Colombia 02.02.2010 - 17.02.2010

Álvaro Uribe, Colombia’s President in his second term, enjoys extraordinary popularity among Columbians. Most of them perceive him as savior from over four decades of mounting guerilla and paramilitary violence in Colombia. During the long lasting internal conflict between guerilla, paramilitary and the central state, more than 200’000 lives have been killed and more than 10% of Colombia’s population has been forced to leave their homes. However, according to the “Happy Planet Index”, Colombia’s population seems to be one of the happiest on earth. Variety and a huge biodiversity are characteristic for the country. Álvaro Uribe’s presidency and security policy (seguridad democracia) could successfully hurt the FARC’s capability and morale, dramatically improved the economy in recent years and attracted tourists again. Regardless significant improvements, local people pay duty for illicit activities like drug-trafficking and kidnapping.

The main objectives are a thorough understanding of Colombia’s internal conflict and other key aspects of its society:

  • Which actors are involved in the conflict and what was and is there current role?
  • How and why can paramilitary groups still operate, despite of the broad demobilization?
  • To what extend are the authorities involved in violence?
  • What is the role of illegal drug-trafficking in financing various actors?
  • What anti-drug operations exist and can they be successful?
  • What are the effects of the conflict and government policies on civil society?
  • What’s the role of neighbor states such as Ecuador and Venezuela

Additionally, the following topics and questions will be addressed:

  • Relations Switzerland /EU– Colombia
  • The political system of Colombia and Uribe’s attempts to go for a 3rd term
  • The role and legal status of indigenous communities
  • The economic situation in the world recession
  • doing business in Colombia
  • cultural and touristic aspects