Research: Publications

The Colombian Dilemma: After half a century of fighting, can a fragile peace process succeed?

February 7, 2000 | Report


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At first, it sounds all too familiar. A Latin American country is plagued by inequality, rural neglect and militarism. A conflict includes Marxist guerrillas and right-wing death squads, spurring a refugee crisis. A struggling peace process gets tepid support from Washington. Amid rapidly rising U.S. military aid, concerns grow over the spread of instability to regional neighbors.

For those who recall the Reagan Administration’s adventures in Central America, much about Colombia can inspire eerie feelings of déjà vu. But the similarities do not run very deep. Colombia’s decades-old conflict and the effort to end it are far more complicated than the violence El Salvador, Guatemala and Nicaragua suffered during the 1980s. In fact, perhaps only the Middle East rivals Colombia’s conflict for complexity.

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