Contests & Conflict | 09/14/2022 | 05:00 PM
Why are Mexican politicians being assassinated? The role of oil theft and narcocracy

Speaker: Roxana Gutiérrez-Romero

Date & Time: Los Angeles (8 am), Cincinnati (11 am), Bath (4 pm), Munich (5 pm), Beijing (11 pm), Singapore (11 pm), Sydney (September 15, 1 am)

Roxana Gutiérrez-Romero will present the paper titled "Why are Mexican politicians being assassinated? The role of oil theft and narcocracy" (joint work with Nayely Iturbe).

Abstract of the Paper:
Political assassinations are a large and growing problem in Mexico. This paper evaluates the impact of the state’s actions against organised crime on political assassinations and its repercussions for electoral violence targeted towards civilians and voter participation. We combine new and fine-grained data on political assassinations, oil theft, illegal drug cultivation and arrests of drug traffickers during 2000-2021 on a monthly basis at municipality level. During our analysis period, 448 politicians, 154 politicians’ family members, and 20 close collaborators were assassinated in the country. The last two elections of 2018 and 2021 were the most lethal that the country has had in its modern history. We find strong evidence that criminal organisations have committed political assassinations in retribution for state actions. Using panel fixed Poisson model, we show that for every extra square kilometre of illicit drug cultivations being destroyed, the expected number of incumbent mayors being assassinated increases by 4%. However, by far, the highest risk of political assassination is being driven by local state action against oil theft, one of the most profitable sectors for organised crime including drug-traffickers. For instance, for every additional clandestine oil tap (used for oil theft) discovered by the state, the number of expected assassinations of incumbent mayors increases by 22%, and of their collaborators and family being killed by 7%. We find little to no effect in that criminal organisations target voters with electoral violence and no impact on voter participation. Our results suggest that narco-elites use political assassination as a weapon to control who rules in areas dedicated to illicit cultivates and oil theft.

Chair: Subhasish Chowdhury, Co-Chair: Kai A. Konrad

Contact Person

Event Team

Max-Planck-Institut für Steuerrecht und Öffentliche Finanzen

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80539 München

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