Venezuela and Colombia's Island Dispute

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At least part of the Colombia-Venezuela dispute stems from disagreement over the Islas Los Monjes. These islands are, strictly speaking, insignificant spits of land off the South American border; nearly submerged at high tide, the islands themselves are virtually useless. However, Colombia wanted them for reasons not immediately obvious. After claiming the islands, it would be able to extend its Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) from those islands as well. That means it would be able to claim any natural resources within 200 nautical miles of the islands, as well as any resources lying off the coast of the mainland. This new economic zone would place their holdings near the border of Venezuela's EEZ, allowing Colombia to tap into the undersea oil deposits off Venezuela's coast. Venezuela was understandably opposed to this development and claimed the island for its own.

Colombia's military budget saw enormous cuts between 79/80 and 81/82. The military budget for both 79/80 and 80/81 were 9.01

billion pesos ($215 million US) (The Military Balance 1979-1980, 78; The Military Balance 1980-1981, 81). The Military Balance for 1981/1982 seems to have made a printing error at this point, listing the Columbian military budget seem to be only $30.64 million US, or 1.4 billion pesos (The Military Balance 1981-1982, 95). The CIA World Fact book for 1981 lists the Colombian military budget as $306.4; by the current exchange rates, that puts the Colombian military budget at roughly 14 billion pesos (apparently a printing error).

The Colombian army's military service rose from two years to three between 79/80 and 81/82, and then dropped once more to two years in 81/82. The military's personnel dropped form 67,500 men to 65,800. The army lost 2,000 troops, reducing their numbers to 53,000. One of the 11 infantry or "Regional" brigades was eliminated. The Presidential...