Violence, Causality, and the Emergence of Mexico's General Law on Forced Disappearance
War on Drugs
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AbstractIn November 2017, Mexico passed the General Law on Forced Disappearance, the first comprehensive legal measure of its kind to address the phenomenon of missing persons amidst rising insecurity. At the time of its enactment and after eleven years of extreme violence coinciding with the drug war, more than 35,000 people were considered officially disappeared. Today, it is widely suspected this figure surpasses 70,000. The advent of the General Law followed the emblematic events of the Ayotzinapa tragedy in 2014, which exposed the state-crime nexus and denotated an absolute political crisis for the regime of Enrique Peña Nieto. The case of the forty-three disappeared students received national and international attention as protests erupted throughout Mexico and abroad, and as pressure mounted against the State to finally act. But was there a causal relationship between Ayotzinapa and the Law's passage? This thesis explores the historical and institutional contexts that led to disappearance as a phenomenon, the privatization of violence and discourses of collateral damage that exacerbated it, and traces the development of the General Law on Disappearance. Supported by first-hand interviews with law and policymakers, civil society, and security scholars in Mexico, this project argues that the real causal power of Ayotzinapa, as la gota que derramó el vaso [the drop that spilled the glass], rests within a set of antecedent processes and mechanisms that might otherwise go unseen. Through counterfactual analysis, this paper demonstrates that the event is a proximate rather than ultimate cause of the General Law on Disappearance. Punctuated by Ayotzinapa, this milestone legislation is the hard-earned achievement of civil society and its allies over more than a decade, culminating in a landmark lawsuit against the Mexican State.
CitationCherinet, A. (2021). Violence, Causality, and the Emergence of Mexico's General Law on Forced Disappearance (Unpublished master's thesis). University of Calgary, Calgary, AB.
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