“An organized civic society created to monitor and defend human rights in the face of violence in Mexico, 2006-2012”
Supervisor: Prof. Dr. Alberto Aziz Nassif (CIESAS)
Former Mexican president Felipe Calderon’s term was characterized by a prioritization of public safety over any other public policy. He declared a "war on organized crime" that resulted in granting government security the use of excessive force. This provoked a significant increase in victims of violent acts that has not been adequately addressed by the State.
Democratic contexts are characterized by a problem of representation due to corruption, unequal access to justice and weakening institutions. As a result, sectors of civic society have resorted to unconventional forms of political action. Rosanvallon (2007) argues that the steady increase of indirect exercises of sovereignty indicate the formation of a network of permanent vigilance of government activity. The network is maintained by citizens due to the erosion of their trust in institutional representatives. They express their distrust by organizing multiple mechanisms of control (denunciation and surveillance) and obstruction (mobilization and protest).
This project analyzes the strategies of control, obstruction and advocacy developed by groups of families of missing persons from 2006 to 2012 and MPJD (The Movement for Peace with Justice and Dignity), formed in 2011. MPJD began by connecting human rights organizations, religious organizations, artist collectives, alternative media and transnational advocacy networks with the relatives of violence victims. They strive to change the official discourse that considers the victims to be ‘collateral damage’ by giving visibility and demanding justice for the victims in a public space. This social movement mobilized the largest protest and proposed public policies for the care of victims during 2006-2012.
The victims’ relatives are central in the research analysis as a political category that identifies these family members that, linked by ties of kinship with the disappeared victims, have become a particular type of actor and activist. This activism does not arise by a pre-existing ideological belief, resistance or political interest, but rather as the consequence of their direct experience of injustice and personal loss (Pita, 2010).
PITA, MARÍA (2010) Formas de morir y formas de vivir. El activismo contra la violencia policía. CELS-Editores del Puerto, Buenos Aires.
ROSANVALLON, PIERRE (2007) La Contrademocracia. La política en la era de la desconfianza, Manantial, Buenos Aires.