The Political Economy of the Andean Region
Edited by Andrés Solimano
Chapter 5: The economy, conflict and governance in Colombia
5. The economy, conflict and governance in Colombia 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...
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