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  • Author: Adela Cedillo
  • Publication Date: 05-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Kellogg Institute for International Studies
  • Abstract: In the late 1960s, the Mexican government launched a series of counternarcotics campaigns characterized by the militarization of drug production zones, particularly in the northwestern region—the so-called Golden Triangle, epicenter of both production and trafficking of marijuana and opium poppy since the 1930s. Operations Canador (1969–1975) and Trizo (1976) served as a laboratory for methods to curb drug production, ranging from harassment of drug growers to the aerial defoliation of illicit crops. Operation Condor (1977–1988) combined and enhanced these strategies, wreaking havoc on communities of alleged drug growers, but without entirely disrupting the drug industry. This paper explores the role of the US government in the militarization of Mexico’s anti-drug policy, underscoring how the ruling party (the Institutional Revolutionary Party, PRI) took advantage of this shift to tackle domestic issues and reassert its hegemony. I argue that Operation Condor functioned as a counterinsurgency campaign oriented to thwart both social and armed movements, eliminate competitors in the narcotics market, and reorganize the drug industry to protect successful drug lords. Operation Condor also caused the decentralization of the drug industry from the northwest and created a new clientelistic pact between drug lords and national security agencies, such as the Federal Security Directorate (DFS), the Office of the Attorney General of Mexico–Federal Judicial Police (PGR-PJF), and the Secretariat of National Defense (SEDENA), which benefited from drug proceeds. Finally, the de facto state of siege imposed in the Golden Triangle produced thousands of victims of harassment, torture, rape, murder, forced-disappearance, and displacement; massive human rights abuses that authorities either concealed or denied.
  • Topic: Security, Corruption, Human Rights, Governance, Social Movement, History , Borders, Violence
  • Political Geography: Latin America, North America, Mexico, United States of America
  • Author: Gema Kloppe-Santamaría
  • Publication Date: 05-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Kellogg Institute for International Studies
  • Abstract: Despite the formal end of civil war and armed conflict, Mexico continued to experience significant levels of violence during the 1930s and 1940s. This period has traditionally been associated with the process of pacification, institutionalization, and centralization of power that enabled the consolidation of rule in post-revolutionary Mexico; a process epitomized by the marked national decline in levels of homicide that began during the 1940s and continued throughout the second half of the twentieth-century. However, the dynamics of coercion and resistance that characterized state-society relations during this period, particularly at the regional and local levels, reveal that violence pervaded all aspects of society and that it was perpetrated by a multiplicity of actors, including vigilantes, pistoleros, private militias, lynch mobs, military, police, and others, including violent entrepreneurs. Violence was used both as a means to contest the legitimacy of the post-revolutionary state project and as an instrument of control and coercion on behalf of political elites and local power brokers. Conversely, violence superseded the realm of traditional politics and constituted a central force shaping Mexican society. Violence against women in both the public and private sphere, violence driven by economic interests, and violence incurred in citizens’ attempts to control crime and social transgressions, reveal that citizens—and not only state actors—contributed to the reproduction of violence. Although violence in post-revolutionary Mexico was neither centralized nor exercised in a top-down manner, impunity and collusion between criminal and political elements were central to the production and perpetuation of violence, both within the Mexican state and within civil society. When examined in light of these two decades of the post-revolutionary period, the character and levels of violence in contemporary Mexico appear less as an aberration and more as the latest expression of a longer historical trajectory, uneven and nonlinear, of decentralized, multifaceted, and multi-actor forms of violence.
  • Topic: Security, Religion, Culture, Peacekeeping, Democracy, Conflict, Violence
  • Political Geography: Latin America, North America, Mexico
  • Author: Diego Sánchez-Ancochea
  • Publication Date: 05-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Kellogg Institute for International Studies
  • Abstract: This paper studies the determinants of income inequality in Latin America over the long run, comparing them with explanations of why the whole region is unequal. I first show how land inequality can account for differences between Latin America and other parts of the world but how it does not explain within-region differences. Using qualitative comparative analysis, I then consider how political institution and actors interact with the economic structure (i.e., type of export specialization) and with the ethnic composition of the population. The paper has several findings. A low indigenous/afrodescendant population is a necessary condition for relatively low inequality. I identify two sufficient-condition paths, both of which include the role of democracy, political equality, and a small indigenous and afrodescendant population. The first path also includes a favorable export specialization, while the second one includes the presence of leftist presidents instead. The paper calls for more explicit comparisons between our analytical models for the whole region and our explanations of between-country differences. Hopefully, the paper can also trigger more research on how the interactions between ethnicity, politics, and the export structure shape inequality in Latin America.
  • Topic: Civil Society, Development, Political Economy, Poverty, Race, Social Movement, Democracy, Inequality, Ethnicity
  • Political Geography: Latin America
  • Author: Joseph Wiltberger
  • Publication Date: 10-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Kellogg Institute for International Studies
  • Abstract: The 2018 decision by the US government to terminate Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Salvadorans, the largest population of TPS holders, would displace nearly 200,000, many of whom have lived in the United States for decades. TPS, a form of humanitarian relief that provides a broad set of protections for those who have fled disaster and instability in their countries of origin, has been continually reapproved for Salvadorans over many years, making it a liminal legal status that has come to resemble a permanent legal status. This paper examines the unsettling effects of this decision, should it be enforced, for Salvadoran holders of TPS (TPSianos) who have established lives and families in the United States. The decision to abruptly end TPS threatens TPSianos and their family members with forced displacement and extraordinary hardships; the decision also has the potential to send them to live under dangerous conditions in El Salvador. Drawing from ethnographic findings, the paper shows how the decision contradicts the logics and realities of permanency in the United States that have guided TPSianos’ future planning and expectations that they should be allowed to transition to a more permanent legal status. Conceptualizing such disruptions and contradictions wrapped up in the ending of TPS for Salvadorans as an entanglement of unsettlements, this analysis extends scholarship on the political, economic, and legal dynamics surrounding TPS and on the lived experiences of liminal legality.
  • Topic: Civil Society, Migration, Citizenship, Borders, Public Policy, transnationalism
  • Political Geography: Latin America, El Salvador, United States of America
  • Author: Verónica Zubillaga, Rebecca Hanson
  • Publication Date: 12-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Kellogg Institute for International Studies
  • Abstract: How do mothers deal with chronic violence and the constant presence of guns in their neighborhoods? How do they relate to the armed actors who inhabit their neighborhoods? How do they build situated meaning and discursive practices out of their experiences and relationships with armed actors? We compare the experience of women in two poor and working-class neighborhoods in Caracas. La Caracola, with a long history of civic organizations and drug trafficking, suffers regular, extortionate actions by the police. La Piedad has been ravaged by militarized police operations, which have produced a "warfare mode" among the members of organized criminal groups. Through this comparative ethnographic project we aim to show how, in the midst of state-sponsored depredation and with an overwhelming presence of guns in their lives, women use their traditional cultural roles as mothers to perform everyday forms of resistance vis-à-vis the different armed actors that impose their presence in the barrios. We focus on how women make and communicate meanings; engage in social networks with other women; and employ different discursive strategies as they deal with the armed actors. We foreground women’s experiences in two barrios, asking what material and historical conditions make these different experiences possible. In the mothers’ daily struggles, dramatic discursive actions—from more openly oppositional, such as shouting, scolding, and talking, to more hidden ones, such as, both “circulating gossip” and “captive gossip” to more helpless ones, such as whispering—are their main resources in the micropolitics of their neighborhoods.
  • Topic: Security, Civil Society, Gender Issues, Conflict, Violence, Peace, Social Networks
  • Political Geography: South America, Latin America, Venezuela
  • Author: Raúl L. Madrid
  • Publication Date: 12-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Kellogg Institute for International Studies
  • Abstract: Although Colombia had many important democratic achievements in the 19th century, this paper argues that democracy first took root there at the outset of the 20th century. Several key developments enabled democratic practices and institutions to take hold. First, the savage Thousand Days War (1899–1902) and the ensuing professionalization of the Colombian military helped bring an end to the cycle of rebellion in Colombia. In their wake, the opposition abandoned the armed struggle and began to focus on the electoral path to power, thereby reducing the government’s inclination to engage in repression. Second, the rise of strong parties also contributed to the emergence of democracy in Colombia. Two powerful parties, the Liberal Party and the Conservative Party, arose in Colombia during the 19th century. From 1886 until 1930, the Liberal Party was in the opposition, and Liberals pushed for reforms to guarantee minority representation and reduce electoral fraud and intimidation. Third and finally, a split within the ruling Conservative Party made the enactment of these reforms feasible. The Liberals did not have sufficient strength or influence to pass the key democratic reforms, but in the early 1900s, some Conservative dissidents broke with their party and allied with Liberals to form the Republican Union party. The Republican Union pushed through the key constitutional reforms in 1910, and it, along with the Liberal Party, helped ensure their implementation in the years that followed.
  • Topic: Politics, Democracy, Conflict, Peace, Political Parties
  • Political Geography: Colombia, South America, Latin America
  • Author: Peter G. Johannessen
  • Publication Date: 12-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Kellogg Institute for International Studies
  • Abstract: Do voters use a candidate’s class as an electoral heuristic? And if so, how? Drawing on observational and experimental evidence from Brazil’s local elections (2004–2016), I provide evidence that voters use shared class to draw inferences about a candidate’s type: candidates from different classes receive similar overall levels of support, but receive disproportionate support from voters who share their class. The mechanisms driving this finding vary by a voter’s relative class position: upper-class voters use shared class to draw inferences about a candidate’s quality, trustworthiness, and distributive commitments, but lower-class voters only use shared class to draw inferences about a candidate’s trustworthiness and distributive commitments.
  • Topic: Politics, Poverty, Democracy, Inequality, Citizenship, Identities
  • Political Geography: Brazil, South America, Latin America
  • Author: Séverine Deneulin
  • Publication Date: 04-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Kellogg Institute for International Studies
  • Abstract: The concept of integral human development is central to the Catholic social tradition. Yet, it remains under-explored with regard to its integrating components and their implications. What does taking an integral human development perspective mean for social analysis and action? The paper seeks to answer this question on the basis of the four encyclicals in which the idea of integral human development is treated, and in combination with two other sources: 1) the literature on “human development” in the multidisciplinary social science field of international development studies and its conceptual foundations in Amartya Sen’s capability approach; and 2) the life of a faith community in a marginalized Latin American urban neighborhood. Based on a combination of these sources, the paper concludes by proposing an understanding of “integral human development” that it calls a spirituality-extended capability approach to the progress of peoples.
  • Topic: Civil Society, Development, Education, Poverty, Religion, Inequality, Youth, Violence, Christianity, Catholic Church
  • Political Geography: Argentina, South America, Latin America
  • Author: Sandra Polanía-Reyes
  • Publication Date: 12-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Kellogg Institute for International Studies
  • Abstract: This study tests an unintended benefit of a conditional cash transfer program in Colombia: the ability to overcome coordination failures. Participants interact with fellow beneficiaries, which gives rise to a coordination device. Beneficiaries participate in a minimum effort coordination game. Those enrolled in the program for over a year are exerting the highest level of effort. The improvement in coordination is not due to potential confounds such as willingness to cooperate or connectivity. A structural choice model illustrates that when beliefs about other’s behavior are sufficiently high the Pareto- dominant equilibrium holds. The findings support nascent initiatives to influence beliefs through policy interventions.
  • Topic: Civil Society, Development, Political Economy, Poverty, Communications, Governance, Inequality, Economic Growth, Public Policy, Institutions
  • Political Geography: Colombia, South America, Latin America
  • Author: Kristin McKie
  • Publication Date: 12-2017
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Kellogg Institute for International Studies
  • Abstract: Since presidential term limits were (re)adopted into many constitutions during the third wave of democratization, 207 presidents across Latin America, Africa, the Middle East, and Asia have reached the end of their terms in office. Of these, 30% have attempted to contravene term limits whereas 70% have stepped down in compliance with tenure rules. Furthermore, of the presidents who have attempted to alter tenure restrictions, some have succeeded in fully abolishing term limits, others have only managed a one-term extension, while a minority have failed in their bids to secure any additional terms in office. What explains these divergent trajectories? On the basis of a series of statistical analyses, I argue that trends in electoral competition over time are the best predictor of the range of term limit contravention outcomes across the board, with the least competitive elections permitting full term limit abolition and the most competitive elections saving off attempts at altering executive tenure rules. Furthermore, results show that failed contravention attempts are true borderline cases, rather than instances gross miscalculations of success by the president and her party, in that they feature less competitive elections than non-attempt cases but more competitive elections than successful contravention cases. These findings suggest a linkage between political uncertainty and constitutional stability more generally.
  • Topic: Democratization, Democracy, Institutions, Political Parties
  • Political Geography: Africa, Middle East, Asia, Latin America