Graphics of security assistance trends

Latin America and the Caribbean

The graphics below depict overall U.S. military and police aid to Latin America and the Caribbean since 1997, including estimates for 2008 and the Bush administration's request for 2009. Each of the region's top five aid recipients during this period gets its own color: Colombia (blue), Mexico (red), Peru (yellow), Bolivia (green) and Ecuador (purple).

These charts were created entirely with information presented on this site's "Aid By Country" page. All figures are in nominal dollars. Congress is likely to change the 2009 numbers substantially.

The charts tell us several things about overall U.S. security assistance trends.

  • Without adjusting for inflation, military and police aid to Latin America has roughly tripled since 1997.
  • This growth has not been steady. It spiked in 2000 with passage of the "Plan Colombia" aid package, then leveled off during most of the current decade. The "Mérida Initiative" aid package is expected to cause sharp growth again in 2008 and 2009, more than offsetting modest reductions in military and police aid to Colombia. Military and police aid levels to the region are now firmly above one billion dollars per year.
  • The first installment of Mérida came in late June, with approval of the 2008 Supplemental Appropriations Act. For the first time in nearly a decade, Colombia's share of total security assistance to the region slipped below 50 percent. Colombia remains in the number-one position ahead of Mexico, but not by much.
  • Aid to Mexico was a significant portion of the total in 1997-1998, when the Clinton administration briefly expanded counter-drug cooperation with the Zedillo government, including the transfer of dozens of used helicopters and the training of thousands of Mexican Special Forces. Aid to Mexico shrank significantly during Vicente Fox's term in office; in the first years of Plan Colombia, Mexico's military-aid ranking slipped from second to fifth in the region. With the new Mérida aid approved, the 2008 pie chart bears some resemblance to the 1997 chart - but recall that the 2008 pie is now a much larger pastry.

Again, to view the numbers underlying these graphics, visit our "Aid By Country" page.

2008, est.