Guns, Drugs, and Development in Colombia

Guns, Drugs, and Development in Colombia

Guns, Drugs, and Development in Colombia

Guns, Drugs, and Development in Colombia

Synopsis

For decades, Colombia has contended with a variety of highly publicized conflicts, including the rise of paramilitary groups in response to rebel insurgencies of the 1960s, the expansion of an illegal drug industry that has permeated politics and society since the 1970s, and a faltering economy in the 1990s. An unprecedented analysis of these struggles,Guns, Drugs, and Development in Colombiabrings together leading scholars from a variety of fields, blending previously unseen quantitative data with historical analysis for an impressively comprehensive assessment. Culminating in an inspiring plan for peace, based on Four Cornerstones of Pacification, this landmark work is sure to spur new calls for change in this corner of Latin America and beyond.

Excerpt

Mired in a conflict in which the lines among the different violent actors are not always clear, Colombia struggles for control of its territory. Typically, Colombia is considered a deviant democracy, characterized by chronic insurgency and a seemingly stable political system. The country has enjoyed exceptional regime stability but is racked by internal conflict. Although constitutional rule has been uninterrupted since Rojas Pinilla seized power and imposed a military dictatorship from 1953 to 1957, the veneer of sovereignty is thin: numerous armed groups effectively rule parts of the country where central-government control is weak or nonexistent. Since the 1960s, Colombia has faced a rebel insurgency, which has led to the rise of many active paramilitary groups formed to counter the insurgency. The paramilitaries, essentially private armies, have varying degrees of loyalty to the Colombian government and military. Compounding the insurgency problem is the illegal-drug industry, which started in the 1970s and has created expansive networks within Colombian politics and society. As violence increased and the illegal drug trade began to take hold, the traditionally stable Colombian economy began to falter in the 1990s. This project examines the multiple connections among violence, coca, and the economy in an attempt to explain how these factors interact and react to one another.

Colombia is a country of contradictions. Compared to its Latin American peers, Colombia remains relatively poor as measured by per capita gross domestic product (GDP) and poverty rates, but its economic policy has been generally considered successful. It was the sole Latin American country to escape the debt crisis of the 1980s, yet violence restrains economic growth and drugs distort the economy. Its homicide rates and levels of political violence set it apart from the other countries.

The guerrilla groups, drug-related violence, and paramilitaries have made Colombia one of the most violent nations in the world. Approximately two . . .

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