Colombia, the second most populous country of South America, counts more than 47 million inhabitants.
Colombia is an important exporter of coffee and oil and is one of the greatest powers in Latin America. However, its good economics (growth rate of 4% in 2014) hides an unequal wealth distribution. The number of Colombians living with less than 2 dollars a day is estimated at 7 million or 15, 2% in 2014.
Recent history of Colombia
Armed groups appear in Colombia to contest the unequal distribution of land. Starting from 1960s, the Colombian territory is divided up by armed groups, among which there are the FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia), the ELN (National Liberation Army) and paramilitary groups. In the 1970s the narco-trafficking is flourishing and money generated from it is used to corrupt state staff as well as the armed groups.
Traffickers, guerilla and paramilitaries spread their power through the territory: land expropriations, massacres, kidnappings and assassinations happen on a daily basis, especially in the villages. The inhabitants flee from the conflict zones and big cities such as Bogota and Medellin become extremely populous.
At the end of 1990s, government is implicated in a scandal of alliance with narco-traffickers. Political disorder goes on and FARC and ELN guerilla as well as AUC (United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia) paramilitaries reinforce their influence by controlling traffickers’ cartels. The FARC and the Colombian government start peace negotiations between 1998 and 2002 that lead to failure while the conflict is increasing dramatically. The country plunges into serious economic crisis and the USA suggests putting in place Plan Colombia aimed at combating narco-trafficking and reinforcing the military.
At the beginning of the 2000s, the State negotiates the process of demobilization of the paramilitary groups, while the National Army pursuits the combat against the guerilla groups and the paramilitary ones that do not wish to lay down their arms.
Decades of conflict leave tens of thousands of civilians dead and thousands of others missing or deported by different groups involved…
Since 2012 the peace process is being negotiated to ratify the 50 year old conflict between the FARC and the government.
Today Colombian towns are overpopulated: 73% of the population lives in urban areas. Migratory flows are significant due to important insecurity in villages. Big cities do not have the necessary infrastructure to welcome these new inhabitants. They have to face such problems as waste processing and recycling, improving public transport and water passage and processing.
Social climate is tense. The violent death rate reaches 80 out of 100’000 and concerns mainly young men. Human rights are deteriorating and a considerable part of the population is affected by food insecurity. Women who live in rural areas are the most affected victims of the conflict that reigns in the country. Armed groups and mafia continue their social control. Sexual violence and assassinations are common and women hardly have any voice, they can hardly denounce these abuses and assert their rights.