Positioning Itself in the Andes: Critical Reflections on Canada's Relations with Colombia

By Gordon, Todd | Canadian Journal of Latin American & Caribbean Studies, July 2010 | Go to article overview

Positioning Itself in the Andes: Critical Reflections on Canada's Relations with Colombia


Gordon, Todd, Canadian Journal of Latin American & Caribbean Studies


Introduction

Canada's relations with Colombia have become increasingly important in recent years for Canadian policy makers. Latin America in general and the Andean region in particular is a focal point of Canadian economic and political foreign policy, and Colombia is seen as a pivot on which the success of that foreign policy depends. This article will outline the growing political and economic interests Canada has in Latin America, and advance two principal reasons for the efforts Canadian officials have made, especially in the last three years, to strengthen Canada's ties with the Andean nation. First, Colombia is rich in resources and has been through a process of market liberalization. This has been a boon for Canadian investment, which has been increasing strongly in Colombia in the last several years. Canada's new free trade agreement with Colombia (passed in June 2010) is an expression of Canadian business and political leaders' desire to lock in market access in the country. Canada's economic penetration of Colombia is occurring despite--in fact, more likely because of--the profoundly problematic human rights situation there: social movement actors opposing foreign investment or mobilizing to defend their rights are routinely targeted by military and paramilitary forces. Despite the Tory government's claims that Canada's free trade agreement with Colombia promotes human rights, the reality, as will be argued, is in fact far from it.

There is much more, however, to Canada's growing relationship with Colombia than simply investment. Observers of Canada's relationship with Colombia, including critics, have failed to note the strategic geopolitical character of Canadian support for Colombia: Canada is aligning itself with, and helping to support, a regional power that proudly allies itself with the interests of Northern powers. Since the late 1990s, the Andean region has been witness to a wave of social struggle by indigenous peoples, the poor, and workers against neoliberalism and the power of foreign--particularly Northern-capital. This struggle has in turn led to the election of anti-neoliberal governments--to one degree or another--in Venezuela, Bolivia, and Ecuador. This political shift in the Andes has undermined the economic and political "stability" (that is, neoliberalism) that countries of the North, including Canada, have promoted throughout Latin America. But amidst this sea of increased instability is Colombia, aggressive proponent of neoliberalism and the rights of foreign capital, and increasingly belligerent toward its Andean neighbours. Colombia is being promoted by Canada as a safe and responsible ally, while anti-neoliberal governments are being denounced as authoritarian and irresponsible.

Colombia, then, has become an important part of Canada's foreign policy strategy in Latin America. Clearly, as this article stresses, Canada's involvement in Latin America and the Andean region is driven by self-interested political and economic ends--supporting the successful expansion of Canadian capital--and is being conducted at enormous cost to the region's workers, poor, and indigenous communities.

Canadian Capital's Penetration of Latin America

Conventional wisdom among scholars and in popular discourse is that Canada is not a major power with the ability or desire to impose its self-serving political and economic goals on weaker nations. The Canadian foreign policy literature, on the one hand, is dominated by the middle power thesis. Although there are variations on the thesis, most subscribers argue that Canada is not a great power, and as a middle power it has traditionally played a role in brokering relations between the great and weaker powers, while defending multilateralism against the unilateral excesses of a superpower like the U.S. (for an overview, see Chapnick 2000). The Canadian political economy literature, on the other hand, has treated Canada as a subordinate country dominated by American capital and with little ability to project its power abroad. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Positioning Itself in the Andes: Critical Reflections on Canada's Relations with Colombia
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.