Armed and Dangerous: Self-Defense Groups in Weak States

Armed men belonging to the Self-Defense Council of Michoacan guard a checkpoint in western Mexico, May 9, 2014 (AP photo by Eduardo Verdugo).
Armed men belonging to the Self-Defense Council of Michoacan guard a checkpoint in western Mexico, May 9, 2014 (AP photo by Eduardo Verdugo).

The emergence of self-defense groups in the state of Michoacan in Mexico earlier this year is yet another chapter in the history of nonstate actors that contest the government’s monopoly on violence. While many circumstances are specific to Mexico, parallel cases in Colombia, El Salvador and Nigeria can help illustrate how such groups form and why they persist. Mexico Earlier this year, violence in Mexico once again made international headlines. On this occasion, however, the media feeding frenzy wasn’t caused by the most recent macabre innovation of cartel gunmen or the arrest of a prominent drug lord. Instead, a heterogeneous […]

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