Colombia has always been slightly different from the rest of Latin America, to quote one scholar “it would not endure caudillos in age of caudillos” but never has that difference been more apparent than in the years following the massacre at Santa Marta. Renner from Economic Geography
From 1830-1930 Colombia had 10 “uprisings” which would make it one of the most stable governments in Latin America, this would not be the case in the years from 1930-2000.
     "One major component that emerges is the idea of the rural peoples and their desire for 'public lands'.” LeGrand from Journal of Latin American Studies
The lack of land to cultivate led to extreme poverty for the peasants and ludicrous riches for the landowners. Where you have overwhelming destitution in the same setting as opulence, the equation is a recipe for violence and crime. 


Gustavo Rojas Pinilla courtesy Bing Images
"The 30’s and 40’s saw a lot of political flip-flopping of power between the conservatives and liberals, but concerns over the poor economy, boundary issues, social reforms and political corruption did not lend a strong foothold over the population of Colombia." Partridge from American Ethnologist
In 1953, Gustavo Rojas Pinilla took power. “He was the most savage, venal, and incompetent ruler in the nation's history. He ruled by decree. He was murderous. In February 1956, at a Bogotá bullring, he had secret agents stationed in the crowd with knives. All those who refused to applaud the Rojas Pinilla banner when raised were killed.” Dix from the Western Political Quarterly
This started a bloody and tumultuous time in Colombia known as La Violencia. This would be a lasting problem as (peasant) bandits eventually turned against each other and the wealthy through out the 60’s and 70’s. In addition to the growing violence the United Fruit Company started to pull out of Colombia and the economic deterioration sharpened.

By the early 1970’s a new and very dangerous problem was raising. Again the issue of land was at the heart of it, but it was not bananas that were being grown but narcotics. The sell of marijuana and cocaine to the United States made Pablo Escobar one of the 10 richest people in the world by the 1980’s.
     "Ironically the drug trade buoyed the Colombian economy while all the other Latin American countries stumbled during a decade of recession." Gutiérrez Sanín from International Journal of Politics, Culture, and Society
While crime from La Violencia was a thing of the past the new narco-terrorism, the drug cartels controlled every aspect of Colombian life from the economy to politics and even soccer. Kidnapping, extortion, and murder were the daily headlines in Colombia until the death of Escobar in 1993 and establishment of the PEPE’s, and group of former Escobar employees who switched sides to work for the government. While effective in their job the PEPE’s were as violent as the cartels and the carnage continued into the late 1990’s.
While the presents of the United Fruit Company and the subsequent Santa Marta massacre in 1928 are far from the true keystones for the violence in the past 80 years in Columbia, they are vital pieces of the puzzle that make up modern Colombian history.  The soil of Colombia has produced unimaginable riches for such a select few people and those people have inflicted untold misery on the other more unfortunate people of Colombia.