This volume aims to go beyond the study of developments within Mexico’s criminal world and their relationship with the state and law enforcement. It focuses instead on the nature and consequences of what we call the ‘totalization of the drug war’, and its projection on other domains which are key to understanding the nature of Mexican democracy.

The volume brings together chapters written by distinguished scholars from Mexico and elsewhere who deal with three major questions: what are the main features of and forces behind the persistent militarization of the drug war in Mexico, and what are the main consequences for human rights and the rule of law; what are the consequences of these developments on the public sphere and, more specifically, on the functioning of the press and freedom of expression; and how do ordinary people engage with the effects of violence and insecurity within their communities, and which initiatives and practices of ‘justice from below’ do they develop to counter an increased sense of vulnerability, suffering and impunity?

chapter |29 pages


Beyond the drug war: the United States, the public sphere and human rights
ByWil G. Pansters, Benjamin T. Smith, Peter Watt

part I|65 pages

Securitization, militarization and human rights

chapter 1|22 pages

U.S. pressure and Mexican anti-drugs efforts from 1940 to 1980

Importing the war on drugs?
ByCarlos A. Pérez Ricart

chapter 2|23 pages


A humanitarian crisis in the making
ByMónica Serrano

part II|52 pages

The public sphere and the press under siege

chapter 4|15 pages

Violence, co-optation and corruption

Risks for the exercise of journalism and freedom of expression in Mexico
ByArmando Rodríguez Luna

chapter 5|15 pages

State of denial

Crime reporting and political communication in Sonora 1
ByVíctor Hugo Reyna García

chapter 6|21 pages

Social movements in support of the victims

Human rights and digital communications
ByRupert Knox

part III|38 pages

Justice and reconciliation from below

chapter 7|16 pages

Beyond disorder and the Constitution

Thinking about the law in regions of violence (the case of Cherán)
ByErika Bárcena Arévalo, Orlando Aragón Andrade

chapter 8|21 pages

Combing history against the grain

The search for truth amongst Mexico’s hidden graves
ByCarolina Robledo Silvestre