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Book launch: Votes, Drugs, and Violence - The Political Logic of Criminal Wars in Mexico - 26 October 2020

Please note that this event has passed.

Chair: Dr Kieran Mitton, Senior Lecturer in International Relations

Speakers: Dr Sandra Ley, Assistant Professor at CIDE’s Political Studies Division in Mexico City and Dr Guillermo Trejo, Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Notre Dame

One of the most surprising developments in Mexico's transition to democracy is the outbreak of criminal wars and large-scale criminal violence. Why did Mexican drug cartels go to war as the country transitioned away from one-party rule? And why have criminal wars proliferated as electoral competition has become more intense?

Join the launch of Votes, Drugs, and Violence, by Guillermo Trejo and Sandra Ley. This event is part of the Conflict, Security & Development Research Group Speaker Series and Co-Hosted with the Urban Violence Research Network.

In Votes, Drugs, and Violence, Dr Trejo and Dr Ley develop a political theory of criminal violence that elucidates how the continual reallocation and fragmentation of political power through multiparty elections can become a source of uncertainty in the criminal underworld and a trigger of violence, particularly in new democracies in which elites fail to reform the authoritarian security and judicial systems and dismantle state-criminal collusion networks previously forged in autocracy – as happened in Mexico.

Drawing on in-depth case studies and statistical analysis spanning more than two decades and multiple levels of government, Trejo and Ley show that subnational party alternation and intergovernmental partisan conflict in Mexico were key drivers of the outbreak of drug wars, the intensification of violence, and the rise of cartels as local de facto rulers in a significant part of the country.



Guillermo Trejo is Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Notre Dame and Director of the Notre Dame Violence and Transitional Justice Lab at the Kellogg Institute for International Studies. He studies political and criminal violence, social movements, and human rights. Trejo is the author of Popular Movements in Autocracies: Religion, Repression, and Indigenous Collective Action in Mexico (2012).

Sandra Ley is Assistant Professor at CIDE’s Political Studies Division in Mexico City, where she also coordinates the Program for the Study of Violence. Her research agenda focuses on the intersection between criminal violence and political behavior.

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Kieran  Mitton

Kieran Mitton

Reader in Conflict, Security and Development

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Event details

26 October 2020

Online event