The United States of Colombia, commonly referred to as West Colombia or by some as Caucasia (Spanish: Estados Unidos de Colombia) is a confederate state located in the northwesternmost corner of the South American continent. West Colombiais a heavily mountainous nation, divided in two major mountain groupings ("cordilleras") that are the ending point of the Andes. To the east, along the Magdalena DMZ, is the Democratic People's Republic of Colombia; to the west is Costa Rica; and to the south are the fellow nations of Peru and Ecuador, also part of the Axis of Freedom.
A remnant of the democratic Colombian government that was forced to flee Bogotá after the events of 1948 which resulted in the Bogotazo and the subsequent Andean War, West Colombia declared its independence from the rest of Colombia under influence by the United Kingdom and Germany, who wanted a strategic vantage point to access the Caribbean and thus connect the free nations of Peru, Ecuador and Chile with Free Cuba, Spain-in-exile, and Western Europe. West Colombia's independence resulted in the formation of two rival governments, that of DPR Colombia in Bogotá and that of the US Colombia in Medellín, a situation which remains until this day.
Following breakneck economic growth between 1970 and 1995, the USC is one of the world's most developed economies, with powerful sectors in manufacturing and service industries that permit its position as the twenty-seventh largest nation measured by GDP per capita (twenty-second by PPP) and one of the largest exporting industries in the world.
The Andean War and the First Years; 1946-1952
The Andean War (also Colombian Civil War) was a result of many different factors that increased tensions within the Colombian nation. The first and foremost of these was the subject of land inequality. No government since the start of the Regeneración had attempted to fix the subject of land inequality, which meant that for nearly 50 years Conservative leaders had left the peasants out without any power in government. Conservatives and Liberals alike were almost entirely led by the aristocracy and bourgeoisié of the nation. Little, if any, of the government was led by the peasantry, which made the great majority of the Colombian populace.
In this ambient of class struggle and oppression towards the lower classes, the radical Liberals proposed a solution to the issue through a hard lurch to the left, led by the radical Bogotá native Jorge Eliécer Gaitán. Gaitán was a leader in the far-right in the Party, which had caused a major schism in the already fractured Liberal Party in the 1946 elections, leading to the Conservatives to gain yet another political victory. However, for the 1949 elections, the Liberals had already decided to mend this schism, and Gaitán was elected the only leader of the party.
Violence began in several towns in the western part of the nation in early 1947, with La Violencia, the pre-civil war band of murders and political attacks that occurred throughout the nation, in full swing during the hardline conservative government of Laureano Gómez. Gómez's government declined to support the Liberals being attacked in any way, shape or form, meaning that violence greatly increased against the group. To protest this, the liberal party organised a "Silent March" in which over 100,000 Liberals marched through the streets of Bogotá in full silence, protesting the death of their own throughout the nation. However, soon, the March turned into Gaitán's political campaign, with him announcing "No soy un hombre; soy un pueblo!" (I'm not a man; I'm a people!) and announcing the launch of the Liberal campaign.With the Conservatives trailing far behind the charismatic Gaitán in polls, most historians today have agreed that the party resorted to extremely desperate measures, hiring an impoverished policeman, Juan Roa Sierra, to murder Gaitán in April 19 of 1948. Sierra was arrested by a group of policemen and held in a boutique in order to ensure his safety. However, all was lost. Soon enough, riots spread throughout the city of Bogotá, with thousands of people flocking to avenge the death of their leader. Radio stations were prominent in the initiation of this violence, announcing:
|“||"Latest news with you. Conservatives and the Ospina Pérez government have just killed Dr. Gaitán, who fell by the door of his office, shot by a police officer. People: To arms! Charge! To the streets with clubs, stones, shotguns, or whatever is at hand! Break into the hardware stores and take the dynamite, gunpowder, tools, machetes...".||”|
The riots destroyed most of downtown Bogotá within the first two days, but continued for a grand total of five days, during which the blood flowed in Bogotá. Today, it is estimated that nearly 7000 people died during the events of El Bogotazo, with a further 14,000 being wounded.
After the five-day bath of blood ended, politics in Colombia were left in complete chaos. Laureano Gómez, the old and Boulangist-like President of Colombia, was reported to have a stroke after hearing the news of the thousands of dead Conservatives. While it was mild, he was put in hospitalisation, and the Presidency was deemed nearly futile during this period of chaos. While policemen were able to arrest many of the rioters during or shortly after the Bogotazo, thousands fled from the city, moving eastwards to create new political guerrillas following liberal, Boulangist and Communist ideologies. The most important of these was the Sixth Brigade of the army, which followed their leader, General Gustavo Rojas Pinilla, and set bases in Tunja, declaring the end of the "Conservative tyranny" and the start of the "People's Government". While the rest of the army remained mostly loyal to the government, many defected to Pinilla's Sixth Brigade. Allying itself with the young guerrilla leader Pedro Marín, in November 16 of 1948 the Sixth Brigade marched into Bogotá, overthrowing the populist government. Ospina and Gómez both were captured and executed, while the high ranks of both the Liberal and the Conservative parties fled to Barranquilla. At this point, most of the army defected towards Pinilla's side.
However, the Fourth Brigade of the Army, based in Medellín, remained loyal to the Conservative Party, as did the brigades in the Atlantic Coast and Valle del Cauca. These regions, more tied to party politics than the east, contained far more Conservative and Liberal loyalists, and were virulently against the establishment of a Communist dictatorship. Small uprisings in Medellín and San Juan de Cali were swiftly crushed by both angry pro-government mobs and the police forces.The division between the Republican faction and the military was already clearly territorially outlined. With both sides being territorially contiguous, and more or less divided along the Magdalena river, the nation seemed to be reaching an impasse, with the government stuck in Barranquilla and seemingly forced to negotiate with Pinilla's rebel army. However, soon enough, instead of negotiations, open war began between the two sides. While far superior in numbers, Pinilla's army was initially not supported by any great power, while the Republican government remained heavily supported by British, German, French and Eurasian volunteers, military equipment and supplies. Eventually, while movements were made towards both sides and sieges of major cities occurred (amongst them the bombardment of Santa Marta, which essentially resulted in the burning down of that port), the war became bogged down in the Magdalena River, with the United States heavily sponsoring Colombia's new government and Britain sponsoring the Republicans. A ceasefire was signed due to intervention by Prime Minister Bevan of the United Kingdom, resulting in the division of the nation in two.
Immediately after the ceasefire, the previous Conservative emergency government held up throughout the war was unraveled. Fearing internal unrest, the President called for a constituent assembly in 1951, something which was heavily supported by British and German observers which heavily helped in shaping up the new constitution. As a compromise between Liberals and Conservatives, the new Constitution established a proportional voting system fair to both sides; given that Bogotá no longer overshadowed the other cities in the nation, and the fact that both Liberal and Conservative support was extremely concentrated in specific regions, a loose confederation of seven states (Antioquia, Atlántico, Bolívar, Cauca, Huila, Panamá and Tolima) was established, with the central government only having control over the military, tariffs and trade policy, postage, and international relationships. The Constitution guaranteed most freedoms, although reserved the freedom to ban extremist political parties (in fear that Communists would take over). Widespread rights for workers and peasants were established, amongst them the right to land ownership and the right to work, in order to prevent a leftist surge. Elections were to occur every four years; the president was to be elected along an Electoral College, while legislature would occur through direct proportionality in every state. In 1952, elections were called, and both the legislature and the electoral college elected Liberal Alfonso López Pumarejo as President of Colombia.
Stalemate and "To Win the Peace"; López Pumarejo, 1952-1956López Pumarejo rose to power on the back of a radical manifesto that proposed several left-wing policies. Pumarejo, based on a promise that "We have kept the dictator out of our nation... We might have not won the war, but we will win the peace", proposed massive changes to the nation's internal systems, especially in terms of agrarian and educational reform. The purpose of this was to prevent any wish for massive rebellion by the lower classes of society, a purpose initially decried as "to outleft the Left", which eventually became a major Radical-Gaitanist political line. Pumarejo passed groundbreaking legislation in the form of an agrarian reform constitutional amendment, permitting the expropriation of property if it was a time of war, in the benefit of the state, or the furthering of social justice. With massive support from the left-wing of his party, but reluctance from the wealthy industrialists of the right-wing, Pumarejo was just barely able to pass massive agrarian reform, compromising his education reform in the process.
The overthrow of President Roosevelt led to Pumarejo's government giving up at any attempts of negotiation with the junta government of Colombia. While having been pressured to declare independence and make separation permanent by the British government, Pumarejo refused to give up any claims to being the rightful government east of the Magdalena River, instead deciding to call for a new Constituent Assembly, which met in Medellín in January of 1952. The new National Constituent Assembly declared a return to the Liberal government of the late 1860s, which had been eliminated through the political system of the nineteenth century. The new Constitution was one of the first in the world to enshrine several things in its constitutional system, such as a complex system of judicial review, several rights of economic and social nature, and even a tutelage framework for protection of human rights. The Consitution of 1952, already sixty years old, is still one of the most progressive Constitutions in the world.
While originally attempting peaceful collaboration between the European government and the Americans, Pumarejo's foreign policy began drifting towards the Europeans late in his government. The Axis of Andes, a political and military alliance leaded by Peru ever since the overthrow of the APRA-led coalition by Manuel de Odria in 1947, had tried to get the USC on board in order to help the Axis reach to the Caribbean Sea, in order to, not only achieve a romantic control of all of South America's Pacific coast, but also as a pragmatic way to connect the Pacific ports to Free Cuba and the European coast. Pumarejo initially drew the line at membership on the Axis of Andes, claiming that such an alliance would lead to an eventual new war with Colombia and "extreme amounts of death for both parties". However, in 1954, after the USC's first legislative elections came to a close, the legislature was composed by a liberal majority; and, while radical liberals were definitely the largest group within the Party, they lacked a majority due to above-average Conservative support. Pumarejo attempted to court moderate Liberals in order to pass internal legislation, such as the establishment of a single-payer healthcare system; the overhaul of education, and the end to the stranglehold of the Catholic Church on many Colombian institutions; however, Liberals didn't budge, fearing that giving in to all of Pumarejo's demands would lead to continued Socialist revolution in the west, a new coup d'etat (which they called the Medellinazo, a buzzword to became huge within USC political dialogue) even though the overt purpose of these politics was to deliberately avert that. Pumarejo spent two years devoting himself to attempt to convince the Liberals to help him in what he considered his least aggressive proposal, the de-Catholification of public life, and for enough moderates to support this, he was forced to apply to the Axis, which would eventually accept him in the 1955 Convention. While faced with a revolt from the Catholic Left of his party, eventually he was finally able to pass his de-Catholification, by an extremely narrow 66-65.
This final, forced act, however, extinguished the strength of the Radical Liberals. In 1956, Pumarejo stood down, as the USC Constitution didn't permit consecutive two-term presidencies. Knowing his party couldn't win the election in favour of the forming moderate Liberal-Conservative alliance, he instead nominated far-left Indigenous leader Quintín Lamé as leader of the Radicals, thus allowing for an increased vote (with high peasant and Mestizo support). However, eventually, Lamé was completely destroyed by a 57% in favour of the mixed Liberal-Conservative listing, which elected war hero, General Guillermo León Valencia, as President of the Republic
Valencia: "No Experiments!" and the economic boom, 1956-1960Valencia engineered a moderate policy in both economic policy and internal reform, with nearly no new legislation passing through Parliament due to its own choosing in the 1956-1958 period. Faced with a still unstable nation with overt hostility between the Radical Liberals and the Conservatives (and a breaking down alliance between the Liberals and the Conservatives), Valencia promised the continuation of the Economic Miracle, not through any reform in the chamber, but rather through aggressive foreign policy in favour of the booming industrial economies of Europe and in support of re-acquiring the territories controlled by General Pinilla. Indeed, Valencia once famously stated "El Cauca no necesita experimentos económicos- necesita ser Colombia", or "The Cauca needs no economic experiments - it needs to be Colombia". The General did this by rapidly expanding West Colombia's arms industry, rapidly creating what was considered South America's most formidable military, capable of standing up to even American aggression, as well as taking a leading role in the Axis of Andes, with the USC becoming the unofficial leader of the Axis after Odria's stepping down in favour of a centre-left government in the form of the National Democratic Front in 1957. The USC rapidly became the largest economy in South America, with its largest military and steel sectors, as well as a rapidly growing coffee and mining sector. Textile industry boomed, and GDP per capita rose quickly thanks in part to Pumarejo's earlier labour reforms. Both national industries (most famously ACECAU, Acero del Cauca (Caucan Steel), and the consumer goods-based Grupo Empresarial Antioqueño (Antioquian Business Group)) as well as international industries in West Colombia boomed during the period.
Industrialisation brought massive urbanisation; the urban population of West Colombia rose from 20% in 1956 to 35% in 1961, which also meant increased support for the Left. The Liberal Party won the elections of 1958 with nearly a super majority, arranging for a close to even split between moderate liberals, Radicals and Conservatives. Valencia himself also became extremely popular because of this, with approval ratings nearing 70% at their height. In order to perpetuate their breaking alliance, moderate liberals and Conservatives both attempted to court Valencia's support for the next election, offering to change the Constitution to permit for his re-election, but failed in doing so. Valencia duly stepped down in 1960, and lacking any real supporters, the Liberals were essentially forced to back the far-left ticket of Darío Echandía, who swept six of the seven states (only Antioquia, famously a Conservative stronghold, stayed out of the Echandía landslide) and about 60% of the vote.
Echandía: The Rise of the Radical Party, 1960-1964Echandía's proposals were as radical and leftist as Pumarejo and Gaitan's ever dreamed to be. Influenced by politicians from the political left in Chile and Peru (especially the Independent Ayllu Party and Salvador Allende Gossens' Socialists), Echandía attempted to greatly increase the scope of land reform, nationalise mining and the bank, unionise the farmers, complete de-catholification of society, and overhaul economy and healthcare. Indeed, fueled on an air of change and hope, Echandía was able to strengthen the National Coffee Growers' Federation, by far the strongest union, and create public, religion-free school systems that soon spread across the nation. Echandía furthermore introduced constitutional amendments that granted women's suffrage and freedom from discrimination, both moves that were widely lauded by the USC's international allies. However, soon enough, momentum slowed down with opposition from the Moderate Liberals.
Disenchanted with a Liberal wing which he found closer to the Conservatives than to his own, rather than continue bargaining and compromising, Echandía decided to establish a new political party, the Radical Party (Partido Radical or Partido Radical-Gaitanista). Claiming Francisco de Paula Santander, Tomás Cipriano de Mosquera, Jorge Eliécer Gaitán and "the hardworking Colombian farmer-labourer" as the idols of the party, the Radicals attempted to paint themselves as the true Liberals, with the remnant Liberal party being "a lying sellout to to the Conservative aristocrat".
Echandía went into the 1962 legislative elections leading the Radical Party, which, due to the freshness and radical nature of its ideology, gained nearly 60 seats in Parliament. Allied with a collection of small agrarian parties (the Coffee Grower's Party in South Antioquia, the Banana Syndicate Party of Urabá in Cauca and Bolívar, the Sugar Farmers Rights Party in Cauca and the Traditional Agrarian Party of Tolima) as well as the Socialist-Revolutionary and Communist parties, they got a slight majority of 71 to 70 Liberals, Conservatives and other small parties on the right. This allowed radical legislation to finally begin; farmers' unions were greatly bolstered, and granted wide tracts of land, weakening the landowners of most of the region. Mining and the banks were taken over by the government, but not nationalised. A mixed public-private system of healthcare insurance was established in order to establish universal coverage. This was paid with the huge surge in industrial production of the time, as well as the coffee consumption boom seen in Germany and Italy at the time.
Echandía, pushed by his vice-president Quintín Lamé, declared the start of a "Great Society",in order to fight back against poverty and economic unfairness, as well as racial injustice and institutionalised discrimination. The recently overhauled health systems began to be financed with massive investment by both public and private companies, which was paid by higher taxes. Stricter labour regulation also helped with a rise in standard of living, despite the fact that GDP per capita grew more slowly than before in the 1962-1964 period.
As elections approached, Echandía seemed in a great position to bring his new Radical Party to a second consecutive victory, which would be a first in USC history. However, soon enough, international opinion changed drastically. The federal government of Antioquia and the "hawks" in the Radical Party allied with Conservatives in order to agree on a secret treaty with Britain importing a large number of weaponry. Echandía, when he was informed of the decision by Parliament, was initially forced to cooperate, but, eventually, as soon as news leaked to the public, decried this decision. However, this backfired spectacularly in the 1964 elections, which were held in the middle of the Crisis, in which ex-president Valencia won a resounding vote, with all states but Tolima and Huila going for him.
Valencia, Part II: The Antioquian Missile Crisis; 1964-1968Echandía established a hardline approach towards the Missile Crisis, supporting the continued presence of British nuclear missiles in Caucan territory as a way to protect the USC and its allies in the Axis of Freedom against any possible American or Colombian aggression. Despite the death of General Pinilla and the rise of young General García Márquez as Commander of Colombia, the Caucan government remained extremely apprehensive at a possible Colombian attack in order to recover the land west of the Magdalena, especially now in which higher industrialisation and a larger population base than the East made it an enticing prize.
Valencia followed the advice put to him by British Prime Minister Enoch Powell,increasing the private sector in the nation's economic order, instead spending more money in the military.