Recent bursts of defense spending from Brazil and Venezuela have experts wondering if Latin America—decades removed from a war between nations—has entered an arms race, the Christian Science Monitor reports. Chile has also invested in weapons recently, and Colombia is rife with war-on-drugs firepower. “There is a real risk of it escalating,” one expert said. “There is tremendous mistrust between countries.”
“Brazil won’t say it, but Chavez’s buildup is what made it invest in its military,” said one analyst of Venezuela's combative president. But each country also has internal reasons for bulking up. Brazil, for example, wants to shut down drug traffickers, keep out Colombian guerillas, and protect newfound oil wealth. “Venezuela comes fairly low down the list” of enemies, deadpanned one analyst.