Votes, Drugs, and Violence: The Political Logic of Criminal Wars in Mexico

Cambridge University Press, 03.09.2020
One of the most surprising developments in Mexico's transition to democracy is the outbreak of criminal wars and large-scale criminal violence. Why did Mexican drug cartels go to war as the country transitioned away from one-party rule? And why have criminal wars proliferated as democracy has consolidated and elections have become more competitive subnationally? In Votes, Drugs, and Violence, Guillermo Trejo and Sandra Ley develop a political theory of criminal violence in weak democracies that elucidates how democratic politics and the fragmentation of power fundamentally shape cartels' incentives for war and peace. Drawing on in-depth case studies and statistical analysis spanning more than two decades and multiple levels of government, Trejo and Ley show that electoral competition and partisan conflict were key drivers of the outbreak of Mexico's crime wars, the intensification of violence, and the expansion of war and violence to the spheres of local politics and civil society.

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The Political Foundations of Peace and War in the Gray Zone
Subnational Party Alternation
Cartels Militias and the Struggle
Presidents Governors
Developing Subnational Criminal
online Appendix D online Appendix

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Über den Autor (2020)

Guillermo Trejo is Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Notre Dame and Director of the Violence and Transitional Justice Lab at the Kellogg Institute for International Studies. He studies political and criminal violence, social movements, and human rights. He is the author of Popular Movements in Autocracies: Religion, Repression, and Indigenous Collective Action in Mexico (2012).

Sandra Ley is Assistant Professor at CIDE's Political Studies Division in Mexico City. She studies criminal violence and political behavior.

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