One of the main consequences of violence associated with organized crime is the erosion of the democratic regime. Organized crime, in the first place, erodes the ability of the State to have the territory of the country under its control. Thus, parallel governments are generated, de jure , represented by different levels of government, and de facto, in charge of organized crime. The criminals not only corrupt public officials, but manage to co-opt the State, either through force and threats or through negotiations. The co-optation of the State is a step beyond corruption because it is called that at the time when the government stops looking after public interests and begins to prioritize the interests of organized crime. In consequence, the state apparatus is put in the hands and for the functions of criminal groups.
On the other hand, in a democratic regime, with electoral contests, the presence of organized crime causes the illicit financing of the campaigns; This is part of the state’s own co-optation dynamics. Organized crime uses the democratic regime itself to place people close to their interests, in positions of popular choice to work and ensure their benefits and collaborate with their criminal companies.
This co-optation of the State generates distrust in the democratic institutions and in the regime itself. The loss of confidence in the democratic regime, as well as the increase in the perception of insecurity and being in total helplessness, in the face of violence is extremely dangerous, since that is where the calls for authoritarian governments that can bring order and eradicate are born to criminal groups and restore security and control of the territory. Changes or attempts to change regimes are always accompanied by political instability, reinforcing the idea of distrust in democratic institutions.
Against this, which would be the most extreme scenario of what we are living in Mexico, we have to ask ourselves if the federal government’s security policies are aimed at strengthening democracy or, on the contrary, if they could further diminish the confidence of the population in democratic institutions in order to support more authoritarian forms of government. Strengthening the power of the federal government, imposing its police force on states and municipalities, through the National Guard, to curb the wave of violence associated with criminal groups, could have an adverse effect on democracy.
If the idea is generated that only the federation can contain violence, what could happen with support to municipal and state institutions? To this we must add the role of federal super delegates in the states ( de facto governors?). So who is taking power at the national level? Thus, the already bad perception of democracy (derived from the presence of organized crime) in Mexico could be used to strengthen the leader in government.
Ricardo Solano Olivera, MSc.
Columna originalmente publicada en https://laopinion.de/2019/07/03/la-erosion-del-regimen-democratico/.