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Topic: History of South American nation inter-rivalry and arms buildup (Read 782 times) previous topic - next topic

  • Diego Cordero
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History of South American nation inter-rivalry and arms buildup
I sat down the other day and thought that it would be a good idea to write a brief history of South America and the interrelationships between each nation, so over this next week I will fatigue you all with my end less dribble of a university professor. But hopefully we will all learn a bit more about this section of the world that is as misunderstood as the African continent.

I will divide the presentation into several sections that will include a history of the past conflicts in the region and the relationships between nations; arms purchases and domestic production; and finally what the future may hold. I will try to be as un-bias as possible. I would like making this educational and open for discussion. Hope you all enjoy. As always it is a pleasure to openly debate topics on this forum. Thanks.

In 2011 then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton criticized then Venezuela's leader Hugo Chavez for his extravagant purchases of Russian and Chinese military equipment, arguing that this could begin a cascading arms race in South America. The statement has added fuel to the ongoing discussions about what direction South America's rearmament, or arms increase, is taking and what this could come to mean for the security of the region. Some people, including myself, fear an inter-state war could break out due to long standing feuds, an increase in force projection and geopolitical tensions.

Venezuelan Su-30 on flyby

The ongoing reports about major purchases by Venezuela, Brazil, and Chile tend to blur the actual geo-security situation in the region, as several countries -- with Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay as the most prominent examples; have carried out only limited military acquisitions. The common perception is that an arms race raises the possibility of conflict. However, the reality in South America (and Central America as well) is that interstate warfare has seldom occurred since World War II; it has come very close at times (we will discuss this later) Additionally, it is misleading to assume that all South American countries are carrying out their arms purchases with the same gusto as Brazil, Chile, and Venezuela.

Chilean F-16 preparing for training mission

It is generally assumed, by most outsiders, that South America is either already engaged in an arms race or is about to enter one. This view is somewhat inconsistent because the start of an arms race is not easily defined, though one could say I was when Venezuela purchased Su-30s or Chile Purchased F-16s. It could also be argued that what is occurring is not so much a general arms race as it is a product of certain militaries capitalizing on weak civilian governments (like an updated version of former Uruguayan President Bordaberry in 1973) to increase their defence budgets. Furthermore, in spite of domestic security issues in several South American countries, most notably the insurgent movements in Colombia and Peru, the reality is that full scale interstate wars in the region have been notably scarce in the past few decades, which raises the question: is interstate warfare necessarily the future of South America? We will discuss whether an arms race could lead to general warfare in future instalments, maybe later this evening or tomorrow.
The only problem with the world is that the idiots are cocksure and intelligent are doubtful.

  • Diego Cordero
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Re: History of South American nation inter-rivalry and arms buildup
Reply #1

Wars since 1941 in Latin America
When discussing whether or not South America is headed towards an arms race, or already involved in one, tend to raise fears of an eventual interstate conflict. However, it is often overlooked that wars between Latin America nations have seldom occurred since World War II, but they have come close to beginning several times. Here is a brief listing of them:

1) 1941: A three-day war between Peru and Ecuador. Ecuadorian troops invaded northern Peru but were successfully repelled. The Peruvian army took the offensive and temporarily occupied the Ecuadorian province known as El Oro.

2) 1969: The "Soccer War" or "100 Hour War" between Honduras and El Salvador.

3) 1981 and 1995: Conflict broke out between Peru and Ecuador. Military operations occurred but were short lived only lasting a few weeks at a time and casualties were relatively minor. The hostilities were limited to specific areas in the border highlands in Paquisha and Cenepa.

4) 1982: The Falklands War/Guerra de las Malvinas. Though one of the combatants was not a Latin American state, this war is still worth mentioning. Argentina, then under military junta, decided to invade the Malvinas (Falklands), which had been a matter of dispute for decades with the United Kingdom. The UK forces defeated Argentines, and speeding the dissolution of the Argentina junta and expedited the country's return to civilian rule.

5) U.S. military operations: For the sake of argument, it is worth mentioning that the U.S. carried out military operations in the Dominican Republic in 1965, Grenada in 1983 and Panama in 1989.

6) Also, it should be noted that the last "great" conflict in South America was the Chaco War in 1932-35.

Historic Conflicts
As different analyses of the mounting arms race point out, there are some ongoing disputes between different South American countries, especially between Venezuela (at heads of state and upper governmental levels) and Colombia; between Peru and Chile; Bolivia and Chile and Argentina and Chile; just to name a few. Below is a brief list of ongoing tensions and disputes between Latin American countries:

1) Peru and Chile: Historical tensions tracing back to the 19th century War of the Pacific include an ongoing Santiago-initiated dispute over the maritime border between the neighbouring countries.

2) Bolivia and Chile: La Paz presses demands that Chile should return the coastal territories it has occupied since the War of the Pacific.

3) Argentina and Chile: Both countries dispute their exact borders; there is a disagreement about the dividing line along the Southern Patagonian ice fields. In 1894, the countries signed a Peace and Friendship Treaty. However, in 1978 the countries seemed to be drifting towards war, but the Pope intervened and mediated the fracas. It is all but certain that Pinochet provided Margaret Thatcher's government with intelligence that helped London defeat Argentina in the Falklands War (discussed at the end of part three). There is ongoing tension between Argentina and Chile over the Antarctic, due to Chile and England having overlapping claims on Argentine Antarctic claims

4) Peru and Ecuador: Even though there has not been warfare between the two countries since the 1995 incident in the Cenepa region and the resulting 1998 Treaty, tensions have occasionally arisen. Peru is preoccupied over the fact that Ecuador is a close ally of Chile, Peru's historical nemesis.

5) Venezuela and Guyana: Caracas historically has claimed up to 1/3 of Guyanese territory, dating back to the end of the 19th century. In 1966, after a tripartite agreement between Venezuela, Guyana and the United Kingdom, Venezuelan soldiers and civilians entered Guyanese territory, namely the Guyanese side of the Ankoko Island. The Venezuelans built an airstrip there, as well as a military outpost. In February 1970, Venezuelan and Guyanese soldiers engaged in a firefight, though no injuries were reported. Fears of a Venezuelan build-up at the time did not translate into major military operations. In 2007, a Venezuelan general and 36 soldiers entered Guyanese territory apparently with the intention of blowing up an improvised dam set up by illegal gold diggers. It was never confirmed why this operation took place, and whether Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez had given the order to enter Guyana.

6) Guatemala and Belize: These countries have a historical boarder dispute in which Guatemala claims major amounts of Belizean territory. Land claims have moderated however, as conciliatory discussions have taken place over the past few decades. Belize declared independence from its protector, the United Kingdom in 1975, but Guatemala only recognized Belize as a sovereign entity in 1994. However, the two countries have never lapsed into armed conflict against each other.

7) Colombia and Nicaragua: Both countries claim the ownership of the San Andres and Providencia Islands.

8) Bolivia and Paraguay: While these countries have had amicable relations for the most part, military build-ups have caused some concern due to the persisting memory of the bloody 1932-1935 Chaco War. Bolivia became concerned after Paraguay hosted a number of military exercises with U.S. National Guard units. More recently, Paraguay asked for more information about Bolivian military purchases from Russia and China after news began to circulate of a $100 million credit issued by Moscow for the purpose of weapons' acquisitions mentioned after in this article.

Next: PART THREE: Close Calls and the South Atlantic War
The only problem with the world is that the idiots are cocksure and intelligent are doubtful.