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State

Capital

Colombia

Bogota

Currency unit

Peso

Connections

Amazonia

Drugs

Panama

Poverty

South America

Serfdom

War

 Spain empire

 Politics

 Economics

 Green

 Rights

 Climate

History

Colombia was settled by Spain with the formation of aristocratic estates supported by poor peasants. The country has had a history of violence ever since independence in 1821. At independence the country included the province of Panama. This was detached with the help of the United States in order to build the Canal.

There was a civil war in 1821, another from 1899 to 1903 and yet another in 1948-57. In most of these the war was between the two main political parties, the Liberals and Conservatives - actually, rival factions of landowners.

Now there are numerous small wars with left wing guerrillas and drug gangs, as well as suspected death squads. The difference between the very rich and the mass of poor people is very marked. The conditions for a harmonious society seem to be absent. Street children are also common.

The illegal drug industry is said to amount to a large part of the country's national income. The operators of this industry are believed to bribe government officials including politicians.

The United States would like to extradite some of these people. As there is a great deal of hostility to the United States among ordinary people they may seem to be heroes.

Languages

Spanish

Amerindian langs (esp. in Amazonia)

 History

 Economics

 Green

 Rights

 Climate

Politics

There are elections but also an underlying atmosphere of violence. During the 1940s and 1950s there was a low intensity civil war (La Violencia) between the Liberal and Conservative parties, (different feudal blocs). Although this war came to an end with a negotiated compromise in which the Presidency was to alternate, the habit of violence continues. There are also left wing guerrillas of various types and a powerful criminal element in the shape of the Cocaine dealers who have used the profits of their illegal trade to buy land and legitimate businesses, and also political power. This makes a confused situation. There is also US influence on the country to limit or eliminate the drug trade, by extraditing dealers to the United States for trial. This is resented by many who regard the US demand for drugs as the problem.

There is an increasing civil war between the forces of the state and many other forces including: M19 a leftwing group, drug gangs of various kinds.

A new constitution has been drawn up by a Constituent Assembly.

 History

 Politics

 Green

 Rights

 Climate

Economics

Colombia has a an important agricultural economy, including coffee but its largest industry is believed to be the illegal processing and distribution of Cocaine and Marijuana, mostly to the United States and Europe.

Cocaine is imported in raw form from the Andean countries further south and processed in secret factories in the jungle. The money from this industry affects the whole society. The owners of the industry are believed to include many of the wealthy of the country.

Can the drug industry be suppressed? Probably only if people can do other things which bring in as much money and if demand can be reduced in the consuming countries. The first would need a serious program of capital transfer at least as great as the Marshall Plan which revived Europe after the second world war; the second can only take place in the consuming countries and requires a major cultural change.

China is proposing a rail link from the Caribbean coast to the Pacific. This would help export coal to China, and also by-pass the Panama Canal for Chinese exports. Chinese rail project in Colombia

 History

 Politics

 Economics

 Rights

 Climate

Green/Ecology

Part of the rain forest has been given to the native peoples living in it, as an alternative to peasant "development" . This plan may turn out to be a model for other areas of rain forest. This is perhaps the most encouraging news to come out of a rather discouraging country. (But the cynical cannot help wondering whether the drug manufacturers may find it profitable to set up there).

 History

 Politics

 Economics

 Green

 Climate

Human Rights

The most violent country on earth, with a very weak government, numerous guerrilla groups of both Right and Left, plus the criminal gangs controlling the drug trade. Judges are intimidated by organized crime. Is there a rule of law when the criminals can buy the whole state? The State does not really exist as a force in society but is best considered as the resultant of the various powerful groups. Perhaps Russia is going this way. Is it the future of the privatised state?

Climate effects

Last revised 17/02/11


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