Just the Facts: A Quick Tour of U.S. Defense and Security Assistance to Latin America and the Caribbean

Just the Facts 1999For at least a century, the United States has heavily aided the security forces of Latin America and the Caribbean. U.S. military aid and training programs reached their high-water mark during the cold war, when Washington viewed the region’s often repressive and corrupt armed forces as a bulwark against Soviet communism. When the cold war ended, however, the closeness and significance of the U.S. military relationship with the region did not.

In fact, the U.S. relationship with Latin America’s militaries is quite strong, according to a year-long study carried out by the Center for International Policy and the Latin America Working Group. What has changed since the cold war is the rationale for cooperation and the ability of Congress and the pub- lic to oversee military cooperation programs.

It is difficult to grasp the entire extent of today’s security assistance to the region, as aid and training are fragmented across a welter of programs and ini- tiatives. Foreign military programs go through many channels within the U.S. government, governed by different laws, carried out by different bureaucracies, overseen by different offices within Congress, and publicized with different degrees of openness. The picture has grown still more complex in the 1990s. As the U.S. government shifts its security focus in the hemisphere toward counternarcotics, it is involv- ing new agencies and creating new assistance pro- grams. 

To read this report in Spanish, click this link: http://chiapas.laneta.org/desmilitarizacion/documentos/ciponlineorg_facts_jtfipres.htm

Para leer este informe en español, haga click aqui: http://chiapas.laneta.org/desmilitarizacion/documentos/ciponlineorg_facts_jtfipres.htm