Editorial Making of Criminal Groups in Michoacán, Mexico. Study from a Legitimacy Perspective

Tuesday, 17 July 2018: 17:54
Oral Presentation
Rodrigo PEÑA GONZÁLEZ, Leiden University, Netherlands
The idea of legitimate crime is everything but new. However, the Robin Hood ghost does not work to explain all cases. Even when criminals are not entirely agents aside from the state, every set of social features triggers different paths for how criminals look for legitimacy. With this basis, this paper analyzes the case of the editorial production, printing, and distribution of pamphlets, rule books and codes that certain criminal groups carried out and disseminated in the state of Michoacán, in the West of Mexico. That happened approximately between 2005 to 2010, in the middle of the war on drugs declared by the former Mexican president, Felipe Calderón. This paper aims to conduct an analysis of these editions from legitimacy approach and seeks to understand how those books worked for 1) building the identity of the criminal group, 2) constituting their narrative and 3) justifying their criminal agency and activities as well. The analysis ranges patterns that go from gaining sympathy and achieving people´s collaboration and trust to produce fear, obedience, and respect. Besides, this proposal uses this case to discuss two premises on criminal groups nature. On one hand, refutes the suggestion that they are exclusively economic motivated -on the contrary, political motivations might drive their actions. On the other hand, it implies the necessity for re-think and contextualizes the study of crime and legitimacy.