By Francisco Leal Buitrago, EL ESPECTADOR, June 26, 2020
(Translated by Eunice Gibson, CSN Volunteer Translator)
The nation state remains the axis of world geographical division, after the stalemates and failures of regional integration. The principal advance was the European Union, and the Andean Group was an advance in our area, although it failed. Moreover, the model of liberal democracy is the best, even though with variations; some complex, as in the United States, and some simpler, as in the countries in our region. The United States have more or less political resilience, the same as in our configurations, partly because of geographical complexities.
Colombia is one of the countries with the most geographical complexity, which affects its national and governmental systems. However, the negative effects in that respect have more to do with political factors. From the beginnings of its capitalist modernization, finalized in the Second World War, the government has been incapable of occupying in any legitimate way its dispersed territories in more than half of its extent. There are also provinces, like Antioquia, where the population identifies more with the region than with the nation.
The government’s abandonment of territories has permitted their occupation by criminal groups: guerrillas, paramilitaries, drug traffickers, illegal miners, and common criminals. … The campesinos have been the victims, because they have to be subject to the overlords, even to committing crimes, on pain of being killed. And if they lead any group that tries to defend their collective interests, they are threatened and/or murdered. The Armed Forces, which have expanded exponentially, have been incapable of solving these problems, which have increased. The military and police expansion has led to the loss of control by the governments, fostering criminal activity.
During these decades, there has been an enormous increase in population, primarily in the cities, with immigration by campesinos, banished and in misery, in addition to other rural groups and people coming from small towns. So they created neighborhoods of squatters and improvised dwellings in the surrounding areas. That increases inequality, discrimination, and informal work, which, added to unemployment, affect more than half of the economically active population.
There are other serious problems in the rural areas, such as the ancestral expansion of the agricultural frontier with the extermination of the forests. The big landowners have been going after the campesinos to buy their improvements or to get them off their parcels so that they can keep on expanding the frontier. They have also been cutting down forests indiscriminately. The persistent “land problem” with the enormous estates has allowed the owners to control municipalities and towns, subjugating authorities and paying wretchedly low property taxes. It’s a growing problem without any solution for the national authorities. Meanwhile the increase in cultivation of illegal crops has demonstrated that the gringo policies with respect to that have been mistaken. National governments have been bowing down before the “empire”. Right now it’s being guided by a non-expert, without any particular direction.
The problems I point out here stand out above the other problems that are added to the lack of governmental capacity to solve them. They are avoiding many problems that afflict the country; the most outstanding of those is vote-buying, and the public and private corruption that results from that.