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About this book

This book examines the state-building process in Colombia, specifically in the Pacific Coast region. Using the regionally isolated and historically neglected Pacific Coast as a case study, the authors analyze the Colombian nation-building and democratic processes, applying diverse methodology and an interdisciplinary focus. The early chapters lay the foundation of the text through the historical reconstruction of political turmoil in Colombia and the birth of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and its confrontations with the government establishment. It then moves to a public choice analysis of public policy and clientelism within local democracies. The later chapters test the theoretical models using regional information about governability and election result patterns and discuss a further research agenda. Grounded in behavioral models with clearly defined agents, contingency plans, and outputs, this book will be of use to students studying Latin American political science and public policy, as well as researchers interested in state and nation-building and local governance.

Table of Contents


Chapter 1. Introduction. The Paradox of a Formally Open and Materially Exclusive Democracy

In this chapter of the work, an introductory approach to the problem that involves the phenomenon of clientelism in the process of construction of democratic regimes is presented. The analysis is limited to the subnational contexts of the Colombian state, more precisely the Pacific region, where the paradox between the material and formal value of democracy is more than evident.
Andrés Cendales, Hugo Guerrero, Jaime Wilches, Angela Pinto

Chapter 2. Narrative on Local Democracies, Government, and Public Policy in the Colombian Pacific

This chapter offers a historical reconstruction of the process that the political regime of the Colombian Pacific has undergone during the period in which the National Front was dismantled (1975–1991) and the period after the 1991 National Constituent Assembly. Based on the narrative offered here, a certain behavioral logic of the subnational political regime of the Colombian Pacific is identified in the two periods indicated, in such a way that an approach is proposed from an understanding of networks and the instrumental rationality of political organizations. We say that the mechanisms of clientelistic intermediation have an effect on how political organizations and their behavior rationality are configured, whether they are political parties, political fractions, or political factions. More precisely, what we want to establish here is that it is the mechanism of clientelistic intermediation that defines the nature, scope, and limitations of the instrumental rationality with which each political organization operates, whatever it may be. Each mechanism of clientelistic intermediation is defined by the topology of a clientelistic network, in the sense of network theory, and by the clientelistic game that operates in it, a game in the sense of game theory. The central argument offered here suggests that each type of clientelism is defined by one and only one mechanism of clientelistic intermediation, since it is not every type of clientelism exchanging the same resources, nor that given a certain type of clientelism, all the members of the same clientelistic network exchange the same type of resources.
Andrés Cendales, Jorge Olaya, Gustavo Duncan

Chapter 3. A Model of Public Choice with Clientelism and Corruption: Introducing the Analytical

This chapter introduces a model of public choice with the purpose of explaining the existing relationship between clientelism, corruption, public expenditure, and the quality of public policy, at the municipal level. The model has as reference, the municipal political system that is configured at a later time to the political, administrative, and fiscal decentralization of 1991 in Colombia. In consequence, based on this narrative about the evolution of the Colombian Pacific political regime and the qualitative evidence it provides, we would like to build a theoretical model in the context of game theory. If the equilibrium strategies of the players coincide with their strategies detected in the pattern of institutional behavior, it will be affirmed that the theoretical model explains the behavior patterns detected in the narrative. Our main contribution is to demonstrate the following result: The faction that wins the elections for the mayor’s office is the one for which the average expenditure of obtaining one vote is the lowest, due to its capacity to hire the grass-roots politicians with the greatest social capital, and to whom the highest salaries are paid. Once this political faction obtains control of the mayor’s office, it seeks to assign public contracts to members of its organization in a corrupt manner. This has the purpose of misappropriating, for private consumption, a certain amount of those public resources from such public contracts. The aforementioned contributes to a reduction in the quality of public policy, in such a way that this reduction will be greater whenever the assessment that the faction has for the provision of public goods diminishes, or the average expenditure incurred by the faction increases, in obtaining a vote in the elections. As a corollary to the above, it is possible to affirm that the greater the number of mayorships under the control of political factions, the greater the deterioration in the quality of public policy at the local level.
Andrés Cendales, Nestor Garza, Santiago Arroyo

Chapter 4. Political Factions and Public Policy in the Local Democracies of the Colombian Pacific: Empirical Evidence

This chapter offers a contribution in the analysis of subnational democratic regimes in Colombia. It is recognized as a starting point that the democratization reforms that have been advanced in Colombia from the national level, as is the case of the Political Reform of 2003, do not necessarily guarantee that the democratic regime is homogeneous within the country, there being particularities specific to certain regions and territories. An empirical study of the behavior of local democracies in the Colombian Pacific region during the 2004–2014 decade as a means of characterizing and determining certain patterns which the evolution of their local political regimes has followed is proposed. In the Colombian Pacific, democratic practices and institutions have followed a trajectory in which the subnational political regime has become one in which the parties of third forces or third parties have taken control of the mayoralties and municipal councils from the traditional political parties. It is possible to observe that the competition among the third parties has been atomized. Besides that, they have designed and executed predatory public policy agendas, causing the sustained deterioration of the quality of the public policy provided by the city halls. Based on the documentary work offered by Cendales et al. (2019a), it can be established, as historical initial conditions in the analysis, that third parties are political organizations considered to have a low valuation for the public provision of goods and a high rate of fiscal voracity. Given the initial conditions that can be established from the narrative, and based on the model of public choice with clientelism and corruption proposed by Cendales et al. (2019b), the theoretical proposal that is to be tested is as follows: If the political power of the third parties over the mayoralties and municipal councils increases, then the quality of the public policy will decrease. The transmission mechanism is offered by Cendales et al. (2019b).
Andrés Cendales, Jhon James Mora, Santiago Arroyo

Chapter 5. The Local Democracies Post-agreement: Old Wine in New Vessels?

In this chapter, we present a critical reflection on the territorial implications, the impact on democracy, power games, the reconstruction of the concept of nation, and the transformations that civil society will have to assume, in connection with the peace process that took place between the Juan Manuel Santos government and the FARC guerrillas in Havana-Cuba. The reader will find a position couched in the academic debate and with perspective of the conjunctural events that have reaffirmed the need to undertake research that delves into the history of what actually happened and yet has been rendered virtually invisible for many years in the regions. The post-agreement scenario inherited from the peace negotiations, advanced between the government of Juan Manuel Santos and the FARC guerrilla, poses a future full of challenges for the Colombian political regime. Once the internal war has been redefined as the main structural problem of Colombian society, a whole series of threats emerged that were silent under a constant of more than sixty years of armed conflict. The debate about these old-new conflicts that afflict the Colombian democracy is the main object of study of this chapter.
Andrés Cendales, Hugo Guerrero, Jaime Wilches

Chapter 6. Conclusions. Deinstitutionalization of the State, Violence, and Social Anomie

The analysis offered in this book throws a number of critical and suggestive conclusions about the reality of the Colombian sociopolitical scenario, all this from the specific study of a very interesting regional context: The Colombian Pacific. However, although the crux of this book has pointed to an analysis whose spatial delimitation is expressed, there is no doubt that its results are a point of reference to extend the analysis to other regions in order to understand the regional geopolitics in Colombia and its institutional equilibriums. In this regard, the book Analytical Narrative on Democracies in Colombia. Clientelism, government and public policy in the Pacific region, suggests, through different methodological exercises, that any approach to the study of the Colombian political and social context inevitably places us in a scenario plagued by multiple and varied contradictions. Although it is true that one of the most outstanding characteristics of the Colombian historical evolution has been the structural presence of intense dynamics and circles of violence, the coexistence of this nefarious scenario with one of the democratic traditions, at least formally, is especially suggestive and (unifying and non-conflicting) representative of the whole of Latin America. There is no doubt that the analytical intention of the team of researchers has been the construction of a theoretical sustenance that is consistent with the narrative and the empirical evidence. The conceptual management that accompanies the argumentative strategy serves as the basis for the development of a coherent work. Unquestionably, this is an initial/a primary contribution of scientific-interdisciplinary order to the study of the structural causes of the degradation of the state model in the Pacific and, of course, in a general way in Colombia. It only remains to continue advancing in the next installment of the investigative process in which, very pertinently, an excellent and recognized group of academics has embarked.
Andrés Cendales, Hugo Guerrero, Jaime Wilches, Angela Pinto
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