Do not let the Great Powers forget about Colombia and the 2020
Actualizado: 8 sept 2020
While it is true that all countries are facing the challenges related to the pandemic, not only in economic matters but also in public health, not all countries -even within the same continent- were in the best shape to face the global challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. This is the case of Colombia and its active political and economic panorama that this country experienced during the last 5 years.
We know that Colombia, even years after the signing of the peace agreement, continues to be the first global producer and exporter of cocaine, according to official sources not only from Colombia but from the United States and various international organizations. Despite Colombia's entry into the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) in 2020, Colombia continues to be a medium-high income country, but with great challenges in the social sphere, and with a legacy of disadvantage associated with the internal conflict that affected the country for decades.
According to The World Bank estimations, the gross domestic product GDP per capita of Colombia reaches USD $ 6,400, a population that by 2020 expects to exceed 50 million inhabitants, and a poverty incidence rate that since the 2000s its reduction began significantly; going from 49.7% in 2002 to 28% in 2016. Inclusively, in 2016 Colombia was chosen by the prestigious magazine The Economist, as 'the country of the year' recognizing the efforts to advance the peace accords, and the challenges that politically and socially this represented. Likewise, in 2017 Colombia was selected as the second-best country to visit by Lonely Planet.
Although Colombia has undergone major changes in its internal policy and has responded to the challenges brought by globalization in the late 1990s and the beginning of the new millennium, even with its internal armed conflict, the country still faces major challenges in terms of international perception.For many, Colombia is a country with a reputation of violence that until very recently Colombia has begun to address. Likewise, Colombia being the closest neighbour, and the most important commercial client of Venezuela, unfortunately, has experienced more directly the internal social, political, and commercial decline of Venezuela. Denominated the worst humanitarian tragedy on the continent, Colombia has received approximately two million Venezuelans escaping from the political and dictatorial regime of Venezuela. International agencies, and non-governmental organizations, highlight the importance of not forgetting the internal crisis in Venezuela, since the displacement of Venezuelans throughout the continent, and especially in Colombia, puts the latter in a situation of risk because this country does not have the muscle to deal with the humanitarian crisis unleashed by the Venezuelan migration. It is necessary to highlight, however, the international praise that Colombia has received, through a volatile internal social environment and challenges in domestic political matters, has managed to serve some of the Venezuelan migrants, making it impossible to deal with almost two million of migrant Venezuelans in Colombia.
Among the most important challenges inside Colombia during the last ten years, after the signing of the peace agreement, stands out the challenge of political capacity to maintain and respect the peace agreements negotiated in Havana-Cuba, between the Government of Colombia (2010-2018) and the FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia-People's Army) Guerrilla, and signed in Cartagena - Colombia in 2016. These negotiations and the agreements, although they caused the admiration and support of the international community, to the government at the time and, the country in general (including the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to President Juan Manuel Santos Calderón in 2016 for his efforts to achieve peace and try to end the conflict), also caused internal political haze that led civil society in Colombia to decide between supporting or not the peace accords. This polarization between the 'yes' and the 'no' to this day maintains the political discourse in Colombia, demanding in the same way, changes to the agreements from those who are on the edge of the ‘No’, and respect for the agreements for those who are on the edge of ‘Yes’ and who supported the peace process.
Like the rest of the world, Colombia has been strongly affected by the crisis unleashed by the COVID-19 pandemic; not only in economic terms, Colombia, as of July 2020, is one of the countries with the highest rate of infection growth (according to Johns Hopkins University & Medicine) and the number of deaths per day has increased every day during the last 30 days.
The challenges unleashed by the COVID-19 pandemic places Colombia in a position of ‘ICU’ (short for Intensive Care Unit); a situation that is aggravated by the Venezuelan humanitarian crisis, the increase in the production of coca leaves within the country, and the criminal actions of the drug trafficking cartels, the political and civic debate on the Peace agreements, in addition to the inherited challenges in terms of access to education, job opportunities, tax reforms, aggravated corruption, among many others. The position of Colombia in ICU is aggravated by ceasing to receive income from tourism, which was one of the key industries for the country's economic growth projected for the next ten years, as well as international remittances -transfers-, and the projections regarding foreign direct investment -FDI-. Not to mention, the delicate state of the Peace agreements signed with the now political party FARC (Common Alternative Revolutionary Force) that put the international community and the political and economic powers that have supported with economic resources the development and Implementation of the agreements, with the perfect excuse to redirect those funds from the agreements to address pandemic issues.
It is necessary to raise awareness of the delicate state of Colombia to respond to the challenges derived from the pandemic, Colombia was coming out of a busy political exercise with the Peace agreement, plus the management that Colombia gave to the Venezuelan migration crisis that resulted in the country ‘not best shape’ to respond to the effects and the shocks of the pandemic. It is necessary to remember the need to support this country internationally to overcome its challenges and accompany Colombia not only to the political transition on the Peace accords, but also on the unleashed effects of the pandemic. The United States and the European Union, great political and economic powers that supported Colombia during the process of negotiating the Peace agreements, must not forget the state in which the country began to face this crisis, at times like these, Colombia must be kept in mind in the international cooperation plans and strategies, since the country is in a delicate state not only due to the effects related to the pandemic but also internally due to the effects of the costly political exercise of the Peace agreements.