colombia

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La Violencia Claims Thousands of Lives

The Conservatives held power until 1930, when revolutionary pressure put the Liberals back in power. The Liberal administrations of Enrique Olaya Herrera and Alfonso López (1930–1938) were marked by social reforms that failed to solve the country's problems, and in 1946, a period of insurrection and banditry broke out, referred to as La Violencia, which claimed hundreds of thousands of lives by 1958. Laureano Gómez (1950–1953); the army chief of staff, Gen. Gustavo Rojas Pinilla (1953–1956); and a military junta (1956–1957) sought to curb disorder by repression.

Joint Antinarcotics Effort with the United States, Plan Colombia, Begins

In Aug. 2000, the U.S. government approved “Plan Colombia,” pledging $1.3 billion to fight drug trafficking. Pastrana used the plan to undercut drug production and prevent guerrilla groups from benefiting from drug sales. In Aug. 2001, Pastrana signed “war legislation,” which expanded the rights of the military in dealing with rebels.

Alvaro Uribe of the Liberal Party easily won the presidential election in May 2002. He took office in August, pledging to get tough on the rebels and drug traffickers by increasing military spending and seeking U.S. military cooperation. An upsurge in violence accompanied his inauguration, and Uribe declared a state of emergency within a week. In his first year, Uribe beefed up Colombia's security forces with the help of U.S. special forces, launched an aggressive campaign against the drug trade, and passed several economic reform bills.

Colombia History

Colombia's history began well over 13,000 years ago, as evidence of human occupation dates to that era.

Over time, many Andean and Caribbean cultures inhabited the area, including the Tayrona, Sinú, Muisca, Quimbaya, Tolima, Calima, Tierradentro, San Agustín, Nariño and Tumaco peoples.

The Spanish arrived along the coastal areas of Colombia in the early 1500s and the country became Spain's chief source of gold; Cartagena and Bogota were founded by mid-century.

Spain eventually increased taxation of the colonists to fund their home-front war expenses, and the subsequent anger and uprising that occurred were the seeds of the revolution to come.

In 1819, Simon Bolivar (a national hero) and his armies defeated the Spanish, and the independent Republic of Gran was formed; it included Colombia, Ecuador, Panama and Venezuela.

By the early 20th century, all of the original partners had withdrawn from the association, and in 1905, Colombia was finally on its own.

Since then it has survived a hurricane of political assassinations, internal governmental conflicts, guerrilla activities and drug wars. After all of that it remains one of the most attractive and mysterious countries on the South American continent.

Political and internal unrest, has for the most part, limited tourism to the Caribbean coastal resorts and towns, with special emphasis on Cartagena. International business travel is commonplace (to and from) the country's major cities.

Colombia

In November 2007, the Colombian army captured FARC rebels who were carrying videos, photographs, and letters of about 15 hostages, some who have been held in jungle camps for nearly ten years. The Marxist-inspired FARC—the largest rebel group in Latin America—has been waging guerilla wars against the Colombian government for 40 years. Hostages included three American military contractors and Ingrid Betancourt, former Colombian presidential candidate. Also in November, Uribe withdrew his support of Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez’s attempts to negotiate with the FARC, escalating tension between the two countries. Chavez subsequently withdrew the Venezuelan ambassador to Colombia.