State Building and Conflict Resolution in Colombia, 1986-1994

By Harvey F. Kline | Go to book overview

9
Changing the Colombian State Constitutional and Judicial Reforms

In this chapter, I consider more general policies than I did in the previous chapters. Here, the topic is the Barco and Gaviria policies that were designed to change the Colombian state through constitutional and judicial reform. In previous chapters, I considered the idea that a more open, democratic system would remove the cause for the guerrilla conflict. Here, I also examine the idea that a state with a stronger justice system would have less conflict because citizens and groups such as drug dealers and paramilitary squads would be more likely to fear punishment for wrongdoing. The chapter begins with a consideration of the "democratic" aspects of the 1991 constitution; I follow with a discussion of the Barco attempts to change the judicial system and conclude with the Gaviria judicial reforms that came after the new constitution.


Increased Democracy through the Constitution of 1991

Although it did not accomplish "redemocratization," the new constitution was an effort to make Colombia more democratic as one way to resolve the conflicts so prevalent in the country, especially in the 1980s. Guerrilla leaders, as well as others, had long argued that Colombia needed to be much more democratic. By the late 1980s some political leaders concluded that the problem might be in the political system. This was not the first time in Colombian history that changing the constitution was seen as a manner of conflict resolution. The Bogotá daily, El Tiempo, stated: "In Colombian history when crises have become so bad that the society seems to be breaking up, when civil wars

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