HomeNewsBriefRise in Mexico Lynchings Reflects Regional Trend
BRIEF

Rise in Mexico Lynchings Reflects Regional Trend

MEXICO / 26 JAN 2016 BY MICHAEL LOHMULLER EN

Lynchings of suspected criminals reportedly reached historic highs in Mexico during 2015, reflecting a broader regional phenomenon as frustration over government corruption and judicial incompetence prompts citizens across Latin America to take justice into their own hands.

The New York Times, citing data collected by Raúl Rodríguez Guillén -- author of a book on lynchings in Mexico and member of the Sociology Department at Mexico's Metropolitan Autonomous University (Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana – UAM) -- reported at least 78 lynchings occurred in Mexico last year, more than double the number in 2014.

According to some experts, this makes 2015 the year with the most public lynchings since 1990, reported the Times. 

The New York Times recounts one incident in which two employees of a polling organization in the town of Ajalpan, Puebla were mistaken for kidnappers. At first they were saved from an angry mob by police but were later beaten, doused in gasoline, and set on fire.

Local residents said the brutality was the result of frustration with government corruption and indifference.

"There is a crisis in terms of the growth of violence and crime and a parallel erosion of authority and the rule of law," Guillén explained. "These lynchings acquire a double meaning. People lynch both the suspect and the symbol of authority."

InSight Crime Analysis

Mexico is not the only country where mob lynchings are on the rise. As InSight Crime has previously reported, vigilante justice has become a region-wide phenomenon, arising in communities where rule of law and faith in state institutions is weak, and impunity levels are high.

SEE ALSO: Mexico's Security Dilemma: Michoacan's Militias

But it appears that lynchings are gaining traction in more than just isolated pockets of lawless territory. Throughout Latin America there is a high degree of support among citizens for such extralegal justice. A December 2014 study by Vanderbilt University's Latin American Public Opinion Project (pdf) found 43 percent of respondents in the Dominican Republic approved vigilante justice, the highest in Latin America. In Mexico, 33 percent of citizens expressed support.

Beyond Mexico, several South American countries also witnessed notable developments related to vigilante justice in 2015. A movement called "Chapa tu choro," or "Catch your thief," became popular among residents in Peru, amid growing sentiment that the Andean nation is in danger of becoming a "narco-state." Argentina also saw an increase in mob lynchings, perhaps a manifestation of increasing popular concerns over insecurity and an ineffective justice system.

share icon icon icon

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

What are your thoughts? Click here to send InSight Crime your comments.

We encourage readers to copy and distribute our work for non-commercial purposes, with attribution to InSight Crime in the byline and links to the original at both the top and bottom of the article. Check the Creative Commons website for more details of how to share our work, and please send us an email if you use an article.

Tags

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

Related Content

JALISCO CARTEL / 15 FEB 2019

The Santa Rosa de Lima Cartel has been behind increasing violence in the central Mexican state of Guanajuato over the…

COLOMBIA / 13 APR 2020

Women’s participation in organized crime groups is not uniform. The diverse roles that women play in criminal economies allow us…

GULF CARTEL / 14 FEB 2012

The shifting balance of power in northeast Mexico has been bad news for the Gulf Cartel, which has…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Unraveling the Web of Elites Connected to Organized Crime

27 JUL 2021

InSight Crime published Elites and Organized Crime in Nicaragua, a deep dive into the relationships between criminal actors and elites in that Central American nation.

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime’s Greater Focus on US-Mexico Border

20 JUL 2021

InSight Crime has decided to turn many of its investigative resources towards understanding and chronicling the criminal dynamics along the US-Mexico border.

THE ORGANIZATION

Key Arrests and Police Budget Increases Due to InSight Crime Investigations

8 JUL 2021

With Memo Fantasma’s arrest, InSight Crime has proven that our investigations can and will uncover major criminal threats in the Americas.

THE ORGANIZATION

Organized Crime’s Influence on Gender-Based Violence

30 JUN 2021

InSight Crime investigator Laura N. Ávila spoke on organized crime and gender-based violence at the launch of a research project by the United Nations Development Programme.

THE ORGANIZATION

Conversation with Paraguay Judicial Operators on PCC

24 JUN 2021

InSight Crime Co-director Steven Dudley formed part of a panel attended by over 500 students, all of whom work in Paraguay's judicial system.