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Argelia: Aproximación económica a la crisis (Algeria: An Economic Approach to the Crisis)

Listed author(s):
  • Iván Martín

    (Universidad Carlos III de Madrid)

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    The Algerian civil conflict has been explained in terms of cultural, religious and political processes, if not considered either as a test case for the 'clash of civilizations' or as an evidence of the purported fundamentalist drift of islam at odds with modern society. However, an analysis of the socioeconomic development model implemented by the post- colonial Governments from 1962 through 1988 delivers a revealing, albeit partial logical framework for the crisis. The Algerian development model relied on the income from hydrocarbons exports as the only source of finance for development and capital build- up. The absolute priority attached to a capital- and foreign technology intensive industrialization policy focused on heavy industries combined with neglect of agriculture to cause a massive rural migration to city suburbs lacking all kinds of infrastructure and even housing facilities, as well as a virtually full food dependency. This resulted in the exclusion from the economic system of large segments of the population, bound to unemployment or outright poverty. Algeria became a paradoxical case of dual, outward-looking, specialized, dislocated economy. The fast population growth and the young demographic structure, together with this lack of economic opportunities, built the sociological background in which the islamic political groups thrived as the only real social policy alternative. The Algerian crisis may be understood in terms of political economy of oil income appropriation. El conflicto civil argelino ha merecido explicaciones culturales, religiosas o políticas, cuando no se considera como tubo de ensayo del 'choque de civilizaciones' o expresión de una supuesta deriva fundamentalista del islam incompatible con una sociedad moderna. Sin embargo, el análisis del modelo de desarrollo socioeconómico implantado por los gobiernos poscoloniales entre 1962 y 1988 aporta un marco explicativo de la crisis sin duda parcial, pero esclarecedor. El modelo de desarrollo argelino se basó en las rentas de exportación de hidrocarburos como única fuente de financiación del desarrollo y acumulación. La prioridad absoluta otorgada a una política de industrialización intensiva en capital y tecnología extranjera y centrada en la industria pesada se conjugó con la negligencia de la agricultura, provocando un éxodo rural masivo a unas ciudades con graves carencias de infraestructuras y viviendas, así como una dependencia alimentaria estructural casi completa. El resultado de todo ello fue la marginación del sistema económico de segmentos importantes de la población, condenados al desempleo o a la miseria de los suburbios. Paradójicamente, Argelia se convirtió en un ejemplo paradigmático de economía dual, extravertida, especializada y desarticulada. El rápido crecimiento de la población y una estructura demográfica muy joven, unidos a esta falta de oportunidades de integración económica, constituyen el sustrato sociológico en el que prosperaron las fuerzas políticas islamistas, al ser las únicas que ofrecían una alternativa real de política social. Desde una perspectiva de economía política, la crisis argelina puede entenderse en clave de apropiación de las rentas del petróleo. Abstract

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    Paper provided by EconWPA in its series Development and Comp Systems with number 0405001.

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    Date of creation: 02 May 2004
    Handle: RePEc:wpa:wuwpdc:0405001
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