Is Democracy in Mexico Consolidated?

In order to answer the inquiry pertaining the consolidation of democracy in contemporary Mexico, it is important to state the lens that I will use in the development of this analysis. I will analyze the state of democracy in Mexico by looking at the low levels of competence that governmental agencies have exerted in order to protect Mexican citizens against the widespread violence caused by criminal organizations. This way of looking at democracy looks to emphasize the idea of institutional accountability because it references to how well citizens can trace back actions or inaction by the government to protect their interests.

 

On the grounds of a simplistic definition of democracy, Mexico is fully a democratic state. However, as Andreas Shedler points out, beyond the “shiny surface” of regular elections, Mexico’s struggle with the high presence of drug cartels have lead to an downward trend in democracy overall. This is clear with the case of the forty-three students who were kidnapped in Iguala, Guerrero. The kidnapping erupted discontentment across the citizens who had previously stayed quiet about the high levels of violence. In The New Yorker, Francisco Goldman explains the occurrence of the 2014 kidnapping by stating that “such acts happen because the groups responsible- both the narcos and the police and politicians who are allied with them and protect them- know that they can get away with almost anything.” This demonstrates that the government is not effective in being responsive to the violence and levels of corruption that exist among local governmental entities, such as the one that resulted in the kidnapping in the first place. Shedler also points to this idea of incompetence directly when he claims that the rate of prosecution is virtually zero. Therefore, in almost a domino effect, due to the inability of the government institutions and police to control the widespread organized crime, there is a rise in antidemocratic ideals in society. This can be supported by the 2014 report of the Freedom House in which Mexico was established as a “partly free” nation due to the increasing limitation on the freedom of the press due to media outlets being targets of the drug cartels’ scare mechanism. In essence, the violence and the lack of response by the government are making Mexico more undemocratic.

 

Sources:

https://freedomhouse.org/report/freedom-net/2014/mexico

http://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/crisis-mexico-disappearance-forty-three

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6 thoughts on “Is Democracy in Mexico Consolidated?

  1. I’m Amy’s close friend on campus and my parents are from Mexico! Prior to the September 26th event involving the students, there wasn’t many items that I knew about the current political state in Mexico. However, the kidnapping brought up the attention of people around the world and even me. The sentiment I have gathered from my relatives back in Mexico is that they are not trusting of the government because they believe strongly in the possibility that the government was aware of the circumstances of the kidnapping and chose to not release information to the public. This according to the Spanish news outlets my parents listen to is close to a general concern of the majority of Mexican citizens. My relatives back home are also angry because they believe that the government’s lack of transparency in their findings made the families of the victims suffer even more because they believed that there might still be a possibility of finding their relatives alive. In conclusion, Mexican citizens are increasingly lacking of trust towards the government and the case that Amy highlighted has increased this so abruptly.

  2. I agree with Amy that “there is a rise in antidemocratic ideals in society” within Mexico. While on the surface there are democratic institutions in place, government officials are not legitimately accountable to the citizens. If anything, citizens are at the mercy of officials and police, as seen with the disappearance of the 43 students last year. Schedler asserts, “The massive intrusion of freewheeling criminal violence into ordinary life and ordinary politics destroys the weight, autonomy, and integrity of democratic politics and representative institutions” (16). In recent decades the rampant violence and control by drug cartels has eroded any system of democracy in Mexico. I do not think we can consider Mexico a consolidated democracy when there is widespread distrust and genuine fear from citizens due to government negligence and corruption. People are angry and extremely mistrustful of their government: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rG65hBeitxs

  3. I agree with Amy that although Mexico is technically democratic on paper, it is moving more towards an undemocratic state because of the amount of violence and lack of response by Mexico’s government. I think Mexico resembles more of an authoritarian regime in reality because the criminal warfare is suppressing the aspects of democratic elections by hindering basic human rights, such as freedom of expression, association, and speech. The cartels could careless what political leaders and supporters have to say, until they have to say something about reducing criminal activity. Once that is said, they aren’t afraid to shut them down by any means possible. Ultimately, Mexico can’t do anything to help protect their citizen’s against criminal violence because they can’t even protect themselves. These cartels have taken control of the Mexican government by not allowing political actors to protect its citizens; the opposite should occur in a true democracy.

  4. I agree that democracy is not yet consolidated in Mexico, but I the arguments presented here do not match the conclusion. The case of Ayotzinapa is primarily the failure of the justice system. If the justice system worked, we would know,now that it has been a year since the incident, exactly what happened to the students, who is responsible, and they would be tried for what they did. Missing people’s cases should not measure the consolidation of democracy. Other countries that we think of as democratically consolidated are missing people too, and their justice systems are also failing. Take, for example, the case of Canada. They are missing Indigenous women and they are getting no justice either. Yet, few people would argue Canada is not a consolidated democracy. I think Ayotzinapa indirectly relates to the way in which democracy is not consolidated (in part because maybe if it were, the justice system would be fixed, or the Ayotzinapa case would bring about change). Analysing the consolidation of democracy based on the success or failure of the country’s justice system can be misleading.

  5. I do agree with the author’s opinion that government officials in Mexico are not adequately equipped to protect their citizens against the widespread violence that has spread rapidly in the last ten years. However, I do not agree with the author’s focus that Mexico is a fully democratic state. The lack of government responsiveness in dealing with the violence and corruption of criminal organizations, is not because of their inability to do so, but because many of them are on these payrolls, continuing to look the other way. Investigations and proper prosecution is dragged and even halted because the ability to do so would uncover a multitude of corruption within many levels of the government, ranging from local police all the way to high-ranking state officials. I wouldn’t go as far as using these reasons to state that there is a decline in democratic ideals, but rather look at the ruling of the PRI for almost 70 years straight that continuously shows otherwise. I agree that democracy cannot be based solely on the success or failure of a country’s justice system, but mostly importantly lies within the ruling party and openness of the electoral system. These instances are what has shown Mexico to be more undemocratic.

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