel function of the military, in Guatemala, President Arzu authorised the Guatemalan Army to establish detachments along the borders with Mexico and Belize to keep "eco-terrorists" from entering the Guatemalan rain forces.18

Military's Role in Anti-Drug Operations

In nations afflicted by the problems of drug trafficking and other related crimes, the military has found itself actively engaged in state directed anti-drug operations. In fact, the role of the armed forces in this sector has undergone an enlargement in recent times. Originally limited to eradicating crops and intercepting shipments of narcotics, the military now fights violence generated by organised crime arising from the illegal traffic of drugs, chemicals and arms.

The Mexican Air Force has constituted the new Tenth Air Group responsible particularly for the conduct of anti-drug operations. This drastic measure has been prompted by the realisation that vast sums of money are involved in such activities. The Journal of Latin Trade reported in its September 1997 issue that as per the estimates of US and Mexican authorities, as much as US$15 billion was being laundered in drug money through the Mexican financial system per year. This figure is equivalent to about 4.6 per cent of the country's Gross Domestic Product (GDP).19 The problem is further complicated by the nation's vulnerability to American pressure on the issue. Washington has always maintained that the governments of nations infested by the drug problem need to take strong action against the drug mafia. In fact, the US government periodically certifies as to whether the Latin American nations have been effective in their war against drug trafficking and accordingly decides on the kind and extent of financial aid and other benefits to be doled out to the countries.

Colombia is another nation trapped in the drug quagmire. Since the collapse of financial support from the former USSR and from Cuba, the leftist movement led by the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionaries de Colombia (FARC) and the Ejercito de Liberacion Nacional (ELN) have turned to cocaine and heroin production and trafficking for their income.20 Since last year when petroleum replaced coffee as the nation's top export, rebel groups have doubled their attacks on the oil production industry. Estimates of insurgent damage to Colombia's economy, including the cost of damage caused by violence, direct defence, lost business and human life, range as high as $1.5 billion per year.21 In a situation such as this, the involvement of the Colombian military in anti-drug operations is inevitable.

In fact, drug trafficking and its aftermath in Colombia has also led to calls from several affected nations for joint military action against the drug cartels. Fearing a spillover of the problem into neighbouring Ecuador, Panama and Venezuela, a combined response to the crisis situation has been suggested. A Venezuelan Senator who is also President of the Senate Defence Committee has proposed the establishment of an Inter-American Council of Regional Security and Cooperation. Describing it as a problem of "hemispheric security and defence," he called for prompt action before the dramatic growth of drug trafficking puts into danger "peace between nations and the security and stability of democracy in the hemisphere."22

Participation in UN Peace-keeping Missions

A perceptible trend evident in Latin America over the last few years is the increasing involvement of the military in UN sponsored peace-keeping missions. This is not to deny that they had not been involved in such activities earlier. Some nations of the region, and most notably Argentina and Brazil had been participating in such missions, but the frequency and intensity of participation has definitely deepened now.23 For instance, Argentina has significantly stepped up its peace-keeping force level to the UN and by 1997 it had taken part in 25 of the 43 missions undertaken by the UN. Meanwhile, Chile that never had a tradition of sending its soldiers into international conflicts has also taken an unprecedented step in this direction by sending its Army officers to undergo training at the Argentine Joint Peace-keeping Operation Training Centre (CAECOPAZ) in Argentina before joining the UN peace-keeping force in Cyprus.24

A probable explanation for the enhanced participatory efforts in this direction could be that these operations are beginning to be considered a viable means of gaining international respect and maintaining a high profile. The importance attached to this role may be gauged from the fact that when President Clinton visited Argentina in October 1997, his counterpart, Carlos Saul Menem referred to the Argentine military as "heirs of General San Martin who now have another mission. They are getting ready not only for armed combat, but particularly for peacekeeping missions."25 It has been President Menem's consistent policy to provide Argentine blue helmets for UN operations all over the world in an attempt to get the world's politically influential nations to recognise his own as an equal. This motive has been explicitly stated by Col. Fernando Isturiz, Director of the CAECOPAZ. According to him, "The main idea (for participating in peace-keeping operations) from the political point of view, is to raise the profile, to let others know about Argentina."26

Argentine commitment to these activities can be measured from the fact that a peace-keeping training centre, CAECOPAZ, has been set up in the country at Campo de Mayo. It was created in 1995 to increase peace-keeping experience across the services and countries. The centre provides traning to 1,000 trainees a year, offering them 2-4 week courses and field training programmes to familiarise them with UN procedures. Special emphasis is placed on subjects such as air patrolling, psychological operations, mine identification, arrest procedures, international humanitarian law and negotiation skills. Soldiers from other countries of the hemisphere including Bolivia, Brazil, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala and even the USA are beginning to undergo training at the centre. More recently, foreign affairs officials and journalists too have begun to be trained on what to expect when they work where peace-keeping forces are deployed.27

A veritable proof of the desire of Latin American militaries to try and integrate themselves with the other forces in order to improve their efficiency as combined forces during UN sponsored activities was provided by a combined military exercise, Operacion Cruzeiro do Sul carried out in Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil, in October 1997. It aimed at "improving cooperation, trust and friendship between the participants and developing the capacity to plan and execute combined operations."28 Bolivia and Paraguay within Latin America as well as the UK, France, Germany, Korea and China sent military observers to study the exercises. The operation enacted a simulated peace-keeping scenario of a UN- sponsored mission trying to seize arms from two guerilla groups fighting for power in an imaginary country called Sambonia.29 The most significant aspect of the operation was that this largest military exercise ever conducted in Latin America involving more than 2,400 men, 40 armoured vehicles and a number of helicopters should have been based upon the issue of peace-keeping.

On the whole, helping to maintain international peace is providing the countries involved with a means of keeping the armed forces well trained in spite of budgetary cutbacks. It gives them a chance of working in real operations, an opportunity not available otherwise. For example, in the face of severe budgetary problems, the Argentine Air Force has had to slash pilot flying hours to a level that is below that necessary to train pilots.30 But its involvement in peace-keeping operations fulfills this need. At the same time, it is also good for troop morale at a time of a defence budget crunch. It helps to reassure the forces that there are no plans to cut size. It also improves the military's reputation internally and externally. For the newly democratised polities, these operations provide the additional advantage of keeping the militaries usefully occupied so that they do not begin to consider a return to political governance.


It is being widely speculated that in the future, the main missions of the armed forces will continue to centre on civil action and crisis response rather than external power projection. Accordingly, militaries in Latin America are trying to make themselves more suitable to not only be able to execute their primary mission of external threat deterrence, but also be geared to perform such secondary missions as outlined in the preceding paragraphs. The emphasis, therefore is on the creation of swift, up-to-date, flexible and versatile forces capable of quick reaction and a high degree of mobility.

In fact, military involvement in these specialised missions has provided a means of justifying the armed forces' call for an increase in the defence budgets so as to enable them to go in for a long overdue modernisation. They help to enhance the government's receptivity to the equipment needs and often they are accepted to be met from funds outside of the normal operations budget. For example, the Mexican Army, impressed as it was by the speed and mobility of the US armed forces in Operation Desert Storm, and now facing the prospect of being involved in counter-narcotics and counter-insurgency operations has begun an investment in favour of mobility through the purchase of several light assault vehicles equipped with machine guns, rockets and grenade launchers. Similarly, in August 1997, when Brazil undertook to extend logistical support for the Military Observers Mission Ecuador/Peru (MOMEP), it contracted the purchase of four S-70A Black Hawk utility helicopters from the USA to enable an efficient performance of the new task.31 Colombia and Peru too have received aircraft and other military equipment from the USA for their joint action against drug trafficking. The USA proposes to transfer surplus Bell UH-1H helicopters and Fairchild C-26s to Venezuela, and 4 C-26s to Peru in order to support their anti-drug operations. These acquisitions once included in the otherwise modest and outdated inventories of the militaries and though made for a specific purpose, nevertheless raise both the efficiency and the morale of the armed forces.

Given the prevailing circumstances, the scenario most likely to emerge appears to be one in which the military would restructure itself for peace-time service and dedicate itself to defending the country leaving governance to the elected representatives and administration to the civil service. Military involvement in the performance of the new functions is helping it to move away from the legacy of military dictatorships. Most defence officials believe that it is almost impossible to return to the days of military coups. In the words of General Laino of the Argentine Army." In the past, we had an intervention force for internal problems. We did it very badly (sic). We did it wrong. We almost transformed the army into police. The country should consider the army as its defender, and internal affairs should be in charge of internal security police."32

At the same time, one cannot ignore criticisms of a lack of sound defence policy that are gradually beginning to emerge within the military circles of some countries. In Argentina, for example, a group of retired senior officers decried the government for failing to provide a "comprehensive" defence policy that could then determine the "appropriate size of the military force needed and to give it a role."33 As regards Argentina's increasing involvement in the UN peace-keeping operations, they categorically stated," Peace-keeping missions which are quite commendable, may be complementary functions of the (armed forces), but they alone do not justify their existence."

It is evident, therefore, that the military in the region is undergoing a process of self-analysis and adjustment in order to define a comprehensive role for itself that is more in keeping with the times. New functions have been undertaken, but they are still widely perceived as secondary tasks, the primary missions being defending the state from external and internal threats. In these circumstances, it might be appropriate to say that the role of the military in Latin America is undergoing changes. But to what extent these new roles are permanently internalised by the military will be revealed only in the coming years. An important factor that would determine the fate of this process would be the attitude of the military towards acceptance of civilian supremacy and acquiescence to democratic institutions. Mutual respect for each other's role is important and a pre-requisite for stability of the democratic systems. Latin America appears to be inching towards this equilibrium.



1. For reasons for military interference in politics see Helio Jaguribe, Political Development: A General Theory and a Latin American Case Study (New York: Harper & Row Publishers, 1973); and Samuel Huntington as quoted in Markoff and Baretta, "What We Don't Know About the Coups: Observations on Recent Latin America Politics," Armed Forces and Society, vol. 12, no. 2, Winter 1986.

2. For this line of argument, see S.E. Finer, The Man on Horseback: The Role of Military in Politics (UK: Pall Mall Press, 1962); and Victor Alba, "Stages in Militarism in Latin America," in John Johnson ed. The Role of Military in Underdeveloped Countries (USA: Rand Corporation, 1975), p. 171.

3. Owing to the special conditions of transfer of the Portugese royal family and administration to Brazil in 1808 after the Napoleonic invasion of Portugal, Brazil went through a different experience. The Brazilian military assumed a political role only with the proclamation of the Republic in 1889.

4. Edwin Lieuwin in Peter G. Snow ed., Government and Politics in Latin America: A Reader (USA, 1967), p. 136.

5. Ibid.

6. The GOU was a fascist inspired clique of Colonels who joined with the labour and conspired against the government to set up a radical nationalist regime aiming at social justice and economic independence.

7. General Trujillo in the Dominican Republic, General Stroessner in Paraguay and General Fuentes in Guatemala.

8. Harold E. Davis, ed., Government and Politics in Latin America (New York: Ronald Press Co., 1958), p. 152.

9. Philip Finnegan, "Argentina's Army Adjusts to New Leadership, Roles," Defense News, March 25-31, 1996.

10. Defense News, March 25-31, 1996.

11. "Economic Abilities are Put to Test," Jane's Defence Weekly, August 6, 1997.

12. Ibid. FMF is the amount of credit the USA extends to a foreign government or international organisation to buy defence articles and defence service. Meanwhile, IMET funds pay for training for non-US military students overseas and in the USA.

13. Ibid.

14. "Army Rebuilds Itself for Flexible Responses," Jane's Defence Weekly, vol. 27, no. 20, May 21, 1997, p. 25.

15. William W. Mendel, "Operation Rio: Taking Back the Streets," Military Review, vol. lxxvii, no. 3, May-June 1997, p. 11.

16. Ralph Peters, "Our Soldiers, Their Cities," Parameters, Spring 1996, p. 43.

17. Jane's Defence Weekly, October 8, 1997, p. 15.

18. Ibid., p. 11.

19. John Ward Anderson, "Mexico Awash in Drug-Related Crime," International Herald Tribune, August 12, 1997.

20. "South America Treads Steady Route to Unity," Jane's Defence Weekly, vol. 28, no. 5, August 6, 1997, p. 19.

21. Ibid. Figures quoted in a report by James Zackrison, intelligence analyst with the US Office of Naval Intelligence, and Eileen Bradley, intelligence analyst at the National Ground Intelligence Centre, p. 20.

22. Ibid., p. 22.

23. For instance, Argentina has been involved in peace-keeping since Lebanon in 1958, but its contributions were generally limited to sending only a handful of soldiers annually to the United Nations as military observers.

24. Summary of World Broadcasts, AL/2981, July 26, 1997, p. L/1.

25. Stacy Evers, "Peacekeeping is the Key to Higher Profile," Jane's Defence Weekly, vol. 27, no. 20, May 21, 1997, p. 21.

26. Ibid., p. 21.

27. Ibid., p. 22.

28. Summary of World Broadcasts, AL/3045, October 9, 1997, p. L/1.

29. Ibid., AL/3054, October 20, 1997, p. L/1.

30. Defense News, March 18-24, 1996, p. 4.

31. Jane's Defence Weekly, vol. 28, n. 5, August 6, 1997, p. 8.

32. Jane's Defence Weekly, vol. 27, no. 20, May 21, 1997, p. 24.

33. Jane's Defence Weekly, vol. 28, no. 14, October 8, 1997, p. 13.