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Dr Matt Amengual, Saïd Business School, University of Oxford

Dr Vidal Romero-Leon, ITAM Department of Political Science

Seminar series hosted by the Department of International Development. All are welcome.

Dr Amengual: 'Direct Contestation: Outcomes of Unmediated conflict between communities and mining firms in Latin America'

Social movements and interest groups in developing countries increasingly challenge large firms to influence their behavior and make direct claims for redistribution of the gains from economic activity. In response, firms distribute benefits to maintain their ability to operate. To secure local support and defuse opposition, some firms take actions that expand access to essential public goods, services, and economic opportunities, while others use targeted clientelistic benefits that reward only a few. What accounts for this variation?  

This talk will explore this question through a study of firms operating in the mining industry. Conflicts between mining firms and social actors have become common throughout the developing world. Detailed analysis of a set of cases in Bolivia and Peru reveals how outcomes of contestation can be traced back to local political organization and firm strategies for mitigating risk. This finding contributes to studies of the local politics of natural resources and, more broadly, studies of the politics of redistribution and regulation.

Dr Romero-Leon: ITAM Department of Political Science: 'Money laundering, misaligned incentives, and violence'

Some of the activities undertaken by drug trafficking organizations fall under the jurisdiction of national authorities, but many of their operations are first and better detected by local governments. A subset of such illegal activities may have short-term positive effects for local governments, such as laundering money through investments in real state or retailing. When the incentives of national and local authorities are disconnected, it may be in the short-term interest of local governments to not fight money laundering within their territories, unintentionally inducing waves of violence and crime in the near future. We consider a mechanism through which criminal organizations invest dirty money in legal business at a given locality, leading to improvements in the local economy, thereby increasing revenue for local governments and voters’ wellbeing. In turn, this economic bonanza would attract other criminal organizations to the locality, which will eventually generate conflict among criminal organizations, endogenously increasing crime and violence. We develop theoretical insights on the conditions under which this mechanism would exist and we empirically test its incidence and the magnitude of its effects. We utilize a variety of econometric methods, using Mexican municipalities as units of analysis.

Event details

Bush House South East Wing
Strand, London WC2R 1AE