Peacebuilding in South America
This chapter explores the logics of peacebuilding practices in South America, delineating the characteristics of the region in this regard. The research focuses in particular on the case of Colombia and on the region of Montes de María, located on Colombia’s Atlantic coast. The chapter initially discusses the patterns of conflict transformation in the South American region, and subsequently turns to an analysis of how peace has been contested at the local level in Colombia. Significantly, the Colombia case study has been selected because of two overriding factors. First, Colombia remains the only country in South America that is currently experiencing an armed conflict, suggesting that it represents, at best, a regional exception or, at worst, an aberration. While all other armed conflicts have come to a close and all authoritarian regimes have eventually undergone political transitions, Colombia is still experiencing widespread political violence wielded by diverse illegal armed groups. Second, Colombia represents the most pronounced case of local-level peacebuilding initiatives (LPBIs) being proven to have an important, albeit limited, impact upon the causes and consequences of armed conflict, in spite of the presence of conventional liberal peace politics. Consequently, Colombia speaks to, yet differs from, broader processes within the region, where civil society mobilizations were critical not only in shaping transition from authoritarian rule, such as in Chile and Argentina, but also where civil society actors assumed a formal role in peace negotiations, such as the case of Guatemala.
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