Culture of Colombia - history, people, clothing, traditions, women, beliefs, food, customs, family
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There was little or no support from the Creole population, but some Creoles were appalled by the brutality of the Spaniards and began to spread the rebellious sentiment. The call for vengeance spread to other provinces, as government officials excluded Creoles from high governmental positions.
There is not a unique national culture separate from the cultural influence of colonial Spain.
Instead of resisting Spanish cultural influences, most indigenous groups embraced them. Rather than having a common culture, Colombia is a country with many distinct regional cultures.
Past relations with other regional cultures were based on the hierarchical society imposed by Spain, in which the upper echelon of "white" Spaniards enjoyed wealth, power, and prestige while blacks and Indians were at the bottom of the socioeconomic hierarchy.
After independence, Creoles quickly replaced Spaniards in the upper echelons of the new society. Qualified mestizos and mulattoes also ascended to high positions, but their inclusion was based on their level of education, wealth, and "whiteness.
Urbanism,Architecture, and the Use of Space The nation's architecture reflects seventeenth century Spanish colonial origins. Regional differences derive from those in Spain. Thus, hints of Moorish and Castilian architecture are evident in many cities.
Many areas have had difficulty maintaining older structures, and the climate has destroyed many Baroque buildings. Some of the architectural gems are the many churches that dot the landscape. The detailed interiors of the country's churches are reflective of the Medieval and Renaissance churches in Spain. Newer buildings in larger cities utilize modern styles with adaptations of the Baroque style supplemented with wood and wrought-iron elements.
In the nineteenth century, a new form of architecture began to develop from the efforts of artisans who incorporated elements of Greek, Roman, and Renaissance art. This style, known as republicano, represented the independence of Colombian art.
This movement incorporated cement and steel building materials. Many government buildings follow the republicano architectural style. In the s, Colombia began to embrace modern architecture. The new Liberal Party government tore down many older buildings to reject the conservative Apartment towers in Bogota.
High-density public housing projects are common in the cities. In their place, it constructed modern buildings with an international flavor.
Republicano homes are typically built on a single level with an A-frame roof. Houses in the more crowded cities often have two or more stories and reflect a European influence.
Most people lived in single-family dwellings until the migration to urban centers in the late s and early s. The need for adequate housing persuaded the government to invest in high-density public housing projects during the early s. In the poorer areas, large families live in small houses constructed from cinder blocks and covered with an adobe made of clay, cow manure, and hay. Park space is limited to larger towns and cities that were founded by the Spanish. Parks have areas where social activity is encouraged; long benches are placed close together so that people can have space around them without restricting communication.
Few formal parks exist outside the cities, although people congregate around churches or other local monuments. Food and Economy Food in Daily Life. Most middle-class families eat elaborate meals that reflect Spanish and indigenous traditions. A typical meal is identified by size rather than content, such as a light breakfast, a substantive midday lunch, and a lighter meal in the early evening.
Lower-income people eat a more carbohydrate-rich diet. Meals usually end with a very sweet dessert, frequently made from panela, a type of brown sugar. There are regional differences in foods. In the interior rural regions, a hearty breakfast consists of a strip of pork, rice and beans, sweet plantains, and a large steak with fried eggs.
Dinner is similar, except for the eggs. In the coastal region, the emphasis is on seafood. In Cartagena, the typical lunch consists of rice with coconut, fried plantains, and shrimp.
Colombians enjoy a variety of national and international cuisines. Specialty dishes are eaten during holidays. A dish associated with the capital is ajiaco, a stew with three types of potato, chicken, and corn, that is served with capers, cream, and avocado. Another dish served during religious holidays is pasteles, while along the coast, people eat sancocho, a fish or chicken stew.
Colombians consume large quantities of beer and coffee and relatively little milk or wine. Aguardiente combines local rum and a corn of sugar brandy. The economy is dependent on manufacturing and agricultural exports, but this domestic production relies on expensive imports such as tractors, power generators, and industrial machinery. Commercial agriculture stresses bananas, cut flowers, sugar, and coffee. In the world's second leading exporter of coffee, the economy is sensitive to fluctuations in the market price.
Manufacturing exports include textiles, garments, chemicals, and metal products.
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Despite rich mineral deposits, Colombia derives less than 4 percent of the gross domestic product GDP from mining. Economic progress has resulted from the government's efforts to make the economy more specialized and productive by encouraging trade, deregulation, and financial investment.
While the executive and legislative branches can intervene in economic matters, the hands-off policy of the government has resulted in a 3 percent annual growth of the economy since the ending of government subsidies. Land Tenure and Property. Most of the productive agricultural land forests are privately owned. The structure of owner-operator relationships varies: Land containing valuable minerals and hydrocarbons generally reverts to the government, which arranges contracts between domestic and foreign corporations.
Public land includes 43 national parks. The government has designated special lands for the indigenous groups. Land distribution has been a difficult issue, and deforestation is being examined in the context of management practices and trade policies. Fifty-one percent of the GDP comes from the commercial sector, which includes utilities, transportation, communications, wholesale commerce, real estate, retail banking, and stock exchanges.
While these business sectors operate domestically, many have an international presence, including investment banking, insurance, commercial real estate, hotels, and advertising.
The primary industries are in the manufacturing sector, which employs over 35 percent of the workforce. The largest industries in this sector are textile, garment, furniture, and corrugated box manufacturing. Heavy industries also make a significant contribution to the GDP, including oil production, coal mining, chemical and resin-producing plants, and forestry.
Although tourism is a major industry, the growth of this sector has been hindered by instability in the Andean and forested regions. Exports include coffee, cut flowers, emeralds, and leather goods—most of which go to the United States and Europe. Other significant exports are oil, coal, and bananas.
A free-market economy has allowed the country to benefit from foreign trade and foreign investment. Colombia is seeking similar trade pacts with it neighbors to the north, including the United States. The labor force consists of manual and semi-skilled, highly skilled, managerial, and professional segments. In the agricultural and manufacturing sectors, manual or semi-skilled labor is physically demanding and wages are low. Workers who are classified as highly skilled include artisans and carpenters and supervisors in industrial plants and farms.
Managers and professionals include highly educated individuals who occupy the top decision-making or policy-making roles in industries, universities, and the government. Bananas are a staple crop in Colombia's thriving agricultural sector.
Social Stratification Classes and Castes. The massive urban migration that began in the s saw a middle class emerge, resulting in a three-class system: The upper class, which includes 20 percent of the population, accounts for about 75 to 80 percent of the gross national product. This group tends to be made up of individuals of unmixed European ancestry. Within this class, there is an elite referred to as the "oligarchy" that enjoys wealth and financial security, political power, and education.
This group may be considered a caste, since membership is largely due to birthright, not to individual ability. A wide gap separates the elite from the masses. Unlike the elite, this group has few opportunities for social mobility.
Social inequality is evident in the lower class, whose members are often malnourished, poorly housed, disease-ridden, and illiterate. White people continue to dominate the upper class, while mestizos and mulattoes constitute the middle and lower classes. Blacks and Indians make up a significant portion of the lower class.
Historically, blacks felt socially superior to Indians despite the fact that Indians occupied an officially higher position in society. Symbols of Social Stratification. White or light skin is associated with being Spanish. Today, people may not be aware of this association, but they still equate being white with being wealthy. The style of clothing preferred by urban professionals and the middle and upper classes is similar to that in the United States.
White, mestizo, and mulatto men and women prefer conservative dark suits. Individuals from rural areas often wear the same clothes in the fields and at home. Men usually wear loose-fitting pants, while women wear loose-fitting skirts. Cloaks are worn by both sexes in the cold, rural highlands. People from the interior are more proper and ceremonial in social interactions, while coastal inhabitants are usually more trusting and carefree.
The government has an executive branch led by an elected president, a bicameral House of Representatives and Senate legislative branch, and a judicial branch. The president is elected to a four-year term by popular vote and may not be reelected.
The president runs for office with his vice president, and names the cabinet, which consists of ministers with administrative powers.
The president's duties include enforcing laws, conducting foreign affairs, supervising public finances, maintaining public order, and serving as commander-in-chief of the armed forces. In the Congress, senators are elected by national vote, while representatives are elected by the people in their districts. Members of both houses may be re-elected to an unlimited number of terms. Congress meets only twice a year but may be called for additional sessions by the president.
The House of Representatives appoints an attorney general. The responsibilities of the Senate include approving military promotions, declaring war, permitting foreign troops to enter the national territory, litigating impeachment proceedings against the president, and electing supreme court justices.
Under the constitution ofthe Constitutional Court and Council of State were added to the Supreme Court, which is the court of final appeals for ordinary legal matters, annulments, and contractual disputes. It also tries public officials for misconduct in office. The Council of State hears cases involving administrative issues and proposes laws regarding administrative practices, while the Constitutional Court is charged with reviewing laws, treaties, and other public policies to ensure that they do not violate the constitution.
Leadership and Political Officials. One of the most important informal decision-making groups among the upper class is referred to as roscasa term that symbolizes the interconnecting networks in the political system. These groups have a membership structure that parallels the society of colonial Spain. These informal groups are found in the political, social, economic, and financial sectors. Roscas have been successful in monitoring and controlling some social, political, and economic changes.
At this level, most political decisions are made and many careers are determined. Roscas link influential individuals and institutions so that universities, banks, industries, and agricultural interests may be coordinated and controlled by a few people.
Inclusion in these such groups is limited to members of the upper-middle and upper classes. Another informal custom is the palanca "leverage"in which an influential friend or relative tries to help an individual gain a position. Allegiance to political parties and family ties are the source of most palancas. After independence, the founding fathers formed the Centralist and Federalist parties, which later became the Conservative and Liberal parties. The Liberal Party advocates the separation of church and state, free enterprise, free commerce, no taxes on exportation, no intervention in matters of state by foreign nations, a free press, political liberty, decentralization of government, universal suffrage, and equal justice for all.
The Conservative Party defends moral values, supports good customs, maintains close ties between church and state, protects traditional values, maintains a central government and central bank, favors tariffs, maintains the status quo and federal support of education, and calls for equal justice for all.
Social Problems and Control. The modern National Police, a branch of the armed forces, was created in to enforce federal laws. With the escalation of violence during the s, the size of the national force increased. However, the National Police lack a presence in many municipalities. In a country racked by violence, some judges wear masks to hide their faces in order to avoid reprisal.
These "judges without faces" demonstrate the inability of the judicial system to protect its members and the general public. Over 50 years ago, many politicians tried to reform a corrupt political system that acted in favor of the privileged few.Colombian Women Seek Foreign Men at Medellin Dating Event
The period between and is known as La Violencia; overpeople died in an armed uprising against social and political injustice. They have generally targeted government buildings, military positions, and police stations, but also have attacked energy distribution and communication networks, and engaged in extortion, kidnapping, and assassination. Drug trafficking is a major economic and social problem that has enriched the drug cartels and financed Two boys in a canoe on the bank of the Amazon River, near San Martin.
The Amazonian basin is home to several indigenous populations. To counter the effects of the drug trade, informal social control systems have risen to combat crime, including paramilitary organizations.
Many people take the law upon themselves, and many crimes are committed in the context of personal or group retaliation. Numbering , the military is divided into an army, a navy, and an air force.
Mandated with protecting the country's borders and territorial waters, the military has been involved in internal conflicts such as fighting against guerrillas. Social Welfare and Change Programs The social security system developed in applied only to military personnel. Other social security programs have been slow to develop.
While many programs available to the average laborer are relatively new, they provide health, pension, social security, and death benefits. Individual benefits in the public sector exceed those in the private sector.
The social welfare system has been expensive and inequitably applied, with only 16 percent of the population currently covered by social insurance. The poorest segment of the population is not covered by any program. These groups rely on nongovernmental organizations to supplement the limited support provided by the government. Nongovernmental Organizations and Other Associations Nongovernmental organizations NGOs have been involved in agricultural, educational, and health programs.
With the backing of the government and community leaders, organizations such as the Magdalena Medio Project have influenced public affairs.
Among the priorities of NGOs are land reform projects to redistribute farmland in favor of family farming and the poor, human capital development in education to give communities control over local education, and public sector efficiency. Groups such as the Pasto Education Project and the Rural Education Project have advocated better-equipped public schools and teacher training.
Inwith help from the World Bank, the Women's World Bank was established to provide very small, low-interest loans to women micro-entrepreneurs in rural and remote regions. The Carvajal Foundation paved the way for other institutions promoting micro-enterprise, such as the A street scene in the Colombian town of Cartagena. Houses in Colombia's cities often have two or more stories and reflect a European style.
Other NGOs focus on diverse aspects of the nation's economy, education, and people. The Colombian Indigenist Institute, is an advocate for many native groups. Gender roles have changed with the migration from rural to urban areas, but family and household organization is still marked by sexual segregation and a difference between male and female goals and aspirations.
As a result of colonial influence, Colombian society adopted a culture in which men occupy a dominant role within the household as breadwinner and disciplinarian and assume responsibility for maintaining family pride and position within the community. The role of machismo is an important characteristic of public life. Machismo is not synonymous with strict male dominance—it applies to the public personification of the male family head.
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Machismo requires separate male and female roles in economic life and consumption, the reliance of women on men, and distinct sets of life goals for men and women. With more women holding higher-paying jobs and occupying prominent positions in society, the role of machismo is now less dominant in urban centers but is still evident in rural regions. Machismo defines a woman's role as a mother in addition to her conjugal role.
The traditional male-female relationship assumes that the woman puts her husband's wishes before her own. She is responsible for the care of the children and household, but the husband makes decisions about the household's basic necessities. While male familial roles are relatively consistent across economic groups, female roles vary as a result of the modern economy. In upper class and some middle class families, women avoid working outside the home in order to preserve family status, honor, and virtue.
Women from lower class and lower-middle class families often hold jobs outside the home or work in the fields to contribute to the family's subsistence, giving them a greater degree of equality.
Many couples farm fields owned through the wife's family, and in this case it is difficult for a husband living with his wife's family to exercise control over the wife. Women have assumed visible and important roles in society. Upper class and middle class women dedicate themselves not only to the family but also to social issues and the church. Women from these groups hold a number of prominent public positions and are considered among the most politically active in Latin America.
Marriage, Family, and Kinship Marriage. Arranged marriages are no longer common, especially among the upper-middle and upper classes, but the members of these groups are encouraged to marry within their own class.
While men and women can date whomever they wish, they must be accompanied by a chaperone. Before marrying, couples usually court for at least a year. Members of the lower and middle classes strive to marry someone outside of their class; mestizos, mulattoes, and blacks prefer to marry into white families.
However, when intermarriage takes place, it is generally white males who marry Indians or blacks. Most people, especially in urban centers, are married in the Catholic Church. Upper class people use this religious rite to create powerful family unions. Church weddings are expensive and allow families to demonstrate their financial and social status. Because of the expense, members of the lower middle class may opt for a civil marriage.
Others choose a consensual marriage. Divorce for civil marriages was not permitted until The nuclear family consisting of a father, a mother, and their children is the basic household unit. Upper class families usually have many children. The father is the head of the household, while the mother is responsible for child rearing, homemaking, and the basic education of the children.
Lower class and some middle class wives work in the city or next to kin in the fields. Parents bequeath property to their children in equal shares. In rural families, sons and daughters may inherit property with the condition that they will continue to work the land. In urban centers, parents may leave a family business to their children to share and run.
Once you select a notary, it is important to find out what he or she will request. You can use any notary, so if yours makes unrealistic demands, you may want to contact another one. For birth certificates issued in the United States, you will need to obtain a Spanish-language translation of the document, as well as an apostille. Both spouses will also be asked to present proof that they are eligible to marry — in other words, that they are not currently married.
For a Colombian citizen, this is a relatively simple matter of requesting a copy of his or her civil registration, a document issued by the Colombian National Registry that indicates marital status.
No such document exists in many jurisdictions in the United States, however, and most U. Some notaries may allow you to present signed, notarized letters from friends or family, swearing that you are unmarried. If prepared in the United States, these notarized letters would have to be accompanied by a Spanish-language translation and an apostille.
Religious weddings in Colombia are handled by individual religious officials and involve similar documentary procedures, along with additional religious requirements. Once you are married, there is no legal requirement that you notify the Embassy of your marriage, or that you otherwise register the marriage with the U.