A History of Violence and Exclusion: Afro-Colombians from Slavery to Displacement
Herrera, Sascha Carolina
A HISTORY OF VIOLENCE AND EXCLUSION: AFRO-COLOMBIANS FROM SLAVERY TO DISPLACEMENTSascha Carolina Herrera, B.A.MALS Mentor: Kevin Healy, Ph.D.ABSTRACTIn Colombia, the Afro-Colombian population has been historically excluded and marginalized primarily due to the legacy of slavery deeply embedded within contemporary social and economic structures. These structures have been perpetuated over many generations of Afro-Colombians, who as a result have been caught in a recurring cycle of poverty throughout their history in Colombia.In contemporary Colombia, this socio-economic situation has been exacerbated by the devastating effects of various other economic and social factors that have affected the Colombian society over half century and a prolonged conflict with extensive violence involving the Colombian state, Paramilitaries, and Guerrillas and resulting from the dynamics of the war on drugs and drug-trafficking in Colombian society.In addition to the above mentioned factors, Afro-Colombians face other types of violence, and further socio-economic exclusion and marginalization resulting from the prevailing official development strategies and U.S. backed counter-insurgency and counter-narcotics strategies and programs of the Colombian state.Colombia's neo-liberal economic policies promoting a "free" open market approach involve the rapid expansion of foreign investment for economic development, exploitation of natural resources, and the spread of agro bio-fuel production such as African Palm, have impacted negatively the Afro-Colombian population of the Pacific coastal region.To show the historical roots and evolution of the structural causes of Afro-Colombian marginality and exclusion, the first chapter examines this history as l background for understanding contemporary Afro-Colombian problems.The second chapter provides an analysis of two major Colombian public policies for regional development of the Pacific coastal region. The first is CONPES 3491 which enhances the region's role in the national economy. The second policy is CONPES 3660 purportedly aiming to improve the socio-economic conditions of the Afro-Colombian minority. The major argument of this chapter is about the detrimental effects these policies have had on the region and its people, namely the Afro-Colombians. The policies have thus far proved inadequate to effectively addressing severe and widespread the social and economic problems faced by Afro-Colombians.The third chapter focuses on the municipality of Buenaventura of the Pacific coastal region by presenting a socio-economic profile of the municipality's Afro-descendent population. The chapter argues that there is a major contradiction for Buenaventura as Colombia's most important port city which is generating tens of millions of dollars in revenues for the nation's economy, yet it population, which is 80% Afro-Colombian, receives scant benefits. The chapter includes an analysis of Buenaventura's high levels of social and political violence effecting the Afro-Colombian population which arises also from the dynamics of the regional economy, drug trafficking and the Colombian internal armed conflict.The fourth chapter links the discussion about severe poverty in Buenaventura and social violence, drug trafficking, and Plan Colombia backed by the United States and the Colombian state have perpetuated and deepened conditions of marginalization and exclusion for Afro-Colombians in the Pacific coastal region as a whole and in particularly in Buenaventura. This chapter also shows how the socio economic and security conditions for this Afro-Colombian minority group have worsened in recent years due to the devastating effects of the above mentioned factors. This chapter discusses and analyzes the internal displacement of the Afro-Colombian population from their communities to other locations and regions in the country.The concluding chapter summarizes the findings on these topics and provides policy recommendations for more effectively address these issues and problems affecting Afro-Colombians in within the Colombian Pacific coastal region. This chapter also makes recommendations for the improvement of U.S. policies towards the region, especially Plan Colombia and uses benchmarks for measuring the success of various U.S. aid programs in Colombia.
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