Armed Forces among Most Trustworthy Institutions in Latin America

By Dialogo
August 18, 2010

The armed forces, as well as the media, rank among the most trustworthy
institutions in Latin America, much more than churches, legislatures, and political
parties, according to a regional survey by FLACSO released Monday.

About 85% of Latin Americans oppose the abolition of the armed forces, and
about 43% trust them, a level surpassed only by the media (59%) and the presidency
(48%), according to the study carried out in eighteen countries in the

“The Latin America average indicates that 43% trust them (the armed forces),”
according to this first study on ‘Governability and Democratic Coexistence,’ which
surveyed 9,057 people in the region.

The level of trust in the armed forces is linked in part to insecurity, which
for about 91% of those surveyed is the leading problem, according to FLACSO (Latin
American Faculty of Social Sciences), an intergovernmental research center
headquartered in San José.

It is also related to the opinion of about 77% that military personnel are
professionals and not politically active, for which reason it is “not at all
probable” that there will be a coup d’état, FLACSO general secretary Francisco Rojas

Since this is the first study of this kind by this organization, it is
impossible to compare the results, but in previous polls by other institutions, the
armed forces have normally earned high levels of distrust in a region that
experienced military dictatorships during the 1970s and 1980s.

The survey was carried out jointly with the opinion-research firm Pública
Ipsos in November and December of last year and has a margin of error of
The countries where “the perception of the probability of a coup d’état is
high are Paraguay (41%) and Ecuador (39%),” surpassing Honduras (31%), where a coup
took place last year, according to the study. In contrast, 93.8% of Chileans dismiss
the possibility of a coup.

In the two countries that have abolished their armed forces (Costa Rica in
1948 and Panama in 1994), there were divergent results on the question of whether it
would be a good idea to restore the army: 88.4% of Costa Ricans were opposed to such
a possibility, which was supported by 47.4% of Panamanians.

Insecurity is the largest problem for more than 90% of citizens in El
Salvador, Peru, Brazil, Bolivia, Guatemala, Panama, Venezuela, Honduras, and Costa
Rica. The lowest level was in Uruguay with 85.5%.