Political Risk Latin America Blog @PolRiskLatam

Uribe’s Colombia: The dark side of a country transformed

Posted in News and Articles by politicalrisklatam on August 6, 2010

by Sibylla Brodzinksy for The Guardian, August 6th, 2010.

The rule of thumb on Colombia‘s country roads used to be that if no cars were coming the other way, leftist rebels had probably blocked the highway to trap potential kidnap victims. Most people avoided long-distance road trips.

But truck driver, Álvaro Bermúdez had no choice. So every time he set out with a cargo of chocolate or rice, he would entrust himself to Our Lady of Carmen, the patron saint of drivers.

Today, travelling across country is a very different experience. “The army is there, and there is no sign of the guerrillas,” he says. Now, when Bermúdez sees no oncoming cars, he just figures there has been an accident.

That change has been credited to the uncompromising security policies of President Álvaro Uribe, who steps downtoday after eight years in office.

Under his rule, a country that seemed on the verge of becoming a failed state has undergone a remarkable transformation. Murder and kidnapping rates have plunged, the armed forces have doubled in size, and the economy has turned around. Meanwhile, Marxist Farc rebels have been beaten back into the jungles, and brutal rightwing paramilitary militias demobilised in a peace deal. (continue reading…)


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