Texas A&M University-Kingsville’s International Affairs Group hosted Dr. John Bailey, emeritus professor from Georgetown University, this last Friday to discuss the contents of his new book, The Politics of Crime in Mexico: Democratic Governance in a Security Trap.
The lecture centered around crime and Mexico’s democratic development, highlighting the relationship they have and how they affect one another. Bailey identified three major problems within contemporary Mexican politics: a missing social contract between the citizens and the government, the slow reform of the current justice system, and the significant ideological polarization of the nation’s party system.
“The Mexican system has a problem with legitimacy, they try to make themselves legitimate but it seen in the eyes of the citizens as illegitimate,” said Dr. Bailey, outlining the distrust civilians have with the current system. Bailey continued, “In 2006, the center right won the election by less than one percent and the force that it beat was the populist left which said let’s resurrect the old pact and go back to the old system. My hypothesis is the old pact is broken and a new pact has not been substituted and therefore what the government does is not necessarily legitimate.”
Bailey described the problem with Mexico’s party system, being that no dissident parties can arise among politicians and a centralized party system inadvertently gets created. Bailey stated, “These parties have very effective control over state and local politics… [you] want to get into politics, great. You can join one of four parties, you want to be an independent, good luck. Join a party, become disciplined, deliver the votes, rise up in the system. And it creates a centralized party system even though they are federalists. The message is clear: no dissident factions in my party.”
The problem with this type of system, as Dr. Bailey describes, is that it can make it impossible to reform parties and change party policies. Criminal groups have been proliferating and infiltrating parties and it creates a mixture of party members and convicts. Bailey added, “it’s hard to figure out who’s who.” A criminal group can use local police and reconfigure a state, causing confidence in Mexico’s justice system to plummet.
Bailey concluded with the crimes that do involve the elites and citizens alike, particularly kidnapping. He described many different forms of kidnapping such as virtual kidnapping, wherein someone calls a victim claiming to have a loved one, and express kidnapping, where someone is grabbed off the street and forced to withdraw money. Other forms of kidnapping such as targeted kidnapping were discussed, where politicians can be targeted for political intimidation.
Bailey’s book is now available online on Amazon and other published sites. IAG is a lecture series that hosts many different speakers and professors for a lecture luncheon. Be on the lookout for their next speaker.