The civil war in Colombia has waxed and waned with shifting goals, programs, and tactics among the contending parties and with bursts of appalling violence punctuated by uneasy truces, cease-fires, and attempts at reconciliation. Varieties of Marxism, the ecomics of narco-trafficking, peasant land hunger, poverty, and oppression mix together in a toxic stew that has claimed uncounted lives of (most often) peasants, conscript soldiers, and people who just got in the way. Hope for resolution of this conflict is usually confined to dreamers and millenialists of various persuasions, but occasionally an attempt is made at a breakthrough in the military stalemate between the government and the Marxist groups. One of the most promising of such attempts was made by new Colombian President Andres Pastrana at a time when the main rebel groups seemed receptive to serious dialogue. This book is an account of that effort at peace, accompanied at the outset by domestic and international support and hope, and yet doomed like so many others to eventual failure. Through interviews with many of the actors in this drama, as well as an understanding of the various interest groups and ecomic forces at work in Colombia, Dr. Kline charts the progress and ultimate failure of this effort, and thereby hopes to increase understanding of the causes of its lack of success. The importance of resolution of the conflict to the region and to ordinary citizens of this troubled land cant be overstated.
Harvey F. Kline is Professor of Political Science at The University of Alabama and author of State Building and Conflict Resolution in Colombia, 1986-1994.