Latin America Armed Forces


A Comparison of the Armed Forces of Colombia and Argentina

The relationship between the military and the civilians in Latin America is at a crucial point. The clarity on the appropriate mission and boundaries of the military in Latin America has been a controversial issue in the recent years. The debate is whether the armed forces in Latin America should maintain the political stability within the nation or avoid this role and focus on external defense. For this reason, depending on the political structure of the different countries of Latin America including Argentina, Brazil, Chile, and Colombia among others, the military role may differ significantly. The study will focus on the comparison between the armed forces of Colombia and Argentina.

The modern Argentine and Colombian military forces have a democratic government in their political structures that aim at peacekeeping.  The Argentine army focus on international peacekeeping under the humanitarian aid on emergencies relief and the United Nations Mandate. The conflicts that take place in Colombia calls for a robust and reformed military that the country can use to provide defense against the paramilitary armies or the guerilla groups. Despite the fact that these two nations currently advocate for peace and have a democratic political environment, civil wars and coup attempts were part of the acts that make up their history.

In the year 1976, the military in Argentina had a successful coup d’état that overthrew the then president known as Isabel Peron. The military group that was successful in this act was the right-wing coup. Colombia as a nation also had a successful coup in the year 1953. However, the coup did not overthrow the president but rather brought in a civilian to the presidency. During this year, the coup resulted in Rojas Pinilla, a civilian taking the presidency seat. Since then, Colombia has been one of the few Latin American countries that keep a government led by a civilian with an army that has a very low political involvement.

The military forces in Argentina face serious problems when it comes to funding. Statistics show that armed troops in this country are severely under-funded. In the year 2014, the state announced that it would provide 4 billion dollars for the rehabilitation of the military including getting anti-aircraft weapons and fighter aircraft among others. This amount of money provided for revamping would mean that Argentina increased the amount it spends on defense by 33.4 percent. In the year 2015, the defense budget was 1.3 percent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

Colombia Military, on the other hand, does not suffer from under-funding. The reason why the armed forces in Colombia do not experience funding problems is that the resources for the military are allocated using the same processes or procedures used to allocate the funds for all the other items that need financing in the national budget. The Congress in Colombia votes in the spending items that will need funding including the armed forces and puts them on the state budget. The Comptroller General’s office control this funding on the spending items which makes the military receive the same attention as the other sectors in the country.

The current defense budget in Colombia’s government supports the commitment it has towards the modernization of the armed forces. For instance, the conflicts that are currently going on in Colombia will result in the country spending about 3.6 percent of the economic output acquired annually on the military training and provision of equipment. The defense budget in this country received an increase of approximately 120 million dollars. In a comparison of funding of the military in the two nations, Colombia has a budget of about 10.2 billion dollars for the military compared to the 4 billion dollars that Argentina sets aside for its armed forces.

Both Argentina and Colombia have had a history of civil war and violence although this concept is more persistent in Colombia. The British Invasions of the Rio de la Plata were the first civil wars in the history of Argentina that took part in the Current Argentina.  The second civil war consisted of a more powerful British military. This British army found a more powerful Argentine military that forced them to surrender putting an end to the violence that took place then. However, the military in this country has been less violent compared to Colombia evident when she decided to stay neutral during the World War 1. On the contrary, Columbia has been experiencing violence since the year 1948.

The political rivalry that existed between the conservatives and the liberals are the main reason behind the commence of the violence in Colombia. This political war began after a liberal party leader know as Jorge Gaitan was assassinated. This assassination made the conservatives angry and as a result started sending the Liberals away from their villages. The liberals were unhappy about this act and consequently formed retaliation groups known as the guerillas who would secure their plans and make them their stronghold.  This civil war resulted in the death of many because of the leave no seed slogan where the children, men, and even the pregnant women were killed, and their stomachs cut open.

Colombia has been trying to send in its military troops to seek peace, but the guerilla groups always prove to be much stronger and undefeatable. After the successful coup in 1953, the then civilian president Rojas Pinilla granted a pardon, but it was unsuccessful. As a result, this civilian president bombed the villages and put the whole communities in prison. The liberals and the conservatives soon reconciled and solved their differences in the year 1958 where they created the Frente National Coalition in an attempt to promote peace.

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The negotiations between these two groups were at its best in the year 1991, but the situation started to deteriorate because the war coming from the guerrillas begun to increase. By 1992 the then president Gaviria declared a virtual war against the murderer’s, kidnappers and the terrorist. The military spending during this time was twice as much compared to the previous years. For these reasons, the military in Colombia has been having a major challenge in bringing forth a sustainable peace for its people and eradicate the wars and violence fueled by the guerrilla groups.

The significant difference when it comes to the military efforts in curbing the wars is that Argentina experiences relative calmness whereas Colombia suffers a surge in violence. The violence is as a result of the demobilization of the guerrilla groups and the paramilitaries.  These groups continue to be a primary challenge for the army in Colombia.

In conclusion, it is evident that the armed forces in Argentina and Colombia have both similarities and differences. The similarities shared by the military in these two countries is that they have both had successful coups at some point in their history. Another similarity is that both of the militaries in these two nations have the role of fostering peace within the country. However, noticeable differences exist between the armed forces in Argentina and those in Colombia. 

Argentina faces a lot of challenges when it comes to funding for the military defense. On the contrary, Colombia’s financing of the army defense is stable and receives much support from the government where it is treated like any other spending item. However, the continuous wars in Colombia in the contemporary world show that the military forces in this country are not strong in comparison to the army in Argentina. 

Overall, the military of these two nations should focus on peacekeeping.

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Did you like this sample?
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  2. Lewis – Guerrillas and Generals: The “Dirty War” in Argentina.
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