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There are stories that appear in the news and other that never will do. However, when stories are brought to light by mass media, the overall context often remains unknown. Breaking news, demands of television and radio programming, or advertising space requirements, do not allow different appraisals and judgements. Ingrid Betancourt’s liberation belongs to the category of news that has been able to pass the editor’s screening. However, ethnic movements and their strategies hardly ever appear in the mass media.

Aught similar might be said on Colombian studies. Despite its steady socio-economic growth, geo-strategic position (the fourth largest) and democratic importance (the third most populous) Colombia continues to be especially misunderstood in the twenty-first century.

At a first glance of Colombia, it seems to be a bewildering country. Its lack of strong populist movements, its fleeting dictatorship, its late industrialization less controversial, less novel and more rational, and its discouraging land fragmentation to the extent of determining the socio-political and economic history, together, shape a country hardly comparable in synchronic or diachronic studies with other Latin American countries.

Colombian society displays startling contrasts between rich and poor, between city and rural areas, between skilled and illiterate, between the powerful lord of the hacienda and peasant with a natural disposition or tendency to yield to the will of others, between wealthy entrepreneurs and desperate, poor and often mischievous city children.

On one hand, however, much more research needs to be done before Colombian politics and society can be understood. Actually, many scholars and intellectuals deny the existence of a truly united Colombian society.

On the other hand in the past few years, books have been released which have been aimed at understanding the tangled phenomenon of drugs and violence throughout the country. However pervasive violence prevents any attempt to study the country.

In its current Colombia is trying to reinvent itself, to find its own voice. The entire system is undermined by years of social, political and economic exclusion that have generated one of the most complex and impoverished political cultures in the world. Ramos (1998) highlights that some scholars and policy makers prefer addressing ethnic leaders conveniently “tamed” rather than facing strong identities.

This ebook offers a picture of Colombian society, this is not a comprehensive compilation of statistical facts. The ebook is aimed to trace patterns and trends that help us to understand the complexities and variations in Colombian society and its political culture.


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