Historia del partido comunista de Colombia, Volume 2. Front Cover. Medófilo Medina. CEIS, – Colombia – pages. Medófilo Medina is the author of Historia del Partido Comunista de Colombia tomo I ( avg rating, 2 ratings, 0 reviews, published ), Acuerdos en C. sarrollo (Bogota, i); Gerardo Molina, Las ideas liberates en Colombia, vol. and Medofilo Medina, Historia del Partido Comunista de Colombia (Bogota.

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Documents Flashcards Grammar checker. Social Science Political Science the colombian crisis in historical perspective advertisement. LeGrand Department of History McGill University April The purpose of this informal paper is to give those with relatively little background on Colombia some insight into the history of the country, the nature of the conflicts, and problems in understanding what is going on and finding solutions.

The endnotes suggest further readings, both in English and Spanish. I thank Nancy Appelbaum for suggesting the structure of this essay and for co-authoring the first five pages.

Large areas of the countryside are controlled by guerrilla groups there are 20, guerrillas in arms and paramilitary forces the paramilitaries claim 7, to 11, members. The government has partkdo legitimate monopoly of force and is extremely weak; it does not and cannot effectively colimbia its citizens. Ninety-five hiztoria of crimes never come to trial, judges receive death threats, and the army itself is accused of human rights violations. Since there have been 25, violent deaths per year, a total ofmurders over the past decade and a half.

Homicide is the leading cause of death for men between the ages of 18 and 45, and comubista second leading cause for women. In1, people died in massacres and more than 3, were kidnapped for ransom.

Politicians, journalists, university professors, human rights workers, trade unionists, peasant leaders, and church activists are threatened, and disappearances and assassinations are daily occurrences. North Americans tend to associate violence in Colombia with the drug trade. Indeed, Colombia is the world’s major supplier of cocaine and an increasingly important supplier of heroin.

One year ago, Colombia suddenly leapt into the news in North America because the U. The Colombian government was already the largest recipient of U. According to the United States, the Colombian government is fighting a life and death struggle against drug lords in cahoots with left-wing guerrillas. United States policy does not take account of the complexity of the Colombian situation, the fact that the actors in the violence are not one or two forces, but several, and that parts of the military itself and certainly the paramilitaries have links to drug traffickers too.

Many critics 3 of Plan Colombia fear that massive U. The present violence in Colombia has deep historical roots. The western half of the country is broken by three dramatic ranges of the Andes mountains. The tropical lowlands also include the southern Amazonian jungles, the vast Eastern Plains the Llanosand the valley of the Magdalena River Colombia’s Mississippi which runs from deep in the interior between the eastern and central mountain ranges north to the bustling port of Barranquilla on the Caribbean.

The great majority of the population lives in the mountains and is Spanish-speaking, of mixed Spanish and native Indian descent. Along the Pacific and Atlantic coasts, one finds significant black and mulatto populations and in the Magdalena valley, many people of mixed ancestry Indian-black-Spanish. The eastern half of the country, the endless grassland plain that extends into Venezuela, always sparsely populated by cowboys and a few native hunting and gathering groups, has recently attracted international companies since the discovery of major oil deposits there in the past twenty years.

Native people comprise only 3 percent of Colombia’s population. Like most other Latin American countries, after Independence Colombia had trouble finding profitable export products.

The result of these novel economic activities and the building of railroads, which also began in the s was that people began migrating out of the highlands into the middle altitudes and lowlands which became the epicenter of commercial production in the late nineteenth century.

the colombian crisis in historical perspective

Peasants left haciendas or small farm areas where the land had overfragmented to stake claims on public land down the mountain. Such frontier settlers, known as colonos, cleared public land and put it into cultivation, but often a decade or so after they arrived, land sharks appeared on the scene, threatening to take over their fields with cimunista property titles. So the growth of agricultural exports stimulated colonization movements of poor people into previously unsettled areas, often followed by the privatization of the land by men with resources who succeeded in consolidating large private properties.

This is the major form of rural conflict in Colombia historically and it is the major form today. After Independence one finds similar tendencies in wider areas of the country, regions that had remained public lands but in the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries took on new value because lucrative commercial crops could be produced there.


With this historical geography in mind, let us turn now to the historical roots of the current violence in Colombia. Colombian scholars emphasize that there is not just one but rather a multiplicity of violences paftido the country today.

These include an enormous escalation parrtido crime over the past two 5 decades, conflicts between youth gangs, and the so-called “social cleansing” groups that attack prostitutes, homosexuals, and drug addicts in cities. There are many forms of non-political as well as political violence. The main domestic actors in the current political violence are: The best way to make sense of what is going on is to examine these overlapping yet distinct forces one by one.

The Civilian Government Colombia has not experienced military dictatorship like so many other Latin American countries. What is confounding about the current violence and the widespread violation of human rights is that it is occurring in what appears to be a political volombia. Soon after Independence, in the s and s, two political parties took form in Colombia, the Liberals and the Conservatives.

Soon everyone came to identify themselves as Liberal or Conservative: Both the Liberals and the Conservatives were multiclass parties, led by elites and including middling collombia and urban and rural poor. During the nineteenth century, numerous civil wars between the two parties errupted: The seemingly interminable fighting culminated in the pargido War of a Thousand Days which affected the whole country, killing, it is said,people.

What is unique about Colombia is the depth of party affiliation. The parties were the first supra-local institutions with which people identified most scholars of Colombia would say that the state took form later. And these parties have endured: Colombia is the only country in Latin America today where political parties that originated in the nineteenth century continue to dominate the political scene.

In Colombia the emergence of the middle and working classes as political actors in the twentieth century was contained and constrained within the old two-party system. They question, too, whether or not emergent social sectors have been able to find real political expression for their concerns.

But violence broke out again in the late s. The years to in Colombia are known simply as La Violencia. Civil War and the Mexican Revolution, the Colombian Violencia of the s is the civil medotilo in the Western Hemisphere which killed the most hiatoria Some people say La Violencia began with mednia elections of in which the Liberals lost the presidency to the Conservatives.

Gaitan’s death set off the largest urban riot in Latin American history, the Bogotazo, and it intensified tensions between Liberal and Conservative party elites, which some say soon precipitated the breakdown of the state.

During the late s and early s, Conservatives controlled the government and military, and they also armed peasant groups which they turned into semi-military or irregular, what we call paramilitary, forces. In self-defense and retaliation, Liberals formed guerrilla groups to fight the Conservatives and the government.

There are many interpretations of La Violencia of the s. Still others say that the breakdown of the state released a multitude of local conflicts, some political and others socioeconomic. Still others see La Violencia as an abortive social revolution or, alternatively, as an offensive of landlords and business people against peasants and their allies who had begun to push for land redistribution.

In contrast, today the conflict between Liberals and Conservatives is no longer relevant. While these are still the main political parties in Colombia, they are not the protagonists of the conflicts. Also, today’s violence affects everyone — both urban and country dwellers and the upper and middle classes as well as popular groups. Today the powerful — presidential candidates, congressmen, and business people — are targets of the violence, as are the rural poor. Furthermore it is important to remember in the s, there was no drug trade in Colombia; at the time of the first Violencia, Colombia did not produce cocaine, marijuana 7 or heroin.

These are new export crops. Thus the character of Colombian violence has undergone major changes in recent times.

By the Liberal and Conservative elites became alarmed by the situation and fearful that social conflicts were getting out of control; so the leaders of the Liberal and Conservative parties came together to make peace through a political pact known as the National Front Frente Nacional. The National Front of was an agreement between the Conservative and Liberal party directorates that they would alternate the presidency and divide political offices for the next fifteen years So elections continued to be held, but everyone knew who would win: This was a kind of elitist, restricted democracy, in large measure a return to the “politics of gentlemen” who arranged the affairs of the nation over drinks at the Jockey Club.


The National Front system was a formal democracy with two political parties and elections every few years, but as industrialization occurred and more people moved to cities, as society became more complex, and new social movements took form, they could not find independent political expression. Party affiliations, embodied in patronclient relations, took precedence; business and large landowning groups organized strong private gremios lobbying groups that played a major role in making economic policy; and the government did not have much of a presence in large areas of the country, especially in frontier zones of recent settlement.

Also, Colombia is very regionalized: In the early s, out of the Liberal guerrilla movements of the first Violencia emerged a new kind of guerrilla — armed left-wing movements that challenged the system.

These new movements were inspired by the Cuban revolution and Fidel Castro’s success in using guerrilla tactics to take power this is the period when young people all over Latin America sought to emulate Fidel and Che, and various small guerrilla groups, including the Sandinista Liberation Front in Nicaragua, took form. But in Colombia, the new guerrilla movements also had domestic roots, for the guerrillas that challenged the political monopoly of Liberals and Conservatives emerged directly out of the armed groups of the preceding decade.

During the s and s, several guerrilla organizations were active in Colombia. Founded init 8 emerged out of the Colombian Communist Party and radical Liberalism at the end of the first Violencia. Like other Latin American Communist parties, the Colombian Communist party PCC was formed in the late s, which happened to be a period of agrarian unrest in coffee regions in the eastern and central cordilleras.

Although numerically small, the PCC involved itself almost immediately in these struggles over Indian communal lands, the rights of tenant farmers, and public land claims. These Communist-influenced rural redoubts became refuge zones for peasants fleeing from partisan violence.

At the end of the first Violencia, in the early s, the new National Front government attacked these peasant republics with aerial bombing, and people streamed out of them towards new frontier regions in the eastern plains and the northern part of the southern jungles. These refugees saw the state as the enemy because the government was attacking them.

Medófilo Medina (Author of Historia del Partido Comunista de Colombia tomo I)

The new migrations became self-defense movements of armed colonization that went off in the by now familiar way to settle new areas of public lands and engage in subsistence agriculture. It just so happened that these areas were apt for raising coca and, in the early s with the international drug economy in full expansion, peasants in these areas began raising coca commercially.

It is important to note that peace negotiations have been going on for a long time in Colombia; indeed, they antedate the peace initiatives in El Salvador and Medovilo. Over the next decade, members of the Patriotic Union party who ran for political office, got involved in the union organizing, and so on, were assassinated by hired killers on motorcycles, called sicarios.

In the early s, when negotiations began, FARC had approximately 3, guerrillas in arms. In the past decade, especially dwl last five years, paartido has expanded exponentially in numbers and geographical reach. It finances itself through kidnapping for ransom and taxing the production of coca, much of which is cultivated in regions under FARC influence. Traditionally guerrilla groups in Latin America kidnapped asking for the release of political prisoners and publicity for their political programs.

In recent years, FARC has practiced on a large scale the kidnapping of men, women and children in cities and rural areas for immense sums of money. While FARC says that it only targets the rich, many middle class people feel “kidnappable”. This is true especially since FARC recently began the practice of “miraculous fishing” la pesca milagrosawhich involves setting up roadblocks on highways and kidnapping people out of cars or buses after verifying their credit ratings by radio or laptop computer.

These negotiations have not, however, made much progress and many doubt that FARC is serious about making peace. Meanwhile, because the negotiations are being carried out without a cease-fire, all sides are using force to strengthen their positions at the negotiating table.