Thursday, November 10, 2011

Insurgency in Mexico?

Barbara Walter and Alberto Díaz-Cayeros argue at The Monkey Cage that Mexican DTOs constitute an insurgency. Or sort of.

The violence in Mexico may not be a classic insurgency , but it is certainly being fought like one.  Like other insurgencies, the violence in Mexico – especially the brutal killings of government officials and civilians – is being used to intimidate local populations and control territory.

I don't really understand this argument. The main problem is that they do not define insurgency. Many types of political violence--civil war and terrorism come to mind--are used to intimidate local populations and to control territory. In other words, intimidation may be a necessary condition, but it is definitely not sufficient.

Interestingly, the three studies they cite--Ken Eaton, Matt Ingram & David Shirk, and John Bailey & Lucia Dammert--are focused on crime and police reform, not insurgency, which they don't even mention. The question that arises, then, is whether DTOs should be treated like insurgents or like criminals. The two are very different.


Anonymous,  9:18 AM  

Agreed - the Walter and D-C post really seems to say nothing at all. And that is a shame, since we need good social science on the current Mexican crisis. Do you know of anything decent?

Greg Weeks 10:28 AM  

At this point, not really. Most of the stuff referring to insurgency is really alarmist.

Frontier Strategy Group 1:28 PM  

It is estimated that 230,000 people have been displaced in Mexico due to cartel violence, a tragedy that is shifting the demographic composition of many cities. Additionally, consumption patterns are changing as many individuals grow reluctant to frequent public venues such as restaurants and markets that could be targeted by cartels. Regardless of the specific typification of violence in Mexico, it is having a definite effect on consumption patterns, as well on the ability of MNCs to operate within Mexico.

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