An Iron Triangle of Corruption in Colombia (a quick note)

while listening to NPR today I heard an interesting story about Colombia (find it here). to sum up, the story was about how the various stratas of society were involved in the drug violence in one form or another. what intrigued me was the story of one former paramilitary commander coming out and claiming that not only were colombian politicians helping him, so were the local businessmen who sought their own self-interest in the paramilitary activities of murder and drug trafficking.

as a political science buff, i was instantly reminded of a concept I was taught while studying Public administration: the iron triangle. Very briefly, the iron triangle is when political forces with similar interests and different sources of influence work together to better control their own turf. for instance, if Senator Trent Lott of Mississippi, the Secretary of the Navy and the AFL/CIO teamed up together in order to funnel money to Ingall’s Shipyard in Pascagoula Mississippi, they would be quite a formidable trio of influence and authority.

what the hell does this have to do with colombian corruption? simply put, colombian corruption has become so large and omnipresent that it has now taken on the characteristics of a large bureaucracy. instead of legislators, high-level bureaucrats and special interest groups Colombia gets legislators (who install the corruption), paramilitary commandos (who do all the dirty work) and the businessmen who fund it all.

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