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First it was Venezuela, spending $4 billion on Russian fighter planes, Kalashnikovs and perhaps even submarines. Then it was Brazil, in August announcing a 53% increase in its military budget for 2008, the biggest such increase in more than a decade. The competition is still in the early stages but when two of Latin America's nouveau riche oil powers start splashing out on weapons, alarm bells ring over an arms race.
October 22, 2004
When I recently interviewed Roger Noriega, the top State Department official in charge of Latin American affairs, I was surprised that he played down reports that Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez plans to buy 50 Russian MiG-29 planes, risking a new arms race in Latin America.