INFOBAE[1], April 26, 2021

(Translated by Eunice Gibson, CSN Volunteer Translator)

According to the report by the International Institute for Peace Studies (SIPRI) Colombia currently occupies second place in the region, with an investment of 1.98 billion dollars in 2020.

According to the SIPRI report, published this Monday, April 25, Colombia occupied 26th place among the countries with the highest military expenditures.

The increase in spending was 2.6% compared with 2019 and is propelled by funds from the United States, China, India, Russia, and the United Kingdom.

“We can say with certainly that the pandemic had no significant impact on global military spending in 2020. It remains to be seen if the countries will maintain this level of expenditure during a second year,” stated Diego Lopes da Silva, a SIPRI analyst, in the report.

According to the report, the Iván Duque administration, in 2020, a year in which the country began experiencing economic difficulties because of the Covid-19 health crisis, spent USD $9,200,000,000 on the military. This represents a 2.5% increase compared to the previous year, and makes Colombia’s military spending the second highest in Latin America. Brazil has the highest military expenditures in the region.

In view of this situation, Duque’s opposition, headed by Iván Cepeda and María José Pizano, spoke out and called for cutting that part of the budget and using the money for some areas that are urgently needed if Colombia is to survive the crisis. For that reason, they joined the worldwide campaign against military spending that was created in 2014 and is directed by the International Office for Peace.

“This campaign makes sense at any time, but especially in the pandemic conditions; we can’t keep on building and marketing weapons instead of saving lives,” said Senator Iván Cepeda of the Democratic Pole Party at a press conference.

This is not the first year that the two Representatives have joined the campaign, because even last year they asked the government, along with 28 other members of Congress, that the military budget be reduced and that a billion pesos (approximately USD $275,528) be transferred to the hospital system. The Ministry promised to transfer 100,000 million pesos (approximately USD $27,553), but at present it’s not clear what happened. This year, along with 32 members of Congress, they renewed the request to the administration, with the purpose of facing the crisis that the country is experiencing.

“The reorientation of part of military spending toward strengthening the health care system could help to save lives. The national government ought to establish priorities that give more support to the health of the people,” he emphasized.

Moreover, the Representatives noted that in spite of the military spending there is once again an increase in the violence in the Colombian countryside, and they don’t see much commitment to the implementation of a peace policy.

María José Pizano, a member of Congress from the Decency Party, stated that she couldn’t tell if the administration is working for an integrated peace, or if its policy is to continue the war.

“For example, they haven’t been efficient in protecting the lives of the social leaders who are being killed. So far this year there have been 31 massacres with 113 people murdered. That shows that all of the spending on security has not served to protect the people in the communities,” stated the Representative.

Besides, she added that, “a hospital is more important than a tank used in war; these are the lessons that the pandemic should have taught us. We ought to be prioritizing peace as the destiny of Colombians.”

[1] INFOBAE is an investigation web site focusing on political and governmental issues.

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