the Barco government and the amount during the Gaviria years. In that way the effects of the policies described on the level of violence in Colombia can be discerned. Because the data show no important improvement in the lives of Colombians, the book concludes with an explanation of why the two governments did not have more success in ameliorating violence.16
I entered into this study having made no judgments about whether the Barco or Gaviria policies had been successes or failures. One might be optimistic and state, as Hakim and Lowenthal do: "As devastating as the violence has been, Colombia's political institutions continue to demonstrate resilience and flexibility. The country's political leaders and most citizens remain committed to democratic rule, and the constitutional reform process now underway may strengthen that commitment. But democratic politics is being severely tested in Colombia, and its survival cannot be guaranteed."17
Or, alternatively, one could be pessimistic and conclude, as one individual who was interviewed did: "Have you read Hobbes lately? If not you should, because we are back to the jungle."18
During the writing of this book, I found myself vacillating between optimism and pessimism. I admit to having felt euphoric on July 4, 1991, when the new constitution was signed, with members of a constituent assembly made up of different races and genders celebrating. But I was extremely pessimistic three years later when the morning news told of the capture of an urban bus, the occupants of which were robbed and raped, while they were held hostage for over three hours as the bus drove around Bogotá without lights. The following year I returned to Bogotá for a conference, enjoying the time with Colombians who had been friends for nearly three decades. But I conclude this book with little reason for optimism.