At the start of the 21st century, the remote town of Barbacoas, in southern Colombia, was connected to the rest of the region by only one roadway. This 57 km highway between Barbacoas and the nearest town, Junin, was in major disrepair and could take between 14 and 24 hours to travel. Due to political instability, guerilla warfare by the FARC and other nongovernmental paramilitary groups, and the remoteness of the region, the government failed to maintain the condition of the highway and let it fall into disrepair.
The United States proposed the enactment of a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with Colombia in 2004. The United States said that, by lowering the tariffs in a few markets and by making the majority of the other markets entirely duty-free, it could become more competitive. While the Colombian Government responded positively to such a contract, significant groups declared their opposition.
The Colombian military and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) guerrillas have been at war since 1964. Colombian citizens, especially indigenous, are often caught in the crossfire between the two armies. Both the government and FARC have forced children to fight for them.