Political Crises, Social Conflict and Economic Development
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Political Crises, Social Conflict and Economic Development

The Political Economy of the Andean Region

Edited by Andrés Solimano

The contributors to this authoritative volume analyze the impact of political crises and social conflict on economic performance in the Andean region of Latin America.
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Chapter 5: The economy, conflict and governance in Colombia

José Antonio Ocampo


José Antonio Ocampo* 5.1 INTRODUCTION Colombia crossed the threshold into the twenty-first century in the midst of a two-pronged crisis. One facet of this crisis stems from the serious problems of governance generated, in large part, by the irregular armed conflict that continues to trouble the country. The other derives from the lingering effects of the worst economic recession in the country’s modern history, which has resulted in the loss of a full half-decade of potential economic growth and in the deterioration of social conditions. The country’s internal conflict bears some resemblance to other episodes in its history, particularly in terms of the important role played by the zones open to colonization which, due to the peculiar features of its geography, are located throughout its territory. The country’s traditional fragmentation of power is another historical feature that has acted as a contributing factor. Nonetheless, the extent and intensity of this conflict is associated with an entirely new phenomenon: the magnitude of the existing drug traffic and the overwhelmingly degenerative effect it has had in terms of the scale of violence and its impact on Colombian society as a whole. The second facet of this crisis, the economic recession, involves elements that are new to a country which, until not long ago, was moving forward with its economic development, albeit at a somewhat measured pace but avoiding the sharp business cycles that have troubled Latin America since the mid-1970s. Thus, unlike its predecessors, the most recent...

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