Effects of Globalisation in Colombia

The effects of globalisation on the social, economic and cultural aspects have varied among countries. Although in the developed world increased globalisation has resulted into positive aspects such as access to expanded markets and cheap labour, in countries such as Colombia, globalisation has contributed to the increase in crises of authority for the state. For instance, the rise in power of drug organizations in Colombia demonstrates how globalisation has contributed to erosion of the state’s authority in the country. [1] The breakdown of social institutions has resulted into constant conflicts in the country with the state having little control over such conflicts. In economic realms, globalisation has also had negative impacts on Colombian economy. For instance, subscription to stabilisation and structural policies advanced by the International Monetary fund (IMF) and the World Bank has left Colombia with a high foreign debt and eliminated the social safeguards against increased inequality.[2] This paper thus argues out that globalisation has been detrimental to Colombia with respect to social, economic and cultural aspects by enhancing crises of authority, increasing inequality in society and diluting a culture that helped in creating a united and organised community.

Impacts of Globalisation on the Social Environment in Colombia

Globalisation has affected Colombia social environment by creating multiple centres of authority thus eliminating the role of the state as the centre of authority. For instance, globalisation has enabled non-state actors such as drug organizations and religious organizations to occupy some of the functions of the state. Such enhanced role of the non-state actors has also been contributed by “a deficient presence, and in some cases absence, of the state apparatus in much of what is sovereign territory.”[3] Such state’s incapacity to play its role has shifted individuals’ loyalties and identities to non-state actors whose power is enhanced by their ability to connect to other global actors. Accordingly, non-state actors emerged mainly out of the state failure to play its role but have been enhanced by global forces that have provided a momentum for their growth.

Among the non-state actors, the predominant form of alternative authority to the state in Colombia has been armed actors. Armed actors can be traced back to early guerrilla organizations made up of rural defence movements that arose to counter marginalisation by the state. [4] Such actors gained legitimacy through ways such as provision of basic services to the surrounding communities, coercion and ideological empathy, with the organization’s extra-legal orders providing the basis for stability, security and identity in the groups. The use of force and predatory groups directed to the civilian population by such groups in recent years has however jeopardized their legitimacy, and contributed to the rise of other non-state actors whose core driving force has been globalisation.[5]

The internationalisation of non-state actors can primarily be evident by the role that human right organizations have played in Colombia. An example of such a role is evident in the suit filed by the Colombian Commission of Jurists against the Republic of Colombia with the American Commission for Human Rights, with respect to the murder of six citizens in 1991 at a rural elementary school.[6] The proceedings led to the state being implicated in violation of the human rights agreements established in the region, a verdict that resulted in the state paying economic damages to the affected people.

A second example of non-state actors fuelled by globalisation is the peace communities whose popularity has been enhanced by the participation of the Catholic Church with the help of its international partners. The peace communities were established first as a way to provide minimum-security guarantees for refugees returning to the Urubá, who had freed the state offensive to weed out the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), a guerilla outfit believed to operate from the area.[7] Such peace communities commit to non-engagement in conflict surrounding their regions in exchange for financial assistance from transnational organizations such as the Catholic Church, development agencies and global non-governmental organizations. Another example of transfer of authority from state to non-state actors mediated by globalisation has been the transformation of the Embera-Katíos from a local outfit, to an organization with strong links to transnational environmental and social-justice groups.[8] The global outlook of the group has enabled it to pressure the government to compensate the community or halt programs that led to the dislocation of the community from its original habitat.

Although globalization has enhanced the interests of such individual communities, it has created multiple divisions making it difficult for a unified state to arise. For instance, in the peace communities, state authorities have to seek authorization to implement any programs in the region.[9] In the case of drug organizations, globalization has enable them to access a wider market thus boosting their resources, which they employ in influencing the political events in the country such as financing election of a friendly government. For instance, Samper’s election in 1994 was exposed to have had finances from drug cartels resulting in a near political and economic downfall of the country, immediately after its election.[10] In social aspects, globalisation has thus led to the creation and prominence of multiple centres of authority that limit the extent to which the citizens identify in the state as a legitimate form of social organisation. Such a status has led to constant conflicts whenever the state attempts to unify the people under one governance, a fact that is evident from the predominant fragmentation of Colombian society even after many years of independence.[11]

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[1] Paul R. Viotti, and Mark V. Kauppi, International Relations and World Politics: Security, Economy, Identity, 4th ed. (Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 2009), 8-9.


[2] Jeff Browitt, “Capital Punishment: The Fragmentation of Colombia and the Crisis of the Nation-state,” Third World Quarterly 22, no. 6 (2001), 1068-1069, http://www.jstor.org/stable/3993462

[3] Ann C. Mason, “Constructing Authority Alternatives on the Periphery: Vignettes from Colombia,” International Political Science Review 26, no. 1 (2005), 41, http://www.jstor.org/stable/1601649


[4] Ibid., 41

[5] Ibid., 41


[6] Ibid., 43


[7] Ibid., 44

[8] Ibid., 44


[9] Ibid., 44


[10] Rensselaer W. Lee III and Francisco E. Thoumi, “The Political-Criminal Nexus in Columbia.” Trends in Organized Crime 5, no. 2 (2005), 59. http://www.springerlink.com/content/xkdrgjnk4ft8322k/


[11] Jeff Browitt, “Capital Punishment,” 1063-1078.


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