Russia displaced the United States last year as Latin America’s largest overall supplier of weapons and defense-related equipment, according to a recently released assessment by the International Institute for Strategic Studies. Mexico and Colombia, however, still purchase the majority of their defense munitions from U.S. companies.
Over the past year, Russian defense companies have signed new military agreements with Venezuela, Peru, Brazil, Mexico, and Colombia for a wide range of military equipment. Venezuela alone, which is the second-largest purchaser of Russian weapons, has bought over $4 billion in arms since 2007.
Growing military expenditures in Latin America, which have almost doubled from $24 billion in 2003 to $60 billion in 2008, have been a source of concern for the United States. In Americas Quarterly, Miguel Angel Centeno of Princeton University had previously written on the changing role of many of the region’s militaries.