Central America Increased the Number of Military Personnel in 2011
By Dialogo February 10, 2011
Most of the armed forces in the Central American region, with the exception of Honduras, increased their number of military personnel during 2010.
While El Salvador raised the number of its personnel by approximately two thousand, Guatemala did the same, increasing its personnel by two thousand soldiers, although there is a possibility that this year the armed forces of the latter country will be increased by another four thousand personnel.
Elsewhere, Nicaragua’s National Assembly approved a law authorizing the army to demand the services of the country’s citizens in the event of a national disaster or urgent need. In the view of many local analysts, this means that Nicaragua has returned to mandatory military service, which could imply an increase in the size of its army in the near future.
According to a 2010 report by the Latin American Security and Defense Network (Resdal), the countries of the region devote less than 1% of GDP to their defense ministries. The distribution is the following: Nicaragua, 0.80%; Honduras, 0.69%; El Salvador, 0.67; Guatemala, 0.47; and Mexico, 0.43%.
This information was provided by Honduran Defense Minister Marlon Pascua, who lamented the fact that the same thing is not happening in Honduras.
The budget issue is the obstacle, he indicated, at the same time that he maintained that all the country’s military units are at full strength and people are on a “waiting list,” as is likewise the case at the technical schools, such as those of the army, the air force, and the navy. “There’s an enormous number of fellow citizens who want to enroll to perform military service; unfortunately, we don’t have the capacity to be able to accept more members as part of the Armed Forces,” the Honduran minister emphasized.