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Historical Aspects of Colombia’s Strategic Landscape

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Abstract

The Colombian case is arguably the most important strategic crisis in the Americas at the dawn of the new millennium. It is Latin America’s epicenter of brutal warfare, narcotrafficking, and population displacement. Along with the Israeli-Palestinian war, and the contest between India and Pakistan over Kashmir, the Colombian imbroglio is among the oldest military conflicts in the world. Yet, except for the odd “sound-bite” or perhaps a brief story buried in the back pages of the international press, it has remained off the media radar screen. And despite the eclipsing fears of global terror and the quagmire in Iraq, Colombia is among the largest recipients of U.S. military assistance globally. For example, it ranked seventh with regard to U.S. foreign aid in 20051 and was the third largest recipient of U.S. military aid for a number of years between 1998 and 2004. Colombia, then, deserves more scrutiny than it has received. We shall explore Colombia’s strategic significance in relation to the RMA as well as the intriguing question of why this country has been relatively hidden from the global eye.

Keywords

Social Force Labor Movement Historical Aspect Displace Population Guerrilla Group 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Notes

  1. 1.
    Ahead of Colombia in 2005 were Iraq, Afghanistan, Israel, Egypt, Pakistan, and Jordan. For additional related information, see Curt Tarnoff and Larry Nowels, Congressional Research Service, CRS Report for Congress: Foreign Aid; An Introductory Overview of US Programs and Policy (Washington, DC: Library of Congress, 2004), p. 13.Google Scholar
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    An excellent discussion of Colombia’s violence is Malcolm Deas and Fernando Gaitán Daza, Dos ensayos especulativos sobre la violencia en Colombia (Bogotá: Tercer Mundo, 1985).Google Scholar
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    Even cannibalism was apparent in the region of present-day Cali and northward. See Frank Safford and Marco Palacios, Colombia: Fragmented Land, Divided Society (New York: Oxford University Press, 2002), p. 21.Google Scholar
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    This point is developed fully in Nazih Richani’s superb work The Political Economy of War and Peace in Colombia (Albany: SUNY, 2002). Richani argues convincingly that, especially since the 1980s, subversive groups, criminal syndicates, and the military establishment have reaped high profits from Colombia’s special brand of warfare and that this factor perpetuates the war. A similar point is made byGoogle Scholar
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    For an excellent discussion of this, see Francisco Leal Buitrago, La Seguridad Nacional a la Deriva: Del Frente Nacional a la Posguerra Fria (Bogotá: Alphaomega, 2002), especially pp. 2–18.Google Scholar
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    See Álvaro Delgado, Politica y movimiento obrero, 1970–1983 (Bogotá: Ediciones CEIS, 1984), p. 113.Google Scholar
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    See Edgar Caicedo, Historia de las luchas sindicales en Colombia (Bogotá: Ediciones CEIS, 1971), p. 231.Google Scholar
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    Interview by author with Juan Pedro Schaerer, Jefede la Delegacion, Comite Internacional de la Cruza Roja, Bogotá, 19 February 2004.Google Scholar
  44. 93.
    United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), “Displacement, Development, and Modernity in the Colombian Pacific,” pamphlet (London: UNESCO, 2003), pp. 158–159.Google Scholar

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© James F. Rochlin 2007

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