Master thesis

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It resulted to be a challenging task to disentangle the different factors influencing the economic development of Colombia. As the different elements that form part of the internal conflict are strongly connected and interdependent, it is complicated to distinguish the particular influence of one factor on the economic development of Colombia. The coca production and drug-trafficking, violence, infrastructure, inequality and poor standards of living, as well as the political development of Colombia are all connected and influential with regards to the economic development of the country. The influence of the FARC-EP can be recognized through each of these factors.

The infrastructure, which has historically been influenced by the actions of the FARC-EP, has had a significant influence on the economic development and lack thereof in Colombia. In this sense, the economic development of Colombia was disturbed by the guerilla actions of the FARC-EP. It is only recently that the Colombian government has started to make strong efforts to improve the infrastructure within the country (cf. Infrastructure), thereby aiming to further develop the Colombian economy. Furthermore, coca production and drug-trafficking activities have formed a great part of the Colombian economy over the past decades, and the revenue of these illicit drug activities has provided the FARC-EP with sufficient capital to continue its fight against the Colombian government (Chalk: 39). The economic development of Colombia has been influenced by the FARC-EP, for had there not been such an insurgency, the land could have been used for different variations of cultivation, thereby allowing the legal Colombian economy to progress. Moreover, the violence resulting from the actions of the FARC-EP damages the image of Colombia with foreign investors, thereby influencing FDI and, consequently, the Colombian economy. When looking at the relations between the US and Colombia, it may be clear that the US has had a strong influence on the economic development of Colombia, and that this impact is an indirect result of the influence of the FARC-EP on the situation in Colombia. The US became very involved with Colombia as a result of the high insecurity level within the country, and through PC there have been various interventions that, ultimately, helped progress the Colombian economy.

However, it remains difficult to establish whether or not the FARC-EP has had an exclusive impact on the economic development of Colombia. It may be clear that that the actions of the FARC-EP have influenced the business climate as well as the development of the infrastructure necessary for a healthy economic development, however, a country’s economic development is depending on a great variety of factors which makes it impossible to conclude that the FARC-EP is solely responsible for impeding the economic development of Colombia. Furthermore, there are many positive economic outcomes deriving from the recent focus of the government on eradicating violence and improving security within the country.

In terms of the relation between the influence of the FARC-EP and the economic development of Colombia, from the research conducted for this thesis it can be concluded that there indeed is a connection between the two elements. The impact of the FARC-EP on the country and its socio-economic development is discussed in this thesis, as well as the influence of the IR between the US and Colombia on the economic development of Colombia. The internal conflict has had a great impact on the development of Colombia, however, it cannot be determined precisely which issues are a result of the internal conflict, or of a combination of factors influencing the economic development of Colombia. Therefore, the sole influence of the FARC-EP on the economic development of Colombia cannot be determined, although it has become clear that the insurgency has had an undeniable impact on the Colombian economy.
Perspective Taking

Based on the research conducted for this thesis, I have been able to determine that there is a definite connection between the actions of the FARC-EP and the economic development of Colombia, in combination with the IR between Colombia and the US. Alternatively, I could have chosen to focus on the IR between Colombia and the EU, or between Colombia and other Latin American countries, thereby focusing on different relationships that influence the Colombian economic and political development. However, had I chosen this different focus, I would not have been able to thoroughly investigate the influence of the IR between two countries on the policies of Colombia, as I believe this influence is extraordinarily strong in the case of the US. The US has been very involved with the Colombian situation, therefore, I believed it was most relevant to research the relations between the US and Colombia, instead of focusing on a wider variety of countries and their influence on the economic development in Colombia. This would have most probably resulted in a more superficial analysis due to limited space, and, consequently, would have produced a limited possibility to conclude on something specific.

For this thesis, I chose to focus on a fairly detailed area of investigation, by limiting myself to the influence of the FARC-EP, the economic development and the influence of the IR with the US. However, I believe these factors have all been crucial in the developmental process of Colombia during the past years. I could have chosen to illustrate the influence of the various violent insurgencies within Colombia on the overall progress of the country, whether or not in relation to the US. However, this specific area of research was what interested me the most, because I felt it was most relevant to the current situation and general sentiment in Colombia. Furthermore, I believe there would have been various sets of theories applicable to the subject of this thesis. The focus on economic development could have provided me with a reason to use various economic theories in order to create a complete theoretical economic framework for this thesis. However, I felt that focusing on the IR theories related to war and internal conflict was equally important due to the focus on the influence of the FARC-EP on the economic development in Colombia. The applied theories reflect my way of approaching the subject, and surely the project would have resulted differently had I chosen another set of theories.

Other approaches to this master thesis would have been similarly interesting and relevant to examine, however, I had to choose which subject I wanted to focus on and which approach I believed would allow me to learn the most from this assignment. I believe I gained an in-depth understanding of the matter through the research I have conducted and, therefore, I was able to answer the problem formulation.

Appendix I
Map of Colombia
c:\users\gebruiker\documents\bestanden\aalborg\thesis\colombia-political.jpg(Maps of World)
Appendix II
GDP of Colombia: 1980 - 2010

gdp colombia.png(Index Mundi)


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Pedersen, Duncan. Political violence, ethnic conflict, and contemporary wars: broad implications for health and social well-being. Social Science & Medicine, 2002. (Accessed: 28th February, 2012)

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Santos, Marcelo. A Política dos Estados Unidos de Combate ao Narcotráfico e o Plano Colômbia (1998-2005) [American Policy on Fighting Drug-Trafficking and Plan Colombia (1998-2005)]. Estudos de Sociologia, 2006. (Accessed: 22nd February, 2012)

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CIA Rankorder

CIA World Fact Book


Colombia Forum 2011

Colombia FTA

Colombia Journal

Colombia Reports

Colombia Reports Venezuela



Economic Theories


Economist Intelligence Unit


El Tiempo

Free Dictionary

Global Post



Index Mundi

Insight Crime

International Business Times

International Viewpoint

IR Theory


Latin America Monitor

Latin Trade

Maps of World

Open Democracy





The Citizen




US News

UT San Diego

World Bank

1 “By bourgeoisie is meant the class of modern capitalists, owners of the means of social production and employers of wage labour” (Marx, Engels & Harvey: 33).

2 Capitalism is “[…] defined as a social system based on the accumulation of capital or the extraction of surplus value […]” (Devetak, George & Weber: 64).

3 Idealism is considered to be the opposite of materialism, known as a philosophy that reduces the importance of material things to minds looking to find an immaterial mind (Stanford).

4 Keynesianism are the economic theories developed by John Maynard Keynes (1883-1946), which focus on “[…] deficit spending by [the] government to stimulate business investment” (Free Dictionary).

5 “Monetarism is an economic school of thought that stresses the primary importance of the money supply in determining nominal GDP and the price level. The ‘Founding Father’ of monetarism is economist Milton Friedman. Monetarism is a theoretical challenge to Keynesian economics that increased in importance and popularity in the late 1960s and 1970s” (Econweb).

6 One sovereign state is not more important than another. There are more than 190 “[…] equally sovereign political communities […] in the world” (Suganami: 191).

7 Note that the factors causing a state to initiate war are equally applicable to insurgencies, such as the FARC-EP.

8 In this case, societies can be seen as groups.

9 Private information is determined as “[…] knowledge an actor possesses that is not available to the other” (Lake: 82). Examples of private information include preferences, strategies and fighting methods.

10 An actor can be an individual, group or state. In the case of Colombia, one actor would be the government, whereas the other actor would be the FARC-EP insurgency.

11 Anarchy is “[…] the absence of any higher authority” (Lake: 84).

12 A failed state is not a situation that can be classified and defined easily. From a legal perspective a failed state can be described as “[…] one which, though retaining legal capacity, has for all practical purposes lost the ability to exercise it. A key element in this respect is the fact that there is no body which can commit the State in an effective and legally binding way, for example, by concluding an agreement” (ICRC).

13 Extremists are people with strong beliefs or opinions, especially in political matters, that go to extreme lengths to reach their goals.

14 La Violencia took place from 1948-1965 in Colombia, a period during which the country suffered from politically and economically motivated violence in the form of riots and vandalism, causing the loss of almost 200.000 lives (UNB).

15 Law 9 allows for a legal exchange of any amount up to $20.000.

16 Standard & Poor’s, Moody’s Investors Service and Fitch (US News).

17 The ideology of the FARC-EP can be summarized in the representation of the poor rural population against the Colombian bourgeoisie, and the opposition against the influence of the US in Colombia, multinational corporations, the privatization of the country’s natural resources, and violence from right-wing paramilitary organizations (CFR).

18 Gross capital formation is measured as a percentage of GDP and “[…] consists of outlays on additions to the fixed assets of the economy plus net changes in the level of inventories” (World Bank). Examples of fixed assets are general land improvements as well as railways, schools, roads and hospitals. Inventories are the possessions of companies in the form of stocks, as well as work in progress.

19 The Colombian Peso is the currency of Colombia.

20 Also see Appendix I (Map of Colombia).

21 The rural population density in Colombia has grown significantly, which is illustrated by the higher potential for agricultural development and a greater ease for the state to provide services to small rural centers, as opposed to the situation in case of a largely dispersed rural population.

22 The funding for the FARC-EP’s struggle derives mainly from illegal drug-trafficking activities, as well as kidnappings and extortion practices.

23 Statistics on the GDP of Colombia during the period 1980 to 2010 can be found in Appendix II.

24 An RMA is “[…] a major change in the nature of warfare brought about by the innovative application of new technologies which, combined with dramatic changes in military doctrine and operational and organisational concepts, fundamentally alters the character and conduct of military operations” (IWS).

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