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Política y gobierno

versión impresa ISSN 1665-2037


TREJO, Guillermo  y  LEY, Sandra. Federalism, drugs, and violence. Why intergovernmental partisan conflict stimulated inter-cartel violence in Mexico. Polít. gob [online]. 2016, vol.23, n.1, pp.11-56. ISSN 1665-2037.

The dominant view of the dramatic increase of criminal violence in Mexico following the 2007 federal intervention in the War on Drugs suggests that inter-cartel violence became particularly intense in subnational regions where the president could not coordinate the federal government's actions with subnational opposition rulers but came under control where the president worked with his co-partisans. In this article we challenge the "coordination" argument and claim that in contexts of acute political polarization between Left and Right -like the one Mexico experienced before the War on Drugs- partisan conflict can motivate federal authorities to develop cooperative military and policing interventions in regions where the president's co-partisans rule, but to deliberately neglect effective assistance to the president's main political rivals and then blame the violence on them. Based on an original dataset of inter-cartel violence in Mexico (2006-2012), we show that while criminal violence was more intense in municipalities from states ruled by opposition parties, it was five times greater in cities ruled by the Left -the president's political nemesis. We use case studies to show how Mexico's conservative federal government followed differentiated strategies to deal with spirals of drug violence: it worked together and protected subnational co-partisans (PAN); partially cooperated with centrist opposition authorities (PRI); but confronted leftist governors and mayors (PRD) and left them at the mercy of drug cartels. Our results are consistent with findings in conflict studies showing that state agents do not always seek the monopoly on violence and sometimes tolerate violence to punish their political enemies.

Palabras llave : federalism; inter-governmental conflict; partisanship; inter-cartel violence; Mexico.

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