Sunday, May 25, 2008

Study Finds Military's Legitimacy, Image Improving

Chile's armed forces are considered much friendlier to democracy today than in 1991, when the election of a civilian president ended 17 years of military rule. In a survey conducted last year, 70% said another military coup is unlikely or impossible to occur in Chile. That compares to 44% who felt the same way in 1991, according to researchers at Latin American Faculty of Social Sciences. What's behind the shift in opinion? Gen. Pinochet's stepping down as army chief in 1998 was a key step, says Claudio Fuentes, one of the study's authors. The military also moved to change its image by joining peacekeeping operations, for instance. Voluntary military service, the addition of women soldiers and a greater willingness to accept responsibility for errors are other factors boosting the military's image. Still, less than 8% think the armed forces are firmly committed to democracy, while 46% say they're lightly committed.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Arms Database Offers Details On Purchases

Chile was the world's 17th largest weapons importer in 2007, spending $617 million. That puts it second in Latin America after Venezuela, which spent $887 million. Data from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute covering 2005-07 shows Chile paid $50 million for 20 Harpoon II anti-ship missiles. Other noteworthy items: $125 million for spares, training and munitions to supplement the $225-260 million purchase of three ex-Royal Navy frigates, and $10 million (including modernization) for three former Brazilian Dauphin helicopters. SIPRI's data also show the purchase of 1,000 Spike-MR/LR anti-tank missiles, 29 Blackshark torpedoes, 200 RIM-66B Standard-1MR surface-to-air missiles and 75 AIM-7M Sparrow SAMs. The anti-aircraft missiles are for frigates purchased from the Netherlands.