Tue, 14 June 2022
Over the last fifteen years Colombia has moved from ostensibly failed state to emerging market and tourist destination, providing Nobel-endorsed evidence that peace and reconciliation are possible after decades of brutalization. But while Colombia may no longer be the country that former president Ernesto Samper described in 2002, where governing was like trying to pilot an airplane in a storm while the passengers were rioting, neither is it the wonderland depicted in official propaganda. Many Colombians live badly; many more, well into the nominal middle class, live precariously; and still more structure their lives around minimizing their chances of falling victim to crime—something the poorest are unable to do. Unhappiness about the present and pessimism about the future are rampant across the social scale, focused precisely on those themes the Juan Manuel Santos government (2010–2018) touted as successes: the peace process, “social inclusion,” and infrastructure and public services. Much can be blamed on the administration of President Ivan Duque and the continual spectre of uribismo in addition to the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic. Colombia may be more governable than it used to be, but not because the passengers are happier with the pilot—with the qualified (and to many Colombians highly suspicious) exception of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). Tune in for a profound historical and amusing anecdotal look at Colombia through the eyes and experience of an expert Latin Americanist. Dr. Richard Stoller is Coordinator of Academic Advising and International Programs, Schreyer Honors College, Pennsylvania State University. Colombia news brief from journalist Emily Hart.