Date of Award

Spring 5-19-2015

Document Type

Undergraduate Honors Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts in International Relations


Political Science & International Relations


David Shirk


Violence in Mexico, with dramatic political, social, and economic consequences on both Mexican and US populations, has risen dramatically in the past decade. Research has shown that the Mexican military is largely responsible for human rights abuses in Mexico. This paper will seek to answer why there are so many human rights abuses committed by the Federal Police, as public security is a police role and its deterioration threatens lives, security, and the rule of law. This paper will look at what scholars have said about the causes of police violence and public insecurity. Some say that history is responsible, pointing to evidence that suggests that legacies from Mexico’s PRI system (one-party authoritarian rule) and the rise of drug trafficking has created a ineffective, corrupt, and weak police forces. Others say that the Federal Police institution is inefficient and has resulted in militarized public security with human rights consequences. A third explanation is that there is exists a cultural problem in Mexico in which corruption and distrust create a society that is prone to insecurity and human rights

This paper argues that the heightened activity of drug cartels and increase in drug- related violence in Mexico is the primary cause of Federal Police abuse in Mexico. Through an analysis of human rights abuses committed by the Federal Police in Mexico, compared with trends in drug violence throughout the country, this paper will demonstrate linkages between time and geography that reflect the relationship between drug violence and Federal Police abuse. Variance in data trends raises new questions regarding police protection mechanisms, relationships between police and drug cartels, and human rights abuse reporting mechanisms. A cyclical and multidimensional problem in Mexico exists in which corruption, the police, and drug trafficking organizations interrelate and create a culture of impunity.