chapter  5
38 Pages

Economic Interest Groups and Labor Unions

WithJorge P. Osterling

This chapter discusses the political implications of certain types of special interest groups. Special interest groups, especially those organized to benefit either the managerial or working classes, are neither as numerous, as important nor as powerful in Colombia as in other nations of the hemisphere. During the mid-1980s, Colombia had over 150 agricultural, commercial, industrial, financial, and professional interest groups. The nature, purpose, and political influence of each of these varied substantially. Economic interest groups—better known in Colombia as gremios economicos—are the managerial organizations that link the nation’s agricultural, commercial, financial, industrial and professional elites. The gremios economicos, contrary to what their English translation might imply, are not economic associations formed to “protect” the managerial class from government policies or from labor union’s demands. Colombian labor unions can be described as highly fragmented, mostly urban organizations that associate private or public sector workers to pursue mutual interest or benefit.