By George Withers, Lucila Santos and Adam Isaacson, WOLA
The U.S. government is by far the largest provider of military and police aid to Latin America and the Caribbean. Arms and equipment transfers, training, exercises, presence at bases, and military-tomilitary engagement programs send strong messages about military and police roles. So do diplomatic interactions with the region. Instead of exporting the principle to which the United States adheres, though, these efforts often do just the opposite: encourage Latin American governments to use their militaries against their own people.
This is a longstanding tendency in U.S. policy toward Latin America, though it rarely gets framed in terms of the United States’ much different domestic model. That is what this report will do. The following pages highlight U.S. practices that encourage Latin America’s armed forces to take on internal security roles that the U.S. military cannot legally play at home. They go on to point the way toward policy changes to end these practices.