How would you classify government in regards to Collectivist vs. individualistic and Democratic vs. totalitarian? First we must define each of these. A collectivist government can be described according to the dictionary, “Collectivism is a political theory associated with communism. More broadly, it is the idea that people should prioritize the good of society over the welfare of the individual.” (No Author) An individualistic government can be described according to the dictionary as, “a doctrine that the interests of the individual are or ought to be ethically paramount; also : conduct guided by such a doctrine (2) : the conception that all values, rights, and duties originate in individuals.” (Merriam-Webster) As one might be able to see from reading these definitions, these two governmental ideals are quite the opposite.
Next the two terms democratic and totalitarian will be defined. A democratic government is what we Americans are most used to considering that is the type of government we practice here in the United States. A democracy can be defined according to the dictionary as, “a government in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised by them directly or indirectly through a system of representation usually involving periodically held free elections.” (Merriam-Webster) A totalitarian government can be considered according to the dictionary as, “of or relating to a political regime based on subordination of the individual to the state and strict control of all aspects of the life and productive capacity of the nation especially by coercive measures (as censorship and terrorism)” (Merriam-Webster) Once again, we can see the obvious difference between the two.
When considering what category Colombia falls into one would have to look deep into how their government works with the people. According to the World fact book Colombia is a Republic. A republic can be defined as, “form of government in which a state is ruled by representatives of the citizen body. Modern republics are founded on the idea that sovereignty rests with the people.” (Munro) If one were to look at this they would automatically think that Colombia is indeed individualistic because a republic focuses on the sovereignty resting with the people, and not the government making the choices for the people, like we might see in a collectivist government.
One can also see the idea of democracy in their republic not only because of the way that republic is defined, but however because according to the World Fact Book, Colombia holds elections. The key word in that statement is elections. If Colombia were a totalitarian state, they would not hold elections for the people to choose their officials who would run the country.
When considering distance between the United States and Colombia, one would of course have to look at the government to see if there are any regulations against foreign businesses coming in. When looking at Colombia one might find that from an outside look Colombia and the United States are not very different in their governmental ways. This is a key factor when looking at whether or not a company should expand internationally to Colombia.(Sam Jokerst)
Colombia has implemented presidential system since establishing the new constitution in 1991. The governmental system is divided by the executive branch, the legislative branch and the judicial branch according to the principle of separation of powers. President has 4 years term, is elected by a direct election by the people and can serve consecutive terms. Presently, Juan Manuel Santos Calderon is governing Colombia after being reelected as president in 2014. The government now has an inclination toward conservatism.
Legislature consists of the senate and the representative. The senate has 102 seats which are the nationwide constituency, and 2 seats of the senate are assigned to the representatives of native Americans. The house representatives have 166 seats which are elected locally, and 1 seat is assigned to the representative of overseas residence, while 2 seats are assigned to the representative of Africans. The term of congressmen is also 4 years and there is no term limits for congressmen.
A Colombian citizen who is 18 years old or over can vote for president and congressmen, but election is not compulsory. Members of the armed forces on active duty and police officers cannot vote because they have to be neutral for politics. A Colombian citizen who is 25 years old or over and who is not imprisoned before can be a candidates for the house of representatives, but one who is imprisoned because of political reason can be a candidate. Candidates for the senate should be 30 years or over and should be Colombian citizen at birth. Ineligibility because of imprisonment is applied in the same way with a candidate for the house of representatives.
In the last election on 9 March 2014, a turnout of the parliamentary election was 43.58%. The ratio of women in the Senate was 22.55% and that of the house of representatives was 19.88%. The major parties are Social Party of National Unity, Colombian Conservative Party, Colombian Liberal Party, and Democratic Center. They totaled 73.88% of seats in 2014 election. Turnouts for presidential election were 40.07% for first round, 47.89% for second round. In the second round, the two candidates who get the highest percent of the vote compete for the election. Second round showed more turnout because the probability of dead vote decreased in second round.
Distance in politics between the USA and Colombia is not large because the politic system and process of Colombia are really similar with those of the USA. The USA has implemented presidential system and has adopted the principle of separation of powers. The legislature of the USA is also composed of the Senate and the house of representatives. Citizens in the USA are guaranteed free and secret voting as well. In this regard, there is no much added costs from the difference of politics when doing business in Colombia because the politic systems of the two countries are similar. (Samuel Shin)
According to the World Fact Book, Colombia has a high rate of free trade agreements with other nations and really on exports to other countries being that they have one of the best mining systems in the world. According to Romulo Rejon, “Colombia runs a mixed economic system with major commercial and investment ties to the United States.” (Rejon) Now one might ask, what is a mixed economic system? This is a combination of both a market economy and a command economy. A market economy is where the people have control over the economy. A command economy is also known as a communistic economy where the government controls all aspects. In Colombia, there is a mixture of both the people having control and the government having control.
One might wonder about expanding internationally from the US to Colombia with a business. They would find that Colombia and the United States are very close in international relations. This relationship might make it easier to predict how the economy would be, being that it is very similar to the economy of the United States. Distance does not factor too much in the equation of the differences in the economies between the two nations. (Sam Jokerst)
Colombia has been a member of WTO since 1995. Also, as of 2012 Colombia has signed the trade agreement between them and the European Union, but had been known to get in trouble with other countries because of their effective import tariff is higher than what the WTO membership agreement allows. As of today, EU spirits face higher taxes than locals through higher tax and local charges. In addition, Colombia’s regional authorities or departments impose market-access restrictions for imported spirits. The WTO is communicating with the Colombian authorities to try to find a solution to the dispute that will bring a fair condition of competition for EU spirits in the Colombian market. So in a trading point of view for a business if you wanted to trade with Colombia; you would possibly have to pay a higher tariff because the government does not want to sell your product. The Colombia free trade agreement will help a fast-growing market of 45 million consumers, and the Agreement will help strengthen the Colombian economy and promote its growing middle class. The Agreement aims to improve the investment environment, eliminate tariffs and other barriers to U.S. exports, expand trade, and promote economic growth. Colombia is the fifth-largest export market in the Western Hemisphere. This will help out businesses in the U.S. by expanding exports of U.S. goods supporting thousands of additional American jobs. (Christopher Ervin)
Human rights are basically the freedoms that all people are entitled. In Colombia there are many domestic laws concerning and protecting their civilian’s human rights. Yet, any types of human rights violations are committed constantly within the country. Freedom of speech is a right all Colombians have. This one does not seem to be respected. A study done by the Colombian group focused on solidarity, Traspasa los Muros, showed how there are 7200 people in imprisoned for their political ideology and beliefs. These are innocent man that the government wants to silent their opinions. Economic rights are also violated. This is mainly due to the Colombian impair distribution of wealth. In Colombia it is believed that if you are born in poverty you will not get out of it. There is a minimum wage federally established, yet it is not respected. The unemployment rate is so high and employment opportunities so small that businesses hire employees paying them below the minimum wage – the government fails to protect those people’s rights. For an American entrepreneur seeking to open up a restaurant it is important would be very easy to avoid the law, reducing labor costs to make an economic profit – it is important to stay straight to avoid law repercussions in their home country.
In Colombia corruption is a really big issue. It is encounter in every level of the government. Just in 2009 there were 48000 politicians being investigated for corruption. Among them there were 800 majors and 30 governors (Rojas). The country ranks 70 in the Perception of Corruption Index. The main practice of corruption in Colombia is bribery. Politicians would ask for bribes to business to adjudicate them contracts or well located locations to build their companies at. This reduces efficiency and increases inequality which is correlated to the lack of human rights in the country. Bribery has become a key rule to succeed in business in Colombia. Just 8.52% of entrepreneurs has denounced it when they have been asked for money or favors from politicians (Kovalik). As an American investor seeking to open a restaurant it is important to take into account that bribery is going to play against you. Colombian businesses are going to use bribery to get contracts and better locations. On the other hand, it is illegal for an American citizen to commit bribery in any country worldwide. This adds risk to doing business in Colombia. Another factor of corruption that adds risk to doing business in this country comes from the abuses perpetrated by guerrillas and paramilitaries groups. These ones basically get money from drugs trafficking and corrupted practices such as “vaccines”. This is basically a payment that businesses do to keep opened in response to these groups’ threats – if the business asked for the vaccine refused, it would have to deal with the consequences. (Daniel Silva)
Edited by Bryce Ruis
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Kovalik, Dan. “Human Rights Nightmare Continues in Silence in Colombia.”The Huffington Post. TheHuffingtonPost.com, 03 Mar. 2015. Web. 29 Mar. 2016. <http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dan-kovalik/human-rights-nightmare-colombia_b_6799986.html>
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