State Cartels in Mexico: from Political Intermediation to Criminal Intermediation

This research, based on fieldwork carried out in 2013 in the state of Michoacan, in center-west Mexico, has two aims: first, to reconstruct emergence processes of criminal organizations in Michoacan and their sociology; second, to grasp, in these processes, the reconfiguration dynamics of the state itself.

La région de la Tierre Caliente, dans l’état du Michoacan, où se déroule la plus grande part de mes recherches (2014).
Un membre des milices d’autodéfense discute avec un commandant de la Police Fédérale (2015).

Tierre Caliente region, in the state of Michoacan, 2014.

A member of self-defense militia is talking with a commander of the Federal Police, 2015.

I first study how in the 1980s, drugs, a local resource, engendered the emergence of organizations built around an élite of rancheros with the competence and networks to produce and commercialize them. I then analyze what the appearance of these criminal organizations implied for clientelist relations and political action: the replacement of an elite of caciques who served as intermediaries at different levels of public administration with rancheros, marginal until then, resulted in a decrease in the capacity of the State to mobilize intermediaries on the local level, leaving room to cartels ready to ensure certain public services. Lastly, I define in what ways, far from only giving rise to a simple retreat of the State, criminal organizations participate in its responsibilities on the local level.

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Ranchero : petit ou moyen propriétaire terrien indépendant, agriculteur-éleveur, d’ascendance espagnole pour peu métissée.