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An Arms Race in Our Hemisphere? Discussing the Trends and Implications of Military Expenditures in South America

The past few years have witnessed a significant increase in military spending within South America. In spite of this rising trend, many experts point out that Latin America’s military spending is proportionately lower than other regions of the world. Nevertheless, South America’s rising military spending has raised concerns among some observers. Up to now, policymakers in Latin America and the U.S. have resisted the use of the term “arms race” to describe the current situation. In fact, few hard figures on the extent of military spending exist, and data is limited on the nature of the trends, the drivers behind them, and the potential implications for both Latin America’s security and U.S. foreign policy.

On June 3, the Latin America Initiative at Brookings and the Center for Hemispheric Defense Studies hosted a discussion of the trends and implications of military expenditures in South America. A panel of leading defense and Latin American policy experts discussed the discernible national and regional trends; the main factors behind these trends; the political and security implications for the South American countries; and the implications for U.S. foreign and defense policies toward the region.

After each panel, participants took audience questions.


8:30 AM -- Opening Remarks


Mauricio Cárdenas

Former Brookings Expert

Minister of Finance and Public Credit - Republic of Colombia

8:45 AM -- Panel One: South America’s Rearmament: National and Regional Trends

9:45 AM -- Panel Two: The Factors Behind the Rising Trends


Adam Isacson

Senior Associate for Defense Oversight - Washington Office on Latin America

11:30 AM -- Panel Three: Implications for South America and U.S. National Security

Kevin Casas-Zamora

Former Brookings Expert

Director, Programa Estado de Derecho, Diálogo Interamericano

1:00 PM -- Summary of the Proceedings


Frederick Nunn

Dean of Academic Affairs, Center for Hemispheric Defense Studies

1:15 PM -- Closing Remarks

Kevin Casas-Zamora

Former Brookings Expert

Director, Programa Estado de Derecho, Diálogo Interamericano

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