With the demise of the Colombian cartels in the late 1980s, a new business paradigm has emerged in Colombia and other Latin American countries. Throughout the last several decades, numerous political, social, and economic factors have aided in the emergence and growth of this new illicit venture. Internally, illicit ventures are shaped by the state’s increased dependence on the illicit drug trade, a shift in societal acceptance of the ventures, the nature of Colombian culture, and a lack of opportunity in the legal economy. Externally, these ventures are shaped by increased foreign political pressure from the United States as well as economic globalization. These factors have aided in the emergence and development of these ventures, resulting in the ventures being increasingly more integrated economically, socially, and politically. I argue that these external and internal factors of Colombia’s environment have shaped new illicit business paradigms that, in practice, share many similarities to legal business paradigms. These ventures are similar to legal businesses in countries that are characterized by these particular external and internal factors.

First Advisor

Nick Kontogeorgopoulos

Degree Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts in International Political Economy

Date of Award

Spring 5-18-2014