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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
1. See appendix for a graphic rendering of the drug production
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
<< 1: In the beginning... || 3: Historical Evolution of the INT >>