Colombia’s New Country

Sep 10

In some ways the history of Colombia as it is known today began in 1830 following the collapse of Gran Colombia, an event which saw Ecuador and Venezuela emerge as separate countries. Even after the split, it remains the only South American country with coastline on both the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans.

colombia

Drug Trade

In recent decades, there has been much instability throughout Colombia, especially from the insurgent group Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), which is heavily funded by the drug trade. The country is considered to be the world’s largest cocaine producer. The fact that the population of United States of America is among the top consumers of illegal drugs in the world, many US dollars flow into the country every year. Some estimates put the figure in the multiple billions of dollars annually.

In spite of the extensive funding at the disposal of insurgent groups, they still lack the military and popular support necessary to take control of the country. As a result, violence has actually decreased over the last decade. While the decline in violence is a promising trend, there are still regions of the country under insurgent control, a problem that has been exacerbated by the demobilization of the United Self Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC) around 2006. In the resulting vacuum of power various insurgent groups came to fill some of the gaps. Continual instability within Colombia has led to tensions with its neighbors over concerns that the violence will spill over their borders.

In very recent years the Colombian government has escalated its efforts to restore government control throughout the country and within its own administrative departments.

A Peaceful Colombia

Regional interests in peace and Colombian government efforts toward better control have encountered continual resistance. US consumption of illegal drugs and the enormous flow of US dollars to the insurgent groups who are responsible for the drug trade present a multifaceted problem. Money flowing into the country is not benefiting the economy of Colombia directly. Instead it is benefiting a very few who participate in the insurgent activities or provide services and products to them. The insurgents have more purchasing power on the global stage due to the position of the US dollar globally. This gives the insurgents access to a significant level of resources, including weapons and leverage among regional leaders.

On the other hand, cash flow has not been enough to win the popular vote or overtly influence the military, although there have been some former paramilitaries who have joined forces with the insurgent groups. This popular opinion and national loyalty have preserved order and enabled the government to make some gains in terms of control and stability.

Clearly there is an opposition to the drug trade and efforts to eliminate it. However, until there is a shift in the US trends related to illegal drug use, there is likely to be continual, well-funded opposition to defeating the insurgent groups.

It seems that those hoping for a new Colombia might do well to hope for a new USA to make it possible.

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