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The New Colombia: Financial Times Coverage and Popular Concerns

September 10, 2013

John Paul Rathbone at the Financial Times, an astute student of Colombia, shared a link today to an e-book version of FT’s reporting “The New Colombia.” Here is my observation at FT’s Facebook discussion about the e-book about where Colombia is – at a difficult crossroads:

As you know, I am in Colombia quite a bit. On the ground in Colombia, particularly outside the elite circles in Bogota (that is, in the elite circles outside of Bogota and the non-elite circles everywhere), the political future of Pres. Santos and of the potential peace deal is very bleak.

The security situation is unreliable and has become troubling in many places. The usual growing pains of a developing economy – resulting from bad (and not improving) wealth and income distribution – have me convinced that Colombia’s brilliant recovery is very much at a serious crossroads.

To restore confidence, several things need visible progress. Incomes for the working class must visibly be seen to grow – i.e., in settling farmer, miner and transport strikes. Second, demonstrated security gains are necessary, including visible policing to prevent ordinary crime and significant gains against the “bacrim.” (Santos needs to be seen returning to what made him a popular MinDefensa.) Third, all the talk about infrastructure projects has not materialized in actual projects and the population generally believes that roads will not be built but pockets will be lined (a la los Nule).

Will this cynicism be rewarded or will the population be surprised on the upside with new, ample, quality, modern roads and rails? “Mucha t’lin t’lin, pa’ nada paletas” is how people describe all the promises. “Buchipluma” is how they describe politicians.

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