No. 61 – December 2015
Author: Nicola Fatone
This report aims to draw a pattern of the Colombian internal war through two analytical categories, territory and conflict, showing how the Colombian State has been forged in these dimensions and so has developed its own political institutions, economic structures and civil society. The territorial issue affected the internal public defence and the legal certainty about rural private property: the tract wasn’t fully legally occupied when the state was constituted, permitting the establishment of empirical local powers managed by controversial landowners, furthermore while Colombia was fulfilling its economic potential based on agricultural produce for export and mining resources. This context led to an intensive expression of violence, becoming the main instrument of traditional parties and ambiguous land masters for keeping power. Violence as a meaningful analytical key explains how oppressed farmers learned this lesson as the usual way of political confrontation and where the phenomenon of guerrilla warfare originated from. As a degenerated return effect, the archetype of violence animated also illegitimate factions like the paramilitary militias, exacerbating the conflict fracture. Many elements have played a role of influence in this scheme, like the centennial alliance with the United States and the opening of the illicit cultivations that turned Colombia into the largest drug trade in the world, as well as degenerating the practices and attitudes of the originally legitimate guerrilla fighter’s roots. The current negotiations with the FARC-EP represent the chance to end the conflict, although it was only the first step to re-conquer the missing elements necessary to develop into a solid, complete State. The geopolitical relevance of Colombia’s position broadens this process. The question is how a peaceful Colombia could contribute to the Latin American development, now far from the Washington Consensus, remaining the only loyal U.S. ally in the region.