Economics and Globalization

Uribe Gets It Wrong Again with Proposal to Crackdown on Colombia’s Cocaleros

Category: Economics and Globalization, War on Drugs
By · May 2, 2009 · Comment

The northern Colombian departments of Antioquia and Córdoba have seen an upsurge in violence in the last year that Colombian authorities have attributed to two phenomena which are, in their minds, interrelated: a dramatic increase in coca cultivation and the push by emerging criminal groups to take advantage of coca crops and trafficking routes in the region. Facing down a difficult situation experienced elsewhere in the country, Colombia’s President Alvaro Uribe briefly mentioned a new strategy to confront these two phenomena: the arrest and prosecution of those who grow coca in the region. This strategy, though, is fraught with problems that are likely to lead to failure. These include the overt ignorance of the failures of past punitive policies against coca growers, the overt ignorance of the reasons why cocaleros grow coca in the first place and the alienation of the cocalero population, which could lead growers to move even closer to armed groups in the area. Read more»

U.S. Policy Towards Venezuela and Colombia Will Change Little Under Obama

Category: Economics and Globalization, Politics and Democracy, US Foreign Policy
By · January 23, 2009 · Comment

Recent comments by President-elect Barack Obama, Secretary of State appointee Hilary Clinton and leading congressional Democrats suggest that the incoming U.S. administration will not significantly differ from the Bush administration in its approach towards Venezuela and Colombia. In an interview with the U.S. Spanish-language television network Univision, Obama fired an unprovoked opening salvo across the bow of Venezuela’s President Hugo Chávez that will likely ensure a continuation of the verbal sparring that has marked relations between the Bush administration and the Venezuelan government. Not surprisingly, Secretary of State Hilary Clinton echoed her future boss’s view of Chávez in her confirmation hearings. Meanwhile, the new House majority leader, Democratic Congressman Steny Hoyer, lauded the achievements of Colombia’s President Uribe and, along with leading Democrat Charles Rangel, endorsed the U.S.-Colombia Free Trade Agreement. Read more»

The Final Offensive for the US-Colombia Free Trade Agreement is a Stark Contrast to Other Developments in the Hemisphere

Category: Economics and Globalization, Politics and Democracy, US Foreign Policy
By · September 19, 2008 · Comment

While the eyes of the world focus on the internal crisis in Bolivia and the unfolding tensions in the Andean region, the pro-Bush government of Colombia is engaged in one of its most intensive lobbying efforts in recent memory, a full court press that will culminate with the visit next week of President Alvaro Uribe to Washington. It is amazing how in one country of the hemisphere, an indigenous president, Evo Morales, is openly confronting the United States, accusing it of meddling in its internal affairs by fomenting unrest in the state of Santa Cruz, while in another the president is stopping at nothing to get even closer to the Bush-McCain regime. Read more»

Colombia’s Economic Growth Fueled by Repression

Category: Economics and Globalization, Human Rights
By · May 19, 2008 · Comment

Over the past five years Colombia has achieved impressive economic growth as foreign investment has increased dramatically. According to most analysts, it is the policies of President Alvaro Uribe that have created the security conditions required by foreign companies to operate in the country. A significant portion of Colombia’s economic growth has resulted from investment in the country’s extractive sector, reflecting the confidence of foreign investors in the capacity of the Colombian military to safeguard their operations in the country’s rural conflict zones. However, analysts who praise the Uribe government for Colombia’s economic growth often ignore the fact that the enhanced security provided by the Colombian military has been achieved through an increase in human rights abuses perpetrated against the rural population. Read more»

Oil and US Policy Toward Colombia

Category: Armed Conflict, Economics and Globalization, US Foreign Policy
By · January 7, 2008 · Comment

The Bush administration has come up with numerous justifications for its annual handout of around $700 million in mostly military aid to Colombia. Of these, the war on drugs and the urgency of combating “narco-terrorists,” which is code for battling guerrillas from the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia – People’s Army (FARC-EP), are the most common. Another oft-cited, and far more unlikely, reason for beefing up Colombia’s military is the administration’s ostensible desire to “defend democracy” in Colombia. There is, however, another factor driving US involvement in Colombia that receives rather less public attention: oil. Read more»

Bush and Harper Ignore Colombia’s Labor Rights Reality

Category: Economics and Globalization, Human Rights
By · December 10, 2007 · Comment

In the past year, there have been ongoing debates in both Washington and Ottawa about potential free trade agreements with Colombia. The failure to implement a hemisphere-wide agreement has led the governments of both President George W. Bush and Prime Minister Stephen Harper to push for bilateral pacts with their ideologically-aligned ally in Colombia, President Alvaro Uribe. Both Bush and Harper are facing domestic opposition that seeks to thwart the signing and ratification of the agreements due to ongoing human rights abuses in Colombia, particularly against unionists. The US and Canadian governments repeatedly point to a recent reduction in the number of Colombian labor leaders killed as justification for a free trade agreement. However, in actuality, the intensity of attacks against Colombian workers has increased, not decreased, under the Uribe government—and state security forces are directly responsible for an increasing number of the abuses. Read more»

Reflections on Mining in Colombia: When “Development” Creates Deprivation

Category: Economics and Globalization, Human Rights, Race and Gender
By · August 13, 2007 · Comment

When the Make Poverty History campaign swept the globe two years ago, its message of debt relief, charity and development for the global South came with an impressive lineup of celebrity endorsements, but the credibility for this package of messages came from renowned economist Jeffrey Sachs. His publication The End of Poverty: Economic Possibilities for Our Time trendily re-packaged the issues in a way that made the international community take notice. But while many in the activist community seized the opportunity to breathe new life into campaigns for development and aid, Indian physicist and philosopher Vandana Shiva warned against the dangers of buying into Sachs’ analysis. Read more»