Cuadernos Colombianos

Cuadernos Colombianos brings into focus the political economy of the Colombian armed conflict and its intersection with economics, organized crime, and the country’s internally displaced population. It provides a critical reading of, together with a context of, the most recent events and their wider impact. This blog also explores the changing role that Colombia plays in the Andean region, its position in the global and regional division of labor, and relationships with the United States, Europe, and China.

The Peace Dividend and Post-Conflict Criminalization in Colombia
Feb 12, 2014
Peace in Colombia is in a precarious position—says the literature on post-conflict countries. A 2003 report states that on average, 44% of countries emerging from civil war return to conflict within the first five years.
The Crisis of the National State: How Will Colombia Weigh In?
Jan 7, 2014
There is a crisis in the "national state" formations in the Middle East, Africa, and Latin America, increasing due to the declining hegemonic power of U.S. imperialism. Within this complex panorama of the deepening crisis of the national state, we might ask: what about Colombia after 50 years of civil war? 
The U.S. Multibillion “Black Budget” War in Colombia
Dec 26, 2013
In a report published on December 21, the Washington Post brought the U.S. role in the Colombian conflict into sharper focus when it revealed the role of the CIA and the NSA in the assassination of the Armed Revolutionary Forces of Colombia (FARC) commander Raul Reyes in March of 2008. According to the report, the U.S. covert military operations were funded by a multibillion dollar “black budget.”
Santos in the White House Today: Will Obama Derail the Quest for Peace?
Dec 3, 2013
President Juan Manuel Santos meets today with President Barak Obama in the White House. The United States is not only the major trading partner and major market of Colombia’s exports, but also an active participant party in Colombia's 50-years long civil war.
Partial Accord: FARC’s Christmas Gift to Juan Manuel Santos
Nov 13, 2013
A few days ago the Juan Manuel Santos government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) signed off on the second item of their five-point negotiation program: that of political participation. This agreement, alongside the preceding agreement on the agrarian question, elevates the positive expectations that the peace process is moving in the right direction, and that prospects of a final agreement are closer than ever before.
The Costs of the War System and the Economic Predicament of Colombia
Nov 1, 2013
The specter of the increasing public debt in Colombia is expected to generate a deep economic crisis if not addressed.
U.S. “Cowboy” Foreign Policy From Libya to Colombia
Oct 9, 2013
U.S. imperialist policy is shifting toward surgical military operations, a shift that tends to perpetuate violence without addressing its root causes. This has become apparent in Colombia, a country that is attempting to negotiate a peaceful end to its almost 50 years of civil war.
FARC Leader “Timochenko” Expresses Frustration with Santos’s Negotiating Strategy
Sep 25, 2013
FARC negotiators Iván Marquez and Pablo Catatumbo have both been unsatisfied with the adamant refusal of the Santos government to tackle tough points in the peace negotiations. This is especially the case with disagreements having to do with the agrarian question.
Colombia´s Agrarian National Strike Enters its Fourth Week
Sep 11, 2013
To contain Colombia´s  spreading rural crisis, the government of Juan Manuel Santos, facing peasant strikers who have blocked several crucial highways, has followed a three-pronged strategy of co-optation, coercion (some of it violent) and a surface re-shuffling of government officials. Up to this point, nothing has worked as the strike enters its fourth week.
With a “Mea Culpa," the Arrogant Santos Government Relents
Aug 27, 2013
The government of Colombia has been forced to negotiate with peasants' organizations in the wake of the peasants' strong show of force. The rural workers who have mounted Colombia's national agrarian strike are staying the course after four peasants and one policeman were killed and scores more detained. Hundred of thousands of peasants and small farmers are participating in this historic mobilization whose scope and magnitude have not been seen for decades.
The Rural General Strike and the Crisis of the Rentier Economy
Aug 19, 2013
Today Monday, August 19, Colombia is witnessing a general rural strike involving most of its population—a strike revealing the deep crisis of the rentier-economic model.
Are the Peace Negotiations in Havana between the FARC and the Colombian Government Deadlocked?
Aug 12, 2013
The on-going peace talks in Havana between the rebels and the government are deadlocked.
Peasants and Miners Strikes Expand from Catatumbo to other Regions
Jul 17, 2013
The national strikes that have been going on for the last month are now increasing in rural Colombia as peasants protest the economic crisis resulting from the failure of the neoliberal economic model.
Colombia's Peasant Rebellion in Catatumbo Illustrates Economic Shortcomings
Jun 30, 2013
The rebellion in Catatumbo, North Santander, reveals the ills of Colombia's economic model of development.
Colombian Peace Talks Move to FARC's Political Participation and a Constituent Assembly
Jun 21, 2013
The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) are calling for a constituent assembly to lay the foundation for a democratic system.
The Peace Process in Colombia and U.S. Foreign Policy: Plan Colombia II
Jun 3, 2013
The United States has historically played a critical role in Colombia's civil war due to its special links with its military that were cemented through Plan Colombia.
Colombian Peace Talks Revisit Land Reform
May 21, 2013
An agreement on the agrarian question is emerging from the peace talks between the FARC and the Colombian government which could usher in a revolution in land tenure.
Potato Growers Strike in Colombia as Peace Talks Continue
May 10, 2013
While negotiations continue between the Santos government and the FARC, potato farmers in the countryside went on strike. This comes in the wake of the widespread protest movement staged by the small coffee growers some weeks ago.
Colombia to Resume Peace Talks with the FARC Amidst U.S. and Colombian Military "Saber-Rattling"
Apr 29, 2013
The progress and a successful conclusion of the current peace talks in Colombia largely depends on a change in U.S. policy toward the Andean subregion and in Latin America at large.
The “War of the Emeralds”: The Story of a Foretold "Green War"
Apr 12, 2013
Colombia's “Green War” over the emerald trade is another example of the precarious path of state building that Colombia has had to undergo since its independence in the 19th century. It is a process that is still unfolding.
SOUTHCOM General John Kelly and the War in Colombia
Apr 3, 2013
This blog addresses the U.S. posture toward the peace process in Colombia, as seen by the commander of the South Command, General John Kelly.
Peasant Reserve Zones in Colombia: Between Magical Realism and Revolutionary Praxis
Mar 27, 2013
The three thousand peasants that participated in the third encounter of the National Association of Peasant Reserve Zones, which took place last Friday, were an important impetus to the FARC’s proposal of expanding agricultural reserve zones in Colombia.
The Latest FARC Proposal Brings Progress to the Peace Process in Colombia
Mar 19, 2013
White smoke is rising in Havana, Cuba where the negotiators of the Juan Manuel Santos and the insurgents of the Armed Revolutionary Forces of Colombia (FARC) have been negotiating since early last year. The two sides have almost agreed on the most important issue on the agenda: the agrarian question.
The "Dutch Disease" and Violence in Colombia
Mar 12, 2013
Colombia's rentier-based economy constitutes the main threat to development and peace.
The "Dutch Disease" Hits Juan Valdez in Colombia: Coffee Growers on Strike
Mar 4, 2013
Small and medium-sized coffee growers are on strike protesting the declining prices of the coffee beans and the lack of government support.
Negotiating Peace Amidst the War in Colombia
Feb 25, 2013
The peace talks between the Santos government and the FARC in Havana are subject to conflict and politics that could undermine the process.
Striking Coal Miners in Colombia and the Vulnerabilities of a Rentier Based Economy
Feb 12, 2013
More than 5,000 workers at coal multinational corporation began a strike demanding higher salaries, better working conditions, and effective measures to protect the environment. This strike reveals yet a much larger problem with the extractive resource industry in Colombia.
Santos Negotiating Formula and its Risks in Colombia
Feb 5, 2013
The peace process hit a snag last week after FARC resumed its military operations following the expiration of its 60-day unilateral cease fire.
A “Sufficient Consensus” is Emerging in the Peace Talks in Colombia
Jan 28, 2013
The negotiations between the FARC and the Santos government have advanced, and last week they established a benchmark for the first item on their discussion of the agrarian question.
Shift in the FARC Position Regarding the Land Problem: A Social Democratic Program in the Making
Jan 21, 2013
The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) has modified its position regarding Colombia's latifundios. This is its first change on the latifundio question since its inception in 1964.
Colombian Peace Talks Resume Between the Santos Government and the FARC
Jan 14, 2013
Peace talks between representatives of the Juan Manuel Santos government and the FARC delegates resume today in Havana, Cuba.
Peace Talks Between FARC and the Santos Government: “Meterle más Pueblo”
Jan 1, 2013
The peace talks in Colombia are in recess and will resume in January 14 when the parties will continue their discussion of the agrarian question.
The United States and the Future Security Role of Colombia
Nov 26, 2012
This week a U.S. delegation is to meet with the Colombian Minister of Defense Juan Carlos Pinzón and the Minister of Foreign Affairs María Ángela Holguín. This is the most important U.S. delegation to visit Colombia since the inception of Plan Colombia in 2000 and demonstrates what is to come for Colombia within the U.S. regional security regime and global strategy.
The Military's Human Rights Record and the Peace Process in Colombia
Nov 3, 2012
The peace process in Colombia faces several challenges. One of which is a recalcitrant military institution preoccupied about its future—considering its dismal human rights record—if an accord is reached.
Santos's End Game and the Prospects of a Durable Peace in Colombia
Oct 19, 2012
In light of the initiation of the peace process in Colombia, the country faces a stark choice between durable peace or continous war.
Talks in Colombia: The FARC Negotiating Team and the Critical Role of Venezuela
Oct 2, 2012
Both the Colombian government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) are preparing for their meeting in the Norwegian Capital, Oslo, on October 17. The composition of the facilitators and observers reflect a balancing act between the Santos government and the FARC.
Government Negotiators and the Prospects for Peace in Colombia
Sep 25, 2012
The composition of  any negotiating team reveals facts about the importance of the negotiations, the nature of those negotiations, and their prospects for success. Drawing on this understanding, we can make some educated guesses about what to expect from the upcoming negotiations between the Colombian state and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).
The Long Journey From War System to a Possible Peace in Colombia
Sep 16, 2012
  One of the core reasons why the civil war in Colombia has endured for so long is because the costs of peace for the dominant classes and the United States is more than the costs of war. Nevertheless, there are several issues that can assess the possibility of success of the process of a possible peace in Colombia. 
Hope in the Colombian Peace Talks
Sep 2, 2012
The secret peace talks between the Santos government and the FARC are now out in the open. It is premature to anticipate the prospects, however they are the first talks since the collapse of the last peace negotiations in 2002. I believe that the chance for success is higher now than in the 1998–2002 round. Success is by no means guaranteed, but there may be some hope.
The Colombian Paradox: Capital Mobility, Land, and Power
Aug 22, 2012
Former Colombian president Álvaro Uribe's recent verbal attacks against President Juan Manuel Santos are perhaps most important for where they were made—Sincelejo, a powerful stronghold of Colombian landed elite. Across the country, this group has disproportionate political power that far exceeds its economic weight due to its success in political engineering and its employment of brutal force.
Striking Rail Workers Affect Coal Production in Colombia
Aug 14, 2012
Since July 23, workers have been on strike at Colombia's private railway company FENOCO demanding better salaries, improved work conditions, and more social investments in areas of coal production. The strike may have serious implications on coal supply and prices in international markets, considering that Colombia is among the world’s largest coal exporters.
The War System Dynamics in Colombia : A 2012 Assessment
Jul 31, 2012
The state is not winning the civil war in Colombia thanks to the limitations of its behemoth military and the capacities of the insurgency to adjust to changing war conditions.
The Resurrection of Uribe in Colombia
Jul 16, 2012
Former president Alvaro Uribe Velez has built a coaltion of reactionary political forces and social groups to challenge president Santos's peaceful overtures and his attempt to return lands to those dispossessed by right-wing groups and the landed elite. 
Judicial Reform in Colombia?
Jun 27, 2012
The Colombian congress recently passed a bill that will lead to impunity if President Juan Manuel Santos approves.
Land Restitution in Colombia: Failure, Rising Expectations, and Armed Opposition
Jun 11, 2012
Land restitution in Colombia is moving toward failure because the Santos government is committed to the neo liberal orthodoxy of agrarian development based on large scale agriculture. A law passed last year granting compensation to victims who lost their land in the conflict has given rise to opposition between activists and paramilitary groups.  
A Civil War in Mexico?
May 29, 2012
Considering that the human toll now tops 50,000 fatalities, Mexico's War on Drugs could more accurately be described as a civil war. Nor is it an accident that Colombia’s new Patriotic March in Colombia echoes the voice of the Movement for Peace With Justice and Dignity in Mexico, identifying peace and social justice as the only rational approach to settling its own civil war.
A Rejuvenated Grassroots Movement in Colombia
May 6, 2012
The birth of the Patriotic March movement in Colombia may usher in a new phase in the country's quest for peace and social justice. But can it harness the potential and push the country to a tipping point for peace?
Exporting Security: Israeli and U.S. Defense Chiefs Visit Colombia
Apr 24, 2012
U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta visited Colombia on Monday as part of a regional tour that includes Brazil and Chile. Panetta's visit came on the heels of Israel Defense Minister Ehud Barak's trip to Colombia and may be planned to bless the growing Colombian-Israeli collaboration, which Colombia believes can help it position itself as a major exporter of security in the region.
Sovereignty For Sale: Corporate Land Grab in Colombia
Apr 10, 2012
According to a recent report, about 40% of Colombian land "has been licensed to, or is being solicited by, multinational corporations in order to develop mineral and crude oil mining projects." The extractive development is at the expense of food production, a profound shift in land use that puts the future of Colombia’s food security in jeopardy.
The Increasing ‘Americanization’ of the Colombian Conflict
Apr 3, 2012
Last week, U.S. Army general Martin Dempsey visited Colombia, which may be on the road to becoming the third theater of U.S. military operations after Afghanistan and Iraq. Dempsey revealed that U.S. colonels with combat experience will be sharing their experiences with the Colombian military in the coming weeks.
Deconstructing the Colombian Government’s Latest Offensive Against the FARC
Mar 27, 2012
During the last week and yesterday the Colombian government carried out a pair of bombing raids on camps of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), killing over 60 guerrillas. The government offensive is strategically significant. The production of the country’s oil is largely concentrated in the region of the raids, where big interests are at stake.
The FARC and its Peace Initiative in Colombia
Mar 8, 2012
The FARC is taking the political initiative and increasing the pressure on the government of Juan Manuel Santos to initiate peace talks. It remains unclear, however, if Santos will engage the FARC and seek a peaceful end to hostilities before the 2014 presidential election.
United States Intervention in Colombia (Part II)
Feb 27, 2012
The United States is changing its "high value target" military strategy against the FARC in Colombia to focus on mid-level commanders and units that are critical to the organization's financial support. 
The Rise of a New Faction Against the Restitution of Land in Colombia
Feb 20, 2012
President Juan Manuel Santos is on a collision course with a growing faction of powerful economic groups that oppose the land restitution Law 1448. The outcome of this dispute will show whether Colombia's democracy could stand up to the influence of the richest classes.   
President Santos and the Question of Land Reform in Colombia (Part II)
Feb 12, 2012
Last Saturday Colombian president Juan Manuel Santos celebrated a media blitz in Necocli, Antioquia, when he launched his plan to return some of the lands that were forcefully taken from millions of peasants over the course of the last twenty years. The question is: Can this government withstand the resistance of the formidable forces that benefited from this land grab?
Show Time in Necocli, Colombia
Feb 7, 2012
Reactionary forces in Colombia are challenging President Juan Manuel Santos's plans to implement Law 1448, which calls for land restitution to the victims of Colombia's conflict. The Colombian Banana Growers Association (AUGURA) warns against possible violence that could be unleashed by Santos's demonstration in Necocli, Antioquia, this upcoming Saturday.
President Santos and the Question of Land Reform in Colombia
Jan 30, 2012
Colombian president Juan Manuel Santos recently declared that his government was committed to implementing the recently passed Victims’ Law, which calls for the restitution of lands that were usurped during the last two decades to their legitimate owners. There are many obstacles, however, and it is unclear if Santos is willing to stand up to the large land owners that have caused so much suffering.
Foreign Direct Investment in Colombia: A Critical View
Jan 23, 2012
Colombia has recently become very attractive to multinational corporations, particularly in the mining and oil sectors. Over the last three years foreign direct investment in these Colombian sectors has more than doubled. With this rise in investments land conflicts are only expected to increase, violating ever more human, cultural, labor and environmental rights.
The White Elephant, U.S. Elections, and the Elusive Peace in Colombia
Jan 15, 2012
The new leader of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) Timoleón Jiménez has reiterated the call for the urgent resumption of peace talks. However, to get there, the United States must change its position toward favoring a peaceful solution. This is the white elephant whose role has been omnipresent yet underappreciated by analysts of war and peace in Colombia.
Demobilized? Understanding the Urabeños Paramilitary Show of Force in Colombia
Jan 8, 2012
On January 1, the Colombian government killed Juan de Dios Úsuga, the leader of the Urabeños, one of the most powerful groups formed out of the demobilized Colombian paramilitary. In response to the killing, the Urabeños unleashed a wave of violence and threats over the last week, demonstrating the intimidating power of this criminal group.
The Dangers Behind the Proposed Judicial Reform in Colombia
Dec 27, 2011
The judicial reform bill, currently being debated in the Colombian congress, threatens to compromise the relative independence that the country’s courts have enjoyed since the passage of the 1991 Constitution. This independence has allowed Colombia to investigate more than 60 members of congress for charges of collaborating with narco-traffickers and paramilitaries.
Colombia Loses Álvaro Camacho Guizado
Dec 12, 2011
Yesterday morning Colombia and Latin America lost one of its most influential intellectuals and social scientists: Álvaro Camacho Guizado, a colleague, mentor, and, above all, a very dear friend. Camacho dedicated his life and energy to the study of narco-trafficking. He was also an early critical voice against U.S. anti-drug policy in Colombia.
U.S. Drug War Policy: Eroding Good Governance
Dec 5, 2011
Over the weekend, it was reported that U.S. government agencies are laundering money on behalf of narco-traffickers, and helping them to smuggle weapons across the U.S.-Mexico border. With these policies, the U.S. government is increasingly participating in a war that that is killing hundreds of thousands and eroding the prerequisites for good governance.
Hostage Deaths in Colombia Highlight the Need for More Cautious Policy
Nov 28, 2011
Last Saturday, Colombian government troops attacked a FARC encampment, leading to the death of four FARC prisoners. The deaths are at least partially due to the government's willingness to take riskier missions, which threaten more lives. In the absence of a peace negotiation, a more cautious policy is badly needed.
The World Bank Development Report and the Colombian Conflict
Nov 21, 2011
In May, the World Bank published its 2011 World Development Report, in which it considered civil wars and organized crime to be obstacles to economic development. However, without properly examining the problem of unequal land distribution, the recommended policies in the report will not be enough to end violence in many countries, including Colombia.
An Open Letter to President Juan Manuel Santos
Nov 7, 2011
On November 4, FARC leader Alfonso Cano was killed by the Colombian army, raising questions about the country’s on-going conflict. The core question is whether President Santos will capitalize on his victory to push for a negotiated peace agreement, or squander the opportunity and prolong this very costly conflict.
Paramilitary Ties in Colombian Local Elections
Oct 31, 2011
Regional elections were held across Colombia yesterday. However, at least 25% of the newly elected governors are alleged to have ties to right-wing paramilitaries. This reveals a deep-rooted problem in Colombian electoral politics in the midst of the on-going armed conflict
Is the FARC Retaking the Military Offensive in Colombia?
Oct 24, 2011
In just 48 hours, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia delivered two strong blows against the Colombian military, killing 20 soldiers and wounding many others. The timing of the attacks is significant, occurring less than 10 days before the October 30 Colombian local and legislative elections.
Uncovering the U.S. War in Colombia
Oct 17, 2011
Among the wide spectrum of U.S. international conflicts is the U.S. war in Colombia. This war has been often understated and almost forgotten, but thanks to recently-released WikiLeaks documents the U.S. involvement in Colombia is increasingly coming to light.
Reflections on the U.S.-Colombia FTA Agreement Approved Yesterday by Congress
Oct 13, 2011
Yesterday the U.S. Congress approved the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with Colombia. While it is still too early to assess the full magnitude of the FTA, there are already obvious losers and winners.
Congress Prepares for U.S.-Colombia FTA Vote: Producers Expect the Worst
Oct 10, 2011
The U.S. congress is expected to approve the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between the United States and Colombia this Wednesday. The alarms are already sounding among many sectors in Colombia, especially the producers of rice, corn, wheat, and dairy products. 350,000 Colombian small farmers are expected to be among the first to be hit.
Colombia's Military Expenditure and Its Impact
Oct 3, 2011
Each year, including pensions and other benefits to military personnel, the Colombian government spends as much as 25% of it's GDP on defense. But this already huge figure only accounts for the immediate costs of the continuation of the war system and does not tell us much about the hidden and more important longer-term effects of the war on the country’s economic and political development.
Latest UNDP Report on Colombia: 'It's the Rural Economy, Stupid.'
Sep 26, 2011
The United Nations Development Programme’s latest report on Colombia, released last week, reaffirmed what experts have claimed for a very long time: that the core of Colombia’s problems lies in its rural economy.
Measuring the Poor in Colombia or a Poor Measurement?
Sep 19, 2011
The controversy over the new Colombian methodology to calculate the number of poor is far from settled. The problem is, regardless of the “methodological rigor,” there are many doubts over whether the new methodology actually captures the magnitude and scope of Colombian poverty.
Colombian Statistics of Poverty and the Poor
Sep 12, 2011
Colombia recently changed the method it uses calculate poverty. Consequently the numbers of the poor were reduced significantly. But how accurate are these statistics? And how are the chosen variables measured?
The Santos Government Revises Military Strategy
Sep 6, 2011
The government of Juan Manuel Santos is adjusting its military strategy to concentrate on special operations rather than on sustained large scale operations such as Plan Patriota. The move is another step in the shifting dynamics of the Colombian conflict in recent years.
Multinational Incentives and the Rentier Predatory State
Aug 29, 2011
In this post, I provide the reader with some additional context to the workers' mobilization in Puerto Gaitan and the problems that multinational investments bring to bear on the country’s political economy of war.
Puerto Gaitan: On the Move Again
Aug 22, 2011
Colombian oil workers resumed their protests in Puerto Gaitan last week, once again confronting security forces. The new protests come after the Colombian government and the Canadian oil company Pacific Rubiales failed to fulfill promises made during last month’s oil workers’ strike.
The Obstacles to Peace in Colombia
Aug 15, 2011
Over the weekend thousands of campesinos, indigenous, and Afro-descendants gathered in the city of Barrancabermeja to call on the Colombian government and the insurgency to begin peace negotiations. The insurgency has expressed their willingness to talk, but the Santos government has yet to even explore the possibility. In order to understand why, we have to analyze the core obstacles that have confronted government peace negotiations with the FARC and the ELN since the mid-1980s.  
The Showdown Between the Judiciary and the Santos Government
Aug 8, 2011
During the government of Álvaro Uribe Vélez, Colombian courts defended their independence and the separation of power by holding the executive and the legislative branches accountable to the rule of law. This position sparked a power struggle in the Colombian government that is far from over. Now, the government of President Juan Manuel Santos is attempting to trim the power of the Supreme Court alongside the other courts.
Colombian Narcotraffickers Court U.S. Extradition
Aug 1, 2011
During the 1980s, Colombian narcotraffickers fought ferociously against being extradited to the United States. But lately in an unprecedented shift, narcotraffickers are changing their attitudes, and courting extradition—the sooner the better.
Behind the Oil Workers’ Strike in Colombia
Jul 25, 2011
Last week, in perhaps the largest recent strike in Colombia, 10,000 workers walked out of several multinational oil companies in the Department of Meta. The strikes came in response to recent layoffs and the dismal working conditions in Meta, which over the last few years has become the epicenter of the country’s oil production.
Israel Enlists Colombian Support Against Palestinian Statehood
Jul 18, 2011
Colombia cultivated a special relationship with the Israeli military during the 2000s, increasing the intervention of foreign forces in its internal conflict. Now, the Israeli government is attempting to cash in by enlisting Colombia’s UN vote against Palestinian statehood in September.
The Colombian Military Strategy of "High Value Targets" and the War System
Jul 11, 2011
In Colombia the hyper security state is committed to continuing its war in spite of several recent good will gestures by the insurgency. Instead, the Santos government is still following the U.S.-Israeli designed military strategy of “high value targets” (HVTs). In other words, to assassinate the insurgency’s leadership and mid-level commanders in order to disrupt their command and control the structure of the organization.
Food Security and the Free Trade Agreement with Colombia
Jul 3, 2011
Over the last decade, several studies have warned that agricultural production is one of the most vulnerable sectors in the global economy, particularly for subsistence and small farmers, who are the main food producers in the world. The upcoming U.S.-Colombia Free Trade Agreement is nothing more than the continuation of a policy that promises an economic disaster to small producers, and further opens the door to a global food crisis.
The Changing Political Economy of the War System in Colombia
Jun 26, 2011
Over the last decade, several changes occurred in the political economy of the war system in Colombia that may lead to the prolongation of the civil conflict.
Santos, Is It Time For a Peacful Settlement?
Jun 20, 2011
For almost a century the dominant classes of Colombia have refused to accept a meaningful land reform as a way to end the civil war. What the Santos government needs is a change of course based on the acknowledgment that this protracted war has damaged enough Colombia’s social fabric.
Colombia’s Catch 22: Undermining the Victims’ Law
Jun 13, 2011
State-sponsored crime is neither unique nor exceptional. In fact, as the prominent sociologist Charles Tilly pointed out, the history of the nation state has been violent. This violence has been harnessed over time to serve the interests of capital—as was the case of Europe. Colombia is no exception.
Multinational Corporations in Colombia: Land Grab!
Jun 5, 2011
In 2009 the foreign direct investment (FDI) in Colombia amounted to $7.2 billion, which was a significant increase from the $2.4 billion recorded in 2000. The FDI is expected to reach $45 billion by 2015. Close to 75% of these investments are in the oil, gas and mineral sectors. The increasing flow of capital investment is causing havoc in the economy, affecting almost all exports including cut...
The Comfortable Impasse and the Hyper Security State in Colombia
May 30, 2011
In 1997, I explained that the emergence of a comfortable impasse is one of the major reasons why some civil wars protract. This is a condition in which belligerent parties adjust to a low intensity war as a result of their incapacity to secure an outright military victory. Case in point is Colombia. But since then many important developments have taken place, of which the most critical has been...
The Never-Ending Paramilitaries
May 22, 2011
When the government of Colombian president Álvaro Uribe (2002–10) started demobilizing the paramilitary umbrella group the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC) in 2005, some thought that this would at least eliminate one actor from the system of war. Now more than six years later, Colombia has about 6,000 well-armed paramilitaries that, according to the Colombian Institute for Development...
The Colombian War System's New Cash Crop: Mercenaries!
May 15, 2011
In the age of hyper-capitalism coined as “globalization” the export of mercenaries and private security armies has become an integral part of the international political economy. But when a country like Colombia, in a state of civil war since 1964, sends men to fight in a foreign nation like the United Arab Emirates it does not only raise eyebrows, but questions the global spill-over effects of a...
Finally There Is an 'Armed Conflict' in Colombia!
May 8, 2011
After almost ten years of President Alvaro Uribe (2002-2010) and his advisor José Obdulio Gaviria declaring that there was "no armed conflict" in Colombia, a bill (the War Victims' Bill) is being considered by the Colombian Congress that would recognize that there is a conflict after all.   This is to the chagrin of Uribe and his right wing associates. Uribe has consistently claimed that what the...