The Collapse of Solidarity in Criminal Civil War: Citizen Indifference towards the Victims of Organized Violence in Mexico
42 Pages Posted: 21 Aug 2014
Date Written: 2014
After its successful transition to democracy, Mexico has stumbled into a criminal civil war, also known as the drug war, that to date has cost well over 100,000 casualties, most of them consigned to oblivion, without proper investigation or prosecution. Victims have been organizing and protesting, yet ordinary citizens have remained quiet. As I hypothesize, the primary reason for their acquiescence is attitudinal: Criminal civil war destroys the moral foundations of citizen solidarity, which is, the recognition of victims as equal members of the political community. Based on original data from the Mexican 2013 National Survey on Organized Violence, I address two empirical questions. First, how much do citizens care about the victims of criminal violence? I find that average citizens are rather ignorant of and indifferent to their fate. Second, what explains variations in citizen sympathies towards victims? My theory of solidarity under criminal civil war focuses on its cognitive framing. To the extent that citizens hold criminal violence to be selective, an exclusive affair among criminals, they tend to blame victims for their fate and deny them their sympathies. Lineal regression analysis confirms the expected framing effect, even when controlling for complementary explanations, such as victimization, distance to war, class, and political sophistication.
Keywords: Organized crime, organized violence, civil war, victims, public opinion, solidarity, Mexico
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