Date of Award

5-1-2009

Degree Type

Dissertation

University or Center

Clark Atlanta University(CAU)

School

School of Arts and Sciences

Degree Name

Ph.D.

Department

Political Science

First Advisor

Dr. FSJ Ledgister

Second Advisor

Dr. David Covin

Third Advisor

Dr. William Boone

Abstract

The purpose of this study is to determine whether the Colombian government's coordinated national security strategy, developed under the administration of Alvaro Uribe, to enhance security through expanding and strengthening the coercive machinery of its security apparatus, has made Afro-Colombians, paradoxically, less secure? To address this question, the study explores what is meant by security and contrasts traditional understandings of security which are state-centered, with a more expansive and holistic, people-centered theoretical orientation such as human security. In this study, human security is defined as "a condition or state of being characterized by freedom from pervasive threats to people's rights, their safety, or even lives." This study assesses the broad security environment in Colombia, a country ravaged for decades by multiple organized, well-armed and financed armed groups competing for territory, resources, strategic corridors, access to structural power and to a lesser degree political legitimacy. It also examines the role that the United States plays in influencing national and human security in Colombia, with its dominant role in the hemisphere and the world, expressing its national power and wealth through foreign policy initiatives from the "Cold War," the "War on Drugs," and the "War on Terror." The study revealed that while some sectors/spheres of Colombian society have become more secure as reflected in a number of significant improvements in a number of security indicators, the human security of Afro-Colombians is far more difficult to ascertain, and in fact, the findings, extrapolated from the primary research, are paradoxical. Afro-Colombians continued to be disproportionately and systematically dispossessed from their territories and forcibly displaced, terrorized and targeted for violence by all armed actors in the conflict in spite of the unprecedented security initiative orchestrated by the administration of President Alvaro Uribe. Examining their condition requires an analysis which takes into consideration their position within a radicalized socioeconomic hierarchy, geographic distribution, proximity to strategic resources, critical infrastructure and industry and the intersection between private and public forms of discrimination. More specifically, the study demonstrated that Afrocaribeiios, particularly in the Montes de Maria region, were susceptible to various provocative acts of violence propagated by all armed actors and their sense of security is more tenuous than other Afi-o-descendant populations examined. The study suggests that Afro-caribeiios, due to their proximity to the armed conflict and the lack of scholarly inquiry and production of knowledge on the subject require increased scholarly consideration.

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