Democracy and Vigilantism: The Case of Michoacán, Mexico
The so-called self-defense forces in Mexico must be seen as a form of vigilantism generated by an incipient process of democratization that has not produced the institutional quality necessary to contain the activity of organized crime groups driven, essentially, by the high demand for drugs in the United States. Our qualitative analysis of Mexico’s Tierra Caliente (‘Hotlands’) revealed profound processes of institutional deterioration in politics and the economy that have created conditions ripe for vigilantism. In the absence of substantial improvements in the quality of Mexico’s democracy, especially at the levels of state and municipal government, the emergence of other forms of vigilantism and ongoing violence are foreseeable.
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