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Drugs, Violence, and Development in Colombia: A Department-Level Analysis

  • Jennifer S. Holmes, Sheila Amin Gutiérrez de Piñeres and Kevin M. Curtin

Abstract

Observers say that drug production fuels violence in Colombia, but does coca production explain different levels of violence? This article examines the relationship between coca production and guerrilla violence by reviewing national-level data over time and studying Colombia by department, exploring the interactions among guerrilla violence, exports, development, and displacement. It uses historical analysis, cartographic visualization, and analysis of the trends in four high coca-producing and four violent Colombian departments, along with a department-level fixed effects model. Contrary to the conventional wisdom, the department-level analysis suggests that coca production is not the driving force of contemporary Colombian guerrilla violence. Instead, economic factors and coca eradication emerge as prominent explanatory factors.

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