GEOG 140 - COLOMBIA ESSAY - Albert 1 GEOG 140 Professor...

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Albert 1 GEOG 140 Professor Zackey December 10, 2007 Fueling Resistance: Coca Cultivation and the FARC Colombia is a country whose complex physical geography parallels the complicated situation of identity within the country. The long and complex history of modern Colombia has created a country in which two distinct societies exist simultaneously. Colombia’s geographic diversity allows for the fragmentation of an already divided society. The recent and turbulent history of Colombia is highlighted by a state and society that remain in conflict. This conflict has its boundaries within the distinct social regions of the time. What began as a social movement in the early 1960’s, progressed into the current “state within a state,” where the guerilla groups within the country are functioning as de facto governments. By allowing the guerillas to possess this section of land, the government is giving legitimacy to the de facto laws instituted in the region. Yet these guerilla groups are not recognized as a state by the international community for its heavy reliance on drug trafficking to fuel its economy. The question posed by this paper is this: What has the guerilla groups (specifically the FARC) become in modern-day Colombia? Is it a society that is still capable of being integrated into the larger Colombian population or are we witnessing a struggle for the regions partition from Colombia? Using the spatial-analytical approach this paper will look at how the natural resources of the area have fueled the FARC’s expansion from social movement to an autonomous region with defined boundaries. This paper will try and understand how
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Albert 2 the social movement of the guerillas during the sixties, became more than a military operation and gained an identity through the acquisition of territory within the region. First, the definition of a state must be discussed to put the Colombian situation into perspective. A state is an independent county consisting of a specific territory and residents are bound by a sovereign government that demands their loyalty. To understand the idea of a “state within a state”, the identifiable geographic qualities of a state must be defined. The region must have a distinct territory, a permanent resident population, a government, an organized economy and a circulation system. The evolution of the FARC has led to these characteristics of a state to become a part of the guerilla world. To understand the purpose of FARC’s existence and the basis for its statehood, an understanding of the history of modern Colombia is in order, beginning with the period known as “La Violencia” and ending with the current situation. Fueled by the assassination of Leftist presidential candidate, the period known as “La Violencia” was the name of Colombia’s most violent civil war, leading to the deaths of an estimated 280,000 people (Lea and Milward, 77). From 1946 to 1964, the war between the Liberal
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