Community Responses to Drug Related Violence in Mexico

Tuesday, July 15, 2014: 9:45 AM
Room: Booth 58
Oral Presentation
Carlos SILVA , Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Mexico
Alejandra ARMESTO , Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana, Mexico
The violent conflict that emerged in Mexico –due to drug trafficking and the Govenrment’s response- has produced a sharp rise in the incidence of violence, expressed in an escalation of homicide rates and disappearances. This violence not only has had an impact on its direct victims but also has engendered collective victimization. This paper describes changes in daily life experienced by the population in five municipalities in three states (Cuernavaca and Jiutepec in the state of Morelos, Saltillo and Torreón in the northern state of Coahuila and the city of Zacatecas in the homonymous state) that have witnessed an increase in drug related violence since 2007. In each locality, four focus groups were carried out with interviewees –men and women- from lower middle class neighborhoods. Among this sector of the population, the presence of state institutions has always been weak and access to public services and policy benefits has been mediated by particularistic intermediation rather than a matter of citizens’ rights. The analysis shows deep changes in personal, family, community spheres as well as with respect to citizens’ linkages to public security and justice institutions. These changes are expressed in emotions, discourse, meanings and experiences. Increased victimization and social embeddedness of powerful groups of organized crime have weakened community organization and collective action to face the more violent scenario. As a result, the main strategies to prevent or cope with victimization reported by the interviewees refer to individual behavior, family isolation, and the weakening of community networks.