[The Oil Wars blog argues that opponents
of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez have often liked to imply that
under his rule Venezuela is engaged in a large scale military buildup,
has increased military spending, and spends more than previous
Venezuelan governments and other Latin American countries have.
However, a detailed look at the numbers shows that this is yet another
Venezuelan military spending – busting another anti-Chavez myth
By Oil Wars
June 11, 2007
Opponents of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez have often liked to imply that under his rule Venezuela is engaged in a large scale military buildup, has increased military spending, and spends more than previous Venezuelan governments and other Latin American countries have. Mainstream media reports have also served to reinforce this notion. Of course, like so much that the Venezuelan opposition and the commercial media say these numbers don’t hold up when the actual numbers are examined.
The examination of Venezuelan military spending is greatly facilitated by the fact that the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI)just came out with its 2007 edition of its military spending handbook. The database on military expenditures is on line here.
This database provides a wealth of information on Venezuelan military spending across time including, for instance, that Venezuela spent $1.9 billion dollars on its military in 2006.
Of course, over time I’ve built up a healthy skepticism of the data provided by many of these international organizations and think tanks. So the first order of business would be to see if this organization's data is accurate. Given that the Venezuelan government is highly transparent this is a simple task.
The full accounting of Ministry of Defense expenditures for 2006 can be found in its "Memoria y Cuenta" located here on the National Assembly website. On page 3 of the “Account” it gives the Ministry of Defense expenditures for 2006 as 1,977,179,179 thousand Bs for 2006. Dividing that by 2,150 Bs to the US dollar gives the dollar amount as $919,618,000.
That is more than $1 billion less than the SIPRI amount. Does that mean the SIPRI is fudging the numbers? Not at all. It means that the SIPRI was savvy enough to know that the Venezuelan development fund, also known as FONDEN, used some of its resources for military expenditures. Looking at the Ministry of Finance “Memoria y Cuenta” for 2006, which can also be found here, we see that the Ministry of Defense was give $1.09 billion for 2006.
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