Luis Fernando Barón
Universidad Icesi, Colombia


These are the results of an ethnographic inquiry into Cali and Valle del Cauca economic elite members’ memories on armed political internal conflict. Businessmen memories show that for over two decades (late 1980’s-early 2010’s), the business community in Valle del Cauca, mainly Cali, lost their leading role and effect in the regional political and social settings. When comparing the memories of this study to scholar and journalistic approaches, it is evident the central role of business actors in economic, social and institutional develoment in Valle del Cauca and across the region, in contrast to reactive attitudes towards illegal armed actors. Three causes of this retreat are highlighted: 1) economic and social power gained by drug traffickers, 2) political changes as a result of popular mayoral elections and the Constituino of 1991, and 3) the impacts of economic liberalization and economic crises in the 90’s, which hit Latin America and Colombia. Also, a rationale putting economic interests before social and political processes, and harming the political (politicians) as mediating agents between regional and country-wide processes, favoring the use of direct channels to deal with and solve local conflicts. This study bets on dialogue and, of course, on arguments, upon memories between various social sectors in Colombia, in an attempt to help build increasingly plural and complex views on Colombian history.

Keywords: memory, entrepreneurs, armed conflict, peace.