After a long period of peaceful coexistence, drug cartels went to war in Mexico as the country transitioned from one-party rule to multi-party democracy and drug violence skyrocketed in democracy. The death toll associated with Mexico’s drug wars in the past ten years is six times greater than the median death toll of all civil wars in the second-half of the twentieth century. This talk will explore whether and why political change has fueled drug violence in Mexico. Drawing on original data on Mexico’s drug wars covering 2,100 municipalities over the course of two decades, we will discuss results from panel and quasi-experimental models showing a strong association between electoral competition, partisan plurality, and the intensity of violence. Based on a theoretical reformulation of organized crime and on case studies, we will explain why political change created incentives for drug cartels to go to war and why over the course of war cartels have become de facto local rulers and subverted local democracy in an important swath of Mexico’s territory.
The Sociology Seminar Series is convened by John Ermisch and Federico Varese. For more information about this or any of the seminars in the series, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.