In a recent piece for Nexos, security analyst Eduardo Guerrero Gutierrez pointed out that while criminal groups have long had an interest in building links with the different levels of government, recent developments have made them focus on elections all the more. One is that gangs today earn more money from extortion and from retail drug trafficking, which is known in Mexico as "narcomenudeo." Unlike international drug trafficking, which can be carried out without much involvement from the authorities, the police are far more likely to be aware of extortion and retail drug sales. Government tolerance -- or better still, collusion -- is needed.This month's edition also also included very worthwhile articles by Alejandro Hope on an easing in the bloodshed in Mexico and by Kari Jacobsen about how street gang culture was exported from the US to Mexico.
Another issue is the democratic opening in Mexico: unlike 20 years ago, when the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) had ruled Mexico for six unbroken decades, today criminal groups have to deal with the three major parties contending for political posts. That means that profitable and long-standing relationships between a group and a political party in a given area can be rendered useless with a single election, which is a grave setback to a gang's interests.
In this sense, meddling in elections is a logical policy for gangs, not unlike private-sector campaign donations to candidates promising a lower corporate tax rate. And, just as large companies sometimes make contributions to more than one candidate in the same race, criminal groups also hedge their bets by donating cash or performing services for a variety of different candidates. That way, they have a measure of protection regardless of the outcome of the election.
Wednesday, June 13, 2012
Organized Crime and the Elections
Eduardo Guerrero Gutiérrez has a thoughtful piece on how and why criminal groups manipulate elections this month in Nexos, which I've partially translated here. Highlights (from my introductory comments):