Venezuela and Brazil: Take note of Colombia’s revival

Over the past 15 years, Colombia has undergone a massive political and economic rebirth. Since, it has stood out as one of the lone beacons…

Colombia serves as an economic standard for the region by exemplifying certain standards which many countries could have, but haven’t met. (AP Photo)

Over the past 15 years, Colombia has undergone a massive political and economic rebirth.

Since, it has stood out as one of the lone beacons of light in what has increasingly become one of the world’s most turbulent political regions.

SEE ALSO: Resignations plague Colombia’s presidential elections

With tumultuous and ongoing social strife to the east in Venezuela and nationwide discontent to the south in Brazil, Colombia stands in stark contrast with its South American neighbors.

The nature of both major candidates in this year’s election on Sunday May 25 —Juan Manuel Santos of the Party of the U and Oscar Ivan Zuluaga of the Democratic Center party—does not indicate that Colombia is, in any way, on the path to a populist and socialist regime.

From an economic vantage point, the contrast with its neighbors becomes most evident, as improved standards of living and steady expansion have become the norm.

In the first quarter of 2014 alone, inflation remained low as the economy grew by roughly 4.8%.

As Peter Murphy of “Reuters” explains, “Colombia’s economy has maintained low inflation and enviable growth above 4 percent, faster than most other South American countries with the exception of Peru

All recent forecast also indicate that growth is expected to progress at a steady rate for the remainder of the year.

Venezuela

Meanwhile, the recent nationwide upheaval in Venezuela to the east is both a result of and catalyst for further economic deterioration in the oil-rich nation.

In just a one-year span, from 2012 to 2013, GDP growth decreased radically from 5.6% to 1.3%.

The contraction has expanded into 2014 and as Dow Jones Business News states, “The central bank’s last report showed an annual inflation rate of 57.3% in February, one of the highest in the world, as the oil-rich nation grapples with a scarcity of foreign currency that has led to shortages of basic goods and helped fuel protests.”

Constricting government controls instituted by the Maduro regime have only accentuated the problem as Venezuela continues its downward cycle.

Brazil

Further south, Brazil has been facing its own wave of discontent as support for the World Cup has fallen to an all-time low of 48%.

Colombia's economy is boosting in the region.

Colombian pesos (Photo: Shutterstock)

Spending has now exceeded the $10 billion mark and while most of the funding was initially meant to originate from private sources, as the building and renovations of stadiums nears completion a significant portion of the spending has actually been derived from public funds.

The recently formidable Brazilian economy now finds itself in a pattern of inconsistent growth and social discontent.

Colombia: A fundamentally distinct scenario

Pared up against these two countries, Venezuela and Brazil, Colombia finds itself in a fundamentally distinct scenario.

However, a continued stream of economic growth throughout the next administration does have the potential to positively influence Colombia’s neighbors through a more robust economic apparatus with improved trade capabilities and augmented regional economic influence.

President Santos has overseen a period of steady growth throughout his four-year administration and looks poised continue on the same path if re-elected.

Meanwhile, his main opponent of the Democratic Center party, Óscar Iván Zuluaga, does not count with the same experience as Santos and has indicated a determinedness to re-declare war on the FARC if re-elected.

SEE ALSO: The FARC continues to be a preeminent issue in Colombian elections

Although far from certain, a renewed drug war on this scale holds the potential to have detrimental effects on Colombia’s recent economic growth through increased fiscal spending.

Ultimately, Colombia serves as an economic standard for the region by exemplifying certain standards which countries like Venezuela and Brazil could have, but haven’t, met.

Neither candidate seems particularly inclined to reverse this model, but Santos’ proven experience and aims for peace with the FARC guerilla appear to provide a more reliable framework for continued growth, which could subsequently have positive influences on both Venezuela and Brazil.

SEE ALSO: Colombia: FARC guerrillas rap for peace