Colombia History 1900 - Present

Accelerating Global Change and Realignments

Return of Conservatives

1880 - 1930

After the end of the War of the the Thousand Days, Colombia suffered another detriment in the loss of Panama. The Colombian government refused to allow the U.S. to construct a canal across the isthmus, embittering relations between the two nations. However, with a boom in coffee demand and production, Colombia was able to climb out of its defecit

War of a Thousand Days

1899 - 1902

Colombian civil war between Liberals and Conservatives
Liberals represented disadvantaged coffee growers damaged by Conservative party
Conservations caused massive deflation of the peso, war broke out
Conflict ended when Conservatives offered amnesty and political reform

Era of Liberals

1930 - 1946

Upheld the rights of peasants, especially those in the coffee growing region

Elections of 1946


Liberals: Gaitán and Gabriel Turbay
Conservative: Mariano Ospina Pérez
Pérez won because Liberals split the vote

La Violencia

1948 - 1958

Ten years of conflict between Liberals and Conservatives
20,000 armed rebels

Execution of Jorge Gaitán

9 April 1948

Conservative attacks on Liberals supported by Pérez in Presidency
Invoked mass rioting in Bogotá, known as Bogotazo
"Uncontrollable human tide in Capital streets"
Much like Great Fear of French Revolution, violence spread to Countryside

Gov't Counterrevolution

Apr 9, 1948

Government sent police to squash the opposition
Severed body parts, slashed fetuses, impaled infants on bayonets
Much like the September Massacres
Result: 300,000 murdered people

Laureano Gomez in Power

7 August 1950 - 13 June 1953

Boost in military spending; 25% of gov't expenditures
Hoped to renew military morale
First to be removed via coup de etat, leading to Gustavo Rojas Pinilla as President

Pinilla Presidency

Jun 14, 1953 - May 1957

Promised peace, justice, liberty
Actually did attain temporary cease-fire
Silenced opposition Press, made the Secret Police permanent, incited religious conflict
Corrupt with gov't money

National Front Government

1957 - 1972

Alberto Lleras Camargo represented Liberals, Laureano Gomez represented Conservatives
Agreement made @ the Declaration of Sitges
Alternation of Conservative and Liberal Presidents

Colombian Revolutionary Armed Forces (FARC) Founded


Soviet - influenced Communist movements
Originated in 'resistance committees' from the time of La Violencia

National Liberation Army (ELN) Founded


Marxist Guerrilla group created by Colombian students from Cuba

Constitutional Reform of 1968


Mandated that all Presidential Elections would be competitive again beginning in 1974

19th of April Movement

19 April 1970

National Front candidate nearly beaten by exiled Rojas Pinilla
Recent demographic transition from city to country meant more lower and middle class citizens
Citizens unhappy that the traditional parties had still won the elections
19th of April founded as a result

Emergence of Drug Cartels


Two major organizations formed, similar to mafias
Medellín, led by Pablo Escobar, other in Cali
Each took advantage of lucrative marijuana trade to U.S.

Palace of Justice Attack - M-19 Guerrillas


Ominous growth in the power of Drug Traffickers
Government unable to control various guerrilla factions

Constitution of 1991


Replaced the Constitution of 1886
Negotiated with drug cartel leaders and paramilitaries

U.S. Intervention


Aim: to stop the growing FARC cocaine trade

Drawn-Out Ceasefire Negotiations

2011 - July 2015

FARC began releasing hostages for financial ransoms
Numerous unilateral cease-fire's established, only to be broken when FARC took people hostage
In July 2015, President Santos and FARC negotiators pledged to reach final peace agreement within 6 months