Colombia has its skeptics.
On the one hand, most of the official news about Colombia these days – and for the past several years – is extraordinarily optimistic. Despite the worldwide recession, Colombia’s economy contracted only slightly at the end of 2008 before returning to modest gains. Last year’s 4% GDP growth exceeded the central bank’s forecast. In May of this year, Colombia ousted Mexico from its #3 position in the list of Latin American and Caribbean countries with the most foreign direct investment (Brazil is far and away number one, with Chile coming in second). Last year, Medellín was named “Innovative City of the Year” in a global contest sponsored by the Wall Street Journal Magazine, Citi, and the Urban Land Institute. Just over a week ago, former President Álvaro Uribe – who, during his 2002 to 2010 time in office, led successful offensives against the FARC and ELN guerrilla groups – was voted “greatest Colombian in history” in a poll sponsored by the History Channel and the newspaper El Espectador.
But for every hopeful account of Colombia’s present condition, there are those who would beg to differ. Continue reading