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Armed Actors: Organised Violence and State Failure in Latin by Kees Koonings, Dirk Kruijt

By Kees Koonings, Dirk Kruijt

This quantity explores fresh proof of the way partial country failure in Latin the USA interacts with new sorts of geared up violence, undermining the democratic consolidations of the previous twenty years. This "new violence" stems from various social actors: drug mafias, peasant militias and concrete gangs, the so-called actores armadas, and comprise state-related actors just like the police, army intelligence organisations and paramilitary forces. the implications contain either "governance voids"--domains the place the valid nation is successfully absent--and the erosion of the means and willingness of nation officers to abide by way of the rule of thumb of legislations themselves. those traits, in flip, threaten the opportunity of a re-installation of authoritarian regimes less than the keep an eye on of political armies or, at least, the unfold of country violence in a single shape or one other. This publication sees hyperlinks among this cave in of governance and the weakening of nation constructions undertaken within the identify of neoliberal fiscal reforms.

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Death squads in São Paulo are also believed to have evolved from motorized patrols and the special night patrols of the civil police in the late fifties. These patrols were established to combat car theft and house burglaries and were violent in their approach from the beginning, but soon developed death-squad-like methods: ambushes and the killing of suspects (Huggins 1991: 138). Military dictatorship thus found an existing method and instrument to threaten and kill without official involvement and responsibility which could quite easily be used against political opponents in the police.

They kill criminals because they are a nuisance and cannot be put in jail legally because of a lack of capacity or of evidence. Idealism or frustration can be motives for these killers. As one former police officer convicted of murder put it: ‘I preferred working in the slums. I preferred the outskirts, the poorest barrios … It’s the slum dweller who needs the police. I was class conscious. I went there to protect the slum dwellers’ (Fernandes 1995: 158). An interesting trait of this urban pattern is that it is no longer connected to political power and to ruling elites, as is the case in other Latin American countries and in the Brazilian countryside.

Extensions of this type are generally speaking highly visible and require little or no special skills, and mobilization is usually mediated through religious, political or caste-type leaders. Although there are exceptions, there is usually little organization in the operations of the extension. 2 This continuity suggests a form of institutionalization of policing extensions. It is an expression of the role such groups play in society. These roles differ between Latin American countries, as we will illustrate later, but a common element is that they are political tools for elites in these countries.

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