February 27, 2015 at 8:46 am

Salinas Castro Presents on Rise of Auto-Defense Against Mexican Cartels

Evelyn Salinas Castro presented her work on “The emergence of auto-defense groups–vigilantes–within the Mexican drug war” as a revolutionary movement at the Capitalism & Socialism: Utopia, Globalization, and Revolution conference at the University of Southern Indiana  in November. She describes the rise in Mexican cartels, “unprecedented levels” of violence, and citizens rising against a corrupted government.

Salinas Castro is a graduate student in the Political Science master’s program at Ohio University.

Evelyn Salinas Castro

Evelyn Salinas Castro

Abstract: For the past seven years, Mexico has been submerged in a drug war, which has had devastating consequences for the country. Former president Felipe Calderón in 2006 launched a drug strategy, backed by the United States, which aimed to dismantle drug cartels–drug trafficking criminal organizations. Overall, Calderón’s strategy consisted of the militarization of the country. However, six years later the statistics point out the strategy has failed. For example, the Mexican Institute of Geography and History INEGI reported that from 2006 to 2012, there were 121,683 violent deaths related to drug cartels. At the beginning of this war, six cartels existed in Mexico, by 2010 the number of cartels had doubled; there were 12 cartels.

Due to the Mexican government’s lack of response to guarantee the citizens’ safety, in some states armed auto-defense groups have emerged to fight organized crime and keep their communities safe. Thus, this paper seeks to give an account of how violence in Mexico has reached unprecedented levels as a consequence of a failed drug war strategy that is also linked to a failed neoliberal economic project of development. Furthermore, I examine the role of auto-defense groups to encourage a national movement against violence, and I posit the question if the auto-defense groups are the beginning of an uprising in Mexico against the corrupted government, and the elites which determine policy outcomes that only benefit the most affluent people.

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