Colombia Politics

Colombiaís first president Simon Bolivar had yearned for a unified South America. He felt this would eliminate the ongoing conflict and violence which he saw as inevitable should the territory continue to be fractured into small nations and split by differing ideals. In the years since Bolivarís death many people have come to believe he may have been right.

After the fall of Gran Colombia in 1830 two dominant political parties formed; the Conservatives who followed Bolivarís political vision and the Liberals who adhered more closely to those of Santander. The rivalry between these parties resulted in violent conflict. Civil war erupted twice; the Thousand Days War from 1899-1902 and La Violencia which was sparked by the assassination of the Liberal candidate Jorge Eliecer Gaitan in 1948.

From 1958-1974 The National Front was established and served the purpose of alternating Conservative and Liberal rule in order to end La Violencia. Problems with this system led to the foundation of the M-19 guerrilla movement. ELN National Liberation Army and the FARC had also formed by the 1970s.

During the 1970s and 1980s insurgency and the growing problem of drug trafficking brought instability to the country. In the 1990s progress was made against the drug cartels which allowed more focus on the insurgent groups. During the 2002-2006 presidency of Alvaro Uribe Velez, the security situation in Colombian showed improvement. Rebels were pushed out of villages and into more remote areas. Even those who are critical of Uribeís policies acknowledge the huge impact he made on reclaiming Colombia from violence. One of the effects of this was a rise in internal tourism followed slowly but surely by foreign tourism. The constitution was amended to allow Uribe to run for a second presidential term but a proposed amendment to allow a third term was not passed.

Colombia is a presidential representative democratic republic. The President of Colombia is head of state, head of government and head of the multi-party system. The Major political parties are the Colombian Liberal Party, the Colombian Conservative Party and the Social Party of National Unity. Smaller parties include the United Peopleís Movement, the National Integration Party and the Colombian Green Party.

The current Prime Minister is Juan Manuel Santos Calderon who acted as Minister of National Defence in his presidential predecessorís party. He represents the Social Party of National Unity and has stated his dedication to the principals of Uribeís administration with a tough stance on security and improvements to the countryís infrastructure and economy. Santos has expressed optimism about the future of Colombia although he acknowledges that some challenges lay ahead.