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Territorial Rule in Colombia and the Transformation of the Llanos Orientales

Jane M. Rausch

Publication Year: 2013

Until the 1980s, Colombia's Llanos Orientales was a frontier, a vast tropical grassland plain east of the Andes. Populated mainly by indigenous people, it was considered "primitive" by much of the rest of Colombia. All of that changed when exploitable petroleum deposits were discovered, and the Llanos was transformed into the fastest growing region in the country.

Rausch surveys sixty years of the area's history, from La Violencia--the civil war that rocked the country from 1948 to 1958--and the presidency of Rojas Pinilla, who helped pacify the Llanos in the late 1950s, to the National Front agreement between the Conservative and Liberal parties during the 1960s, its aftermath, and the rapid changes during the last half of the twentieth century. Using archival research and her own first-hand experiences, Jane Rausch examines the Colombian government's Llanos policies and the political, economic, and social changes they have brought about. This book brings to a strong conclusion Rausch's large-scale historical survey of a region: one sharing much in common with other South American frontiers and critical to Colombia's present and future.

Published by: University Press of Florida


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p. 1-1

Title page, Copyright

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pp. 2-5


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pp. v-6

List of Illustrations

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pp. vi-7

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pp. vii-x

Colombia is a nation of extraordinary geographic diversity. With 1,138,400 square kilometers of territory bordering on two oceans, its landscape has been largely determined by three branches of the Andes Mountains: the Cordillera Occidental, between the Pacific Ocean and the valley of the Cauca River; the...

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1. The Llanos Frontier on the Eve of La Violencia

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pp. 1-28

In 1935 Luis Eduardo Nieto Caballero toured the Llanos Orientales of Colombia and published a book about his experiences titled Vuelo al Orinoco. The journalist was a keen observer, and the quotation cited above reflects both his awareness of the lack of development in the plains and the mystical attraction...

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2. The Violencia and Its Impact on the Llanos, 1946–1953

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pp. 29-53

There is general agreement among scholars that the era of La Violencia—the undeclared civil war that lasted from 1946 to 1962—was a major turning point in Colombian history.1 Because much of the fighting that occurred between 1947 and 1953 was localized in the Llanos, the conflict had perhaps an even...

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3. Rojas Pinilla and the Pacification of the Llanos, 1953–1957

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pp. 54-78

On June 13, 1953, Colombian army commander Lieutenant General Gustavo Rojas Pinilla, with the support of all political groups in the country except the Laureanista wing of the Conservatives, staged a military coup that ended the presidency of Laureano Gómez. Born in Tunja in 1900, Rojas Pinilla had studied...

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4. Territorial Rule during the National Front and Its Aftermath, 1958–1978

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pp. 79-107

The threat posed by Rojas Pinilla’s populist leanings and his increasingly independent actions proved to be the final outrage that drove Liberal and Conservative leaders to postpone (at least temporarily) the party strife that had caused so much damage to the social and economic fabric of the country in order to...

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5. The Contemporary Era, 1978–2010

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pp. 108-127

The demise of the Frente Nacional as Colombia’s political system brought a renewal of competitive politics at the national level with the elections of Liberal Julio César Turbay Ayala in 1978, Conservative Belisario Betancur in 1982, Conservative Virgilio Barco in 1986, Liberal César Augusto Gaviria in 1990,...

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6. Changing Concepts of the Llanos Frontier in the Last Half of the Twentieth Century

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pp. 128-146

During the last half of the twentieth century, the Llanos Orientales of Colombia experienced an extraordinary transformation. For three hundred years the central government proclaimed the region as “the Future of Colombia,” but by the 1990s, the Llanos had somehow become “the Present of Colombia.” The explanation can...


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pp. 147-149

Abbreviations Used in Notes and Bibliography

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pp. 151-163


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pp. 153-170


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pp. 171-178


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pp. 179-186

About the Author

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pp. 187-199

E-ISBN-13: 9780813048444
Print-ISBN-13: 9780813044668

Page Count: 192
Publication Year: 2013