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‘Public’ Security and Patron–Client Exchanges in Latin America

  • Markus-Michael Müller

Abstract

Notwithstanding the democratization processes that have taken place since the 1980s, clientelism continues to be an important political practice throughout contemporary Latin America. By offering an analysis of the changing patterns of patron–client exchanges in Mexico City, this article demonstrates how the repercussions of the local democratization process expanded clientelist practices to the realm of public security provision. This expansion, it is argued, is related to efforts of the local government to regain previous levels of political control over the local police forces that had been undermined by the fragmentation of long-standing national patron–client structures under authoritarian rule. Additionally, it is demonstrated that in an increasingly insecure urban environment, local politicians and brokers realized the political gains to be derived from expanding clientelist exchanges to the realm of security provision.

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Markus-Michael Müller is a senior researcher at the Centre for Area Studies, at the University of Leipzig. Contact email: markus.michael.muelller@uni-leipzig.de.

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