Prospects for peace in Colombia : objectives and strategies of the main actors
Gomez, Juan C.
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Colombia is enduring an internal conflict with almost forty years of history. Guerrillas and self-defense organizations are threatening one of the oldest democracies in Latin America just as the country is starting to recover from one of the deepest economic depressions since its independence. The Colombian government, with both civilian and international support, is trying to halt, or at least to reduce the level of violence. However, the enormous military and economic strength of the guerrillas and illegal self-defense groups is clearly delaying the resolution of this conflict. This thesis analyzes the origins of the conflict in Colombia and shows how mistaken government policies and changes in the drug trade have contributed to the escalation of the conflict in the 1990s. It then seeks to explain the prospects for peace in Colombia by analyzing the objectives and strategies of the actors involved in the conflict. It concludes that the FARC guerrilla and self-defense groups seem to be interested in conflict perpetuation. On the other hand, the state security forces and all domestic and international actors clearly favor peace. To a lesser degree, even the ELN may seek peace, because they have been coerced and debilitated. The final chapter assesses the likelihood for success of Colombiaâ s current strategy and makes policy recommendations. It concludes that the government's peace strategy and its unrelenting battle against narcotrafficking may increase the violence in the short run, but it should weaken the guerrillas and the self-defense organizations economic and military strength in the long run.
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