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Comerciantes en economías de frontera: El caso de La Guajira Colombiana, 1870-1930


  • Joaquín Viloria de La Hoz



The main purpose of this article is to analyze the commercial activities in La Guajira, Colombia, as well as the in titutional and geographical constraints traders faced between 1870s and 1930s. The result that La Guajira developed a frontier economy, characterized by a weak institutional presence, economic practices with few state surveillance, wide presence of indigenous population, inhospitable zones for colonization and active trade with neighboring countries. The lack of institutions allowed the traders to grow without further controls. The entrepreneurs and regional leaders, linked to extractive activities such as: salt, pearls and logwood, as well as trade, could not create the adequate institutions and business environment to consolidate the departments economy with a production structure based on endogenous production, competitive companies and a job market adjusted to the national legislation. RESUMEN: El objetivo del presente documento es analizar las actividades comerciales en el territorio de La Guajira colombiana, así como las limitaciones institucionales y naturales a que se vieron sometidos sus comerciantes entre las décadas de 1870 y 1930. El estudio plantea que en La Guajira se desarrolló una economía de frontera, caracterizada por la escasa presencia institucional, prácticas económicas con escasa vigilancia estatal, amplia presencia de población indígena, zonas inhóspitas para la colonización y activo comercio con países vecinos. La falta de Estado permitió que los negociantes adelantaran sus actividades sin mayores controles. Los empresarios y dirigentes regionales vinculados a las actividades extractivas como sal, perlas, palo de tinte, así como al comercio, no pudieron crear las instituciones ni el ambiente empresarial propicio para que en la economía guajira se consolidara un tejido productivo basado en la producción endógena, con empresas competitivas y un mercado de trabajo ajustado a la legislación nacional.

Suggested Citation

  • Joaquín Viloria de La Hoz, 2013. "Comerciantes en economías de frontera: El caso de La Guajira Colombiana, 1870-1930," Cuadernos de historia económica 010486, BANCO DE LA REPÚBLICA - ECONOMÍA REGIONAL.
  • Handle: RePEc:col:000101:010486

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Corden, W M, 1984. "Booming Sector and Dutch Disease Economics: Survey and Consolidation," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 36(3), pages 359-380, November.
    2. Hirschman,Albert O., 1981. "Essays in Trespassing," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521282437, March.
    3. Kamas, Linda, 1986. "Dutch disease economics and the Colombian export boom," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 14(9), pages 1177-1198, September.
    4. Corden, W Max & Neary, J Peter, 1982. "Booming Sector and De-Industrialisation in a Small Open Economy," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 92(368), pages 825-848, December.
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    More about this item


    La Guajira; economía de frontera; comerciantes; empresarios; contrabando;

    JEL classification:

    • N76 - Economic History - - Economic History: Transport, International and Domestic Trade, Energy, and Other Services - - - Latin America; Caribbean
    • N86 - Economic History - - Micro-Business History - - - Latin America; Caribbean
    • N96 - Economic History - - Regional and Urban History - - - Latin America; Caribbean

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