This paper surveys some of the issues that have emerged from an ongoing investigation on frontier zones in South America: the different meanings of regional integration; the symbiosis between legal and illegal economic activities and the temporality of local and regional responses to changes in some of the elements shaping the economic geography of frontier zones. These issues are discussed by exploring empirical evidence drawn from the Uruguay-Brazil border (South Cone) and the northern Andean segment of the Colombia-Venezuela border. Regional integration has fostered inter-state dialogue, the promotion of trade and the growth of cross border investments but frontier zones remain partially hostage of unilateral national policies. The illicit drug trade and other illegal activities are shown to promote informal regional integration by its increasing association with legal activities. However, efforts to detain the process stumble on the convergence of exceptions to the rule of law and the ‘normal order’ in the contemporary structure of sovereign power.


Machado, L.O.; Reyes, A.N.; Monteiro, L.C.R. 2009. Building Walls, Breaking Barriers: territory, integration and the rule of law in frontier zones. Journal of Borderland Studies, 243: 97-114.