Mexico's long road towards consolidating a democratic regime is wavering in its security due to the rampant growth and development of the organized crime in the country. As democratic institutions in Mexico have gained strength and made progress, so has the presence of organized crime in increasingly violent forms. The corruption and impunity associated with those behind the organized crime in Mexico seems to have left those within civil society already distrusting very basic democratic institutions. The specific ways that organized crime has led to a distrust in Mexico's democratic institutions will be evaluated in this paper. This paper uses data, past reviews, and research to analyze the dependent variable of organized crime and thus how it has affected democracy.
A clear definition of what a democratic regime and thus democratic institutions entail is necessary in order to properly evaluate the effect of organized crime. While there is not a broad sweeping definition that can be given to a democratic government, most political scholars would agree that two absolutely crucial components to any democratic regime are transparency and participation. In the article The Elusive Democracy by Alberto J Olvera he states that the main spaces of democratization are the practices and institutions that define the relationships between state and society (Olvera 80).
Prior to Mexico's movement towards democratic consolidation the political regime consisted of a long standing authoritarian regime that was marked by centralized governmental control in the hands of the president and a weak legislature. The authoritarian regime ensured its stability by implementing principles that would keep the legislature and judicial branches beneath the rule of the executive. For example, there was a mandatory three-year term without the possibility of reelection for all federal and state government officials.
[...] According to the chart there is a clear distrust in the government's ability to handle crime and even make just laws. It is not surprising that Mexican citizens are leaning towards vigilante justice when only a mere two out of ten people proven guilty of a crime are actually brought to justice (Moloeznik 11). Rule of law is an essential principle to democracy that seems to be diminishing from Mexico's political sphere. It seems that among not just Mexico's citizens but also its government officials there is “high impunity and little credibility” (Moleznik 11). [...]
[...] If anything, organized crime has only increased now and spread to corrupt government officials. According to Moloeznik's article it is clear that the governmental distrust in regards to democratic institutions has as much to do with the initial growth of the democratic regime as it does with the presence of organized crime. Luisa Blanco's article Impact of Insecurity on Democracy and Trust in Institutions in Mexico” uses data from the Latin American Public Opinion Project (LAPOP) and the Encuesta Nacional Sobre La Inseguridad (ENSI) to analyze the impact insecurity and crime victimization has had on Mexico's satisfaction and trust of democracy from 2004-2010. [...]
[...] The main difference between the two sets of data is that the LAPOP has a sample size of about 1,500 observations for each wave, whereas ENSI has a range of 30,000 to 60,000 observations per wave. The LAPOP data looks at perceptions of security index, crime victimization, support for democracy, and satisfaction with democracy. The data examines variables on institutional trust for institutions from congress, the judicial system, the army, the electoral system, and the overall political system. The ENSI data differs from that of the LAPOP data because it includes more institutional variables such as local police, public ministry, political parties, federal investigation agency, and preventative federal police. [...]
[...] This view takes into account the possibility that the power doesn't always flow from the top down, the criminals can influence the authorities. A higher up political figure may not be directly involved in organized crime, but that's not to say they aren't somehow involved in functional coalitions of actors from the political and criminal worlds” (Bailey and Godson 5). This weak institutional accountability creates almost a mock democracy without any true transparency. Stanley Pimentel, former FBI for the U.S. embassy in Mexico City, supplies a broad synthesis of the criminal- political nexus in Mexico. [...]
[...] The necessity for transparency is crucial if Mexico is to restore trust in its democratic institutions. The public views government officials and organized crime leaders as one in the same, and it seems that often times they are. This distrust has led to a decrease in reporting crime which only allows crime rates to increase, thus driving down the support and trust for the democratic government even more. If the federal government was able to create a federal level program that focuses on transparency, legitimacy, and active participation from civil society then there may slowly be an increase in institutional trust. [...]
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