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Challenges of organised community resistance in the context of illicit economies and drug war policies: insights from Colombia


  • Alejandra Vélez, María
  • Lobo, Iván


The voice and role of communities, particularly their capacity to organise and resist, has been understudied in the specialised literature on illicit crops and largely ignored in policy debates. Based on ongoing research in Colombia, this policy paper explores the capacity of communities to organise and resist – as a manifestation of cultural and social capital – in the context of illicit economies. The paper argues that in the context of weak states, the effectiveness of drug policies could be enhanced by drawing upon and investing in communities’ organisational capacity and active local leadership to increase the non-monetary benefits of eradication and substitution. Acknowledging how resistance reflects the experiences of communities and responds to their different needs, the paper offers relevant insights for policy that can inform drug policy formulation in Colombia and similar contexts.

Suggested Citation

  • Alejandra Vélez, María & Lobo, Iván, 2019. "Challenges of organised community resistance in the context of illicit economies and drug war policies: insights from Colombia," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 100325, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  • Handle: RePEc:ehl:lserod:100325

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Reyes, Luis Carlos, 2014. "Estimating the Causal Effect of Forced Eradication on Coca Cultivation in Colombian Municipalities," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 61(C), pages 70-84.
    2. Ibanez, Marcela & Martinsson, Peter, 2013. "Curbing coca cultivation in Colombia — A framed field experiment," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 105(C), pages 1-10.
    3. Moreno-Sanchez, Rocio & Kraybill, David S. & Thompson, Stanley R., 2003. "An Econometric Analysis of Coca Eradication Policy in Colombia," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 31(2), pages 375-383, February.
    4. Bebbington, Anthony, 1999. "Capitals and Capabilities: A Framework for Analyzing Peasant Viability, Rural Livelihoods and Poverty," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 27(12), pages 2021-2044, December.
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    Cited by:

    1. Blume, Laura Ross, 2021. "Narco Robin Hoods: Community support for illicit economies and violence in rural Central America," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 143(C).
    2. Rodriguez, Luz A. & Velez, María Alejandra & Pfaff, Alexander, 2021. "Leaders’ distributional & efficiency effects in collective responses to policy: Lab-in-field experiments with small-scale gold miners in Colombia," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 147(C).
    3. Sauls, Laura Aileen & Dest, Anthony & McSweeney, Kendra, 2022. "Challenging conventional wisdom on illicit economies and rural development in Latin America," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 158(C).

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    More about this item


    Resistance; coca cultivation; cultural and social capital; drug policy formulation;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • N0 - Economic History - - General


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