The Historical Text Archive: Electronic History Resources, online since 1990 Bringing you digitized history, primary and secondary sources
HTA Home Page | E-books | Latin America | The State of the Literature

2: The State of the Literature

<< 1: In the beginning... || 3: Historical Evolution of the INT >>


In seeking to understand the illegal narcotics trade (INT), North and South American scholars have taken a variety of approaches to the phenomena of the INT. Any study of the illegal narcotics trade must specify which link in the production chain one is examining.(1) The INT is a heterogeneous, not homogeneous, phenomenon. Each link in the production chain represents a distinct set of social, political, and economic relationships. Differences exist not only between producer and consumer countries, but within producer countries such as Peru, Bolivia, and Ecuador. Colombia occupies a unique niche within the production chain, that of processor and transhipper of illegal drugs. The links in the production chain do, however, share similarities. While the specifics may vary, they need organizational growth and institutions to meet those needs as the organization becomes more complex and interdependent.

This study focuses on Colombia as a processor and transhipper of illegal drugs, principally cocaine. Colombia has also emerged as a manager of other levels of the INT enterprise such as provide transportation, financial and legal services. Involvement of the INT in these services will be expanded upon in the next chapter as we explore the dimension of the INT problem.

The review of the literature is thematic, beginning with the state and institution building. What has the work of scholars examining the state and institution building helped us understand about the Colombian state and its institutions? Another theme addressed by scholars concerns violence as a product of and an agent of social change. Violence is not a new phenomenon in Colombian history and has served as an agent for change. One example was the establishment of the National Front, a consociational effort to end the twenty-year period of `la violencia'. But what change has the violence associated with the INT wrought?

Before the mid-1980s, when scholars began to realize that the illegal narcotics trade was more than a regional and/or solely criminal endeavor, the literature on the illegal narcotics trade was largely anecdotal, diffuse, and scattered. The first wave of literature on the illegal narcotics trade, dominated by North American scholars, focused on national security and foreign policy concerns from the perspective of the United States, chief consumer nation in the drug production chain. By the end of the 1980s South American and European scholars became involved in the study of the INT. Their work, while also concerning itself with national security and foreign policy from a South American perspective, incorporates a stronger component of social and governance issues. According to Andrew Kirby, the form of any state apparatus is only to be understood in relation to the society within which it is locked and . . . that society is . . . a palimpsest of many layers, each a particular form of organization that itself reflects specific historical circumstances.(2)

What, then, are we to make of the Colombian state? How are we to understand the degree of autonomy exercised by the Colombian state and its institutions?

The Colombian State and Its Institutions

Much of the analysis of Colombia has been state-centric; i.e., treating the state as an independent actor and variable and focusing on its formal and legal institutions. Within the past ten to twelve years there has emerged a literature examining the social relations of the Colombian state and the evolution of the Colombian state through specific historical circumstances.(3) It is this political system, the context from which it derives its principles and structures, which struggles with the impact of the INT.

Elite and Institutional Approaches

The establishment of the National Front in 1958 followed decades of civil strife known as `la violencia' and called for alternating the presidency between the only two legally permitted political parties, the Liberals and the Conservatives. As the only two legally permitted political parties, parity within political representation at the legislative level and within the political bureaucracy was guaranteed. Departmental and municipal governments were appointed by the national government until a gradual phasing in of local elections could take place.

The logic behind this plan was to end the violence that had decimated the country. Moreover, it provided Colombia a controlled environment within which to strengthen its political institutions and democratic practices and reorder a devastated economy. Bureaucratic power sharing was extended via constitutional reform in 1968, 1974, and 1978. This process required the president to assure sufficient and equitable representation of the major party not in power. Expectations were that, by the end of this legally mandated political system, political institutions and democratic practices would be strengthened and the economy sufficiently stabilized to allow Colombia's return to a more inclusive democratic state.

The seminal work on Colombia by Robert H. Dix examines these changes as one form of political response to historical, economic, social, political, and cultural factors.(4) His study, however, is confined to assessing the political route a country might take to modernization and who controls this process. He concludes that a modernizing elite continues to rule yet fails to incorporate broad sectors of the majority into the political realm underscoring the fragility of the National Front. While Dix does mention radicalizing opposition movements, those who comprise these movements are not as clearly revealed as are the elites who rule.

Examining the breakdown of democratic regimes, Juan Linz and Alfred Stepan do not address Colombia specifically. They do, however, provide useful theoretical insights in their examination of multiple crises over time as having "undermined the consensus of the democratic parties and their capacity to cooperate" resulting from "a lack of efficacy or effectiveness of successive governments when confronted with serious problems that require immediate attention." (5)

Alexander Wilde suggests the National Front "provided institutional substance to what . . . had depended upon personal relationships."(6) But this institutional substance reflected a non- competitive elite who still viewed the masses as clientele whose avenue of dissent and opposition remained continuously circumscribed by the elite. Wilde continues

That oligarchical democracy survived is a tribute not only to the skill of these leaders but at least as much testimony to the weakness of the challenge they faced -- the lack of explicit and organized alternatives to their system.(7)

Although there had existed for some time an illegal underground economy, Wilde does not acknowledge its existence. This represents a glaring omission since the underground economy was, at the least, tolerated by the government as an alternative to services it could not provide.

Paul Oquist departs from mainstream elite approaches in his examination of violence. Oquist argues that la violencia is explained by the partial collapse of the state's inability to mediate conflict effectively "between the partisan elites into which the dominant class in Colombia was divided."(8) This inability by the state foreshadows the later impact of the INT. Oquist examines the disintegration of the state's judicial, military, and parliamentary institutions. He concludes that the result of the partial collapse of the state was a rapid alignment along party lines as the state's ability to serve society diminished. Oquist does not address specific categories of illegality such as the underground economy or the illegal narcotics trade. His study suggests that, as the state's ability to serve society diminished, steps to strengthen the judicial apparatus increasingly became extensions of the elites of both parties. Thus nationalistic allegiances were eschewed unless defined within party parameters. This work enhances our understanding of the development of paramilitary groups and a growing acceptance of the privatization of justice.

Jonathan Hartlyn suggests Oquist exaggerates the "extension and coherence of the Colombian state in the 1940s",(9) but acknowledges the violence that erupted was "due to the encouragement of regional party figures with the active or passive acceptance of national leadership."(10) The later establishment of the National Front as a consociational regime contained elements of historical continuity: traditional parties, a strong regional structure, a limited state role in the economy and "controlled incorporation of the popular sector through party rather than state ties."(11) Hartlyn suggests then that the National Front became a regime representing an institutional alternative logical for the economically dominant groups to support.

Mauricio Botero Montoya expands on this theme noting that one must consider the circumstances in which the National Front found itself at inception.(12) Few state institutions had survived the prolonged years of la violencia. What had survived were the clientelistic linkages among the elites along partisan lines. Part of the goal of the National Front was to reconstruct these linkages to the state within a more nationalistic framework. However, the National Front found itself confronted with not only a deteriorated political situation, but also a deteriorated economic situation. The fall in international coffee prices after 1954 left the coffers of the National Front depleted and with few resources to stimulate capital development.(13) At this point the oldest producer association, Federacíon Nacional de Cafeteros "began playing a decision-making role, [where] there did not exist as a hegemonic group in the management of the State and that whoever wanted it [decision-making role] could obtain it."(14) The Colombian state was anxious to support capital development. It welcomed offers by the Asociación Nacional de Industriales (ANDI) and the banks, Asociación Nacional de Instituciones Fínancieras (ANIF), to establish financial centers in Bogotá, Valle, Caldas, and Medellín. Moreover, the numbers and types of producer associations proliferated as did the size of the public bureaucracy.

Hartlyn's excellent assessment of the growth of the producer associations, aided by the Colombian state, helps us understand that strengthening the autonomy of the state as it rebuilt was compromised from the beginning. Producer associations provided a wealth of services to its employees and contractors including credit, housing, health services, and education.

The public bureaucracy exists at the pleasure of the Colombian legislature that oversees all appointments and represents the fastest growing state institution. By 1986 there were approximately 800,000 employees and some 400,000 contractors in the public administration. Colombian legislators come from regions where bipartisanism is expressed less in terms of political parties than as a "federation of gamonales [economic elites/leaders] with respect to their clients."(15) The result, according to Botero, has been the development of a "curious and hybrid state that limits the interventionary functions of the administration to redistribute income, but simultaneously impedes the only economic sector that can impose this on the administration."(16) Botero challenges an assumption of elite theorists that there exists a homogeneous elite that acts in concert. He suggests that the fragmentation that exists among los gremios, the producer associations, prevents the kind of elite consensus that might provide an alternative economic decision-making body within the state.

In other words, the Constitutional Reform of 1968, while it placed responsibility for initiating economic relationships with the public administration [bureaucracy] exclusively in the hands of the legislature, it also invested extraordinary powers with the executive. The president could declare an economic emergency state of siege with little accountability to either the duly elected officials or a recognized economic interest group such as the los gremios.(17)

Diaz Uribe argues that to understand the Colombian state requires understanding the economic and political dynamics imprinted on the national history and consciousness. While these may appear irrational they possess rational explanations. As the National Front proceeded onward, politics became increasingly depoliticized as the bipartisanism practiced by the traditional political parties changed character abandoning their role of representation directly before the State of those interests of the different sectors of society. This role has been assumed by the producer associations, that openly negotiate in the matter of public policies with the technocracy at the decision-making levels (cattle policy, foreign commerce, transportation, salaries, capital and finance) . . . (18)

According to Diaz Uribe, the importance of the changing character of the traditional political parties is the way in which bipartisanism was expressed differently at different levels. At the national level, bipartisanism corresponded to the leaders of the two traditional political parties. At the regional level bipartisanism is expressed as a federation of gamonales or economic elites/leaders. On the local level, to say one is of the conservative or liberal party says less than if one personalizes the political affiliation with a local jefe; I.e., dajerista, santofimista, etc. Loyalty to the regional jefes has less to do with vote-buying than the leaders' ability to provide basic necessities. Appointment and control of public employees in the public agencies responsible for providing basic necessities are rooted in a clientelistic relationship. Here the employee gains his/her position, not by meritocracy, but by political clientelistic practices.

The purchase [negotiation of basic necessities] operates during a few days and supports the mobilization of a growing quantity of private money; the negotiation of State services is realized every day and only requires the control of its agencies, as well as the resources that are put to the country and are a part of the National Budget.(19)

As Colombia continued its modernization, the need to centralize the state's activities in the face of international capital transference associated with capital development by industry, commerce and finance sectors became pressing. Not only was the state faced with the necessity of planning and centralization but so also were the private sectors.(20) The responses to these needs were two regime styles consisting of distinctively different criteria.

There developed a technocracy that defined politics from a "supradepartmental perspective, international, and in the long term, which corresponds to capital."(21) The other style was clientelistic and defined actions in the matter of public investment at regional levels. Thus depoliticization occurred first at the national level as the ruling elites attained a more technocratic character and the parity imposed by the National Front weakened the role of the political parties. Meanwhile, another form depoliticization was occurring at the regional level. While the bonds of clientelism had not disappeared, this form of allegiance was changing from a partisan to a personalistic allegiance with an economic basis.

Diaz Uribe underscores the fragmented character of the Colombian state as it developed two types of clientelism that corresponded, on the one hand, to the establishment of the National Front, and, on the other hand, to the desegmenting depoliticization of the major political parties of the National Front.

Although state capacity increased during the National Front, its export-led growth remained largely in the hands of producer associations. Coffee producers, Federación Nacional de Cafeteros [FEDECAFE], the national airline, Avianca, and producers (Asociacíon Colombiana de Industrias Metalúrgicas or FEDEMETAL) of most of the nations' steel at the major steel mill, Acerias del Paz del Rio gradually assumed the stronger political position previously held by the political parties. According to Hartlyn, as partisan desegmentation occurred throughout the years of the National Front, a concomitantly low degree of "stateness" existed at the national level as most of the cabinet ministers were politicians or figures from the private sector.(22) Moreover the consistent exclusion of the popular sectors from electoral politics resulted in a form of state pluralism with control maintained by fragmentation and decentralization rather than full incorporation. Thus one's allegiance and avenue of dissent were circumscribed by the ability to establish clientelistic links with a patron providing municipal services that otherwise would be provided by a stronger state. There developed, moreover, a growing electorate made up of more urban and younger members of the populace. This group did not have such clientelistic linkages available and faced institutions resistant to adjustment in the face of societal change.

Colombian political scientist, Francisco Leal Buitrago, attempts to explain the Colombian state from a perspective different from either elite or patrimonial approach. Leal Buitrago observes that particular social processes adapt to capitalistic relations which, in turn, determine the modernization processes.(23) To this end social and institutional structures change in the directions of satisfying the emerging capitalist organizations.

Leal Buitrago describes the Colombian State as a quasi-state that had fallen before the avalanche of social demands in the modernization process. The state regrouped under the National Front and has attempted to fulfill a dangerously ambivalent role: stabilization of the dominant social and economic forces that survived the National Front and to put a brake on the demands of a plurality of social forces.(24) This role of the state, Leal Buitrago calls the political avenue of capitalism in Colombia.

Francisco Thoumi expands the discussion of Colombian institutions by noting that many retain "pre-capitalistic characteristics that are at the root of many of the country's social problems."(25) These characteristics include an authoritarianism and paternalism which have produced an "ethics of inequality" that has shaped the institutions and values of the society.(26) Thus, according to Thoumi,

Colombians have always lived in a society where inequality of not only wealth and income have prevailed, but also of rights and opportunities . . . they . . . accept that a normal society is an unequal society.(27)

Thoumi also notes left of center explanations and straight explanations of Colombia's economic performance assume a market system under capitalist institutions in which competition is fierce and prices set in fairly anonymous ways.(28) The reality, however, is that the characteristics of Colombian institutions and culture have produced a distribution of power among market actors that is very skewed, leading to a "concentration, exploitation, altering or distorting the `rules of the game'.(29)"

Such a skewed distribution of power is also understood as competing views of the purposes of the Colombian state.(30) Both the narcotraficantes and the law-abiding Colombian citizen consider the state less a representative of either's interests than a prize to be captured for enhancing their lives. For the narcotraficante, it bestows legitimization. For the law-abiding citizen, as a source of employment, it is a legal opportunity and means to enhance his/her economic status.(31) Murillo Castaño describes the Colombian state

We encounter, then, a fragmented state that has lost its monopoly in the use of force; a state that has lost its capacity to represent and integrate new social forces and, as such, the possibility to channel social tensions and regulate conflict. In this manner, the weakness of the state to arbitrate and integrate the social field, has returned to the power of biased sectors, producers and politicians, the ability to assimilate the institutional field of the state from their interests.(32)

Violence as an Agent of Social Change

The literature on violence as an agent of social change and as a part of the INT should reveal some assessments of the health or "condition" of the Colombian state. We would also expect it to identify possible relationships that have and/or continue to exist between violence and the state.

Ted Robert Gurr notes that the study of violence has a long and venerable tradition.(33) An earlier generation of scholars saw violence as deviant and pathological. Those participating in violence were criminals or misfits. Few social scientists would not agree that group violence represents "more or less predictable consequences of real grievances over underlying social, economic, and political issues."(34) But how does such agreement help us to understand violence as an agent of social change generally and as an integral component of the INT in Colombia specifically?

The key phrase that presents problems for the analyst in the above paragraph is group violence. The concept group violence implies a level of consensus based on homogeneous characteristics that produce a form of concerted action. It also assumes a central figure/symbol as the recipient of the violence. Charles Tilly, a scholar of collective or group violence, is willing to broaden the definition of violence as one of several elements in the repertoire of action used by contenders and challengers. Tilly notes "Contention is essentially a social activity, linking one set of people with another, even when the link expresses hostility or distant admiration."(35) Tilly's approach is useful in that it allows one to broaden the concept of violence beyond military or state violence.

The above suggests that the definition of violence is not as clear or monolithic as one might initially believe. James Rule conceives of violence as "civil" as opposed to "institutional" violence.(36) Civil violence, Rule contends, reflects desperation as people take extraordinary steps to attack those not ordinarily attacked or to avoid attack themselves. Civil violence often threatens sovereignty in its extraordinariness of action, "whether in the form of mob violence, protection rackets or private armies(37)," as it threatens a government's claim to uphold all legitimate civil obligations. Rule's conception of violence allows us a bit wider scope to approach violence as a product and an agent of social change in Colombia; particularly violence associated with the INT.

James Henderson notes that, despite differences of opinions regarding the etiology of la violencia, a consensus developed that this period of violence was an active agent of social change.(38) Formation of the bipartisan coalition government, the National Front, was designed to stop violence providing time for the nation to bind its wounds and rebuild its institutions. An enduring explanation for la violencia is the institutional heart attack and death offered first by Lopez de Mesa in 1955 and again twenty years later by scholars such as Oquist, Wilde, Pollock, and Payne.(39) Yet, despite the strong institutional rebuilding and growth that occurred during the National Front years, violence remains endemic in Colombia. During President Caesar Gaviria's first year in office, terrorist attempts, homicides, and kidnappings increased significantly. (83%, 87%, and 67% respectively compared to total numbers during Barco's administration.)(40) Theories attempting to explain violence as a frustrated reaction against deprivation at the hands of government have a very poor fit with the "observation that much popular violence within the polity is directed at non-government targets and occurs among antagonistic, racial, ethnic or communal groups."(41) Rule notes that research to this date suggests that fluctuations in the extent and intensity of violent conflicts are often directly linked with other changes in relations among the groups whose interests are manifest in the violence, especially power relations.(42)

Rule's study, while not speaking directly to linkages between the state and violence, suggests a space where such may be explored as part of an ongoing phenomenon. Such an approach enables us to situate violence in its context and examine its origins historically, looking for intersections and linkages between violence and the state.

Charles Bergquist, dean of Colombian historians in North America, notes that the contemporary view of violence in Colombia is as the simple product of the drug trade.(43) This alone, however, cannot explain violence in contemporary society. Medófilo Mendina argues that to understand the violence in Colombia one must look to two types of historical continuities; persistent underlying social issues with particular attention paid to the ongoing struggle for land and "the influence of Colombia's peculiar and destructive political system."(44) While the purpose of this study is not the study of violence in Colombia, per se, understanding the etiology of the violence is necessary to develop generalizations about the INT's impact on Colombia's economic and political structures. More important, examining historical continuity allows us to see differing areas of "convivencia" [coexisting peacefully] between the state and the underground economy.

If North American and Colombian scholars of violence share an ambiguity about crime, often citing official condemnation overshadowed by social adulation of those referred to as social bandits.(45) Colombians are more likely to append the description political to the concept of violence. Political violence is usually conceived in North America as limited to terrorist attacks, race and urban riots. While these also constitute political violence in Colombia, political violence is more broadly conceived as having "multiple expressions that do not exclude, but may surpass, the political dimension."(46)

Members of the Commission for the Study of Violence(47) argue that the period of la violencia with its associated political violence so altered the country structurally that violence, by itself, has changed "developing new modalities that coexist, superimposed and feeding on itself, in an implacable logic that has lead each time to fewer open spaces of optimism."(48) Beyond political violence the Commission identifies three other basic modes of violence in Colombia: socioeconomic violence, sociocultural violence, and violence over territory, all reinforced by a "culture of violence."(49)

Concerning the INT, the Commission notes that violence associated with drugs constitutes a new form of power. It challenges those charged with popular representation at the "same time it has consolidated a private power parallel to the state, but. . . penetrat(ing) it [the State] in diverse ways."(50) While the study is a carefully worded document, members of the Commission do manage to speak plainly, if circuitously, about the dominance of state violence and human rights violations. Little in the Commission's report addresses the Colombian state's response to this multi-faceted violence, whether actively increasing its law-enforcement capability or passively lacking an effective policy capacity.

Juan Tokatlían, in his prologue to the study by Krauthausen and Sarmiento, states that the violence associated with the INT is "neither irrational nor dysfunctional from the perspective of the narcotraficantes who, from the perspective the illegal business of drugs, searches to maintain and expand their dividends at the same time that they are trying to conquer and legitimize their social presence."(51)

Totkatlían, Krauthausen, and Sarmiento's use of the rational actor model to examine the violence in the INT provides some important insights about how power accumulates within the INT. They argue that violence is just one of several tools available to the narcotraficantes to control their business. The use of violence is not random, but structurally constrained within the context of needing to maintain their businesses. If accepted as true, then one must ask how much control the capos or leaders of the cartels have over the violence they subcontract to numerous shadowy businesses emerging to provide this service. One must also ask: if violence is used only to make a point, why did such a large point have to be made in 1992 and 1993 when bombings and assaults gained a higher intensity both in firepower and frequency? The authors admit they cannot explain such except as a reaction from the narcotraficantes responding directly to increased repression by the state. While such a stimulus/response explanation provides some insight about the INT's effect upon the state, it does not allow for gradations of state response. Nor does it explain why the state did not respond to the INT in the last half of the 1970s. Additionally, it tells little about the health of the state. What was it about the structure and strength/weakness of the state that enabled such a powerful challenger to rise so rapidly during a period of intense institutional rebuilding? Did the resource allocation of power simply favor the INT more than the state? What was/is there about the subjective properties and structural features of the Colombian state that has had problems dealing with this kind of contention?

Colombian journalist and social critic, Enrique Santos Calderon, is less circumspect than other Colombians in his assessment. "The irregular armies of both the right and the left have both benefited from the immense economic and liquid resources offered by the drug trade to intensify their respective violences."(52) Nor does Santos Calderon omit the Colombian armed forces from his examination charging them with abrogating their constitutional duties when they become involved in assassinations and forced disappearances.(53)

The Commission on the Study of Violence argues that the profound crisis currently experienced by the Colombian state is best revealed within the context of violence, but not violence limited to that associated with the INT.(54) Many Colombians consider the guerrilla movements that have existed since the end of la violencia to be as great a problem as the INT regarding violence.

Colombian sociologist, Alvaro Camacho, suggests that this distinction, while analytically useful, misses the point in trying to arrive at some conclusion about the health of the Colombian state.(55) Camacho makes a distinction between private and public violence. Private violence occurs within a social space hidden from public scrutiny and relates directly to the kind of relationship existing between the victim and the perpetrator. This usually takes the form of settling personal grievances. Public violence, on the other hand, occurs in the public sphere, subject to scrutiny and refers to a general sense of social order and individual behavior.(56)

Camacho considers the existence of paramilitary squads, both as self-defense units and as death squads, to constitute the privatization of violence; eg., the Colombian state no longer has monopoly on the means of coercion nor mediating conflict. As such private violence becomes a problem for the Colombian state when private violence.

"...becomes a problem of public order and democracy . . . [being public] to the extent that the citizens themselves define their lack of security as an overriding problem and demand protection from the state. It is also public in the sense that quite apart from the cracks it reveals in the elite hegemony . . . [it] tarnishes its projected image. Private violence is a problem of democracy not only in the field of the exercise of civil rights but also to the extent that it makes routine coexistence impossible. There is nothing to guarantee the possibility of a democratic political order if there is no social order of the same nature.(57)

The Illegal Narcotics Trade

Until the late 1970s and early 1980s literature on illegal narcotics trafficking was limited to research done by health care professionals on the dangers of drug abuse and by journalists who provided case studies of certain crime families. Little in the way of systematic research on the INT existed till the mid-1980s when there developed a substantial body of literature on the nature of drug use and the illegal narcotics trade. If much of the earlier literature was dominated by North American and European scholars, beginning in the mid-1980s South American academics, especially Colombian academics, began producing significant literature on the INT. As always, journalistic accounts of drug kingpins and drug organizations abounded.(58) Early works by English and North American writers conceived of the INT as a monolith in both its resource and power capacity.

Peter Lupsha was among the first to challenge that conception with his description of the Herrera family in Mexico. Lupsha details the extensive networking built up among Herrera family members who had emigrated from Mexico into the United States. Lupsha's network analysis of crime families suggests different loci of power depending on the ethnicity, geographic location and social networks of each crime family. His study helped later research on the Colombian drug cartels understand how the Colombian mafiosa could so rapidly and efficiently gain strength and power.

Analysis of the INT on the individual level fell mostly within the province of investigative journalists such as James Mills, Brian Freemantle, and the British investigative team of Eddy, Sabogal and Walden, and American writers Jeff Leen and Guy Guggliotta. These writers, however, were not able to penetrate the organizational structures INT in Colombia in a way that elaborated the power relationships between the INT and the Colombian state.

Reporter for the Colombian daily newspaper, El Espectador, Fabio Castillo and Colombians Mario Arango Jaramillo and Jorge Child are researchers who have provided us with an inside look into Colombia's narcotraficantes. Besides covering the violence associated with the drug trade, such able reporting sheds little light upon the precise nature of the INT's impact.

The literature by North American and European scholars has focused on the INT as the nexus and source of developing drug policy in the Americas. Thus the analytical focus has concentrated on drug policy, militarization of the War on Drugs, debates about the legalization of drugs, and, on occasion, drug treatment. Valuable as such work is for the light it shines on why the War on Drugs is not yet won, little is known about the precise impact on Colombian state institutions.

Again, it is Colombian scholars, principally sociologists and historians initially, who have begun to describe precisely some impact of the INT on the Colombian state. Yet even this estimable work focuses more closely on violence and how to deal with the culture of violence said to permeate Colombian society. Orlando Fals Borda is concerned with disappearing cultural values in a society that has come increasingly to value violence as arbitration over legal means. Alfredo Molano, in his excellent study of the colonization of the Guaviare [home to large marijuana plantations and containing some of the largest tracts of land offered by the government for colonialization], demonstrates the various mechanisms by which drug dealers coopted the local populace.(59)

Beginning in the 1990s, a growing body of work emerged on the economic development, maintenance of the INT and its intersections with the Colombian state. Colombian economists such as Francisco Thoumi, Miguel Urrutia, and Eduardo Sarmiento Palacio draw tighter links between the activity and policy options of the Colombian State vis a vis the INT. Authors Carlos Gustavo Arrieta, Luis Javier Orjuela, Eduardo Sarmiento Palacio, and Juan Gabriel Tokatlían, argue that the inherent weakness of the Colombian state has prevented its success in carrying out its own anti-drug policies as it pertains to the economy.(60)

While useful for the varying snapshots it provides of the INT, the economy of the INT, drug related Colombian penal problems, and tensions between producer associations and the government vis a vis the INT, these studies do not link their various findings into some type of generalizable whole. Nor do they clarify their characterization of the Colombian state as inherently weak.

Colombian political scientist Francisco Leal Buitrago focuses his work on the development of the Colombian state. He sees the INT as just one more variable a fragile state must handle in its path to becoming modern. Leal Buitrago's work is useful for the insight it provides between the linkages of the producer associations and the large bureaucracy developed because of the National Front regime. Equally important are the associations he draws between national development, the role of the state, and a power challenger such as the INT. For it is the INT that has mounted the most credible challenge to the Colombian state, not the guerrillas, not poverty and unfulfilled aspirations, but the illegal narcotics trade.


North American scholars, while paying close attention to the historic-cultural context of the state, continue to focus on the Colombian state as an independent actor and variable. South American scholars point out that considering only elite institutions and using phrases such as traditional oligarchy, institutional stability, consociational democracy [when discussing the National Front] obscures the politically exclusive character of the Colombian State. Moreover, such a focus diverts attention away from the highly fragmented divisions of Colombian politics, including a fragmented elite.

Both approaches are useful since our focus is on the goals the Colombian state set for itself as a reflection of the polity's representative agency. The legal end of the coalition government heralded a centralized and hierarchically institutionalized state assumed to better meet the pueblo's needs.

The discussions by and among Colombian scholars examines the differing ways bipartisanism continues to function. These discussions illuminate the resultant changes in clientelistic linkages rather than the expected strengthening of the Colombian state. As such they provide us another window through which to assess the impact of the INT on Colombian financial institutions, principally banks. Excepting the National Bank, most banks are situated and directed as regional entities, often by producers' associations such as FEDECAFE, UPAC, and ACADEGAM, etc.(61) The narrowly focused work of Gustavo Arrieta, et al., reveals much about the workings of these organizations and suggests possible avenues through which one may examine the forward and backward linkages of banks. Additionally, the researcher can assess whether the degree of autonomy possessed by the regional banks has usurped the autonomy of the national banks and how the INT has contributed to such usurpation.

Moreover, such a focus on institutions is necessary in assessing the impact of the INT on the Supreme Court. Since the members of the Supreme Court comprise a segment the nation's elite, they respond not only to legislative decrees in terms of judicial review, but also to presidential decrees issued during a state of emergency. The chronic state of emergency under which Colombia has been governed is a reflection of the social and cultural context occupied by both arms of the government.

In the first chapter of this work I noted Peter Lupsha's assertion that a chief characteristic of organized crime is its need to interact with the body politic, its agents, and institutions. The work of historians and sociologists, particularly Colombian, allows the researcher to identify members of this body politic required by the INT and some institutions with which they interact. This research, having identified the social processes which have converged to produce Colombian culture and society, allows a clearer understanding of the source of Colombian institutions' authority.

Drug policy research in the Americas increases understanding of external and internal constraints on the Colombian state's ability to adopt and pursue a viable anti-drug policy. The centerpiece of the U.S. anti-drug policy has been eradication at the source placing tremendous pressure on Colombia to fight the drug war on U.S. terms. How has responding to pressures from the North affected Colombia's economic and legal institutions?

In the following chapter I sketch the dimensions of the problem from approximately 1974 till the present. In a parallel fashion I trace the development of the Colombian state during the same period attempting to identify specific intersections between the INT and the State.

1. See appendix for a graphic rendering of the drug production chain.

2. Andrew Kirby, "State, Local State, Context, and Spatiality: A Reappraisal of State Theory" in The Elusive State; International and Comparative Perspectives, ed. James A. Caporaso (Newbury Park: 1989), 212.

3. See bibliography for works by Braun, Dix, Bagley, Henderson, Thoumi, Fals Borda, and Kline.

4. Robert H. Dix, Colombia: The Political Dimension of Change (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1967)

5. Juan J. Linz and Alfred Stepan, eds. The Breakdown of Democratic Regimes (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1978), 50.

6. Alexander Wilde, "Conversations Among Gentlemen: Oligarchical Democracy in Colombia" in Breakdown of Democratic Regimes, 62.

7. Ibid., 68.

8. Paul Oquist, Conflict and Politics in Colombia (New York: Academic Press, 1980), 165.

9. Jonathan Hartlyn, The Politics of Consociational Rule in Colombia (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1988), 44.

10. Ibid.

11. Ibid., 75.

12. Mauricio Botero Montoya, La herencia del Frente Nacional: 1948-1986 (Bogotá: Ediciones Tercer Mundo, 1986)

13. Ibid., 72.

14. Ibid., 266.

15. Eduardo Diaz Uribe, El clientelismo en Colombia: un estudio exploratorio (Bogotá: El Ancora Editores, 1986), 33.

16. 16Botero, 266.

17. 17Ibid., 89.

18. 18Diaz Uribe, 67.

19. 19Ibid., 34-35.

20. 20Ibid., 58.

21. 21Ibid., 61.

22. 22Hartlyn, 141.

23. 23Francisco Leal Buitrago, "Modernizacíon del estado y crisis política". Paper presented at the research conference, VIOLENCE AND DEMOCRACY IN COLOMBIA AND PERU, held at Columbia University, November 30, 1990.

24. 24Ibid., 3.

25. 25Francisco Thoumi, "An Institutionalist Interpretation of Colombia's Paradoxical Economic Growth", mimeo 4.

26.Ibid., 5.

27. Ibid., 6.

28. Ibid., 9.

29. Ibid., 10.

30. Gabriel Murillo Castaño, "Narcotrafico y política en la decade de los ochenta: entre la represion and el diálogo" in Narcotrafico en Colombia: Dimensiones, políticas, económicas, jurídicas e internacionales(Bogotá: Tercer Mundo Editores, 1990), 210.

31.Ibid., 210-211.

32. Ibid., 213.

33. Ted Robert Gurr, "The History of Protest, Rebellion, and Reform in America: An Overview", Violence in America: Protest, Rebellion, and Reform Vol. II (Beverly Hills: Sage Publications, 1989), 12.

34. Ibid., 13.

35. Charles Tilly, "Collective Violence in the European Perspective" in Violence in..., 64.

36. James B. Rule, Theories of Civil Violence (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1988), 2.

37. Ibid.

38. Henderson, When Colombia..., 1-15.

39. Ibid., 11.

40. Private communique received from U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Interamerican Affairs, October 6, 1992.

41. Rule, 12.

42. Rule, 266.

43. Charles Bergquist, "Introduction: Colombian Violence in Historical Perspective:, Violence in Colombia: the Contemporary Crisis in Historical Perspective eds. Charles Bergquist, Ricardo Peñaranda, Gonzalo Sánchez (Wilmington, DE: 1992), 1.

44. Ibid., 5.

45. Gurr, 32.

46. ...Colombia: Violencia y Democracia: Informe Presentado al Ministerio de Gobierno Comisíon de estudios sobre la violencia (Bogotá: Universidad Nacional de Colombia-Colciencias, 1989), 11.

47. Like North American nations, Colombia's leaders periodically appoint a commission to study violence. With the growth of the INT in Colombia there has developed a subfield of political science in South America for the study of violence and these scholars are called los violentologos, or the violentologists.

48. Ibid., 10.

49. Ibid.

50. Ibid., 89.

51. Ciro Krauthausen and Luis Fernando Sarmiento, Cocaína & co: un mercado ilegal por dentro (Bogotá: Tercer Mundo Editores, 1991), 12.

52. Enrique Santos Calderon, Fuego Cruzado: Guerrilla, narcotráfico y paramiltares en al Colombia de los ochenta (Bogotá: CEREC, 1989), 19.

53. Ibid., 237.

54. Violence in Colombia..., 264.

55. Ibid., 258-259.

56. Ibid., 242-243.

57. Ibid., 259.

58. Please see bibliography for a detailed listing of these works.

59. Alfredo Molano, Selva Adentro: Una historia oral de la colonizacíon del Guaviare (Bogotá: El Ancora Editores, 1987)

60. Narcotráfico en Colombia:.....

61. See Appendix for fuller identification and explanation of anagrams.

<< 1: In the beginning... || 3: Historical Evolution of the INT >>