Colombia in 2019: The Paradox of Plenty

Journal article

Rettberg, Angelika (2020) Colombia in 2019: The Paradox of Plenty, Revista de Ciencia Política 40 (2): 235–258.

Read the article here (Open Access)

2019 was a significant year for Colombian politics and the country's political debate was dominated by four intertwined issues: (a) the implementation of the historic peace agreement between the Colombian government and the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (FARC) and all its economic, judicial, and political ramifications, (b) the ongoing presence of illicit crops and the impact of the drug trade on domestic and international security, (c) the tense bilateral relation between Colombia and Venezuela, and, similar to other Latin American countries, (d) social unrest caused by multiple and widespread frustration about public education, health, corruption, governance, and the environment. At the same time, the country was marked by steady economic growth, above the Latin American average. In addition, much of the political debate took place within and among the institutions of Colombian state and society, illustrating growing state capacity and a mature civil society. In this article, I describe the different aspects of this Colombian paradox—high levels of domestic unrest and political polarization surrounding unsolved structural issues and pending expectations about peace combined with superior economic performance and growing institutional strength—in an effort to provide an overview of the challenges overcome as well as those lying ahead.

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