Colombia: A Threat of Daggers

Around the Caribbean, Latin Americans have a saying when senselessness creeps into affairs. "La banda está borracha," they shrug—"The band is drunk." In mountain-ridged, coffee-growing Colombia, the band went on its binge from 1948 to 1958, when the nation's two ruling parties, the Liberals and the Conservatives, fell into an ugly civil war that killed 200,000 Colombians. The country has been suffering from the hangover ever since.

Last week's congressional elections show how painful the headache is. In an effort to end la violencia, Liberals and Conservatives* agreed in 1958 to unite in a National Front, with the presidency alternating between...

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