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Institutional Contestation: Colombia in the Pacific Alliance

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Article of journalFlemes, Daniel ; Castro, Rafael. (German Institute of Global and Area Studies, Alemania; Pontificia Universidad Javeriana, Colombia ). Institutional Contestation: Colombia in the Pacific Alliance.  / Impugnación Institucional: Colombia en la Alianza del Pacífico In  Special Issue: Latin American Responses to the Rise of Brazil  / Número especial: respuesta latinoamericana al ascenso de Brasil Bulletin of Latin American Research, 2016 vol. 35 no. 1 p. 78-92. Keywords:
Brazil | Colombia
Politics, Public Administration | Relaciones Internacionales
Difícil equilibrio colateral / Estrategias de política exterior / Respuesta institucional / Alianza del Pacífico
21st century


Emerging powers have tried to build functional regional power bases in their respective spheres of influence to gain support for their leadership projects and representative capacities on the global stage. This has caused diverse contestational responses by secondary powers in different regional orders. In this context, we analyse the shift of Colombia's contestation approach towards the Brazilian leadership claim in South America. With the arrival of President Santos, Colombia turned from collateral hard balancing against Brazil to institutional contestation through the Pacific Alliance. Besides furnishing evidence of the broader Colombian soft-balancing strategy in other policy areas, the article explores and balances the domestic, structural and behavioural drivers of the strategic turn to institutional contestation through the Pacific Alliance without neglecting the economic and political motives of Colombia's engagement in the pro-market alliance.

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