Forcing young men to serve in the army is not exactly is the most democratic way to run a country. However, many developed and liberal countries like Israel and Singapore still practice conscription as a rule. On the other hand, most Latin American countries do not force their citizens to serve in the army and the decision is almost always voluntary.
However, it was recently announced that Peru shall reinstate a military draft, inviting a lot of criticism. What has provoked and angered a lot of people is that the draft can be avoided by paying an amount of $700, a lot of money for most Peruvians. This directly implies that most impoverished young men between the ages of 18 and 25, who cannot afford to pay the fine of $700 will have to serve in the military even if they do not want to. People have already begun to view this decision as a military draft on poor.
Peru’s military service has been voluntary since 1998 but owing to economic difficulties and severe shortages of army personnel, the authorities decided to enforce draft once again, but this time, with an option of opting out by paying the fine. University students and parents shall be exempt from the draft and men shall be chosen by lottery this May. Military chief Adm. Jose Cueto insisted that the poverty stricken young men would not be sent as ‘cannon fodder’ to the Apurimac and Ene river valley region in the country’s southeast, where almost 80 soldiers have been killed in skirmishes between various cocaine traffickers.
While poor young men will be forced into serving in the military, it also necessarily does not mean their economic conditions will improve. The pay can be as little as $100 per month and may increase to $146 in certain circumstances. Strangely, Peru’s minimum wage is $283. These contradictions and seemingly disquieting thoughts of transporting uneducated, impoverished young men to forced military camps may not be the best thing for a country like Peru, which has begun to see an increased popularity among international travelers.
Instead of forcing youngsters to serve in the military, the government should consider making it easier for travelers to visit Peru and spend money in the country, which not only creates jobs for impoverished youngsters but also help build Peru’s economy. For now, young men in Peru do not have much choice but to serve in the army and hope for a better life in the near future.