The dissimilarity in Colombia is more worrying at the border
Latin America is the second most unequal continent after Africa. This is measured through the Gini coeficient, where 0 is the lowest level of inequiality and 1 is the highest level. According to the World Bank, Latin America and the Caribbean present the average of 0.469 of inequality, which is evidently high, compared to other continents that have 0.29%. However, one of the most critical cases is Colombia, a country that has a coefficient of 0.522. Therefore, it is above the national average and it is the country with the highest inequality in Latin America after Honduras. But why is Colombia in this situation?
Vaupés: a periphery department
The periphery in the country is clearly georeferenced. The border territories have historically been disconnected from the center of the country and the big cities. These regions present the highest unsatisfied basic needs indexes in the country and suffer corruption amidst poverty. An example is Vaupés, a department of approximately 20 thousand inhabitants who live mostly in rural areas. Its index of unsatisfied basic needs is 54.7% above the national average of 29%. This department is in the east of Colombia, with a great extension of territory and beautiful landscapes. However, it is so disconnected from the big cities that it is possible only enter the territory by plane. Colombians do not have it as a reference of tourism and even many people do not know how to place it on the map.
Periphery of the periphery
The problem is not only that there is a segregated periphery in the border of the country. There is another situation: there are territories that are in the periphery but present even more complicated conditions. Following the example of Vaupés, the municipal head presents a 40,26% of unsatisfied basic needs and the rural area experiences 88.18%. The situation shows that municipalities such as Carurú and Pacoa live in a situation of poverty greater than the capital with 100% of unsatisfied basic needs. This is explained in the lack of institutional presence, because to reach these municipalities people have to travel for days the Vaupes River or they have to take a private air transport that can cost 4 or 5 million pesos (COP). Additionally, fuel values are so high that for the population that lives in these territories is not possible to leave it. Even in these areas, as a consequence of the lack of opportunities, suicides of young people have increased, in addition to other social problematics like alcoholism and prostitution.
Furthermore, the State must work to improve inequality in Colombia not only by addressing the border, but also the periphery of the periphery. Otherwise, inequality will continue to be a constant in Colombia.
LatinAmerican Post | Tatiana Restrepo
Copy edited by Marcela Peñaloza