The Subnational Links between Oil Wealth and Armed Conflict in Colombia

subnational links

The main objective of this paper is to provide localized evidence about the mechanisms that may link oil wealth with the use of armed force against civilians by non-state armed groups in Colombia. Violence is studied in all three of the standard dimensions: onset, duration and intensity. This paper reports evidence on a subnational variant of a mechanism termed by the literature state-as-target. The new variant consists on the use of violent and non-violent strategies by non-state armed groups in partnership with local politicians with the objective of capturing subnational governments (instead of overthrowing the national government or segregating an oil-rich region). The fiscal windfall generated by oil revenues incentivizes the non-state armed groups and their political associates to employ a mix coercive and non- coercive strategies to interfere with local politics. These strategies intervene the supply-side of politics (entry, participation and exit of politicians in elections) and the demand-side of politics (voting behaviour). Through these means, the coalitions attempt – and often achieve –  to influence, co-opt or even capture the subnational governments with the objective of diverting the subnational public budget into their coffers. The research questions are addressed through a small-N research design comprising two Colombian municipalities, Tolú and Coveñas. The criterion used to select the municipalities was the most-similar case selection strategy. Different sources of evidence collected during fieldwork (including interviews, archival work, judicial rulings), as well as datasets on oil and violence. The evidence was triangulated to carry out a process-tracing analysis that covered the period 1960 - 2015.

Speaker: Juan D. Gutiérrez-Rodríguez (University of Oxford) 

Guest RespondentDr Annette Idler (University of Oxford)


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Violence Studies Oxford

Contact name: Rachel Kowalski

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Audience: Open to all