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Title: Private Gains and Human Rights Violations: Beyond Collateral Damage in Mexico’s War on Drugs
Authors: Barba Sánchez, Daniela T.
Advisors: Yashar, Deborah J.
Contributors: Politics Department
Keywords: human rights
state capacity
state capture
Subjects: Political science
Hispanic American studies
Issue Date: 2020
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: This dissertation tackles the following question: in addition to collateral damage, under what circumstances do human rights violations occur when states launch large scale campaigns against crime? Consistent with the civil war literature, I argue and provide evidence that the infrastructural resources available to security institutions matter for their ability to gather intelligence information and thus mitigate the violence they use to maintain order. Yet, I argue that the effect that an increase in the resources of the security apparatus has on state violence depends on the nature of the coercive organizations and of their political milieu. First, the increase of the militarized police and the armed forces’ infrastructural power is likely to increase rather than decrease abuses against civilians. This is because of the armed forces’ training, emphasis on hierarchy, and tendency to eradicate targets—as opposed to protecting citizens’ rights. Second, the increase in resources available to the security apparatus may have larger human rights consequences if the coercive organizations respond to political authorities that are captured by self-serving political or economic interests. Police forces with relatively less institutionalized hiring, vetting, and promotion practices, are at even higher risk of being used at the behest of particular interests. To study state violence in a context of conflict, I deliberately study the patterns of political arrest, ill-treatment, and torture, which allows for classifying the perpetrators and intentional actions—as opposed to actions conducted in legitimate defense. I look at the case of Mexico, emblematic for the War on Drugs launched in that country since December 2006. Relying on the relevant literature in the field, on qualitative evidence, and on interviews conducted with stakeholders, I propose a theoretical framework. I then test the hypotheses derived from this iii framework by looking at complaints data and an original national survey with embedded survey experiments. These findings have implications for countries that are conducting all-out campaigns against organized crime, have high levels of state capture by particularistic private or economic elites, and have conditions propitious for corruption where the state is the gatekeeper (licitly or illicitly) of monopolistic, high profit, private industries.
Alternate format: The Mudd Manuscript Library retains one bound copy of each dissertation. Search for these copies in the library's main catalog:
Type of Material: Academic dissertations (Ph.D.)
Language: en
Appears in Collections:Politics

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