Back from the Brink
November 27, 2007
Colombia in 1999 was facing serious threats from illegal armed groups and the unraveling of state authority. Eight years later, the country is back from that brink. The Colombian government and people, with strong support from the United States, first halted the downward cycle and then made important progress in addressing the deep-seated problems that threatened stability and democratic governance. The influence of illegal armed groups has been rolled back, the presence of the state broadly expanded, levels of violence and criminality sharply reduced, the observance of human rights improved, standards of governance enhanced, and the economy set in a very positive direction. Notwithstanding this success, difficult problems related to a longstanding tradition of weak government remain. But the magnitude of these still-unresolved challenges does not detract from the significance of Colombia's gains since 1999.