Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Latin American Armies

It’s curious that in the past few days I’ve read reports of different Latin American armies suffering from low morale. First it was in Colombia, where Uribe tends to wield a big stick, using presidential prerogative to fire generals when scandals pop up. Army leaders are particularly annoyed that he uses the press to blame them as he does so.

Now NTKLA references a story about the Brazilian army, as low pay and lack of equipment are leading people to leave in droves, and have led (directly or indirectly) to the suicide of two generals.

I wouldn’t ascribe too much importance to this yet, but it is never good for militaries to feel ignored and abused. At LASA, David Pion-Berlin and Harold Trinkunas presented an interesting paper on why civilians in Latin America show so little interest in defense issues. The phenomenon means that the armed forces may be building resentment against what they perceive as unqualified civilian authorities.


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