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COLOMBIA HISTORICAL OVERVIEW. Osvaldo Jordan October 13, 2009. HISTORICAL OVERVIEW. 1717-1821. Viceroyalty of New Granada. 1819-1831. First Republic of Colombia. Simon Bolivar and The Gran Colombia. 1831-1858. The Republic of New Granada. 1858-1863. Neogranadine Confederation.

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Colombia historical overview


Osvaldo Jordan

October 13, 2009

Historical overview

  • 1717-1821. Viceroyalty of New Granada.

  • 1819-1831. First Republic of Colombia. Simon Bolivar and The Gran Colombia.

  • 1831-1858. The Republic of New Granada.

  • 1858-1863. Neogranadine Confederation.

  • 1863-1886. The United States of Colombia.

  • 1886-1991. Second Republic of Colombia. Rafael Nunez and The Regeneration.

  • 1991 to Present. A New Republic?

Independence wars and gran colombia

  • 1810-1816. First Independence of New Granada. The Patria Boba (Dumb Fatherland).

  • 1819-1822. Simon Bolivar and his Venezuelan Army fought to liberate New Granada.

  • 1819-1831. The Gran Colombia was formed by the former territories of the Viceroyalty of New Granada: Venezuela, New Granada, Ecuador, and Panama.

  • 1826. Bolivar organized the failed Congress of The Americas in Panama.

  • 1830. The Liberator died completely disillusioned in Santa Marta.

Republic of new granada 1831 1858

There were constant civil wars between Liberals and Conservatives. The rifts included divisions among artisans-merchants, and Catholics-seculars.

There was also a heated debate about federalism or centralized government.

Colombian federalism

1858-1863. Neogranadine Confederation. This federation was opposed by Radical Liberals.

1863-1885. After seizing power, they created the United States of Colombia. According to the new Constitution, the States were sovereign in all respects, but military defense and currency.

1886. The Conservative Rafael Nunez announced the end of the federation, and the creation of a new unitary state (The Regeneration).

Republic of colombia

1899-1902. The Regeneration was followed by the One Thousand Days War between Liberals and Conservatives. Around 100,000 died in this civil war.

  • The US supported the Panama independence movement after the Colombian Congress rejected a proposed Canal Treaty.

    Between 1886-1930, Colombian politics were entirely dominated by the Conservative Party.

An atypical history

  • The Liberals never came to dominate power before the 1930s, except for the brief federalist period between 1863-1886.

  • Even though coffee became the main export commodity, there was never a dominating agro-export elite (small to medium sized producers).

  • There were few military coups, and two formal political parties participated in generally fair and regular elections

La violencia 1946 1966
LA VIOLENCIA (1946-1966)

1930-1946. The Liberals finally came to power, and promoted early industrialization.

Between 1946-1966, Colombian politics were characterized by La Violencia, when an estimate 200,000 people were killed.

La Violencia terminated the Popular Liberalism of Jorge Eliecer Gaitan, who was assassinated in 1948, and sparked a mass street protest that came to be known as El Bogotazo.

In 1949, the Conservative Government closed Congress, and suspended civil liberties.

The rojas pinilla dictatorship 1953 1957

Liberal guerrilla movements were organized in many parts of the country, and La Violencia extended to non-political issues.

In 1953, moderate Conservatives supported a military coup by General Gustavo Rojas Pinilla.

The military government tried to quell La Violencia, yet the Dictator was eventually opposed by both Liberals and Conservatives.

In 1957, Conservatives and Liberals created a National Front to restore civilian rule (mutual elite accommodation).

The national front 1958 1974

  • The National Front was based on:

  • alternation in power, and

  • parity of power.

  • This arrangement institutionalized bipartisan rule in Colombia, yet excluded other political alternatives.

  • This led to the emergence of Leftist guerrillas (FARC, ELN, EPL, and M-19).

Colombian guerrillas

  • Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). 1965. Marxist-Leninist and Peasant-Oriented. Originated in Operation Marquetalia.

  • National Liberation Army (ELN). 1963. Castrist-Inspired and Student-Based.

  • Popular Liberation Army (EPL). 1967. Originally Maoist and Peasant-Oriented.

  • 19 April Movement (M19). 1973. Student-Based and Urban. Originated in ANAPO.

  • Quintin Lame Armed Movement (MAQL). 1984. Indigenous-Based.

After the national front

How do you face insurgency, through dialogue or through repression?

Between 1974-1998, the Liberal Party dominated Congress and the Presidency.

Conservative Belisario Betancur (1982-1986) passed an amnesty law, and signed peace accords with FARC, EPL, and M-19.

During this opening, FARC created the political party Union Patriotica (UP). However, thousands of UP members eventually were assasinated by right-wing paramilitary groups during the next few years.

In 1990, and five years after the spectacular seize of the Colombian Supreme Court, M-19 demobilized and entered the political arena.

The drug wars

As the Cold War faded away, drug related violence reached unthinkable levels in Colombia.

The Medellin Cartel of Pablo Escobar Gaviria began practicing what came to be known as NARCOTERRORISM.

In 1989, several prominent politicians were assasinated by the drug cartels, most notably the Liberal Senator and presidential candidate Luis Carlos Galan, who favored extradition of drug traffickers to the United States.

The US Government supported the War on Drugs, including the Panama Invasion (1989) and the 5-year Andean Initiative (2.2 billion), which involved Bolivia, Peru, and Colombia.

A new republic

The Colombian 1991 Constitution came to be considered the most progressive in Latin America, and the political opening led to the reincorporation of the EPL to civilian life.

Neither ELN nor FARC participated in the drafting of the Constitution, yet Liberal President Cesar Gaviria (1990-1994) held peace talks with both groups in Caracas (1991) and Tlaxcala (1992).

After being promised non-extradition, the main leaders of the Medellin Cartel surrendered to the Colombian authorities. However, Pablo Escobar continued operating from the La Catedral prison until his escape and violent death in 1993.

A new republic1

The Cali Cartel took over business, and replaced the Medellin Cartel as the main drug dealer.

The new Liberal administration of Ernesto Samper (1994-1998) was debilitated by a drug scandal involving financing of his presidential campaign.

The FARC and ELN guerrillas grew in strength, and the paramilitary responses became increasingly more violent.

In 1997, the paramilitary formed a federation, Autodefensas Unidas de Colombia (AUC), under the leadership of Carlos Castano.

Both the guerrilla and the paramilitary increasingly relied on drug trade, kidnappings, and other illegal activities to finance their organizations.

A new republic2

The administration of Conservative Andres Pastrana (1998-2002) initiated peace talks with FARC and ELN, including the creation of a demilitarized zone in the South.

The paramilitaries always rejected these peace talks, and began receiving increasing support from the Colombian military after the approval of the US-financed Plan Colombia in 1999.

The failure of a negotiated settlement inclined most Colombians towards the military solution that was offered by former Governor of Antioquia and Mayor of Medellin, Alvaro Uribe.

The uribe phenomenon

In 2002, Uribe was elected President as a dissident of the Liberal Party.

President Uribe appropriated the anti-terrorism discourse of George W. Bush, and became the most reliable political ally of the United States in Latin America.

The Bush Administration strengthened Plan Colombia, and began negotiations for signing a Free Trade Agreement with Colombia.

With unparalleled popular support, Uribe was re-elected as President of Colombia in 2006, this time under the banner of Colombia First.