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State-evading Solutions to Violence: Organized Crime and Governance in Indigenous Mexico

The monopoly of violence in the hands of the state is conceived as the principal vehicle to generate order. A problem with this vision is that parts of the state and its law enforcement apparatus often become extensions of criminality rather than solutions to it. We argue that one solution to this dilemma is to “opt out from the state.” Using a multi-method strategy combining extensive qualitative research, quasi-experimental statistical analyses, and survey data, the paper demonstrates that indigenous communities in Mexico are better able to escape predatory criminal rule when they are legally allowed to carve a space of autonomy from the state through the institution of “usos y costumbres.” We demonstrate that these municipalities are more immune to violence than similar localities where regular police forces and local judiciaries are in charge of law enforcement and where mayors are elected through multiparty elections rather than customary practices.

wp2007.pdf (3.75 MB)
Beatriz Magaloni
Kristóf Gosztonyi
Sarah Thompson
Publication Date
November, 2021