VI. The World Wars and the Interwar Period, 1914–1945 > E. Latin America and the Caribbean, 1914–1945 > 2. South America > h. Colombia
  The Encyclopedia of World History.  2001.
(See 1918)
h. Colombia
José V. Concha, president. He represented the conservative groups (whose rule became known as the Regeneración) that had been in power since 1884 and continued to rule the country until 1930. Even the conservative administrations of Colombia were obliged to initiate a measure of social legislation to meet growing pressure from the lower classes. Colombia remained neutral during the First World War, but joined the League of Nations (Feb. 16, 1920).  1
Marco Fidel Suárez, president.  2
1919, Aug. 15
Signature of a contract with the Tropical Oil Company for exploitation of the Colombian oil fields, one of the most important sources of national wealth.  3
1921, April 20
The U.S. Senate finally ratified the Thomson-Urrutia Treaty (concluded 1914) (See April 20) with certain modifications, thus ending the long dispute with regard to Panama. The Colombian Congress ratified it on Dec. 22.  4
Pedro Nel Ospina, president.  5
1922, March 24
An award by the Swiss federal council ended a long-standing boundary dispute with Venezuela in favor of Colombia. A boundary treaty with Peru settled the frontier on that side.  6
Banana workers struck against the United Fruit Company (UFCO) in the Santa Marta region on the Caribbean coast. UFCO, which had set up plantations in Colombia beginning in 1901, employed over 30,000 Colombian workers (most under miserable conditions) at this time. Poorly organized, the workers were ignored by the company, which claimed that they were not really employees of UFCO but contracted labor.  7
Miguel Abadia Méndez, president. During his administration the growing social tension found an outlet in a number of major strikes, in the course of which many were killed by the police and government forces.  8
Colombian elites, centralizing their power around coffee, founded the National Federation of Coffee Producers (FNC). This association combined the power of small producers into one group that could prioritize spending, control prices, and support certain projects.  9
1928, Dec
UFCO banana workers, better organized after their 1924 failure, struck again. On Dec. 6, the military, in cooperation with UFCO, opened fire on workers and villagers gathered in the town square at Ciénaga. Perhaps thousands were slaughtered in the attack. After the massacre the government arrested numerous left-wing leaders and suppressed the unions. This incident would become an important symbol in the 1930s as the depression generated more and more support for labor militancy.  10
The election of ENRIQUE OLAYA HERRERA (1881–1937), a moderate liberal, brought to an end the long domination of the conservative groups. The world depression brought with it a rapid decline in coffee prices, and necessitated heavy borrowing.  11
The Encyclopedia of World History, Sixth edition. Peter N. Stearns, general editor. Copyright © 2001 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Maps by Mary Reilly, copyright 2001 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.