The New Colombia - Especial del Financial Times


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El prestigioso diario británico Financial Times presentó esta semana un especial titulado "The New Colombia", en el que destacada el desarrollo que está teniendo el país en diversos aspectos de su economía. El especial aborda temas de seguridad, energía, cultura, recursos naturales, medios de comunicación, infraestructura y un perfil del presidente Santos como líder de este cambio. El desarrollo en infraestructura: un gran reto para los próximos años.

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The New Colombia - Especial del Financial Times

  1. 1. TheNewColombiaPeace and prosperityin sight: the countrycomes of ageJune 4
  2. 2. 3The New ColombiaContents826Comment5 Many of the republic’spresidents have had a lastingand sometimes unwelcomeinfluence on their successors,says Malcolm DeasIntroduction6 The country is overcomingrugged geography that haslong stymied developmentProfile8 President Juan ManuelSantos has vowed to end thecountry’s drug violence but istreading a fine political lineEnergy12 The oil industry hasboomed following marketliberalisation and an influxof Venezuelan talentSecurity14 Expertise gained fightinginsurgents has developedinto a thriving export tradeMedia wars20 New conflicts of interestarise, as the balance of powershifts from political elites tobig businessThe big picture26 La Guajira peninsula is anunlikely mixture of semi-nomadic people, tourism andmining companiesInfrastructure30 A huge transport upgradeprogramme promises toease cross-country journeysColombians to watch34 The men and women whoare setting the agendas inpolitics, society, business andculture, at home and abroadBogotá nights42 The capital’s youngpeople sound off about theirhopes and aspirationsComment46 A more service-orientatedculture has revolutionisedpolicing, says Óscar Naranjo,the former director of theColombian National PoliceInteractive graphic: Reports editor:Michael SkapinkerEditor: Hugo GreenhalghLead editor: Helen BarrettProduction editor:George KyriakosArt director: Gavin BrammallPicture editors:Michael Crabtree, John WellingsSub editor: Philip ParrishAdvertising production:Daniel LesarContributorsJohn Paul Rathbone is the FT’sLatin America editorAndres Schipani is the FT’sAndes correspondentAdam Thomson the FT’sbureau chief in MexicoHenry Mance is anFT Companies reporterNaomi Mapstone is theFT’s Peru correspondentMalcolm Deas is an emeritusfellow, St Antony’s College,University of OxfordÓscar Naranjo is a senior partnerand chairman of Óscar Naranjo &Partners and a former director ofthe Colombian National Police1242For commercial opportunitiesplease contact John Moncure or AlejandraMejia at
  3. 3. 5The New ColombiaEternal leadersColombian presidents often exert their influencelong after they have left office – much to theirritation of some successors, says Malcolm DeasThe politics of Colombia havenever been typical of LatinAmerica. The same could besaid of the other countries in theregion, because generalisationsare nearly always wrong.Colombia has been governedpredominantly by civilians, whohave gained the presidency through elections where,usually, the outcome was uncertain.Few winners have dominated the country’s politicsfor long, and few presidents have been re-elected:Álvaro Uribe’s two terms, which ran from 2002 to2010, have been matched only by Rafael Núñez’sascendancy in the 1880s and 1890s. Núñez, for most ofthe time, delegated the exercise of power to his vice-presidents, preferring to brood far from the capital,lulled by the sea breezes in his villa near Cartagena.One result of this system is the existence at anyone time of several living ex-presidents. At present,as well as Uribe, there are four: Belisario Betancur,César Gaviria, Ernesto Samper and Andrés Pastrana.Of those, only the first can be said to have retired fromthe fray, in his case to devote himself to the arts andenjoy the tranquillity of provincial Barichara – andeven he cannot resist the occasional political twitch.Colombia has never been an easy country to gov-ern, and ex-presidents add to complications faced byany incumbent. This is the case with President JuanManuel Santos and his predecessor, Uribe, whoseprestige is still high and whose exceptional energy isundiminished. Uribe is also a master of Twitter, aninstrument only recently available to those who haveleft office. Some Colombians look back to a past agewhen ex-presidents supposedly behaved with morerestraint, receiving in return the respect and defer-ence that few of them enjoyed while in office.Colombia is not a deferential country. Such a timenever existed. Francisco de Paula Santander, the rivalto Simón Bolívar and founding president of the inde-pendent republic, recognised that the only way togovern its vast and poorly integrated territory was byconstant long-distance networking, assiduous parti-san journalism and the full range of electoral arts.All the same, his candidate, José María Obando,lost the 1837 election and Santander spent the cou-ple of years remaining to him in virulent polemics.When he died, one newspaper commented that hisfriends should see to it that he was buried with pen,ink and paper, as he would no doubt go on scribblingin his tomb.Other notable presidents have followed Santand-er’s example: Tomás Cipriano de Mosquera, whoseremarkably creative first presidency was followedby three later terms in which he achieved much less;Núñez, who could never quite let go; Miguel Anto-nio Caro, an ultramontane dogmatist who nonethe-less found life not worth living without engaging inconstant public arguments.More recently, Carlos LlerasRestrepo, who after leaving thepresidency in 1970 wrote andpublished a periodical almostsingle-handedly, and his cousin,Alberto Lleras Camargo, who,Cincinnatus-like, retired torural Chia. But far from puttinghis hand to the plough, he wenton writing to the political lead-ers in El Tiempo, the country’s leading paper. On theother side of Colombia’s bipartisan divide, Conserva-tive ex-presidents Laureano Gómez and MarianoOspina led their factions from beyond the grave.One exasperated columnist has recently suggestedthe usual remedy in this legalistic republic – thatthere should be a law against this sort of thing, thatsomehow ex-presidents should be compelled to keepsilent. This is seen as particularly desirable in thecontext of the delicate peace negotiations betweenSantos’s government and the Farc guerrillas.It cannot be done, and there are many reasons why.One is human nature: most politicians feel compelledto defend their records.Others are perhaps more Colombian: there is noHouse of Lords where such figures can be put out tograss and no presidential memorial libraries – at leastnot for the living.Followings insist their leaders continue to lead.The country is a disputatious democracy where noone is censored and all have a right to be heard. Suc-cess in making peace must take that into account. nColombia is nota deferentialcountry.Such a timenever existedMalcolm Deas is an emeritus fellow of St Antony’s Collegeand lecturer in the government and politics of LatinAmerica at the University of Oxford
  4. 4. 6The New ColombiaEric Hobsbawm, the Brit-ish historian who diedlast year, had an abidingaffection for South Amer-ica. He first visited in the1960s and returned often.“Nobody who discoversSouth America can resistthe region,” he once wrote.I first travelled to Colombia in themid-1980s and, like Hobsbawm, couldnot resist what I saw. Two years later Ireturned to write a tourist guide, havingpersuaded a publisher of the brio of theColombians and the remarkable biodi-versity of their country, with its Carib-bean and Pacific coasts, Amazon jungle,grassy plains and rolling, if often impen-etrable, central mountains.If it was a romantic vision, the honey-moon ended abruptly and on an exactdate: August 18 1989, when the Medellíndrug cartel killed presidential candidateLuis Carlos Galán. Bomb attacks, kidnap-pings and assassinations (especially ofjudges and journalists) were soon routine.Writing a tourist guide became ananomaly. Surely I was CIA, many disbe-lieving Colombians asked. In those con-fusing, fear-filled days, everything oftenappeared to be something else, becausenothing was necessarily what it seemed.Still,asIlearntthenandforeverremem-ber, Colombia’s tortured topographyexplains much about the country. Oftenimpassable terrain can lead to hugely dif-ferent yet adjacent micro-climates – bethey ecological, social or political.Thus, Paris Hilton, the American heir-ess, has opened a boutique in Bogotá sell-ing accessories (modernity has it plusesand minuses). Meanwhile, 150km awayin Boyacá, campesinos, peasants seem-ingly drawn from medieval times, usethe archaic if charming address of “sumerced”, meaning “your mercy”.Indeed,formuchof thecountry,Bogotáremains a remote and distant capital. Andif the state’s reach has failed to penetratesome regions, that has often been simplybecause it could not get there.Age-old battlesThat is partly why Colombia has hostedone of the world’s oldest guerrilla insur-gencies. Geography is a veil that has leftmuch of the country out of sight, out ofreach and out of mind.How the world’s most populousSpanish-speaking nation, after Mexico,evolved from nearly failed state in the1980s into the can-do emerging power oftoday is more or less well known, even ifits costs are not always fully appreciated.Successive governments attacked andbalkanised the drug cartels into smallercriminal groups. These no longer pose asystemic threat and violence has droppedsharply, even if narco-trafficking persistsand will continue to do so while illegaldrugs remain highly profitable.In the 2000s, Álvaro Uribe, then-presi-dent, launched an all-out offensive on theRediscoveredcountryFor decades the rugged Andean landscapeharboured crime and violence, but today regionalpride is emerging in a revived economy.By John Paul RathboneGeography has leftmuch of Colombia outof sight, out of mind
  5. 5. 7The New Colombiaguerrillas, supported by Washington – arare example of a US foreign-policy suc-cess in the region. The state’s expandingpresence opened up previously closedareas to mining and oil exploration. It alsolaunched a boom that brought wealth,especially to shareholders of companiessuch as Ecopetrol and Pacific Rubiales,but also “Dutch disease” – commodity-driven currency appreciation that hurtslocal manufacturing.Still, with the guerrillas demoralisedand backed into a corner, Juan ManuelSantos, the president, has launched apeace process. Doubtless, Colombiawill never achieve the peace of an eden,but that the process exists is a symptomof success. Colombia has even becomean exporter of the security expertise itaccrued so painfully.The effects of Colombia’s geographyare now felt more sharply in economicsthan in politics. They explain a proud andcontinuing regionalism – perhaps com-parable with that of Italy, another nationof rival city states.This regional pride is embodied espe-cially in the industriousness of the Antio-queños. Their leading local companies– banks such as Grupo Sura and Nutresa,the food producer – have expandedabroad and become true multilatinas,with market capitalisations to match.Topography also explains the persis-tent difficulties of moving around thecountry. Businesses complain that it costsas much to truck goods to the Pacificcoast as it does to ship them on to Asia.New journey beginsMost of Colombia’s roads remain littlebetter than 30 years ago, and distancesare always greater than a bird flyingbetween two points. This, though, may bechanging – albeit slowly – under the gov-ernment’s infrastructure programme.Alfonso López Michelsen, another for-mer president, once described Colombiaas “the Tibet of South America”. He wasreferring to its isolation, but also to itsexceptionalism.Colombia has never defaulted on itsforeign debt and has an unusually longdemocratic tradition – competitive elec-tions have been held on and off since the1820s. Uniquely and remarkably, it hassuffered only one recession in nearly acentury (despite near-constant internalconflict).It is, perhaps, the most “Anglo-Saxon”country in Latin America – as can beseen, trivially, in the red-brick and mock-Tudor architecture of Bogotá. But it isalso a country of extreme and frustratinglegalism (and, perhaps because of that,occasional extreme lawlessness).Tradeliberalisationhassincebroachedthe isolation López Michelsen referred to.Colombia’s economy is now larger thanSouth Africa’s and, by some measures,bigger than Argentina’s, a G20 member.Nonetheless, it is striking that foreign-ers are often more optimistic about thecountry than many nationals. This maybe because Colombians, self-protec-tively, take the cynical view (and perhapsbecause their traditional trade partner,troubled Venezuela, is no longer themarket it used to be). But it may also bebecause the country’s latest challenges,such as extreme inequality, can seem asintractable as the former ones.Either way, the New Colombia is unde-niably a better country than the old one,in the sense of being more secure, moreprosperous and better known. The enthu-siastic guide book I planned 25 years agowas not wrong, just premature. nGovernance: the state hasoften struggled to extend itsreach outside the capitalBRAZILVENEZUELAPERUECUADORCaribbean Sea300 kmBogotáCOLOMBIAMedellínPANAMAPHOTOS:BlOOmBerg,eTHelDaviS
  6. 6. 8The New Colombiaor much of his career, Juan Manuel Santos has waged war. Now,Colombia’s president is seeking peace. As he sits in the presiden-tial palace in Bogotá, his tone is measured, his gestures controlledand his gaze calm from under slightly hooded eyes. It is the inscru-table mien of a practised poker player – which is fitting, because ifpolitics is a poker game, Santos has recently gone all-in.ThepeacemakerIn seeking to end50 years of guerrillafighting, PresidentJuan Manuel Santos istreading a fine politicalline, writes John PaulRathbonePHOTO:CHrisTOPHerMOrris
  7. 7. 9The New Colombia‘What I want ispeace. Believeme, it is muchharder to makepeace than war’
  8. 8. 10The New ColombiaForthepast50years,Colombiahasbeenwrackedby Latin America’s oldest guerrilla insurgency. Butlast September, Santos opened formal talks with theRevolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (the Farc)to try to find peace. Success would end a conflict thathas become entwined with rightwing paramilitarygroups, displaced millions and left thousands dead.As the Farc has also funded itself with narco-traffick-ing (although it denies this), peace has internationalramifications too.Yet many Colombians, following the failure of allother Farc peace talks, fear Santos in his pursuit of asuccessful deal has become more of a Chamberlainthan a Churchill. Since the talks began, his popular-ity has slumped below 50 per cent.Santos leans forward into the bright Andeansunlight streaming through the windows. Nervouspresidential aides rustle their papers. On the wall, aportrait of a man on a rearing horse peers out of agrapeshot-ridden period of Colombian history. “I amnot an appeaser. What I want is peace,” Santos sayscrisply, chopping the air with his hand. “Believe me,it is much harder to make peace than war.”Santos knows whereof he speaks. As defence min-ister under Álvaro Uribe, the former president, hepounded the Farc’s 8,000 troops relentlessly. Not thatthis has stopped Uribe from since becoming one ofSantos’s most relentless critics.“No one has hit the Farc harder than I. But all warshave to end at some point, and that requires a negoti-ated solution,” Santos says. “That is why every mili-tary officer fights – so that there may be peace. Still,as I have always said, these talks have limits, and ifpeace is not possible we shall walk away.”Having established the point, the emotional tem-perature in the room drops, his aides relax and thepresident resumes his inscrutable poise.Santos, 61, studied at the London School of Eco-nomics and, like many well-bred Colombians, hasa strand of Anglophilia. Indeed, he is a “gent” in theEnglish phrase. The nephew of a former president,his family owned the country’s newspaper of record,El Tiempo, until it was sold in 2007. He is cultivatedand urbane, but remains grounded by drawing lifelessons from poker. “Truman and Roosevelt… likedto play,” he says. “It reminded them of everyday lifeand of governing, that you need to know the rules ofthe game, when to risk, who your rivals are, and thatyou need luck and vision in order to win.”More than anything, though, Santos is groomedfor power. He has worked as a minister of trade, offinance and of defence. Before government, he wasa journalist and set up a think-tank dedicated to theknotty theme of good governance.On paper, therefore, few presidents anywhere areas well prepared for the job, including its potentialpitfalls. Santos did not need to open the peace talks– continuing to fight would have been the easier pathpolitically. But the stars were aligned, especially afterCuba urged the Marxist Farc to give up its anachronis-Fighting talk:since lastSeptember theFarc guerrillas,below, havebeen in formaldiscussions withthe Colombiangovernmenttic armed struggle. So Santos took a calculated risk. Ashe says, “the potential returns are so high”.Peace would certainly be a game changer forColombia’s $390bn economy. “With peace, our econ-omy would do better still,” says Santos.Colombia is also a member of the Pacific Alliance,a promising $1,200bn trade bloc that includes Mexico,Chile and Peru and is characterised by liberal-mindedinstincts. Santos is proud if characteristically diplo-matic about comparisons with South America’s moreprotectionist Atlantic economies, such as Brazil andArgentina. “You will never hear me denigrating othercountries,” he says. “But it is true we are faster-grow-ing. We also share the same beliefs about the impor-tance of foreign investment and rule of law.”Yet peace, for all its merits, would also bring chal-lenges. For one, incorporating demobilised guerrillasinto national politics could see Colombia’s tradition-ally centre-right politics swing to the left. That pros-pect might sit comfortably with the patrician San-tos – “I’m a third way kind of guy” – but not with allColombians, many of whom associate leftwing poli-tics with terrorists. “There cannot be peace with totalimmunity, so there has to be a process of transitionaljustice. But where do you draw the line betweenjustice and peace?” he says. “This is the commondilemma of every country that wants to solve a con-flict like ours… Still, as [a prominent internationalprosecutor] said, justice cannot be an obstacle forpeace, anywhere, at any time.”Even if polls suggest that public support for thepeace process is growing, this is the kind of talk thatso riles Santos’s domestic opponents. It can alsofeed fears, especially in the business community,‘Where do you drawthe line betweenjustice and peace?’PHOTOs:eYeViNe,COrBis
  9. 9. 11The New Colombiathat peace could one day unleash a wave of politicalpopulism.Bogotá is a city of glittering skyscrapers and busyshopping centres with an up-and-coming middleclass, but to its south are areas such as Ciudad Bolívar,a series of once-green rolling hills now covered withgrey shanty towns. Meanwhile Cartagena, on the Car-ibbean coast, is a colonial jewel that thrums with well-heeled tourists. But around the city live hard-scrabblepopulations displaced by violence from the interior.Santos – his government’s Tony Blair-esque mottois “Prosperity for All” – has unleashed programmesto combat poverty and inequality. But advancing theagenda has been easier said than done, promptingthe criticism that Santos, the former newspaperman,“governs with headlines” and does not follow through.“There are many definitions of governance. Theone I have is execution,” he responds, bristlingslightly. He points to the fact that ministries havespent more of their allocated budgets in the past twoyears than in the past 15, although as he adds, a toughnew anti-corruption law has produced inertia in anewly fearful bureaucracy. “We went too far, perhaps[with that bill],” he says.At the same time, the economy has come offthe boil. A wave of oil and mining investment hasbrought signs of “Dutch disease”, including an appre-ciated currency that has punished manufacturers, amajor source of employment, as well as agriculture.Although the economy is growing at around 4 percent, “some sectors are not doing very well”, San-tos admits. (He announced a stimulus package twoweeks after this interview.)Then there is his management style. This is morechairman of the board than chief executive. His cabi-net, perhaps the most competent in South America,is stuffed with capable technocrats. But critics saythis is not always matched by their ability to getthings done – and there is so much Santos wantsOn poverty row:Juan ManualSantos, above,visits a street inBogotá known as‘El Bronx’, in oneof the city’s mostdeprived areasthem to do: from tax, education, health, pension andjustice reforms to trade liberalisation. And all thatbefore even thinking about peace.This, critics say, is the Achilles heel of his pro-gramme: it is too ambitious and too broad. “Thenumber of reforms passed, and their quality, makeus probably the most progressive government in thepast century,” Santos responds.He reels off statistics: a drop in inequality; 200kmof new double-lane roads built last year and 300kmthis year (“comparable to Spain at its best moment”);and reparations paid to more than 170,000 victims ofviolence.His reform list, though, forces a question on manyColombian minds: with so much still to do, surely hewill run again for president in 2014? Santos says hewill not decide until November, that he is unattachedto power and would just as much be a teacher aspresident. “Some people think that being in this posi-tion is very agreeable,” he says. “I must tell you thatsometimes it is very difficult.”There is no reason to disbelieve him, until the sub-ject of completing the peace process – his potentialmarker in history – comes up. Domestic opponentssay Santos needs a peace deal to launch his re-electionbid. A more interesting question, though, is whetherpeace needs him. After all, signing a deal is only halfthe process – implementing it will be harder still.“If peace is possible I would be very irresponsibleto my country and future generations if I put in jeop-ardy that possibility,” he says. It is unclear whetherthis suggests ambivalence about running again or ahint that he will – perhaps both.Santos is a Bogotá Brahmin who came to officeafter deep thought about what Colombia needs – buthas been frustrated, perhaps, in the state’s ability toexecute those plans. He leaves the impression of areasonable man seeking to govern a remarkable butalso highly unreasonable country. n
  10. 10. 12The New ColombiaOilproducerssurgeaheadMarket liberalisation and an influx of émigréVenezuelan workers have been catalysts for a boomin Colombia’s energy sector, writes Andres SchipaniSome commentators com-pared it to Stalin’s purges.It was 2006 and Venezue-la’s then-president, HugoChávez, said employees ofPDVSA, the state energycompany, who were notwilling to side with himcould leave. He also hinted that somemight end up in prison.“PDVSA’s workers are with this revo-lution, and those who aren’t should gosomewhere else. Go to Miami,” Chávezsaid, referring to a Thermidorian reac-tion a few years earlier when, after afailed coup, his opponents led a two-month energy industry strike that crip-pled Venezuela’s economy.After the strike, the president cleanedout PDVSA, sacking 20,000 employees,including some of its best petroleumengineers, geologists and managers.Some did indeed go to the US, but mostwere welcomed by Colombia, where theyhave been instrumental in helping oilcompanies to boost their lagging produc-tion of crude and turn the country into aregional energy powerhouse.“Venezuela’s loss has been, for allmeans and purposes, Colombia’s gain,”says Carlos Alberto López, a Harvard-educated Colombian energy expert. Afterthe decline in production and explora-tion during the 1990s, in the past decadeColombia has taken advantage of thecommodities boom and a crackdownon Marxist insurgents. This spurred theinterest of investors in the energy-richparts of Colombia that were off-limitsduring the rough years of the drug-fuelledguerrilla and paramilitary violence.The army of experienced Venezuelanoil workers and technologically savvymanagers was a welcome pool of know-how oil companies entering the Colom-bian scene could tap. “Without them,Colombia’s extraordinary oil boom mighthave faced significant lags,” López says.Pacific Rubiales Energy, the Canadian-Colombian group, was one of the firstprivate companies to take advantage ofimproved security, and is an emblem ofColombia’s oil boom. It became the coun-try’s biggest independent oil producer byexploiting the long-neglected Rubialesfield that disappointed many after anExxon affiliate discovered oil there in theearly 1980s. “Colombia was a great oppor-tunity, with underdeveloped reserves andseveral million of yet-to-be-discoveredbarrels,” says Ronald Pantin, the Caracas-born chief executive and a former seniorexecutive at PDVSA. Thanks to Venezue-lan production technology, Pacific Rubi-ales has gone from extracting 14,000 bar-rels a day in 2008 to a forecast of morethan 250,000 b/d this year.The growth of Pacific Rubiales – thefirst international company to list inBogotá – has strengthened the phenom-enon of Toronto-listed oil producersoperating in Colombia. Among those areCanacol, Petrominerales and Ecopetrol.“Pacific Rubiales and its manage-ment team changed the dynamic of theoil sector in Colombia,” explains RupertStebbings, vice-president of equity salesat Bancolombia. “They are agile, knowexactly what they are doing when itcomes to heavy oil and know how to exer-cise their plans and take seriously theirresponsibilities on all aspects, not justgetting oil out of the ground at any cost.”This notwithstanding, some considerPacific Rubiales’ style of doing business asarrogant, particularly after some contro-versial advertising and media campaigns.Even the Revolutionary Armed Forces ofColombia (Farc) rebels have called thecompany a “transnational vampire”.“This new style works for most, butfor others there are those ready to shootthem down at the first opportunity,” addsStebbings. To a handful of observers thismight mean Pacific Rubiales has been, tosome extent, stealing the thunder of Eco-petrol, which produces about 60 per centof the country’s oil. To many, that wasexemplified by a recent court case that pit-ted the companies against each other overrevenues from a jointly exploited oilfield.Nevertheless, both have been aggres-sive in exploration and acquisition.While Pacific Rubiales is aiming at 1mb/d within a decade, Ecopetrol is shootingfor 1.3m b/d in 2020, thanks to an $80bninvestment programme already in place– something that helped make Colombiathe region’s fourth-largest oil producer.Despite neither having made a big oildiscovery, Colombia has almost doubledproduction in the past six years to morethan 1m barrels of oil equivalent a day,and has proven reserves of 2.4bn barrels.The country is growing fast partlythanks to the liberalisation of the industrythat created the National HydrocarbonsAgency and allowed for the fractionalopening of the privatisation state-runcompany. According to Javier Gutiérrez,Ecopetrol chief executive, his company isfollowing a model that “seems to be work-ing” as it has increased production 16 percent a year since 2008 and is now amongthe best-performing energy groups inLatin America.The Colombian state still holds an 88.5per cent stake in Ecopetrol, with the restpublicly traded, but the company has wig-gle room for a further 8.5 per cent issu-ance. With a reform to open up Mexicosoil and gas sector to private investmentin the pipeline, some believe Pemex, thestate oil monopoly, and even Ecuador’sPetroamazonas, could follow in the foot-steps of their Colombian counterpart.“Ecopetrol in Colombia is just like anyother company competing for a share ofthe market,” says Gutiérrez. “We don’thave to ask the Colombian state what wecan or can’t do. Not only has Ecopetrolgrown, the energy sector in general hasgrown. Colombia’s transformation tran-scends any company.” n
  11. 11. 13The New Colombia2005525200967120085882007531200652920141,150(projected)20131,100(projected)2012944201191420107852008 PacificRubiales startsoil production.Ecopetrol beginstrading on theNew York StockExchange2007 Partialflotation ofEcopetrol2003Liberalisationof Colombia’soil sector withthe creation ofthe NationalHydrocarbonsAgency2012 EcopetrolovertakesPetrobrasby marketcapitalisation.Pacific Rubialesstarts trading onthe São PauloStock Exchange2010 Ecopetrolstarts trading onthe Toronto StockExchange2009 PacificRubiales becomesthe first foreigncompany to list onColombia’s stockmarket20045282003541Colombia’s oil outputIn thousands of barrels a day. Source: Colombian Ministry of Mines and EnergyGRAPHIC:GAVINBRAMMALL
  12. 12. 14The New Colombia
  13. 13. 15The New ColombiaSecurityfor exportAfter decades of conflict with insurgents at home,Colombia is cashing in on its military knowhow byselling it to the world, writes Andres Schipanifter just three hours’ sleep, and a goodportion of the day spent under the relent-less mid-morning sun, sweating but com-posed, Private Daniel Mancera is takinga break from training in counter-insur-gency warfare.Without blinking, he has just abseileddown an 18m tower that mimics a BlackHawk helicopter. “I have no doubt thatColombia’s forces are among the best inthe world right now,” Mancera says. “AndI am getting ready to serve here or any-where in the world if needs be, becauseeveryone wants our services nowadays.”After 50 years of fighting leftwingguerrillas in some of the most inhospi-table terrain anywhere, Colombia is nowseeking opportunities to market militaryskills abroad.Stopping power: a model shows anexample of bulletproof clothingmade by Miguel Caballero, acompany that manufactures andsells its wares worldwidePHOTO:CAMERAPRESS
  14. 14. 16The New Colombia“Colombia is interested in offering itsexpertise,” Juan Carlos Pinzón, the coun-try’s defence minister, says. “We havelived through a reality that I am sure isuseful to other countries facing securitychallenges, even transnational crime.”A few hours south of the capitalBogotá, Fort Tolemaida is the trainingcentre for Colombia’s special forces. Ech-oing Mancera, the country’s president,Juan Manuel Santos, recently christenedthem “the best in the Americas” becausethey beat US elite troops in a militarytournament last year.It sounds ironic, because since 2000the US has provided Colombia with morethan $4bn in training, equipment andsecurity assistance to support the Andeancountry’s counter-drug and internal secu-rity efforts.But after a decade of an all-out offen-sive that has diminished the guerrillas’power, Colombia’s fortunes have turned.Besides the almost inhuman training,Colombian forces have been battle-hard-ened after years of local civil wars andSicilian-style blood feuds between theleftwing guerrillas, drug gangs and right-wing paramilitary groups.The country has cashed in on the expe-rience in recent years, with the interna-tional deployment of military capabilitiesgained through one of the world’s long-est-running armed conflicts growing inleaps and bounds.“WeareeventeachingAmericantroopshow to fight irregular armies and Chinesetroops how to become prime snipers,”says Walther Giraldo, commander of FortTolemaida, which adopted the model ofthe US Army Rangers when it was estab-lished.Global marketOver the past decade, say defence offi-cials, Colombia has offered its hands-on expertise to several Latin American,Caribbean, European and west Africancountries and even Afghanistan via Nato.More than 16,000 people in 40 countrieshave been trained by Colombian securityforces in areas such as maritime interdic-tion, jungle combat, anti-terrorism intel-ligence and tactics to fight extortion, kid-napping and drug trafficking.Decades of combat have leftColombia with armed forces that are450,000-strong. Its army is bigger thanBrazil’s, a country with a population fourtimes the size of Colombia’s. Between2000 and 2010, Colombia’s annual mili-tary spending almost doubled from$5.7bn to $10.4bn, according to the Inter-national Crisis Group, a think-tank. Thismakes the country one of the top mili-tary spenders in Latin America, whilethis year’s budget stands at about $12bn,according to the defence minister.“This is a civilian conflict, after all,which means it has been or still is close tomany people who have learnt the trade,”says Jorge Restrepo, a Bogotá-basedeconomist and head of Cerac, a conflictanalysis think-tank. “So in today’s Colom-bia there is knowhow and experience inthe dark arts of defence everywhere.”Colombia’s conflict has turned formerofficials into successful private operators,cashing in on their security expertise.“[We] Colombians are good, very good,when it comes to facing violent puzzles,so we definitely have something to offer,”says Adriana Mejía, a former deputyforeign minister who initiated policeco-operation agreements and is now aglobetrotting security consultant.Her business partner is none otherthan “supercop” Óscar Naranjo, Colom-bia’s former police chief who won inter-national accolades after dismantling thecountry’s most notorious drugs cartelsand is now working as Mexico’s presiden-tial adviser on security issues.Nevertheless, Colombia is not justexporting people and knowhow – it hasalso started to sell military hardwareoverseas. Indeed, Indumil, the state-runmilitary arms manufacturer, is consid-ered the crown jewel of Colombia’s mili-tary weaponry sector. In recent years, thecompany has developed a new genera-tion of the Israeli Galil ACE assault rifle.The weapon was initially conceived foruse by the Colombian armed forces, andlast year almost 750,000 rifle parts wereexported from Colombia back to Israel.Amorerank-and-fileexampleisMiguelCaballero, a maker of personal ballis-tic protection products. After success athome, the company started exportingbulletproof clothing to India and Nige-ria, for use by government officials, andopened a shop in Mexico that suppliespoliticians and security forces. Known as“the Armani of armour”, Miguel Cabal-lero has created “bullet-resistant fashion”– armoured tank-tops and T-shirts thathave been sold to the Harrods depart-ment store in London, for example.Following the Newtown school shoot-ings in the US in December 2012, when20 children and six teachers were killed,Miguel Caballero’s products have arrivedin the US, where its grade-school bodyarmour – a backpack-and-vest combina-tion – has become a bestseller.One reason why Colombia has beenable to do all of this is that the guerrillathreat within the country has dimin-‘Colombians are good,very good, whenit comes to facingviolent puzzles’Pack leader: Colombian-madebody armour backpacks forschoolchildren, above, are abestseller in the USPHOTO:REUTERS
  15. 15. 18The New Colombiaished. In recent years, Colombia’s deter-mined, well-trained armed forces havekilled several commanders of the Revolu-tionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Farc),weakening the rebels and helping the stateto regain control of large areas of the coun-try that were lost during the 1990s at thepeak of the conflict. According to a recentreport by the defence ministry, the Farchas lost 1,200 rebels in the past two years.For all the opportunities that exportingsecurity expertise presents, there are alsopotential problems. Pinzón’s forces haverecently been creaking under the weightof their own success, having been unableto keep some of their best-trained men.The United Arab Emirates has beenactively – and unofficially, through localrecruiters – hiring Colombian troopsby the hundred as an insurance policyagainst domestic unrest.The reasoning behind importingColombians in particular, sources say, isthat they are not Arabs or Muslims andthus might have fewer qualms aboutopening fire. Other skills include theexperience acquired through Farc cam-paigns, as well as being familiar with theUS-made weapons the UAE buys, such asBlack Hawk helicopters.Colombian soldiers are, in turn, luredby the promise of riches and the avoid-anceofpotentialchargesforhumanrightsabuses in their home country. “In Colom-Colombia’s annual defence budget2000$5.7bn2010$10.4bnAdditional reporting by Michael Peel in AbuDhabi and Adam Thomson in Mexico CityUnder the banner of socialjustice, Pedro AntonioMarín – popularly known asManuel “Sureshot” Marulanda(pictured below) – organisedhis peasant followers into arevolutionary movement inthe green hills of Marquetaliain 1964. Armed only with oldbolt-action rifles, the rebelsof the Revolutionary ArmedForces of Colombia (Farc)initially received supportfrom the Soviet Union, Cubaand Colombia’s Communistparty.Since then, the leftwingfighters have engaged ina running war with thestate, taking control ofbackwater areas. Tens ofthousands of people have beenkilled and millions displaced asthe army, leftwing rebels andrightwing paramilitary groupshave battled it out.As support for its Marxistcause has waned, the grouphas resorted to forcefullyrecruiting youngsters andchildren. By the early 2000s,the insurgents numberedabout 20,000 – strong enoughto overrun towns and militarygarrisons, launch mortarattacks in centralBogotá and controlalmost a third ofColombia’s territory.That was until10 years ago,when Colombia’sgovernment launched amilitary crackdown. Since2008, when the militaryrescued Íngrid Betancourt, aformer Colombian presidentialcandidate, and 14 otherhostages, the government hasrained down blows on the Farc.Some Farc commandershave been killed or died inrecent years. The 8,000guerrillas left are scatteredaround rural areas, engaging ingrenade attacks and plantingmakeshift landmines. The USand the EU consider the Farc aterrorist organisation.Colombia’s other guerrillagroup, the National LiberationArmy (ELN), has only some1,500 fighters. It was startedin the early 1960s by radicalRoman Catholic priests andMarxist intellectuals enthusedby the revolution led by FidelCastro and Ernesto “Che”Guevara in Cuba.Experts say both rebel groupshave survived by financingthemselves with activities suchas kidnapping for ransom,extortion, drug trafficking,informal goldmining and armssmuggling. Both the Farc andthe ELN have denied this.Colombia has held successfulpeace talks before. The M-19urban guerrilla group put downits weapons in 1990, and morethan 30,000 paramilitariesdemobilised between 2004 and2006. ASLong-term enemiesbia, I am a simple corporal who might endup in jail, and earn $1,100 [a month], but[in the UAE] I will [be] a sergeant and earn$3,300 with much better benefits overall,”says a Colombian elite squad memberwho was recently interviewed by an Emi-rati military envoy in Bogotá.Talent drainFor Henry Medina, a retired major gen-eral and former head of Colombia’s Supe-rior School of War, this is “bleeding” thecountry of its best men. “I understand it isnot easy to find an exceptionally trainedsoldier with so many years of combatexperience, willing to go there for thatmoney,” he says. “An American would bemuch more expensive and much harderto get.” To stem the exodus, PresidentSantos recently sent a delegation to AbuDhabi to work on an accord.In general, though, experts and govern-ment see it as a tremendous opportunityto redeem the years of fighting Colom-bians have under their belts. For MiguelCaballero, founder of the eponymouscompany, the equation is simple: “Afterso many years of fighting, people realisethat if a security product or service worksin Colombia, it will undoubtedly workanywhere in the world.” 
  16. 16. 20The New ColombiaWealthIndustry and politics areclosely linked withcontrol of the media, butjournalists have a proudhistory of challengingthe status quo, writesJohn Paul RathbonepowerandthepressPHOTOs:AFP,REUTERs
  17. 17. 21The New Colombianewspaper reporter, to El Espectador’s murderededitor, whose name is honoured today by Unesco’sGuillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize.“I am very optimistic about the country,” saysDuzán. “I am less sure about the press.”Traditionally, the Colombian press was controlledby leading families who wore their liberal principleson their sleeves and for decades rotated through thepolitical establishment. The Santos family, whichowned El Tiempo between 1913 and 2007, is the best-known example. Eduardo Santos was the country’spresident between 1938 and 1942, while Juan ManuelSantos, his great nephew, is the current president.But the Santos family is not the only Colombian clanwith a politico-journalistic axis.Lasting dynastiesAndrés Pastrana, who was Colombia’s presidentbetween 1998 and 2002, began his career as a journal-ist. The brother of Ernesto Samper, president from1994 to 1998, is Daniel Samper Pizano, one of the coun-try’s best-known columnists. Felipe López, publisherof Semana, one of Latin America’s sharpest newsweeklies, is the son of a formerpresident and the grandsonof another. Semana’s editor isAlejandro Santos, nephew ofthe current president.“You wouldn’t get that kindof incestuousness in Africa!”exclaims former vice-pres-ident Francisco Santos, asometime journalist who is also a cousin of the cur-rent president, as well as being one of his fiercest crit-ics – Colombia remains a country of contradictionsand surprises.For some, these family dynasties are a symbol of aparadoxical country: one with the continent’s long-est history of democracy but also some of its mostenduring elites. In the UK, they might be called mem-bers of “the great and the good”.Yet the recent ownership changes in Colombia’smedia industry, which earns $1.5bn a year in adver-tising revenues, suggest the country’s “elites” – aproblematic word, because it implies precision – arein flux, and that these changes, while a welcome signof social mobility, have brought fresh challenges,especially conflicts of interest.Certainly, there are potential conflicts aplenty forColombia’s new media barons. Sarmiento is a self-made billionaire whose Grupo Aval financial con-uillermo Cano, the editor of El Espectador, Colom-bia’s oldest newspaper, was murdered on December17 1986 as he left work. Three years later, a Medellíncartel bomb blew up the paper’s Bogotá offices, inwhat was meant as a final reprisal for El Espectador’scontinued denunciations of the drug gangs.“The country was living under a dictatorship offear,” remembers Enrique Santos, then a columnistand co-owner of El Tiempo, El Espectador’s biggestrival. “But Cano’s killing was also a turning point – weknew we had to do something.”That something was the “Kremlin”, a secret group-ing of the country’s leading journalists, who pooledtheir investigative work and co-ordinated the simul-taneous publication of anonymous reports acrossthe nation’s media.“Thank God those days are gone,” recalls MaríaJimena Duzán, El Espectador’s co-ordinator at theKremlin at the time.They certainly have. Back then, Colombia was onthe verge of apparent collapse. Less than 30 yearslater, the country is an emerging economic power –a remarkable transformation mirrored in the pressand the latest challenges it faces.Tellingly, one of the hottest topics in Colombianjournalism today is less about staying alive thanmanaging the conflicts of interest that have accom-panied the country’s new-found prosperity. Of thefive Colombians on Forbes’ global billionaires list,the three richest have come to control the country’slargest media groups.Luis Carlos Sarmiento, who has a $14bn fortune,according to Forbes, in 2012 bought El Tiempo,Colombia’s largest-circulation daily and the newspa-per of record. Alejandro Santo Domingo, with $12bn,owns El Espectador, the country’s second-biggestnewspaper, and Caracol, one of Colombia’s two pri-vate television stations, which has production agree-ments with Univision of the US and Mexico’s Televisa.And Carlos Ardila, with $5bn, owns RCN televisionand radio, the country’s other private national net-work, which has a television joint venture with NewsCorp in the US, as well as being the originator of theUgly Betty series.On a US canvas, this pattern of ownership is akinto the Murdoch family, which controls News Corp,also owning a conglomerate such as General Electric.The very idea seems antithetical to Colombia’slong history of journalism, which has nurtured someformidable talents – from Gabriel García Márquez,the Nobel literature prize winner who began as aRecent ownershipchanges in the mediasuggest the country’selites are in fluxFigures ofinfluenceopposite, from top:billionaire LuisCarlos Sarmiento;Andrés Pastrana,former presidentand journalist;El Tiempo,Colombia’s largestcirculation daily
  18. 18. 22The New Colombiaglomerate has interests in the booming sectors ofinsurance, banking, pensions and infrastructure.Santo Domingo heads the Valorem industrialgroup, which has interests in forestry, transport andbrewing (via its 14 per cent holding in London-listedSABMiller, which bought the Santo Domingo family’sbeer company, Bavaria, in 2005 for $6bn).Lastly, Ardila is an entrepreneur who married intoa soft drinks and foods business, and whose otherinterests include textiles, car parts and Medellín’sAtlético Nacional football team.To be sure, these magnates often stress their phil-anthropic and patriotic interests in owning mediacompanies, although their potential usefulness can-not be ignored.Julio Santo Domingo, who died in 2011, said own-ing El Espectador was like “having a pistol in yourpocket: you don’t want to use it, but it is good to havejust in case”. Still, his purchase of the paper in 1997,in large part out of civic duty to stop it going bank-rupt, is widely acknowledged.“He also liked the fact that El Espectador some-times went after some of his friends’ interests,” saysone long-standing business associate. “It tickled andamused him at cocktail parties.”Santo Domingo’s son Alejandro continues to sup-port the newspaper financially. With a daily reader-ship of 240,000, it makes a loss, although it expects tobreak even next year and is still known for its liberaljournalism and student-heavy readership.Luis Carlos Sarmiento Jr, whose father bought ElTiempo after financial problems prompted Span-ish publisher Planeta to sell the paper in 2012 afterbuying it in 2007, has been more explicit. El Tiempo,which has more than 1m daily readers, is profitableand has a thriving classifieds business.“Someone has to own El Tiempo. But who canown it without having conflicts of interests and alsolots of money? Such entities don’t exist,” he told theFT shortly after the purchase closed. “We will haveto manage these conflicts of interests like everybodyelse. Furthermore, there is an altruistic motive to it,as my father will tell you.”Certainly, billionaires owning broadsheets is asign of the times. In the developed world, many anailing newspaper has hoped for a philanthropicallyminded billionaire to come to its aid. But in Colom-bia, where the corporate stage is smaller and thewealth more concentrated, the drama is newer and,perhaps because of that, more intensely felt.The issue has raised questions about what is thebest ownership model for journalism – corporate orfamily? If a corporation, is it a cross-subsidy if thecompany advertises in the paper it owns? And, if thathappens, how can conflicts of interest be avoided?El Espectador, which has a publishing agreementwith the FT, routinely publishes disclaimers when-ever it reports on a Santo Domingo business. “It isnewspaper policy,” says Fidel Cano, El Espectador’seditor and the nephew of Don Guillermo – one signof editorial continuity under its new owners.El Tiempo, however, still seems to be workingout its disclosure system, reporters at the paper say.Roberto Pombo, El Tiempo’s director, bristles at thenotion that this compromises editorial independ-ence and stresses that “our columnists can writeTimelineEarly 1980sGuillermoCano, editor ofEl Espectador,leads attackson Colombia’sdrug cartels inhis newspaper’scolumns andeditorials.1986Cano is shotdead in Bogotáby hitmen underorders from PabloEscobar, thenotorious leader ofthe Medellín drugcartel.1989The Medellín carteldetonates a bomboutside the ElEspectador offices.Journalists setup the “Kremlin”group to publishinvestigativestories.Turning point:GuillermoCano, whoseassassinationin 1986 gavenew impetusto investigativejournalismThere are potentialconflicts aplentyfor Colombia’s newmedia barons1997Julio SantoDomingo, whosefamily-ownedgroup accountedfor 4 per cent ofColombian GDP atits peak, buys ElEspectador.2012Luis CarlosSarmiento, therichest man inColombia, buysEl Tiempo, thecountry’s biggest-selling newspaper,from Planeta, theSpanish publisher.
  19. 19. 24The New Colombiawhatever they want to – as they always have”.Nonetheless, to conspiracy theorists – which Colom-bia has in abundance – the situation is ripe for abuse.For them, the powerful corporate owners of “NewColombia”, which have replaced the powerful politi-cal families of “Old Colombia”, suggest a country inthrall to power and entrenched interests.Critical controversyOne recent kerfuffle surrounded Daniel Pardo, anindependent journalist (whose father, as it happens,is a former foreign minister). Pardo lost his job atinternet news portal KienyKe after publishing a criti-cal piece about Pacific Rubiales, the dual-listed Cana-dian-Colombian oil company, which had boughtadvertising space throughout the Colombian media.The whys and wherefores of Pardo’s case are dis-puted, although Duzán commented in her Semanacolumn: “His departure confirmed something thatwe already knew: that in those media without a cleardividing line between information, opinion and pub-licity, freedom of expression is a mere sophism.”Nonetheless, journalists continue to expose cor-ruption and scandals. For example, swaths of formercongressmenareunderinvestigationforallegedlinksto paramilitary groups. Journalists’ work continuesto make them targets of violence. In May, RicardoCalderón, Semana’s investigations editor, escapedan apparent assassination attempt near Bogotá. Andthe government has warned of other plots.If the need for advertising revenues creates someself-censorship, it is also a far cry from other LatinAmerican countries, where governments often havean arm-lock on the advertising budgets of state-owned companies. Instead, the end result is a typicalColombian hybrid – one that perhaps should notwork but does.“Yes, Colombia’s main media belong to the coun-try’s most powerful people, be they economic orpolitical. But it is difficult to see that they affect themedia’s independence,” says Jaime Abello, direc-tor of the FNPI, the New Iberoamerican Journal-ism Foundation, an independent group founded byGarcía Márquez. “There has always been a closerelationship between power and the press here, yetat the same time also independence, space and a cer-tain critical distance.”In some ways the problems of Colombia’s medialandscape reflect the country’s broader success. Thatit faces the same kinds of conflicts and pressures asthe media almost everywhere is a sign of the Colom-bian economy’s growing openness, globalisation,prosperity – and concentration.“The more powerful revolution has not beenchanges in ownership but the rise of consumerismand the internet,” Abello says.That is one conflict publishers everywhere havenot figured out how to win decisively, including eventhose intrepid Colombian journalists who once faceddown drug barons from the “Kremlin”. nOther Colombian mediaHow to navigate one’s way aroundColombian media? In addition toEl Tiempo, which has an excellentprinted edition, and El Espectador,which has a top-notch website,there are the family-owned regionalnewspapers. The rude commercialhealth of titles such El País in Cali,El Colombiano in Medellín and ElNuevo Heraldo in Barranquilla, withcirculations of around 200,000 each,ensures media plurality in a countrythat is always rich in news.For crisp and, for many,indispensable analysis of the week’snews, there is Semana, a magazinewith a pithy narrative reporting stylebased on Time and The Economist.Now in its 30th year, Semana hasgroomed many of Colombia’s bestjournalists.Apart from lively radio stations,such as Blu, a relative newcomerto the Bogotá airwaves, there arenimble and probing internet start-ups that dig deep into breakingnews and political themes – certainlydeeper than on television, whereanalytical news programmes tend torun late at night.The most notable website is LaSilla Vacía, run by Juanita León, aformer Semana journalist (see page37). Founded in 2009, publishes investigative pieces,has some 300,000 unique users, iswell read by opinion formers andpolicy makers, and covers its costs,even if this is largely thanks to grantsfrom agencies such as the FordFoundation. “The commercial sidehas been harder than I thought,”León admits.For news junkies, other sitesinclude, whichtends towards hefty essays,, which mixes fashionwith politics in a lighter blend.Finally, there are social media– especially Twitter. Much used byformer president Álvaro Uribe, aprestigious prestidigitator withmore than 2m followers, he launchesstinging attacks daily on the policiesof his former protégé, Juan ManuelSantos. A common theme fromthe hyperactive Uribe is a lamentabout how the country’s security hasworsened since he stopped beingpresident. JPROn a roll: El País is one of severalregional papers in rude health
  20. 20. 26FAULTLINESAntiori dolorec tiorro inusciisunt volendi genditas con natiatad quassuntio officaeptaeBy Stanley PignalTHEBIGPICTUREFAULTLINESLa Guajira peninsula is anunlikely mix of semi-nomadicpeople, tourism and miningmultinationals, writes John PaulRathbone. Photographsby Diana Bejarano
  21. 21. 27
  22. 22. 28The New ColombiaThe big picture
  23. 23. 29■ La Guajira is one of Colombia’s moststartlingfrontiers.Moreofanafterthoughtthan an extension of the Caribbean coast-line, it is a 240km-long, 48km-wide snoutthat guards the Venezuelan gulf and endsat Punta Gallinas – South America’s north-ernmost point. Romantic and strange, itis an arid spit, flat as a runway, sparselydusted with rock and thorn. With its cen-turies-long tradition of smuggling, morerecentlydrug-runningand–morerecentlystill – coalmining, it is one huge hideaway,an old fashioned badlands.It is home to the semi-nomadic Wayuutribe, never subjugated by the Spanish,whose women traditionally wear colour-fulmantas,soft-flowingrobeswonderfullyunsuited to the peninsula’s thornbrushes,while the men more often wear west-ern clothes, sometimes with a .45 pistolunder the belt. Around Cabo de la Vela – aheadland that is now a windsurfers’ para-dise – vast flocks of flamingos gather, andthroughout there are shifting bands ofsmugglers who ply their trade: single maltwhiskies, cheap petrol from Venezuelaand contraband Marlboro cigarettes.It is the site of Cerrejón, one of LatinAmerica’s largest coalmines, a joint ven-ture between Anglo American, BHP Billi-ton and Xstrata that exported 33m tonneslast year and is developing a $1.3bn pro-ject to boost that to 40m tonnes by 2015.In March, guerrillas blew up one of Cer-rejón’s railway lines. Earlier this year, itsworkers went on a 32-day strike – nowsettled, although during the walkout thelocal press gleefully reported how manymillions were being lost.Alabama-based Drummond, with itsown coalmine nearby, has a poorer localreputation. In April, it agreed to pay threeyears’ worth of overdue mining royalties(the delay was due to a technical glitch,now corrected, the company said). It alsofaces a separate fine and was barred fromexporting for a month after it dumpedcoal in the Caribbean while rescuing asinking barge in January. Drummondfaces a US lawsuit, over alleged links toparamilitaries who killed union leaders in2001. Drummond denies the allegationsand has countersued for defamation.La Guajira has attracted more surrealentrepreneursoflate.Invogueisadventuretourism plus adjacent exotic industries,such as growing gourmet mushrooms.There are also schemes aplenty to help theLines in the land: thearid peninsula offerscoal riches from theCerrejón mine, top,while entrepreneurialschemes exist to helpthe indigenous Wayuupeople earn moneyFAULTLINESWayuu earn money, from solar power tocultivating desert weeds, which might con-tain valuable resins. Educating the Wayuu(subtext for some: assimilating them) isanother hot topic in a region that, for allits trackless expanses, has deep histories –and not just of duplicity and betrayal.Unesco has recognised the Wayuu con-cept of the palabrero, a wise man whomediates clan conflicts, as part of the“intangible cultural heritage of humanity”.And four years ago, archaeologists dug upa fossil of what is believed to be the largestsnake that ever lived. Titanoboa was 13mlong and weighed more than a tonne. n
  24. 24. The New Colombia30The New ColombiaSkid row: many ofColombia’s majorroad links are poorlymaintained dirt tracksLONGROADAHEAD
  25. 25. 31The country’s crumbling transportinfrastructure is to receive a $100bn updateover the next decade, writes Andres SchipaniPhotographs by Stephen Ferryvery time he leaves Medellín, truck driverCarlos Patiño drops his eyelids, makes thesign of the cross and murmurs a prayer.After 15 years of transporting cargoon Colombia’s roads, these days he is notasking for mercy from possible attacks byrebel assassins or ruthless paramilitaries,who less than a decade ago controlled thelands he is about to cross.Instead, he is praying for divine pro-tection as he sets off on a 750km journeycarrying groceries for Nutresa, Colom-bia’s biggest food producer, to the townof El Banco Magdelena in the north ofthe country. Along the potholed roadsmakeshift crosses on hairpin bends markthe sites of fatal accidents when drivers’prayers went unanswered.“I am always a bit worried about theload, about myself. Roads – if you cancall this a road – should be better,” Patiñosays, pointing at the coming successionof potholes. There is not much margin forerror for drivers, because the path is 4mwide and a precipice looms.To allay Patiño’s fears, the governmenthas embarked on the most ambitioustransport infrastructure plan in its his-tory to bring the road network up to date.While it may take some time to completethe overhaul, the magnitude of construc-tion is expected to have a positive impacton gross domestic product.The improvements will allow Colom-bia to become more competitive, prepar-ing it fully for all the trade agreementsthat have been signed or are about to be.“Nowhere else in the world is there suchan ambitious programme,” says LuisFernando Andrade, director of the newnational infrastructure agency, the ANI.His target – to build 8,000km of roadsin six years and reduce travel times by30-50 per cent – is ambitious. To accom-plish it, Andrade, the respected formerhead of management consultancy McK-insey in Colombia, is overseeing a triplingin transport infrastructure investment bynext year via public-private partnerships.Ten years ago, Colombia spent roughly1 per cent of GDP – about $3bn – on trans-port infrastructure. Now, the governmentplans to spend some 3 per cent of GDP –about $10bn.“Until now we have not invested ininfrastructure because we have hadother priorities, such as waging an inter-nal conflict,” explains Andrade. Thecooling of the insurgency as well asmacroeconomic stability and record-breaking fiscal inflows now allow for suchexpenditure.“We have found the right formula,” headds. This formula is simple: Colombia’sgovernment is auctioning off $25bn worthof road infrastructure to keep the coun-try’s economy humming. The concessionsare part of a larger strategic goal to investnearly $32bn in transport infrastructureby 2014 and about $100bn by 2021.Travelling partnersGovernment officials claim this is one ofthe world’s largest road-concession pro-grammes, alongside those in India andBrazil. Concessions will be awarded topublic-private partnerships on 20-yearcontracts, thereby helping address anobstacle for Colombian constructioncompanies, which still look to banks asthe best source of financing. Consortiumsformed by local groups and backed by thefinancial muscle and global knowhow offoreign groups will receive the final allo-cations.As Colombia uses roads for more than80 per cent of its internal transportation,the push is to create extensive road sys-tems, including the expansion of criticalroads and building bridges and tunnels toreduce journey times.The plan is geared towards cuttingtransport, to a great extent by shorten-
  26. 26. 32ing routes and lowering all gradients todecrease fuel usage, creating 80kph aver-age speeds instead of the current 40kph.Other projects include the restorationof two railway systems for cargo; makingthe biggest river system, which flows fromthe Magdalena river, navigable again; andimproving port facilities in Barranquilla,Buenaventura and Cartagena.“The new programme is very positive– things have been moving in the rightdirection – but there is a lot of anxietyafter so many years of neglect. That iswhy it is important this works well,” saysLeonardo Villar, executive director ofFedesarrollo, a Bogotá-based think-tank.Indeed, road auctions are part of abroader restructuring of the bidding pro-cess and regulation, aimed at correctinga system entangled in political patronage,weak engineering design and poor over-sight.“Now, we have the appropriate legaland financial pipeline for projects, but thebig projects haven’t started because thereare still bottlenecks when it comes to envi-ronmental licences, consultations withcommunities and lack of public servicesassociated with infrastructure,” says Villar.But those are not the only issues fora programme that is slowly becom-ing a reality. In a country crossed bythree Andean mountain ranges and vastexpanses of trackless Amazon jungle, aproper road network is still almost unim-aginable to those such as Patiño whohave got used to dodging boulders andpotholes at high speed.That is clear when Patiño, after tak-ing six hours to cover just 186km, passesa military checkpoint 20km from PuertoBerrio. The paved surface starts to crum-ble until it fades out completely. After theinitial stretch it is just dirt track, even ifthis is a major route for lorries and buses.Make do and mendStanding on the roadside, Víctor Zapatacollects the change that drivers throwto him from their windows. That is thetoken he gets for covering the holes withdirt – a job he has been doing for the past10 years to pay for his meagre rations ofrice and beans. “I have never seen any-one coming here to fix this, so every dayI just push my wheelbarrow back andforth covering holes so people can transitthrough here,” he explains.Many have high expectations thatpicture will soon change. After severaldelays, in April Colombia’s president,Juan Manuel Santos, opened the tender-ing for the first $3.5bn of the massive roadplan known as Highways to Prosperity.The project’s main purpose is to connectMedellín, the country’s economic pow-erhouse, to the rest of the country, withmore than 1,000km of highways at a costof $7.2bn.Other big road concessions are flow-ing in. One is the $4bn route from Bogotáto Buenaventura that will be turned intoa four-lane road to facilitate trade withAsia and countries in Latin America –Mexico, Peru and Chile – that have agreedto drop tariffs to speed up the establish-ing of their Pacific Alliance.Mountains and rainforests, however,make more than half of Colombia’s ter-ritory difficult to develop, and in some ofthe guerrilla-infested areas where accessis difficult, the military is in charge of‘The programmeis very positive,but there is a lotof anxiety afteryears of neglect’MedellínEl BancoMagdalenaAguachicaHatillo de LobaMedellín-Aguachica469km/11 hoursAguachica-El Banco Magdalena288km/5 hoursEl Banco Magdalena-Hatillo de Loba18km/2 hours (by boat and mule)Carlos Patiño’s route
  27. 27. 33building and paving roads. But even inthis fast-growing economy, mule train orriver barge are still sometimes the safestways to travel, as the country’s existingroad network continues to deteriorate,exacerbating the bottlenecks.Two years ago, torrential rains ledto flooding, followed by landslides thatdestroyed large sections of Colombia’spaved roads. Unable to rely on the roads,companies such as Nutresa had to findother ways of delivering their goods wheneven seasoned drivers such as Patiñocould not make headway.Delivering the goodsThe company manages the primary andsecondary transport of its goods – fromproduction plants to warehouses andfrom warehouses to customers respec-tively – using whatever means of trans-port are required.“Those include small trucks, four-wheel-drive vehicles, three-wheel bikesfor cargo and river barges,” says CarlosPiedrahíta, Nutresa chief executive. “Insome extraordinary cases we use don-keys and, during the rainy season, canoesto reach remote flooded villages.”Piedrahíta expects the new works toimprove connections between the coun-try’s biggest population centres, such asBogotá, Medellín, Cali, Cartagena andBarranquilla. Together these cities arehome to more than 60 per cent of Colom-bia’s population. Piedrahíta says moreefficient links will give each city easyaccess to a port, on either the Pacific orthe Caribbean coast.Colombia’s oil and minerals, as wellas its non-commodity exports, such ascoffee and flowers, will then be easier totransport and will be more cost-compet-itive. According to local analysts, freightcosts an average of around $30 a tonne toship from the interior of the country tothe coast, compared with about $15 fromthe coast to Asia.For now, though, goods journeys canseem endless. After more than 16 hourson the road, having travelled just 750km,Patiño’s cargo finally arrives in El Banco– a tropical kasbah on the banks of themuddy Magdalena river, which runsthrough the heart of Colombia and wasonce a leading trade route.As Patiño’s 10-tonne Chevrolet can gono further, José Barrasa is waiting to loadNutresa’s cargo on to his rickety woodenbarge. “With a bridge and a road, theload could be anywhere on the other sideof the river in 10 minutes,” says Barrasa.“But this place is forgotten.”After a two-hour boat ride, Barrasahops off the barge and, under the merci-less sun, loads the cargo of chocolates andbiscuits on to a white mule and strolls upa street that is nothing but a ribbon ofdust, crowded with chickens and pigs.This humid scrubland area used tohave one Colombia’s highest rates of guer-rilla and paramilitary attacks, after thegroups vied for control for both sides forthe river.Now, the district is mostly in the handsof impoverished fishermen and goldmin-ers, and things have improved – localssay that whereas they used to find threecorpses a day in the stream, now theyonly find one a week.But some fear the lack of transportinfrastructure could reverse that pro-gress. “Whatever the government planis to make this country easier to transit,I hope they start it soon and do it well,”Barrasa says, as the mule churns up achoking dust cloud on its way to a localgrocery store, the final destination forPatiño’s cargo. “The security situationmight be better now, but after all, pov-erty, guerrillas and criminals start whereroads end.” nLogistical odyssey: Colombia’sinfrastructure upgrades willmean journeys may be 30-50 percent faster; bottom right, AndresSchipani and Carlos PatiñoDigital slideshow: Colombia’s
  28. 28. 34The New ColombiaMeetthenewmoversAndres Schipani, Naomi Mapstone andHenry Mance profile the Colombianswho are setting the agendas inpolitics, society, business and culture►Sergio FajardoGovernor of AntioquiaFor visitors who walk intohis office for the first time,it is a shock to find SergioFajardo sitting in a woodenuniversity chair. It makessense, though, because forthis politician, the “challengeis to make education the firststep to build opportunities, tocontrast [with] the culture ofillegality, violence and socialinequality”.The innovative formermayor of Medellín, who lastyear became governor ofAntioquia – which is seen asthe country’s economicpowerhouse – increasedspending on education inboth offices.He is a US-trained math-ematician whose “socialurbanism” won internationalaccolades as he transformedthe city by building “libraryparks”, among other projects,in an attempt to addresspoor education, poverty andcrime among young people.He achieved this in a placeinfamous for being the cradleof Pablo Escobar, once theworld’s most wanted outlawknown for kidnapping, mur-der and drug trafficking.“If you build a beautifullibrary in a poor neighbour-hood, it gives people a senseof importance; it raises theirdignity and gives them accessto goods such as education,”Fajardo says, pushing backhis unruly hair.“It also brings visitors fromother parts of the city – some-thing that encourages socialintegration.”That approach has provedright so far, as Fajardo wasinstrumental in improvingthe fortunes of Colombia’ssecond city. Although violencepersists, Medellín’s crimelevels are no longer escalatingrapidly. For him, “Medellínwent from fear, to hope”.In the eyes of many, thiscentrist independent politi-cian, who ran for vice-pres-ident two years ago, wouldbe a strong candidate for the2018 presidential election– especially in a post peace-accord environment.Always one step ahead,he recently said: “We have tobe prepared for when peaceis signed. In Antioquia, weare already thinking how totransform the places wherethe guerrillas are.” AS
  29. 29. 35The New Colombia▲Catalina EscobarActivistThe face of social work inColombia is Shakira, the popsinger whose charity provideseducation to poor children.But Catalina Escobar hasshown that you don’t need tobe a platinum-selling artistto shine a light on a pressingsocial problem.In the tourist hub ofCartagena, Escobar has beentackling child mortality formore than a decade. Herwork is acclaimed for helpingto halve child mortality rateswithin a few years, and it hasquickly become one of thehighest-profile and most-respected social initiatives inLatin America.“She is an example to anyentrepreneur,” says MaríaLucía Roa, the national head ofAshoka, the social innovationprogramme through whichEscobar passed. “She is anexample of social conscience,of management capacity, ofsomeone who knows how touse their contacts and how tomeasure their impact.”Escobar’s work was borneout of personal tragedy. Asa hospital volunteer, shewatched an infant die in herarms because the child’smother could not pay fortreatment. Then her own16-month-old son died in2000 after falling from abalcony. “I didn’t want anyoneto feel the same pain as I did,”Escobar has said. She set upthe Fundación Juan FelipeGómez Escobar, named afterher son, shortly after.Cartagena, whose colonialarchitecture is as beautifulas Havana’s, has some of themost pervasive poverty inColombia. In 2003, infantmortality rates were morethan twice as high in Carta-gena as in the capital, Bogotá.Escobar and her founda-tion are now tackling otherproblems, such as sexualabuse. A new hospital hasoffered care to 84,000 peopleon low incomes. The obviousnext step would be to expandto other cities in Colombia.“We have found a veryefficient way of breaking thecycles of poverty. We have togrow it and scale it,” she says.Escobar was named a CNNHero of the Year in 2012, andis a feature on the globalconference circuit. HM‘We have founda very efficientway of breakingthe cycles ofpoverty’PHOTOS:EYEVINE,KIKOKAIRUZ
  30. 30. 37The New Colombia▲ Carlos Raúl YepesPresident, BancolombiaSince Carlos Raúl Yepes tookcontrol of Bancolombia inFebruary 2011, Colombia’slargest commercial bank hasexpanded aggressively.It has bought part of ING’sinsurance business in LatinAmerica and HSBC’s opera-tions in Panama. Bancolom-bia has hinted at furtherexpansion and some analystsbelieve it has the resources tothink big.How much influence Yepeshas had in all this is unclear.Bancolombia is part, albeit arelatively independent one, ofthe Grupo Empresarial Antio-queño – a conglomerate origi-nally controlled by familiesfrom Medellín. That meansthere are plenty of other keyfigures in Bancolombia’sstrategy, including DavidEmilio Bojanini García, chiefexecutive of Grupo Sura, thebank’s largest shareholder.Yepes has kept out ofthe limelight, sticking tocorporate talking points.Nonetheless, he has startedto make his mark. He hascalled for the “humanisationof banking”, implying that thefinancial sector in Colombia,as elsewhere, could do witha dose of humility. That mayreflect his background: alawyer by training, he waspreviously the bank’s legalcounsel. The working weekfor Bancolombia’s staff hasbeen cut from 48 hours to 43.His hands are certainlyfull. Bancolombia has suf-fered headaches with itscomputer systems and isfacing pressure from thegovernment, which wants tolower lending rates.Then comes the Antio-queño group’s rivalry withGrupo Aval, the vehicleof Luis Carlos Sarmiento,Colombia’s richest man andstill, aged 80, a fighting force.“They’re in a competition tosee who expands the fastest,”says Boris Molina, an equityanalyst at Santander bank.One possibility for bothgroups is neighbouring Ven-ezuela, although they maywait until the political move-ment of Hugo Chávez, the latepresident, loses power. HM▲ Juanita LeónJournalistWhen Colombia’s constitu-tional court struck down achallenge to the law prevent-ing Álvaro Uribe, the popu-lar former president, fromrunning for a third term, thescoop went to a blog.La Silla Vacía (The EmptyChair) has just nine full-timestaff but has filled a niche inthe country’s mediascape.It has become compulsoryreading for policy makers andpolitical junkies.Often irreverent, alwaysnimble, La Silla Vacía is thebrainchild of Juanita León,a journalist who studiedlaw and went on to work forSemana, the country’s pre-mier news magazine.After taking leave to writea book, Country of Bullets, onColombia’s long-running con-flict, León needed a change.She took a course in news-paper website design andrevamped Semana’s website.From there, a Niemanfellowship in the US dur-ing Barack Obama’s 2008presidential campaign fed herinterest in digital journalism.She stayed on to create thenow-defunct New York-basednews website to Bogotá, sheset up La Silla Vacía in 2009with funds from her familyin addition to grants. “We donot have a history behind us,which lets us innovate,” Leónsays. “We have been tryingsince the beginning to thinkof La Silla Vacía as a labora-tory for the future of journal-ism.”Her worst moment, shesays, was reporting the deathof Alfonso Cano, the formerleader of the RevolutionaryArmed Forces of Colombia,prematurely by six months.But the site’s successesfar outweigh its mistakes,and León sees more spacefor digital media projects inColombia. “If the peace pro-cess is successful, I supposethe left will also have a spacefor alternative media,” shesays. NM‘We do nothave a historybehind us,which lets usinnovate’PHOTOS:BLOOMBERG,MIGUELJOSÉTORRESPLATA
  31. 31. 39The New Colombia▲ Ana FernandaMaiguashcaEconomist“I basically get paid forthinking,” says Ana FernandaMaiguashca, the jovial econo-mist who is only the secondwoman to become a directorof Colombia’s central bank.If that assessment makesmonetary policy soundeasy, it is probably becauseMaiguashca’s previous jobwas among the most intensepossible. As deputy financeminister, she dealt with theaftermath of the global eco-nomic crisis and was instru-mental in the approval of along-delayed labour reform.“The finance ministry doestoo many things with too fewpeople. You end up in 900 dis-cussions,” says Maiguashca.“Now, I have time to readpolicy papers.”It was Juan Manuel Santos,Colombia’s president, whoappointed her to the cen-tral bank. At the age of 38,Maiguashca is a fresh faceamong rate setters. She pointsout that other directors joinedthe central bank in their thir-ties – “I’m just the only onewho looks like it!”A graduate of Los Andesuniversity in Bogotá, with anMBA from Columbia, NewYork, she is one of the manyinternationally educated tech-nocrats that dominate theupper echelons of Colombia’skey institutions.That tradition arguably hasallowed the country to avoidthe ideological extremes seenin some neighbouring coun-tries. The country is a “small,open economy”, receptive tointernational thinking, butMaiguashca points out: “Wehave deviated from what hadbeen universal truths, at leastin terms of the InternationalMonetary Fund.”Marc Hofstetter, an eco-nomics professor who hasworked with Maiguashca,says: “She didn’t getappointed just because weneeded balance. She’s verysmart; she works very hard.”Maiguashca herself puts itdown to “a little bit of talent,a little bit of discipline and alittle bit of luck”.Typical of technocrats,her precise policy views canbe hard to pin down. “She’sa very distinguished, veryorthodox economist,” saysMario Castro, an analyst atNomura. HM▲ Andrés JaramilloBusinessman andrestaurateurNothing quite prepares youfor Andrés Carne de Res,Colombia’s most famousrestaurant. It is a whirlwind ofcolour, dancing and enormousgrills and cocktails. That istestament to the creative spiritof Andrés Jaramillo, the one-time hippy who founded thebusiness three decades agowith his wife, Stella Ramírez.Once a 20-table diner serv-ing nothing more than meat,it now seats 2,000 people at atime. Its pulling power is suchthat Jaramillo once describedhimself as “the dictatorof Chía” – the town on theoutskirts of Bogotá where themain restaurant is located.Jaramillo’s secret was torealise that many wealthyBogotanos don’t just want toeat and drink well – they alsowant to do it in a carnivalatmosphere. And he waslucky: Chía was untouched bya crackdown on nightclubs inBogotá during the 1990s, andinstead benefited from a newinflux of customers.Success, coupled with therestaurant’s astronomicalprices, has led some to resentJaramillo. But his entrepre-neurial nous – rather thanhis food – is exactly whathis peers most admire. “Werespect him as a business-man. He is a great host,” saysTomás Rueda, chef at Donos-tia, a Bogotá restaurant. HM▲ David BojaniniChief executive,Grupo SuraDavid Bojanini learnt hiscraft when he was still innappies. In his home city ofMedellín, where Colombia’sbiggest listed companies canbe found, middle- and upper-class children are given gifts ofshares in the city’s businesseswhen they are baptised.Fast-forward 50 years or soto late 2011 and Grupo Sura,the company he runs, andone of the country’s biggestfinancial groups, paid morethan $3.5bn for the regionalassets of ING, the Dutch ban-cassurer. “It was the biggestproject of my career, and thebiggest Grupo Sura ever had,”Bojanini says.In the eyes of internationalobservers, the deal turnedGrupo Sura into a leadingexample of the so-called mul-tilatinas – prime local com-panies that are now takenseriously by multinationals.Bojanini is notable for hismodesty. He trained in actu-arial science in the US anddefines himself as a “middle-class man” who started as atrainee, then climbed to thetop thanks to his intellectualdrive. “It appears curious tomany investors that the groupis not run by any particularfamily, and that it is the dem-ocratic property of thousandsof shareholders,” he says.Most significantly, com-panies such as Bojanini’s areemblematic of the entrepre-neurialism of the Paisa – aspeople from Medellín arecalled – and are regarded asa positive force behind a citythat has emerged from theviolence that for a long timecoloured its name abroad. ASPHOTO:BLOOMBERG
  32. 32. The New ColombiaMAKING THEIR MARK ABROADAsked to lead a youth orchestra when he was only15 years old, the Medellín-born virtuoso AndrésOrozco-Estrada now “radiates on the podium”,according to one commentator. Orozco-Estrada holdsthe batons for Austria’s Tonkünstler Orchestra andthe Basque National Orchestra in Spain. The youngconductor is also music director designate of theFrankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra and theHouston Symphony Orchestra – where he will be thefirst Hispanic to hold that position.In Spain, fans of Atlético Madrid, the football team,call Radamel Falcao “the guerrilla of the goal”. Hewas almost predestined for his role: born in Colombiaat the height of the internal armed conflict, he wasnamed by his father in tribute to Paulo Roberto Falcão,the 1980s Brazilian football hero. A native of thecoastal city of Santa Marta, the striker is now one ofthe world’s most coveted players – the star of Colom-bia’s national team is now being courted by clubs suchas Chelsea, Manchester United and Real Madrid. InDecember last year, he left his fans at Atlético open-
  33. 33. The New Colombiamouthed when, in less than an hour, he scored fivetimes against Deportivo La Coruña.In New York, a city that is home to more than200,000 Colombians, Alejandro Santo Domingostands out. He is a Harvard-educated scion of Colom-bia’s influential Santo Domingo family, whose holdingsinclude television channels and a stake in SABMiller,the brewing company. (At its peak, the Santo Domingogroup’s sales were equivalent to 4 per cent of Colom-bia’s national output.) Santo Domingo runs QuadrantCapital Advisors, a US-based investment advisorycompany that is investing in Latin America. Consid-ered by Forbes to be the “richest new billionaire in theworld”, he had an estimated net worth of $11.7bn as ofMarch 2013. ASWorld players: Radamel FalcaoGarcía, opposite, Alejandro SantoDomingo, above left, and AndrésOrozco-Estrada, above rightPHOTOS:GETTY,JULIESOEFER
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  35. 35. 43BogotánightsIt is a Friday night in Bogotá andthe dancefloor at Andres DC is amass of sweaty bodies as the pre-dominantly young clientele of thecity’s popular nightspot gyratesto a mix of western pop and localVallenato (folk) tunes.Cocktails at this showy restau-rant-cum-nightclub, a carefully choreo-graphed chaos of fun and kitschy colour,are a heart-stopping 50,000 pesos ($27).But neither the price, nor the 20,000pesos cover charge, is a deterrent: as permost nights, the place is heaving.Go back a decade or more, and Bogotáfelt much like the chilly and conserva-tive Andean city that it always used to be.Founded at an oxygen-depleted 2,600mat the foot of a towering ridge that runsfrom north to south, the city of about8.5m people was better known for its hotchocolate and early closing times than forits nightlife.In the 1990s, and in an effort to controlincreasing violence, Antanas Mockus, aformer mayor, reined in bar closing timesfrom 3am to 1am. A few years later, thecity’s taxis began installing bulletproofscreens separating driver from passenger– even though they often dug into pas-sengers’ knees and left the driver’s chestpushed up against the wheel.Today, the screens have all but goneand there is a feelgood factor arguablystronger than at any time in living mem-ory. The economy is growing at a fastOut on the town in Colombia’scapital, young people arecelebrating a new wave ofoptimism and entrepreneurialspirit as the city’s violenthistory fades from memory,writes Adam ThomsonPhotographs by Stephen Ferry
  36. 36. 44The New Colombiaclip; once-gruesome violence from thecountry’s drugs war and 50-year insur-gency no longer affects the capital direct-ly and a demographic boom – a quarterof the country’s 47m population is agedbetween 14 and 28 – has produced anexplosion in demand for entertainment –above all, nightlife.Santiago Prieto, a 25-year-old musicianand member of local group MonsieurPeriné, is one of the younger generationfuelling the city’s new-found vibe. Sippingcocktails with two friends at the lounge-style Casa 53*76 bar, with its 2013 sophis-tication wrapped in retro decor, Prietosays that even his traditionally precari-ous profession is feeling the economicupswing.“A few years ago, being a musician wasa real struggle,” he says in a quick burstof well-spoken Spanish that reveals anupper-middle-class upbringing. “Nowa-days, everyone has work.”Twenty-six-year-old Felipe Cuervo,a sharply dressed philosophy graduatewith the distinct air of a 19th-centurybohemian poet, says that the economicturnaround is so tangible that it has evenmade him dream of travelling acrossthe Atlantic in pursuit of further study.“Europe is an academic paradise but it’sin crisis,” he says. “Here in Colombia wehave options.”The growing sense of optimism amongBogotá’s young crowd marks a funda-mental shift compared with the previousgeneration, which, equipped with suf-ficient education, money or both, wouldoften leave at the first chance.“Young people today feel they havemore opportunities than their parents,”says Ana María Otero-Cleves, a 30-some-thing history professor at the city’s LosAndes university. “They are now activelychoosing to stay in Bogotá.”Start-up spiritSebastián Jaramillo, a tall, good-looking28-year-old, typifies that spirit. Educatedin the UK during his last years of highschool and then in Boston at universitylevel, Jaramillo decided to return to hisnative Bogotá to set up a business.The offices of his, avirtual marketplace for university gradu-ates seeking their first proper job, are athrowback to the heady dotcom days.There are floor-to-ceiling blackboards ineach room covered with dozens of brain-storming-style phrases scribbled in whitechalk. Employees, mainly programmers,have to step over a napping chocolatelabrador in the hallway to get to the bath-room.But for all the laid-back atmosphere,things are moving fast at After three years in operation, theportal pairs 40,000 university-educatedColombians with 700 companies, rang-ing from multinationals to family-ownedbusinesses, each month.“Young people use to leave Bogotá, andoften with a one-way ticket,” says Jara-millo. “All my friends are now deciding tostay. They work in different fields, but allof them have work and all of them are do-ing well.”It has just gone 8am on a typical slate-grey morning and a small group of first-year students at Los Andes university arediscussing the themes that most concern‘Young peopleuse to leaveBogotá, andoften with aone-way ticket’
  37. 37. 45The New Colombiathem. Felipe Arango, a law student, recog-nises that things have changed radicallysince the dark days, in the early 1990s, ofthe devastating car bombs planted by thenotorious drug trafficker Pablo Escobar.Safer streetsBogotá’s murder rate last year droppedto 16.9 per 100,000 inhabitants, a 22.6 percent fall compared with 2011, and a seachange when set against the 80-odd mur-ders per 100,000 inhabitants recordedduring Bogotá’s worst years. “We are in adifferent space now,” admits Arango.But he and his classmates say thatpetty crime is still a big problem. GabrielDurán, who also studies law, thinks thatthe city is plain insecure. “I get on thebus, I get robbed. I leave university, I getrobbed. I don’t feel safe.”Another problem is access to highereducation, says Guillermo Asprilla, chiefof staff of the city’s leftwing government.“There aren’t enough places in the publicsystem, and the private system is oftentoo expensive for young people,” he says.The result is that an estimated 60 per centof those seeking to continue their educa-tion after school are unable to do so.Fanny Puentes, a 25 year-old who liveswith her mother and her seven-year-oldson on the southern fringes of Colombia’scapital, began to study science at one ofthe city’s many private universities a fewyears ago. But things got tough when hermother became ill and had to stop work-ing. Puentes was forced to seek a job asa sales assistant in the city centre. Sincethen, she has lost the three semesters ofcredits she had to her name.“I dream of going back to study oneday,” she says. “I just can’t see a way todo it.”But even she recognises that people,in particular young people, have morework than before. Basic jobs may notpay particularly well, but at least thereare more of them. Besides, several gov-ernment schemes, such as the “first joblaw”, which gives employers tax breaksfor increasing their overall headcount bytaking on young people, have started tomake a difference. Another programme,which grants Colombian start-up compa-nies full exemption on corporate taxes forthe first couple of years, has also helped.“New companies would often go bustbecause they didn’t have enough to coverall their expenses,” says Gabriel Gómez,who heads the Colombia Joven (YoungColombia), the youth policy departmentwithin the government. “Now, they havethe breathing space they need.”It has gone 2am, and things are stillgoing strong in Bogotá’s T Zone, an areafull of bars and nightclubs in the city’saffluent north. At Little India Super Star,a bijou bar that sells gin and tonic undera canopy of chili-shaped fairy lights, asmall group of young and monied Bogo-tanos exchange small-talk at the bar.Serving them is Pablo Fernández, a35-year-old Urugyuan, who came to Bo-gotá a few years ago and has been wit-nessing the improving times ever since.“People are going out much more thanthey used to,” he says. Asked if he plansto move on any time soon, he shakes hishead in a sort of “no way” way. “There’stoo much work to leave just now. It’s goodto be in Bogotá.” n‘Europe is anacademicparadise but is incrisis. In Colombiawe have options’Feelgood factor:Colombia’s largeproportion ofyoung people hascreated an explosionin demand forentertainmentDigital slideshow: Bogotá
  38. 38. 46The New ColombiaService cultureBy adopting the best of the private sector’s values,Colombia’s police force is winning public respect,says its former head, Óscar NaranjoThe governments and police forcesof many countries have asked mehow Colombia has achieved sucha notable improvement in civil-ian security. Homicides halvedbetween 2002 and 2012, and theannual number of kidnappingsfell to 298 from 2,882.A short answer would be that the improvementwas thanks to the efforts of many – from governmentagencies to international organisations, private busi-nesses and Colombian citizens.But one guiding light for me was to imagine thepolice force in a similar way to how a private com-pany might think of its business: how can the policeforce’s core service be improved? For us, that meantmeeting the needs and wellbeing of citizens byresponding to the ever-changing threats of organisedcrime and violence.For many years, the role of the police was to defendthe state. Today, its bigger role is as a “social actor”that looks after its citizens.The first step was to recognise that the police’s big-gest asset was its workforce. In our case, that wasnearly 170,000 men and women. It was their commit-ment and professionalism that made the biggest dif-ference – more than any other resource, financial ortechnological. That was especially so as police salariescan never compete with those in the private sector.This entailed nurturing a very particular workethic. We called it “police policy based on humanism”– a title that conveyed to police officers that human-ism and civic dignity were central to their work, aswell as their own importance.We studied the management techniques used bysuccessful private companies, such as continuouslearning. Our spending on education increased ten-fold. Police officers came to see education and train-ing as an opportunity for both professional and per-sonal growth.In addition, we made sure that policemen andwomen and their families had decent living condi-tions – for example, by ensuring good health servicesand schooling for their children. The pride they cameto feel in their job was a kind of “emotional salary”. Itencouraged ownership and sense of duty. It had theadded benefit of reducing corruption.Clearly, all countries operate within limited budg-ets, which have to be administered with the greatestpossible efficiency. That means clearly identifyingpriorities, goals and the indicators needed to meas-ure results. We took our cue from the quality proce-dures that were used to meet ISO standards at privatecompanies.Better management and greater professionalismbrought huge advances in the Colombian policeforce’s effectiveness. But a third factor, also used byprivate companies that aim for excellence, was tointroduce the concepts of transparency and, moreimportantly, accountability.Toensurethebestpossibleuseofpublicresources,we set up internal watchdogsand an external advisorycommittee made up of privatesector businessmen. We alsoestablished permanent chan-nels of communication withcivil society, and encouragedthe active participation ofcitizens. In 2010, for example,we held 75 public local work-shops on our managementplans, past and present.None of this would have been sufficient, though,unless we had established a true service culturereflected in police attitudes to its work. After all,police officers spend each day, every day, in closecontact with citizens.We managed to achieve that – as shown by thefact that each year the force receives 200,000 appli-cants for just 10,000 vacancies. Public recognitionand confidence in the police force in turn boostspolice pride in the job. It is part of the two-wayprocess that any modern service-based industryrecognises.The Colombian police force has had many suc-cesses and failures in getting to where it is today. Butwhenever I have the chance, I always ask and encour-age the private sector to share its experiences andwork methods with the public sector – especially thepolice. That, more than any budget increase, is whatmakes the biggest difference. nHumanism andcivic dignityare central tothe work ofthe policeÓscar Naranjo is a former director of the ColombianNational Police