Venezuela - overspending on defence?

Venezuelan military spending is upsetting the US at the moment. The State Department is concerned at the country’s “outsized military build-up.” Venezuela will spend just over $1 billion this year on defence and is thus considered to be a threat to regional stability.

I really don’t know whether to laugh or cry. The country making this claim is the US, which this year has a military budget of $441 billion. Venezuela thus has 0.25% the military budget of the US, yet is considered to be over-spending!

And which country has created more instability in Central and Southern America than the USA? Just having a cursory scan through one file for Central and Southern American countries in which the US has intervened (for regime change) – and never for the better - I come up with:

Panama (1918), Honduras (1924), Argentina (1946), Colombia and Peru (1948) Bolivia (1951), Guatemala (1954), Argentina (1955), Chile (1958), Ecuador (1960), Brazil (1962), Honduras and Ecuador (1963), Brazil, Bolivia, Chile (1964), Bolivia (1966), Panama (1969), Chile & Bolivia (1970), Bolivia (1971), Uruguay (1971),El Salvador (1972), Chile (1973), Uruguay (1976), Panama (1981 & 1984), Nicaragua (1984), Panama (1989), Nicaragua (1990), El Salvador (1994), Ecuador (2000), Nicaragua (2001), Bolivia (2002), Brazil and Venezuela (2002 to date).
When it comes to instability, the suppression of democracy, human rights abuses, no country on the planet surpasses the USA in creating upset in South America, yet Washington pontificates about Venezuela being a threat?

Now, right next door to Venezuela is Colombia. Colombia, a close friend of the US, is one of the most violent countries in the world. For 40 years the country has been torn apart by a three-sided civil war that has claimed 200,000 lives. Hundreds are disappeared each month. Colombia is also the largest recipient of military aid in South America.

Despite the Colombian government’s appalling human rights record, its support for the vicious paramilitary group United Self-Defence Forces of Colombia, it has received $billions since the start of Plan Colombia in 2000. The country is also to receive a new squadron of fighter jets by 2007.

Back in 2004, the first country Dubya Bush (pictured above with President Uribe) visited upon re-election was Colombia. He praised the government’s anti-narcotics and ant-drugs policies and promised another $500 million for the noble cause – it was after all helping the US in a big way. Well, not really. In fact, a study by the Washington Office on Latin America found that cocaine is 31% cheaper on the streets of the United States than it was before Plan Colombia was initiated.

With the amount of crap Venezuela has had from the US in recent years - what, with a coup attempt against Chavez and the stirring up of hostility between Colombia and Venezuela – I’m rather surprised the country’s military budget is so small, especially as Venezuela has sizeable oil resources and Washington has all but announced that it has a divine right to all the oil in the world and will control it by hook or by crook. Maybe Chavez just thinks $1 billion is more than enough to defend the interests of the country's corporate elite?

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