Mexico’s mid-term elections on 6 June 2021 were marred by violent attacks against candidates, journalists and law enforcement officers. With support from the Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime (GI-TOC) and the Center for U.S.–Mexican Studies, the Mexico Violence Resource Project sheds light on how crime threatens the country’s democracy.

Across two electoral cycles, in 2018 and 2021, politicians and candidates in Mexico have been killed at alarming rates. Voting Amid Violence, an initiative by the Mexico Violence Resource Project, is a collection of essays authored by GI-TOC Resilience Fund grantees and members of the GI Network, as well as other scholars and journalists.

Together, these essays – available both in English and in Spanish – reinforce the complexity of political violence in Mexico, challenging assumptions, raising questions, and providing local perspectives on violence and its relationship with democratic politics. The tapestry of stories presented shows how local power struggles entangle political outsiders or journalists critical of the regime.

Criminal groups, so often portrayed as the principal perpetrators of this violence, are deeply embedded in Mexico. However, their behaviour presents a high degree of variation. In Sinaloa, for example, it is an open secret that political candidates make agreements with the Sinaloa Cartel, but violence is revealed through political vulnerability to organized crime capture rather than gunfire. In Chihuahua, on the other hand, narco-politics have had a deadlier toll for citizens and for journalists who expose the collusion of criminally controlled governments.

Organized crime violence is shaped by historical processes and local dynamics, and flourishes as a result of a number of social and political contexts. These essays provide penetrating new insight into Mexico’s intricate criminal and political landscape.

Photo: Jezael Melgoza (Unsplash)