Colombia’s 13% increase in military costs last year was one of the largest increases in the Americas, reported the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) on Monday.
SIPRI placed Colombia’s growing military costs as the fourth largest increase seen in the Americas during 2013, behind only Paraguay (33%), Honduras (22%) and Nicaragua (18%).
Throughout South America, Colombia’s 13% increase in military costs was second only to Paraguay, which increased its spending by a full third in 2013.
In September 2013, Colombia’s Ministry of Defense estimated that total costs for Colombian security forces in 2013 would be $10.5 billion.
Military spending throughout Latin America increased by 2.2% despite a 3.9% decrease in Brazil, Latin America’s largest military spender. Much of the growth was attributed to increases in Central American nations who have seen escalating drug-related violence, said SIPRI.
Latin America has seen a 61% increase in military expenditures since 2004, according to the SIPRI fact sheet released on Monday.
The majority of Colombian military expenditures are used fighting armed groups like the FARC – Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia – and the ELN – National Liberation Army. Colombian security forces also combat drug trafficking groups and criminal gangs operating in Colombia.
The Colombian government has been fighting the FARC, the largest armed group in Colombia, for 50 years. The FARC and the Colombian government are currently engaged in peace negotiations in Cuba.
Colombia’s President Juan Manuel Santos has said that military operations against the FARC will not stop until a peace is finalized. This is to prevent the FARC from strengthening their forces as they did over a decade ago in a previous peace attempt under former President Andres Pastrana.