Outside of the major urban hubs are medium-sized cities that serve as departmental capitals and important regional trading centres. Their size and resources place them somewhere between rich and poor municipalities, and their potential importance for Colombia’s future is too often under-valued.
Why is that oft-neglected medium-sized municipalities are so important in Colombia? Some takeaways:
1. Megacities like Bogotá or Medellín are not the only ones with high numbers of internally displaced persons (IDPs). While the absolute number of IDPs in any given medium-sized city might be far low than figures corresponding to any one of the country’s metropolis, its impact might be higher. Maybe they haven’t received the largest number of victims, but they have received the highest percentage in relation to their pre-existing local populations.Read more
There are three types of well-meaning peacebuilders, ranked by their degree of on-the-ground effectiveness: Those who build their work upon official reports, policy briefings and any other piece of information coming from international networks of thematic knowledge. They have a tendency to impose their opinions on local populations, since they think they know better. ThoseRead more
Several newspapers have published today the findings of a new study carried out by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) on the unintended consequences of development projects financed by the World Bank in 13 different countries. They have published horrible stories where people are forcibly displaced to clear lands so that a government can build a dam or a resort, or where drinking water is not safe anymore due to poorly-conducted works in a mine. According to its estimates, during the last decade around 3.5 million people would have been forcibly displaced by projects funded by the Bank. And all this happened in the sacred name of development, prosperity, and the fight against poverty.Read more
I learned to ignore criticism and advice from experts and quasiexperts, especially academics in the social and political sciences. They have pet theories on how a society should develop to approximate their ideal, especially how poverty should be reduced and welfare extended. I always try to be correct, not politically correct.
What the Western world does not understand is that at the end of the day, I am not worried by how they judge me. I am worried by how the people I have governed judge me. I do not take anything all that seriously. If I did, I would be quite a sick man. A number of foolish things will be said about you. If you take them all seriously, you will get quite demented.
This is the late Lee Kuan Yew in a book-interview compiled by Graham Allison, Robert D. Blackwill and Ali Wyne in 2012, answering to the question “How responsive should a leader be to popular opinion?”Read more
As Ryan Rutkowski put it, when looking at China from afar it is easy to assume that in a “socialist-market economy” the state would play a significant role in the total employment. And, in fact, if we look at the sheer numbers, the Chinese public sector is huge: state-owned enterprises make up the bulk of it, which added to the construction and staffing of new hospitals and schools, as well as party organs and all sorts of governmental agencies, form a vast set of around 90 million workers, or more than the whole population of Germany.
However, this is a misconception. Read more
Why some countries are able to reconstruct while others do not, following civil war? This is the question that Georgetown professor Desha Girod tries to answer in her first book, Explaining Post-Conflict Reconstruction.
By analyzing a sample of 35 countries that experienced civil war during the last four decades, the author comes out with two insightful hypotheses based on one powerful premise: since leaders in post-conflict countries allocate spending mainly to ensure their own political survival, what matters for reconstruction is not the psychology of leaders, the strength of institutions or the given level of democratic governance. What matters is the very specific set of incentives those leaders face in a post-conflict environment, incentives that are different from those faced by leaders of other countries.Read more
The facts are quite straightforward: on March 9 Saudi Arabia blocked a planned speech by Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallström at the League of Arab States in Cairo. Wallström, a strong critic of the Saudi’s human rights record, told the Swedish agency TT:
The explanation we have received is that Sweden has drawn attention to the situation of democracy and human rights [in Saudi Arabia], and that is why they do not want me to speak.
The next day, in apparent retaliation, Sweden’s Prime Minister Stefan Löfven confirmed that his country would not extend a military cooperation agreement with Saudi Arabia, which included an important amount of arms sales to the Gulf monarchy. Finally, today, Saudi Arabia recalled its ambassador to Stockholm.Read more
The new Greek government has finally bent under the pressure of its European partners. After a 10-days-long negotiation in Brussels, the “Grexit” is no longer on the agenda (it’s been put off, but surely not forever) and the main actors of the play have left the scene almost completely unscathed. Greece wanted more flexibility in the macroeconomic field, and the Germany-led coalition of creditors wanted a firm commitment on internal, productivity-enhancing reforms. Both have partly achieved their goals, sharp rhetoric aside.Read more
During the first years of the financial crisis there seemed to be a broad consensus around the need to undertake reforms in the decision-making system of the international financial institutions to be able to better manage, in the future, the cyclical crisis that the current capitalist system generates once in a while.
How to accommodate China, India and other emerging economies in the Bretton Woods system became a hotly debated topic, mainly due to the fast growth rates these countries were experiencing and the fact that their strengthened economic position was not duly reflected in their voting share within those institutions.Read more