All posts by hconnell

The Loss of Rural Culture: Urbanization in Colombia

Beginning nearly fifty years ago, Colombia experienced urbanization as a response to political unrest. Around 1964, warfare broke out between the Colombian government, semi-militarized forces, and rebellious marxist guerrilla troops, the largest group being the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). The areas hit the hardest in response to this war were rural areas, where each group fought to control a specific land. Due to the rise of various insurgencies across Colombia, rural peoples sought security and opportunities for work.  Therefore, rural Colombians flocked to the cities where job growth and security appeared prevalent.

The move to cities provided rural Colombians not only economic growth, but also an improved quality of life. Colombians did not have to fear violence or instability, a drastic change from their rural lives, where frequent kidnappings and other violence related to the narcotics and drug trade devastated their societies. Cities provided people with better accessibility to technology, transportation, health-care, and education. The Brookings Institution claimed that in Bogotá, the capital of Colombia, more than 350,000 people have migrated into the city from rural areas due to displacement caused by violence and insecurity.

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As a country, Colombia has faced one of the highest urbanization rates in Latin America. In 2006, about 74 percent of people were living in Colombian cities. In 2016, 78 percent of people resided in cities. Over the course of a ten year period, Colombia experienced a four percent increase of peoples in urbanized areas.

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As more and more rural people flock to Colombian cities, the strain on the cities becomes more poignant, for the lack of resources available dwindle. Today, Colombian cities are so dense that basic needs are not met, making poverty a reality for many urban areas.  

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Due to the rapid increase of population within Colombian cities, the government had no chance to prepare.  In the cities, many residents were required to live in temporary settlements, having nearly one-third of the population living in poverty. Currently, the government struggles with developing a successful plan to bring basic necessities to these impoverished, dense cities, where the quality of life remains poor.

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In order to bring stability and security to these densely populated areas, the Colombian government must make it a priority to build infrastructure and bring basic necessities and services into the poorest of slums. The second requirement needed to progress Colombia’s slums would be to reconstruct and nurture the rural-urban relationship, which has been destroyed due to the belief that rural areas house violence, while urban areas provide economic growth, development, and success. If the relationship goes untreated, Colombia will have to deal with the loss of rural culture, for no Colombian will choose to reside there any longer.