INFORMALITY AND ILLEGALITY IN THE EXPLOITATION OF GOLD AND TIMBER IN ANTIOQUIA
Jorge Giraldo Ramirez and Juan Carlos Munoz Mora
(Medellin: Centro de Analisis Politico
Universidad Eafit and Proantioquia, 2012), 197 pages.
In Informality and Illegality authors Jorge Giraldo Ramirez and Carlos Munoz Mora, both professors in Antioquia, Colombia, analyze how the gold and timber sectors have become a source of financing for armed groups. Rather than simply rehashing the old resource-curse debate, this slim, but dense, Spanish-language book performs a microlevel analysis of Antioquia's extractive supply chains and impressively identifies the precise mechanisms that incentivize illegal armed actors to enter the market.
According to the authors, the confluence of informal extractive markets with high levels of socio-economic inequality and the absence of a well-functioning state incentivizes nonstate actors to assume the state's role and engage in criminal activity. This "criminal ecology" is a self-perpetuating system that is characterized by ineffective state intervention, weak regulation and penalization, and high levels of political and economic leverage by nonstate actors. Ramirez and Mora's findings are impressive, even if their data seems suspect: they find positive...