Corruption, Institutions, and Fragile States

This book examines the relationship between state fragility and corruption. It analyzes a variety of regions throughout the world, including Latin America, Central Asia and the Middle East, Africa, Central America and Mexico, South America, and Russia. States that are plagued by high levels of state fragility and corruption facilitate illicit activities and other criminal enterprises.

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Corruption, Institutions, and Fragile States “This book effectively demonstrates the severity of the threat posed by organized crime to states across the globe. The authors show how, in the twenty-first century, organized crime crosses borders and challenges not only state institutions but also global security. Outstanding for its empirical depth and comparative breadth, this book is a major contribution.” —Cynthia McClintock, George Washington University, USA “In this timely and ambitious volume, Hanna Samir Kassab and Jonathan D. Rosen explore the corrosive effects of the transnational supply chains of organized crime networks. In so doing, they focus on corruption and weak state institutions in a regional context and make interesting and important cross-regional comparisons.” —Victor J. Hinojosa, Baylor University, USA “In this important book, Hanna Samir Kassab and Jonathan D. Rosen integrate the concepts of corruption, institutions and fragile states. The interplay between corruption and deinstitutionalization, the weakening of states and the destabilization of neighborhoods in which they exist, allowing ‘permissive space’ for transnational criminal and terrorist organizations, present conceptual problems engaged here in a unique multidisciplinary fashion. Cast as it is in global terms, the analysis offered by Rosen and Kassab allows for comparative evaluation across regions, highlighting common patterns by which ideations and structures meant to ensure the integrity of institutions become compromised, contributing to the insecurity known to so many areas of the world.” —Bradford McGuinn, University of Miami, USA

Hanna Samir Kassab · Jonathan D. Rosen

Corruption, Institutions, and Fragile States

Hanna Samir Kassab Department of Political Science East Carolina University Greenville, NC, USA

Jonathan D. Rosen Holy Family University Philadelphia, PA, USA

ISBN 978-3-030-04311-7 ISBN 978-3-030-04312-4  (eBook) Library of Congress Control Number: 2018962257 © The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Switzerland AG, part of Springer Nature 2019 This work is subject to copyright. All rights are solely and exclusively licensed by the Publisher, whether the whole or part of the material is concerned, specifically the rights of translation, reprinting, reuse of illustrations, recitation, broadcasting, reproduction on microfilms or in any other physical way, and transmission or information storage and retrieval, electronic adaptation, computer software, or by similar or dissimilar methodology now known or hereafter developed. The use of general descriptive names, registered names, trademarks, service marks, etc. in this publication does not imply, even in the absence of a specific statement, that such names are exempt from the relevant protective laws and regulations and therefore free for general use. The publisher, the authors and the editors are safe to assume that the advice and information in this book are believed to be true and accurate at the date of publication. Neither the publisher nor the authors or the editors give a warranty, express or implied, with respect to the material contained herein or for any errors or omissions that may have been made. The publisher remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations. Cover image: © Alexander Kirch/EyeEm/Getty Images Cover design by Oscar Spigolon This Palgrave Macmillan imprint is published by the registered company Springer Nature Switzerland AG The registered company address is: Gewerbestrasse 11, 6330 Cham, Switzerland

To our wonderful siblings: Lea Miladeh and Elias Samir Kassab and Mark and Elissa Rosen Thanks for all your support


We would like to thank the wonderful staff at Palgrave Macmillan for this opportunity. It has been a pleasure working with the press. In addition, we would like to thank the comments of two anonymous peer reviewers. Finally, a special thanks to our respective institutions: Holy Family University and East Carolina University.



1 Introduction 1 2 Theory of Institutional Change 23 3 Latin America and Lebanon: A Comparative Study of Fragility 43 4 Central Asia and Middle East 65 5 Africa 85 6 Mexico and Central America 105 7 South America 135 8 Russia and the International System 161 9 Conclusion: Police, Judicial, and Prison Reform 179 Selected Bibliography 197 Index 199 ix

List of Figures

Fig. 5.1 Fig. 5.2

Fig. 5.3

Fig. 5.4

Fig. 5.5 Fig. 5.6

Corruption perceptions index score (2017) (Source “Corruption Perceptions Index 2017,” Transparency International, February 21, 2018) 87 Heroin seizures in West Africa (2006) (by kilograms) (Source Created by authors with data from United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime [UNODC], Drug Trafficking as a Security Threat in West Africa [New York, NY: UNODC, 2008]; original data from UNODC Individual Seizures Database) 88 Destination of heroin seizures originating from West Africa (2000–2007) (Source Created by authors with data from United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime [UNODC], Drug Trafficking as a Security Threat in West Africa [New York, NY: UNODC, 2008]; original data from UNODC Individual Seizures Database) 89 Foreigners arrested in South Africa in 2005, by citizenship (Source Created by authors with data from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime [UNODC], Drug Trafficking as a Security Threat in West Africa [New York, NY: UNODC, 2008]) 91 Global Boko Haram attacks (2011–2016) (Source Created by authors with data from the Chicago Project on Security & Threats) 92 Trends in suicide terror attacks in Nigeria (2011–2016) (Source Created by authors with data from the Chicago Project on Security & Threats) 93 xi


List of Figures

Fig. 6.1

Fig. 6.2

Fig. 6.3

Fig. 6.4

Fig. 6.5

Fig. 6.6

Fig. 7.1 Fig. 7.2

Fig. 7.3

Homicide rate per 100,000 (2016) (Mexican Cities) (Source Created by authors with data from Kimberly Heinle, Octavio Rodríguez Ferreira, and David A. Shirk, Drug Violence in Mexico: Data and Analysis Through 2016 [San Diego, CA: University of San Diego, 2017]; original data from SNSP and CONAPO) 107 Approval rating of President Peña Nieto handling the following tasks (Source Margaret Vice and Hanyu Chwe, “Poor Ratings for Peña Nieto, political parties,” Pew Research Center, September 14, 2017) 109 Percentage of population that believes the following issues are big problems in Mexico (Source Created by authors with data from Margaret Vice and Hanyu Chwe, “Mexicans are Downbeat About Their Country’s Direction,” Pew Research Center, September 14, 2017) 110 Homicide rate per 100,000 (2016 and 2017) (Source Created by authors with data from Tristan Clavel, “InSight Crime’s 2017 Homicide Round-Up,” InSight Crime, January 19, 2018; David Gagne, “InSight Crime’s 2016 Homicide Round-up,” InSight Crime, January 16, 2017) 113 Apprehensions unaccompanied children (by country). Note FY is Fiscal Year. FYTD is from October 1, 2017, to March 31, 2018 (Source Created by authors with data from “U.S. Border Patrol Southwest Border Apprehensions by Sector FY2018,” US Customs and Border Protection) 121 Immigration and customs enforcement arrests (FY 2017) (Source Created by authors with data from Kristen Bialik, “ICE Arrests Went Up in 2017, with Biggest Increases in Florida, Northern Texas, Oklahoma,” Pew Research Center, February 8, 2018) 121 Corruption perceptions index score (0–100) (Source Created by authors with data from “Corruption Perceptions Index 2017,” Transparency International, February 21, 2018) 136 Perceptions that more than half of every politician is corrupt (Source Created by authors with data from Molllie J. Cohen, Noam Lupu, and Elizabeth J. Zechmeister, The Political Culture of Democracy in The Americas 2016/2017 [Nashville, TN: Vanderbilt University, Latino Public Opinion Project, 2017]) 137 Coca cultivation in Colombia (hectares) (Source Created by authors with data from United Nations Office on Drugs and

List of Figures   

Fig. 7.4

Fig. 7.5

Fig. 7.6

Fig. 7.7

Fig. 7.8

Fig. 9.1 Fig. 9.2 Fig. 9.3

Fig. 9.4

Crime [UNODC], Colombia: Monitoreo de territorios afectados por cultivos ilícitos 2016 [Bogotá, CO: UNODC, 2017]) Potential cocaine production in Colombia (Source Created by authors with data from Drug Enforcement Administration [DEA], Colombian Cocaine Production Expansion Contributes to Rise in Supply in the United States [Springfield, VA: DEA, 2017]; estimates are from the US government and the Colombian Observatory on Drugs) Number of murders of human rights defenders (Colombia) (Source Created by authors with data from “15th Anniversary of Plan Colombia: Learning from Its Successes and Failures,” Washington Office on Latin America, February 1, 2016; original data from Somos Defensores) Extortion in Colombia (Source Created by authors with data from “15th Anniversary of Plan Colombia: Learning from Its Successes and Failures,” Washington Office on Latin America, February 1, 2016; original data from the Ministry of Defense of Colombia) “Armed Actions” by the FARC (Source Created by authors with data from “15th Anniversary of Plan Colombia: Learning from Its Successes and Failures,” Washington Office on Latin America, February 1, 2016; original data from the Fundación Paz y Reconciliación) Number of Venezuelans living in the United States (Source Created by authors with data from “Origins and Destinations of the World’s Migrants, 1990–2017,” Pew Research Center, February 28, 2018) US prison population rate (per 100,000) (Source Created by authors with data from “World Prison Brief,” Institute for Criminal Policy Research) A comparison of prison population rates per 100,000 people (Source Created by authors with data from “World Prison Brief,” Institute for Criminal Policy Research) Prison population rates per 100,000 an assortment of countries. Note Data from most recent years with available information (Source Created by authors with data from, “World Prison Brief,” Institute for Criminal Policy Research) Percentage of pre-trail detainees in prison. Note Data from most recent years with available information (Source Created by authors with data from, “World Prison Brief,” Institute for Criminal Policy Research)







147 184 185




List of Figures

Fig. 9.5

Countries ranked with high levels of impunity. Note Zero means impunity does not exist, while 100 signifies the highest level of impunity (Source Juan Antonio Le Clercq Ortega and Gerardo Rodríguez Sánchez Lara, Global Impunity Dimensiones: GII-2017 Global Impunity Index [Puebla, Mexico: University of the Americas Puebla, 2017]) 187

List of Tables

Table 1.1 Table 4.1

Development, corruption and regional insecurity Percentage of household making bribes

11 69




Fragile states and extractive institutions have a negative impact on underdevelopment, leading to corruption and the inevitable success of organized crime. Building on Daron Acemoglu and James A. Robinson, this work argues that inclusive political institutions are necessary for states to develop. Such institutions provide the confidence for people (both within the state and without) to invest in themselves and in businesses. Such investment hires people and creates tax revenue necessary to build state infrastructure.1 However, in states and regions where corruption is endemic and institutionalized due to the overwhelming presence of organized crime, how is it possible to have institutional change? Further, if organized crime is pervasive, how will it be possible to convince people to move away from supplying illegal goods given the extravagant profit, and simultaneously, lack of alternatives due to underdevelopment?2 This book examines this challenge of institutional change and reform within states and regions that suffer from endemic corruption and underdevelopment,3 creating fertile soil for organized crime and other non-state actors to challenge the authority, legitimacy, sovereignty and ultimately, the power of state actors. This book seeks to understand corruption and organized crime in a systemically way, looking at its spread across states, regions, and ­ultimately continents. Such a range illustrates the idea of systemic reach, a non-state threat that is distributed across state is fundamental to this study.4 Corruption is carried out by a number of actors. This book © The Author(s) 2019 H. S. Kassab and J. D. Rosen, Corruption, Institutions, and Fragile States,



focuses on the phenomenon of organized crime and the formation of gang and drug-related violence. This work takes a comprehensive look of the world, understanding the prime mechanisms and environments that encourage and sustain the formation of these groups. If one state becomes a haven for illicit activity, then one could expect corruption to spread to neighboring states as organized criminal networks try to get their product to target markets. Supplier markets are usually located in the underdeveloped and developing world, in countries like Brazil, Colombia, and Mexico. Yet major demand markets are located in more developed, advanced industrialized states like the US and member states of the European Union. Indeed, the USA is the largest consumer market for drugs in the world.5 For cocaine to enter Chicago, Illinois in the USA from Colombia, or for heroin to arrive from Afghanistan to Paris, France, organized criminals must create illegal supply chains that extend from production line locals to the consumer. In this sense, it is important to note the power of organized criminal networks and corruption in the formulation of these supply chains, and the linkage industries that spin-off from the development of these illicit markets. Fragile states provide the necessary rich environment for organized crime. This is because fragile states are prone to corruption due to the nature of political institutions as well as underdevelopment to tackle organized crime as well as other non-state threats.6 Fragile states are those that lack the ability to operate freely to neutralize internal or external threats to sovereignty and autonomy.7 Threats may come from other states and their militaries, but also from non-state actors like terrorist networks and organized crime. They may be of the non-violent variety (e.g., economic, environmental, or health-related issues).8 In other words, fragile and weak states lack the capacity to be resilient in face of these dangers. Hanna Samir Kassab argues that resilience is crucial. Resilience is the ability to defeat threats of any variety to survive as a unitary state actor.9 Weak and fragile units find it difficult to fend off the influence of organized criminal networks due to mechanisms that corrupt the state, its regime and its government. When one state is penetrated by an organized criminal network, its behavior will be determined, not by the state itself, but by the leaders of those organized criminal networks. This actively hurts the autonomy and sovereignty of the state, making it fragile rather than effective, and in extreme cases, could lead to potential state failure. A failed state is one that cannot provide any security or services to its people and its geography is ultimately controlled by



members of organized criminal groups or terrorist networks. The centralized authority of that state is completely unable to establish control or dispense justice, and cannot be relied upon to do this effectively given its loss of legitimacy over non-state competitors. Inevitably associated with fragile states is persistent economic underdevelopment due to extractive political institutions. The relationship between these two phenomena cannot be studied separately.10 Extractive political institutions are neither designed to distribute wealth equally nor are they able to drive innovation, investment, and reinvestment. These institutions allow for the enrichment of a minority of people at the expense of others. With wealth floating to the top, persistent economic underdevelopment becomes a pertinent issue. Hence, the main desire of this book is to understand the impact that fragile states and extractive institutions have on underdevelopment also noting the impact of corruption in the success of organized crime. Existing research shows that impoverished societies are prone to illegal activity.11 Moreover, once organized crime penetrates a society, there will be further increases in political instability which strains the ability of the state to survive. In other words, organized crime promotes fragility as “drug production helps weaken states, fuel civil conflicts; drug revenues support insurgents, other armed non-state actors, and corrupt officials.”12 As a result, economic underdevelopment complicates fragility further by opening the society up to organized crime, which further corrupts the state, etc. Building on previous work, Jonathan D. Rosen and Hanna S. Kassab contend that economic development may “promote fragility due to a lack of democratic political instability from corruption.”13 Consequently, this book has two purposes: (1) to describe the difficulty of institutional change given the power of organized criminal groups (2) highlight their power to corrupt states and regions. This topic is of primary importance, as the wealthier these groups become, the more powerful they become to challenge the state, its institutions, and those of surrounding regions. Any attempt at pushback may lead to violent resistance as in the example of the current Mexican state’s effort to neutralize the cartels or Colombia in the 1990s. This book will take a global look at this phenomenon, illustrating the growing systemic importance of corruption as it affects state survival. It highlights major trends and changes in hotspots around the world such as Central and South America. In these regions, trade in illicit goods is still remarkably robust in the face of state repression. The reason for this


is the continued existence of fragile states and extractive institutions. If these mechanisms remain, organized crime will continue to be resilient in the face of repression. Organized crime remains as long as states are easy to penetrate. Crime groups may move from one fragile state to another like in the case of Mexican drug cartels moving to Central America. We will also illustrate major developments in the Middle East and Central Asia. In this region, the divide between terrorism and organized crime is increasingly blurred. Moreover, as the West and Russia continue its fight against Islamic fundamentalism through physical violence, it does little to improve the state’s ability to fight corruption and proclivity for illegality. These three regions pose a significant threat to the international system due to persistent fragility of states within these regions. The hypothesis in this book suggests a causal relationship and generalize patterns of repeated behavior to underscore the relationship between fragile states, and extractive political institutions, and corruption in our contemporary international order.

Theoretical Framework: Research Design and Hypothesis Testing If corruption is endemic within a state and its political system, economic development may ultimately suffer over time as organized criminal networks penetrate the state. This may cause further increases in structural violence as well as other forms of violence, worsening state fragility. Economic development looks at more equal distribution of wealth as opposed to concentration by signifying improved living standard distributed across a state’s population.14 Corruption does not facilitate this as those with the ability to bribe will be allowed to invest with little regulation to guide them.15 Those that cannot afford will be competing on an uneven playing field. States suffering from corruption may never actually enjoy economic development as corruption is a mechanism which promotes non-growth.16 Due to this, the state could become prone to gang violence or other forms of violence used to either protect an illegal business and its supply chain, or to attack and ultimately destroy a state. Worsening fragility leads to state failure which is detrimental to the state’s citizens and those of the region. A major consequence of one state’s corruption is its contagion effect. The issues associated with organized crime and corruption may spread to neighboring states within that region allowing for increased insecurity



across borders. As the wealth and power of organized crime networks increase, the more likely such wealth and power will be used to penetrate state institutions. One major reason is that illicit products must make it to a consumer market. For instance, cartels in Colombia have been exporting cocaine to the US since the 1970s.17 However, there production and refinement may occur elsewhere like Bolivia and Peru.18 Heroin travels from Afghanistan through several states (e.g., Russia or the Balkans) until it arrives in Europe, its major consumer market. These transhipment states all suffer from corruption as smugglers must, from time to time, bribe officials to avoid imprisonment but also to move their product to market.19 It is thus important to study the subject of illicit activity, corruption and its effect on political institutions by taking a regional approach. If one state’s institutions are affected by corruption and illicit activity, it is reasonable to assume surrounding states will undergo similar outcomes. The unit of study for this book is ultimately geographical regions. As such, the book is divided into chapters that will illustrate the various interconnected relationships between states as they serve as a geographic point of transport for illegal products and payment. Therefore, illicit supply chains as they relate to these regional territories serve as the foundation of this study. Illicit supply chains comprise any “activities such as the procurement, production, transportation, sales, and distribution of prohibited commodities, as well as specialized processes of transnational smuggling, money laundering, and corrupting government officials are central to the global flow of illegal goods and services.”20 From this definition, we can trace the method by which criminals use corruption to control the stream of illegal goods to consumer countries and the resulting payment for products rendered. The focus of the book is the study of corruption and its impact on development. Many legitimate businesses engage in corruption (e.g., companies may bribe to win government contracts). However, this book hopes to concentrate on illegal businesses and organized crime. Organized crime is the major cause of corruption as corruption is a part of the cost of doing illegal business.21 Organized crime is defined as: the product of a self-perpetuating criminal conspiracy to wring exorbitant profits from our society by any means – fair or foul, legal and illegal. It survives on fear and corruption. By other means, it obtains a high degree of immunity from the law. It is totalitarian in organization. A way of life, it

6  H. S. KASSAB AND J. D. ROSEN imposes rigid discipline on underlings who do the dirty work while the top men of organized crime are generally insulated from the criminal act and the consequent danger of prosecution.22

Corruption can be understood and appreciated as part of the power mechanism of organized crime. While the use of violence and fear is another, the more implicit or hidden form of economic power of these non-state actors may be considered a more successful tool for success in the long term. Given these illustrations, the hypothesis of the book is as follows: If corruption is a tool used by organized crime to protect illicit supply chains, then entire region’s political stability and economic development may be threatened. The book’s recommendation suggests reforms in three major areas encompassing political institutions: police reform, judicial reform, and prison reform. This should be done to avoid a state succumbing to organized criminals or terrorist networks, violent coups, revolutions, or any other destructive form of replacing one government or regime for another.

Variables and Aspects of Study From this description, it is apparent that several variables will be studied to fully appreciate the role of corruption and organized states on fragile states, its institutions and underdevelopment. In an attempt at producing a theoretical model that posits causality, this work isolates the issue of corruption as it is used by organized criminals to protect their position and project further wealth. This act influences levels of corruption in a state, reducing the power and productivity of independent judicial systems of already weak or fragile states which inevitably contributes to the worsening of fragile states given increased levels of poverty, underdevelopment, and ultimately further fragility leading to outright state failure.

Independent Variables Weak Political Institutions, Corruption, and Organized Crime The purpose of this book is to analyze the impact of corruption and organized crime on the state and its status of development. For a state to be prone to corruption, it must already suffer from weak political institutions. Employing Josep H. Colomer’s definition, institutions



“shape actors’ strategies, and that the latter produce collective outcomes. Institutions provide information, opportunities, incentives, and constraints for both citizens and leaders choosing certain strategies, and it is only through the intermediation of actors’ strategic decisions that collective outcomes can be explained.”23 In other words, institutions encourage certain legitimate behaviors while discouraging others through the promotion of the rule of law. Laws constrain all people within a state, both members of government and civilians, and derive for us expected behaviors that then facilitate equal opportunity, property rights, respect for democratic procedures, especially during elections. If a state has weak institutions, it must already be corrupt or suffer from a history of corrupt practices; states must already be easy to bribe and debase. There are a number of factors to consider why a state might possess weak institutions. A state may have weak institutions if it has little experience with democracy and self-rule. In the case of newly democratic countries, this is quite clear, illustrated in Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) that measures corruption across states.24 Most authoritarian governments and newly independent countries find themselves ranked as highly corrupt. Pseudo-democratic states (those with democratic practices but clearly authoritarian) also find themselves ranked higher. A state may also be prone to corruption if its institutions prevent equal competition among citizens for positions in government. Samuel Huntington describes any trade-off between wealth for power as corrupt.25 This makes it easy for organized crime to infiltrate a government as it is easier to bribe. The concept of extractive political institutions defined by Acemoglu and Robinson underscores this study’s independent variable of weak institutional capacity and its relationship with corruption: “Extractive political institutions concentrate power in the hands of a narrow elite and place few constraints on the exercise of this power. Economic institutions are then often structured by this elite to extract resources from the rest of the society. Extractive economic institutions thus naturally accompany extractive political institutions. In fact, they must inherently depend on extractive political institutions for their survival.”26 Weak institutions as described here may help create an informal economy which may or not be of the illegal variety. When governments cannot provide public goods or services, the state’s formal economy will suffer. This will worsen the problem as tax revenues decrease, forcing further budget cuts. To survive, people will turn to other means, not only leading to illegality, but also to the formulation of gangs as police


can no longer provide security.27 This may cause increasing violence over time as gangs may try to best one another. It could also lead to further corruption, as the state may face pressure from elites, other citizens as well as governments to curb violence. For this book, institutional weakness can be summarized as a fundamental lack of enforcement of the law as well as changing such laws for political purposes to defend the position of a person or party in a government.28 Extractive political institutions are antithetical to a more development-friendly political institution referred to as inclusive political institutions. These institutions allow a level playing field and equal protection under the law, public goods and services. To be considered inclusive, a state must work to combat corruption rather than encourage it.29 Extractive and weak political institutions, breed underdevelopment. The more underdeveloped the state, the more likely the state will suffer from organized criminal activity as people turn to illicit markets to survive. The CPI observes the deep connection between corruption and underdevelopment: “corruption leads to an unequal distribution of power in society which, in turn, translates into an unequal distribution of wealth and opportunity.”30 The more corrupt a state, the more likely such practices will spread if surrounding states themselves suffer from weak and corrupt institutions. Corruption spreads as actors seek to defend illegal businesses as they expand into other territories. It creates porous borders, allowing for people and goods to pass with little resistance from law enforcement. In the case of developing states, corruption is a necessary tool of the government as well. Governments of fragile states may cooperate with other corrupt governments rather than to challenge organized crime. Doing business with organized criminal networks may enrich government officials and preserve their lives rather than challenge or neutralize these groups. Furthermore, once such arrangement is made with organized criminal networks, the state may still pursue its goals such as survival and development albeit with a serious internal challenge. The issue is worsened if any attempt by an external actor, such as a consumer state, puts pressure on the corrupt state to neutralize its corruption and organized crime problem. This became quite clear in the cases of Colombia and Mexico with US pressure against drug cartels. This creates problems for the cartels but also for citizens as cartels will use violence to protect themselves, their businesses, and their international supply chains. As a result, corruption is altogether necessary to protect illicit businesses. Corruption assists in crafting “ties between criminal groups and



public officials play a crucial role in facilitating criminal activity and creating a culture of impunity. Corrupt security forces can keep criminal groups informed, shield them from law enforcement operations, and facilitate drug shipments, while ties to politicians and local elites lend criminals a facade of legitimacy.”31 Illegal infrastructure listed here bolsters the wealth and power of criminal groups and they may inevitably seek to expand their business in bordering states. This is verified by the CPI when broken down into regions. Northern hemispheres with strong political institutions enjoy low levels of corruption while regions in Africa, particularly areas clustered around heavily corrupt states, suffer from high levels of corruption. For instance, Somalia, Libya, Afghanistan, Venezuela, Russia, and Uganda are ranked in the “highly corrupt” category. These states are all flanked by high to medium ranked corrupted states.32 This is similar within the African continent. As a result, this book will discuss major illicit commodities in every region: drugs, humans/organs, counterfeit goods related to corruption and weak institutions. This work is organized by region rather than by state to highlight the systemic power of corruption on political institutions which may begin in one state and then spread to other states. As a result, there may ultimately be a negative impact on development.

Dependent Variables Weak States, Fragile States and Failed States and Regional Insecurity State power is derived from economic development, the state’s ability to produce wealth and use resources optimally. Structural Realists like Fareed Zakaria argue that the wealthier the state, the more powerful that state then becomes.33 The wealthier and more powerful the state, the more effective it is in handling threats against itself, crime and corruption included. States like the US serve as an example. Amid fi ­ ghting against the Italian Mafia, it initiated RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act) to weaken and ultimately defeat them and their efforts to defy institutional capacity, specifically law and order, in the US. The opposite then follows: the less developed the state, the less powerful it becomes. Weak states are those that lack the autonomy to neutralize external and internal threats on their own.34 Those threats may be economic, environmental, political (e.g., terrorism), criminal


(e.g., organized crime), health, or otherwise. Weak states are vulnerable to organized crime due to the lack of institutional power, whether it be due to institutional inexperience from being recently independent or recently authoritarian. They are easily infiltrated by non-state actors with significant wealth and power behind them. For this reason, weak states, due to their already weak nature, are easy prey to these non-state actors. The more corrupt a state is the more institutionalized corruption becomes and the more dominant criminal actors become. The more institutionalized a weak state becomes, the less democratic it becomes, and the less politically inclusive its institutions become. There may be relationships between the state and criminal groups as they begin to work together to pursue goals of mutual wealth. The effectiveness of a state to solve issues such as creating a friendly investment environment for legitimate enterprise will become more tenuous. Any attempt at pursuing economic development may be crowded out by illegal investment. As a result, the well-being of citizens may suffer. Violence may also spike as well, as organized criminal groups battle for supremacy, trying to solve issues outside of the justice system. In other circumstances, like in Mexico, state and criminal networks negotiated a way to coexist and crackdowns led to extreme violence.35 In either situation, organized crime leads to less development and less state effectiveness over time. The weaker the state gets, the more fragile it becomes. There is a certain degree of nuance between the terms weak states, fragile states and failed states. This book considers fragile states as those already penetrated by corruption and are sometimes on the edge of collapse.36 While weak states still have a government and state regime in place in their attempt to fight against competitors to authority, fragile states experience more than one center of authority (including the state).37 More than one source of power reduces the state’s capability to regulate the activities within the geographic territory due to competing sources of authority, whether organized crime networks, terrorist groups or otherwise.38 Failed states are those that the state has capitulated in the face of organized crime or terrorist groups. It is a situation where the state is no longer in control of large swaths of territory. Citizens within these areas are subject to the laws and regulation of criminal actors. Syria and Iraq in the face of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria are a prime example of state failure. A weak state may devolve into a fragile state given corruption or any other form of attacks in an effort to make the state in question weaker



and subordinate to a non-state actor. A fragile state may devolve into a fragile state given further attacks and infiltration. Regarding ­corruption, there are varying degrees of relationships between the state and o ­ rganized criminal groups that describe these categories of state typology. Peter Lupsha summarizes three stages of corruption by relating it to the status of state capacity: the predatory stage, the parasitical stage, and finally, the symbiotic stage. The predatory stage describes the ability of a state’s security apparatus to clamp down on criminal networks trying to engage the political and economic system.39 However, as these illegal networks become wealthier and more powerful, they may attempt to increase their presence in the state to bolster and secure their position and supply chain. Lupsha calls this the parasitical stage given that the organized criminal network may soon become as powerful as the state itself. They may no longer be concerned about law enforcement as they do not fear the state. In other words, their position is solidified in relation to the state.40 The highest stage of corruption in a state is described as the symbiotic stage. The symbiotic stage illustrates that the state is no longer the holder of the monopoly of the use of violence as criminal networks have become the state: “the traditional tools of the state to enforce law will no longer work, for organized crime has become a part of the state, a state within the state”41 (see Table 1.1). Corruption has a negative impact on economic development and thus determines a state’s status as either effective, weak, fragile, or failed. The weaker and more corrupt the state, the more fragile it becomes which only increases its probability of failure. Fragile states are those that are plagued by severe institutional weakness and could be on the verge of state failure. Failed states present a clear and present danger to regional security and ultimately international security if nothing is done.42 State failure occurs when a state becomes ungovernable, overrun by organized crime and other non-state Table 1.1  Development, corruption and regional insecurity State development

Corruption type

Regional danger

Weak Fragile Failed

Predatory Parasitical Symbiotic

Medium High Extreme

Source Created by authors


actors (e.g., terrorist groups), then surrounding states will become victims especially if they themselves are already weak and vulnerable.43 Failed states “provide opportunities for actors outside the government – whether religious fundamentalists, disaffected citizens, or merely opportunists seeking power – to attempt to seize the state apparatus by violent means.”44 Like Lebanon after 1975, contemporary Somalia, Afghanistan, and possibly the future of Honduras among other failed states in the developing world, non-state actors have the strength to organize and compete directly with a state’s monopoly on the use of violence. When that state succumbs to these actors, it is altogether possible that that state becomes a center for organized crime, terrorism and other illicit activities.45 As a result, failed and fragile states present a real danger for all states within the international system. Even more serious is the contagion effect weak, fragile, and failed states have on other already weak and fragile states. In summary, the causal yet mutually reinforcing mechanisms that drive fragility and underdevelopment is corruption: The more corrupt the state, the more likely that state is to be fragile and underdeveloped. Fragile states are underdeveloped as they do not possess the capability to combat challenges to sovereignty. The resources that allow this capability is derived from developmental capacity building. Economic development encourages the use of resources that could very well build the public goods necessary to provide a higher quality of life for citizens. Corruption hinders economic development as resources are used for the personal gain of those already wealthy persons in power rather than the wider community. In this way, the state becomes impotent in the face of actual challenges to sovereignty, encouraging crime, political, and economic instability and general chaos. Said differently, the more corrupt a state, the more likely is the state to be a haven for crime, furthering disparities between rich and power and, as a result, eroding the ability of that state to protect institutions providing law and order. Judicial institutions are instead used to protect state-sponsored criminal enterprises.

Theory Building and Case Studies: Systemic Power of Corruption Across Regions This book’s major contribution is the expansion of corruption across states emanating from already corrupt states. Each chapter will look at one major region and how organized crime can spread. For instance, Colombian cartels need to corrupt other states to get their product to



the US market. This causes institutions to be weak systemically, regardless of borders. In the book People, States and Fear, Barry Buzan contends that a state’s security is entangled with its geographical region referred to as a regional security complex. He coins the term Defense Dilemma that conceptualizes contradictions in security. Things deemed necessary for national security, or defense, can also be seen as an offensive measure such as armies, tanks, or otherwise.46 Similarly, we can understand the problem of terrorist networks operating in states in relation to the region. The occurrences in one state will affect the health and welfare of the region. Corruption through organized crime may spread from one state to another, as illicit supply chains develop, to get products physically out to its target market. This book thus draws from international relations theory while simultaneously opening the state to internal mechanisms, studying domestic political institutions. Institutional breakdown is thus a systemic force that must be studied to appreciate national security under globalization. Under conditions of globalization, the wealth and power non-state actors and state actors that are inherently corrupt (maligned by organized crime or terrorist networks) may potentially translate into systemic reach. Systemic reach is the idea that systemic vulnerabilities and threats emanating from failed states (also weak and fragile states) could breach borders of other, more developed and more powerful states, ultimately increasing insecurity regionally.47 States react and expend power to deal with these issues, leading to further reprisals by those groups that demonstrate irrepressible in the face of state opposition. Groups like the Islamic State, Al Qaeda, the Taliban, and the mix of cartels in Central and South America have all proved resilient in the face of opposition by the domestic judicial system and great power backing. This book posits that the institutionalization of corruption does assist in this resilience. The power to bribe and to strike fear into the hearts of policy makers are two factors that make corruption a successful strategy. The Gramscian formulation for power has thus been adopted by corrupting agents. Power can be used to either force actor behavior either through coercion and consent. In other words, either the government official takes the bribe or suffers death. In Colombia, this is referred to plata o plomo, which is translated from Spanish into English as silver or lead.48 This practice has proved successful in the face of law enforcement and acts to weaken a state’s institutions in favor of organized crime. As such, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) of the US defines organized crime as “a self-perpetuating, structured and disciplined association


of individuals or groups, combined together for the purpose of obtaining monetary or commercial gains or profits, wholly or in part by illegal means, while protecting their activities through a pattern of graft and corruption.”49 The organizational element combined with power allows these networks significant capability to build transnational networks. The more corrupt that state becomes, the more powerful that non-state group becomes, and this ultimately destabilizes the region. This theoretical model will be highlighted in each chapter. The theoretical expectation of this book follows that under conditions of globalization, the insecurity of one state will soon spread into bordering states and, if not stopped, will become a global, systemic force.50 If a weak or fragile state allows a growing threat of terrorism or organized crime to grow in its borders, it will soon begin to branch out. This book will thus argue that “the health of the [international] system depends on the weakest units of the system.”51 The study expects then states must work together to solve threats to their mutual sovereignty. If the US is suffering from drug trafficking and organized crime from Mexican drug cartels, some experts contend that the US should help neutralize the threat, not simply destroying the cartel, but assisting to bolster political institutions and economic development in that country, specifically cooperating with the Mexican government to reform and strengthen institutions (e.g., the judicial system). On the other hand, critics contend that the US should focus on reducing the demand for drugs and become involved in the internal politics of another country.52

Prospective Reforms and International Cooperation This book submits the following theoretical recommendation for regions suffering from failed states and the consequences of state failure: corruption, organized crime, terrorism, any challenge to the authority, legitimacy, and sovereignty of states. Since regions are at risk from one of its states becoming failed, then it is certainly reasonable to argue for regional cooperation to prevent state failure from occurring.53 Current regional organizations, especially those in Latin America, are failing to curtail major violence occurring in Central and South America. Moreover, human traffickers in Africa still have enormous success harping on the need to escape violence and poverty.



Regional organizations are altogether better for failed states, as these institutions would have more say in how reforms should be carried out. A regional organization, similar to that of Interpol, could guide these reforms. Interpol provides the following services: 1.  Serve as the worldwide information hub for law enforcement cooperation The exchange of police information lies at the core of INTERPOL’s mandate. We manage secure communication channels that connect National Central Bureaus in all our member countries, along with other authorized law enforcement agencies and partners, and which give access to a range of criminal databases. 2. Deliver state-of-the-art policing capabilities that support member countries to fight and prevent transnational crimes A large number of policing capabilities—such as forensics and training—underpin our three Global Programmes to fight crime (Counter-terrorism, Cybercrime, and Organized and emerging crime). We seek to serve as the catalyst for efforts in global, regional, and national law enforcement. 3. Lead globally innovative approaches to policing We are committed to enhancing the tools and services we provide, and to act as an incubator for the research, and development into solutions, and standards for international policing. 4.  Maximize INTERPOL’s Architecture






This goal aims to bridge information gaps in the Global Security Architecture, strengthening cooperation between relevant sectors and entities, and raising political awareness and support for INTERPOL’s Programmes. 5.  Consolidate resources and governance structures for enhanced operational performance In order to keep up with the evolving law enforcement landscape, we will continue to modernize the Organization’s structures and processes to ensure efficient delivery of our capabilities and services.


INTERPOL will focus its efforts on implementing a sustainable funding model for the Organization, addressing risks at the organizational level, fostering change management, promoting a sustainable human resources strategy, and re-assessing our governance framework.54 While corrupt politicians may hinder the reform process, it is altogether possible for states with stronger institutions to successfully convey the need for change. After all, the security of the region is at stake; their position is at risk. Moreover, there may be the need to incentivize independent judicial branch in governments across all states. An independent judicial branch must protect an individual’s property rights, strengthen law and order, and reduce practices of impunity, all of which may result in increases in state stability and economic development. Thus, judicial branches may assist in the correcting institutional weakness and allowing for a greater degree of human freedom.

Book Overview Chapter 2 provides the book with a theoretical framework applied to cases. It explores contemporary conceptualizations of fragility, corruption, and institution building. Building on previously established literature then, the chapter explores why domestic institutions matter to international stability, as corruption tends to spread from weaker states to regional locations. Chapter 3 underscores the importance of institutions, specifically the constitution, on certain fragile states in Latin America and Lebanon. The political culture in these areas encourages constitutional ineffectiveness, whether the executive branch of government manipulates it to protect itself like in Latin America, or, a static, unwritten agreement that solidifies the power of patronage and clientelism as in Lebanon. The end result is the same in these cases: the inability of the state to encourage economic development and progress. Chapter 4 illustrates the explanatory power of our theory expounded on in Chapters 2 and 3. It explains proliferation of corruption, illicit trafficking and terrorism in Central Asia and the Middle East. Beginning in Afghanistan, narcotics trafficking spreads through corruption as traffickers attempt to get their goods to market. Culture plays an important role in the spread of corruption and this chapter takes time to illustrate this,



especially in the Middle East. Thus, dealing with corruption increases in complexity, given the embedded normative system of the region. Chapter 5 explores the case of Africa. The chapter begins with an examination of the concept of the poverty trap, which seeks to explain why some countries are stuck in a vicious cycle of poverty. The chapter then turns to the issue of corruption, concentrating on some of the major trends in corruption. Next, it explores the evolution of drug trafficking and organized crime in Africa, focusing particularly on West Africa. It then analyzes terrorist organizations operating in Africa, such as Boko Haram, and their impact on regional security. Finally, the chapter examines the issue of foreign aid, contending that it has not helped Africa solve many of the underlying structural issues. Chapter 6 examines the cases of Mexico and Central America. It begins with an analysis of the issues of drug trafficking and organized crime in Mexico, which have contributed to the high levels of corruption and violence within the country. The chapter focuses on President Felipe Calderón’s drug war and the consequences of such policies. It examines the underlying structural problems, focusing on the high levels of corruption and impunity that the country faces. The chapter also assesses the challenges that Mexico will likely continue to face in the future and the impact on regional security. It then turns to corruption and organized crime in Central America, focusing on the major trends in El Salvador and Honduras. Finally, it highlights the issue of immigration, focusing on the major trends as well as the current policies of the Trump administration. Chapter 7 explores various cases in South America. It begins by highlighting some of the trends in corruption, focusing on the lack of trust in institutions. The chapter turns to the Odebrecht case, a major bribery scandal, which demonstrates that power of companies to bribe leading politicians throughout the Americas. It then examines the case of Colombia, which has been plagued by high levels of corruption, drug trafficking, and organized crime. The chapter highlights some of the major trends as well as challenges given the peace process between the Colombian government and the largest guerrilla organization. After exploring the evolution of organized crime and the state of the peace process, the chapter then focuses on the case of Venezuela, which has been plagued by an economic collapse, high levels of corruption, organized crime, and violence. Next, it explores the case of Brazil, which has faced a political crisis, including the impeachment of the previous president. The


country has also confronted major insecurity challenges and debated the appropriate responses to combat drug trafficking and organized crime. Chapter 8 looks at the global power of the Russian mafia, tracing its roots and its success in the post-Cold War system. Corruption became endemic in the 1980s, when organized criminal groups anticipated the end of the Soviet Union. The institutional weakness of the new state of Russia and the power of Russian oligarchs created the perfect storm for the mafia as well as extra-judicial practice. This chapter also discusses the Putin regime and its use of corruption as a lever of power. Chapter 9 concludes the volume with a discussion about the issue of reforming major institutions. It begins with a discussion of the police and the different measures that have been taken to reform the police in various cases. Next, it turns to the issue of the penitentiary system, which require many reforms. Some prisons in cases analyzed in this volume have major issues with overcrowding. Moreover, some prisons, such as in El Salvador and Mexico, have functioned as schools of crime where criminal groups have organized. The chapter then explores the issue of judicial reform. Many countries seeking to combat the high levels of corruption and impunity require judicial reforms. It focuses on the reforms that have occurred in Mexico and highlights some of the major c­hallenges. Moreover, it finishes with an examination of the role of international institutions in helping countries reform their judiciary system.

Expected Conclusions This book provides a model to confront the cause of fragility: corruption. While it is certainly difficult to approach the subject given its institutionalized nature in much of the developing world, this book hopes to provide a normative framework that states and policy makers could use. Weak, fragile and failed states pose a serious problem for regional and global security. For example, opium production in Afghanistan continues to plague the US due to Afghanistan’s institutional weakness from years of tribal warfare. As a result, great and effective powers can try to neutralize these threats through institutional reforms and multilateral cooperation, cutting to the core of the issue rather than addressing its symptoms. This book highlights the importance of development and political institutions in the study of international security. Further, it highlights the relevance of regions given the systemic power of corruption. Corruption has



regional effects and must be studied in relation to bordering states. The theoretical model of the book is as follows: the more corrupt a state, the more vulnerable a region will be to non-state threats. Using case studies, we hope to illustrate the power of our theoretical contribution and propose general policy recommendations to provide real value to readers in the public sector.


1. Daron Acemoglu and James Robinson, Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity and Poverty (New York: Crown Publishers, 2012), p. 50. 2. Paul B. Stares, Global Habit: The Drug Problem in a Borderless World (Washington, DC: Brookings Institution, 1996), p. 6. 3. Jonathan D. Rosen and Hanna Samir Kassab, “Introduction,” in Fragile States in the Americas, eds. Jonathan D. Rosen and Hanna S. Kassab (Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2016), p. xiii. 4. Hanna Samir Kassab, Prioritization Theory and a Defensive Foreign Policy: Systemic Vulnerabilities in International Politics (New York: Palgrave, 2016), pp. 3–5. 5. “Substance Use & Mental Illness in U.S. Adults (18+) from the 2013 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH),” https://www., accessed April 29, 2017. 6.  Hanna Samir Kassab, Weak States in International Relations Theory: The Cases of Armenia, St. Kitts and Nevis, Lebanon and Cambodia (New York: Palgrave, 2015), p. 12. 7. Jonathan D. Rosen and Hanna Samir Kassab, “Introduction,” in Fragile States in the Americas, eds. Jonathan D. Rosen and Hanna S. Kassab (Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2016), p. xiii. 8.  Christopher Easter, “Small States Development: A Commonwealth Vulnerability Index,” Round Table 88, No. 351 (1999): p. 403. 9. Hanna Samir Kassab, Prioritization Theory and a Defensive Foreign Policy: Systemic Vulnerabilities in International Politics (New York: Palgrave, 2016), p. 31. 10. Daron Acemoglu and James Robinson, Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity and Poverty (New York: Crown Publishers, 2012), p. 76. 11. Ted Galen Carpenter, “Watch Out, America: Mexico May Be the Next Failed State,” CATO Institute, January 29, 2015, publications/commentary/watch-out-america-mexico-may-be-nextfailed-state, accessed October 2015, p. 2.

20  H. S. KASSAB AND J. D. ROSEN 12. Mark A. R. Kleiman, Jonathan P. Caulkins, and Angela Hawken, Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2011), p. 16. 13. Jonathan D. Rosen and Hanna Samir Kassab, “Introduction,” in Fragile States in the Americas, eds. Jonathan D. Rosen and Hanna S. Kassab (Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2016), p. xiii. 14. Charles Kindleberger, Economic Development (New York: Mc-Graw-Hill, 1956), p. 1. 15. Daron Acemoglu and James A. Robinson, Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity and Poverty (New York: Crown Publishers, 2012), p. 50. 16. Henry Bruton, Principles of Development Economics (London: PrenticeHall, 1965), pp. 2–3. 17. Álvaro Camacho Guizado and Andrés López Restrepo, “From Smugglers to Drug Lords to Traquetos: Changes in the Colombian Illicit Drug Organizations,” in Peace, Democracy, and Human Rights in Colombia, eds. Christopher Welna and Gustavo Gallón (Notre Dame: Notre Dame University Press, 2007). 18. Ibid. 19.  European Monitoring Center for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA), Monitoring the Supply of Heroin to Europe (Lisbon: EMCDDA, 2008), p. 8. 20. Gautam Basu, “Concealment, Corruption, and Evasion: A Transaction Cost and Case Analysis of Illicit Supply Chain Activity,” Logistics, Information, and Service Economy 7, No. 3 (2014): p. 210. 21. Gautman Basu, “Concealment, Corruption, and Evasion: A Transaction Cost and Case Analysis of Illicit Supply Chain Activity,” p. 219. 22. Oyster Bay Conference on Organized Crime (1965), quoted in N. W. Philcox, An Introduction to Organized Crime (Springfield: Charles C. Thomas Publisher, 1978), p. 4. 23.  Josep H. Colomer, Political Institutions: Democracy and Social Choice (New York: Oxford University Press, 2001), p. 4. 24.  “Corruption Perceptions Index 2016,” Transparency International, January 25, 2017,, accessed January 27, 2018 25. Samuel P. Huntington, Political Order in Changing Societies (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1968), p. 66. 26. Daron Acemoglu and James A. Robinson, Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity and Poverty, p. 54. 27.  Michael W. Collier, Political Corruption in the Caribbean Basin: Constructing a Theory to Combat Corruption (New York: Routledge, 2013), p. 54. 28.  Guillermo O’Donnell, “On the State, Democratization, and Some Conceptual Problems: A Latin American View with Some Postcommunist Countries,” World Development 21, No. 8 (1993): p. 164.



29. Ibid., p. 205. 30. “Corruption and Inequality: How Populism Misled People,” Corruption Perceptions Index, 2017, corruption_and_inequality_how_populists_mislead_peoplem, accessed May 2, 2018. 31.  Kyra Gurney, “Why Are the World’s Most Violent Cities in Latin America?” InSight Crime, November 21, 2014,, accessed May 2, 2019, p. 6. 32.  “Corruption Perceptions Index by Region, 2016,” Transparency International, January 25, 2017, feature/corruption_perceptions_index_2016#regional, accessed May 2, 2018. 33. Farid Zakaria, From Wealth to Power: The Unusual Origins of America’s World Role (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1998), p. 1. 34. Hanna Samir Kassab, Weak States in International Relations Theory: The Cases of Armenia, St. Kitts and Nevis, Lebanon and Cambodia (New York: Palgrave, 2015), p. 12. 35.  Richard Snyder and Angelica Duran-Martinez, “Does Illegality Breed Violence? Drug Trafficking and State-Sponsored Protection Rackets,” Crime, Law and Social Change 52, No. 3 (2009): p. 254. 36.  Stewart Frances and Graham Brown, Fragile States, CRISE Working Paper No. 51, January 2009, p. 2. 37. Jonathan D. Rosen and Hanna Samir Kassab, “Introduction,” in Fragile States in the Americas, eds. Jonathan D. Rosen and Hanna S. Kassab (Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2016), p. xiii. 38. Monika François and Inder Sud, “Promoting Stability and Development in Fragile and Failed States,” Development Policy Review 24, No. 2 (2006): p. 143. 39. Peter Lupsha, “Trasnational Organized Crime Versus the Nation-State,” Transnational Organized Crime 2, No. 1 (1996): p. 31. 40. Ibid., p. 32. 41. Ibid. 42.  “U.S. National Security Strategy: Overview of America’s International Strategy,” United States Department of State, June 1, 2002,, accessed May 2, 2018. 43. Monika François and Inder Sud, “Promoting Stability and Development in Fragile and Failed States.” 44. Ibid. 45.  Quoted in Mujib Mashal, “Afghan Taliban Awash in Heroin Cash, a Troubling Turn for War,” The New York Times, October 29, 2017. 46. Barry Buzan, People, States, and Fear: An Agenda for International Security Studies in the Post-cold War Era (Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner, 1991), pp. 158–159.


47. Hanna Samir Kassab, Prioritization Theory and a Defensive Foreign Policy: Systemic Vulnerabilities in International Politics (New York: Palgrave, 2016), pp. 3–5. 48. Ernesto Dal Bó, Pedro Dal Bó, and Rafael Di Tella, “‘Plata o Plomo?’: Bribe and Punishment in a Theory of Political Influence,” American Political Science Review 100, No. 1 (2006): pp. 41–53. 49. Center for Strategic & International Studies (CSIS), Russian Organised Crime (Washington, DC: CSIS, 1997), pp. 23–24. 50. Manuel Castells, “Global Governance and Global Politics,” PS: Political Science & Politics 38, No. 1 (2005): p. 16. 51. Hanna Samir Kassab, Prioritization Theory and a Defensive Foreign Policy: Systemic Vulnerabilities in International Politics (New York: Palgrave, 2016), p. 227. 52. For more on this topic, see: Laura Carlsen, “Obama Should Not Prop Up Mexico’s President,” The Huffington Post, January 6, 2015; Clare Ribando Seelke and Kristin Finklea, U.S.-Mexican Security Cooperation: The Mérida Initiative and Beyond (Washington, DC: Congressional Research Service, 2017). 53. Robert Keohane, After Hegemony: Cooperation and Discord in the World Political Economy (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2005), p. 27. 54.  Direct quote from “Priorities,” Interpol, About-INTERPOL/Priorities, accessed December 9, 2017.


Theory of Institutional Change

This chapter provides a theoretical baseline serving to demonstrate the book’s hypothesis. The theoretical model of the book is as follows: The more corrupt a state, the more vulnerable a region will be to non-state threats. The hypothesis of the book isolates the variables, which determine this thesis: If corruption is endemic within a political system, economic development will ultimately suffer over time. The consequences of one state’s corruption may spread to neighboring states within that particular region allowing for increased insecurity. This chapter submits that specific variables, weak institutions, are to blame for rampant corruption, which then lends itself to the wealth and power of illicit markets, specifically supply-side. Thus, the independent variable of this study is weak institutional capacity. The dependent variable this book examines is political instability, including physical violence and structural violence. States are not simply unitary actors but are composed of competing bureaucracies and other institutions that govern political outcomes. To appreciate the impact of weak institutions, this chapter will define institutions and determine ranking based on whether or not their functions are respected by the governing elite. Strong and effective government institutions are those that place members of government under scrutiny. For instance, if a member of government breaks a law, they must be subject to the same penalties as any citizen as outlined by the institution. Weak institutions lack the ability to command respect in this manner. Citizens as well as officials are able to bypass the law, pursue interests, and conduct themselves independent of the constraints placed upon them by the © The Author(s) 2019 H. S. Kassab and J. D. Rosen, Corruption, Institutions, and Fragile States,



institution. Lack of effective institutions leads to the inability of the state to survive as an independent actor. The inability to operate in an efficient and just manner may lead to the disintegration of the state and outbreaks of violence of all forms. Violence furthers chronic underdevelopment, the ultimate cost of weak institutions.1 This chapter hopes to accomplish several tasks. The first is to p ­ rovide an overview of institutional development and change. It seeks to use already established concepts and literature to underscore the ­importance of institutions in domestic stability, tranquility, and economic prosperity. The book shall focus on the history of the US and European Institution Building, from feudalism to now. This chapter also takes into consideration the great difficulty of institutional building in states with little to no history and experience with institutional development. States of the developing world are consumers of Western style governance with their own styles of governance buried deeply in historical texts. This chapter hopes to illustrate the influence of colonialism and decolonization, imperialism and anti-imperialism comparing the history and legacies of French and British style dominance. In doing so, it highlights the role of weak institutions in the rise of corruption and underdevelopment. Moreover, certain states are wealthy due to the prominence and history of institutional weakness, such as the US and its history of piracy and illicit activities. Some experts even contend that a certain degree of corruption and illegality may indeed be good for the economy as it lends itself to profit-seeking activity and reinvestment in legitimate enterprises.2

Institutions Defined This book utilizes Douglass North’s definition of institutions as any constraint on human action.3 These include formal institutions but also informal. Examples of informal institutions include the family. This book will not discuss informal institutions instead focusing on formal institutions of the government. Formal governmental institutions are those that produce and reproduce behavior deemed beneficial to society as a whole. Douglass North notes this notion of behavior production: “Institutions include any form of constraint that human beings devise to shape human interaction.”4 Governmental institutions (from here onward, the book will refer simply to institutions) provide a form of structure to society. It not only creates behavior but expected behavior. Expected behavior gives us the power of prediction, the inherent value of studying, as well



as operating in a society, with strong, effective institutions. Producing expected behavior is crucial for anyone living in a society. Citizens understand what is good behavior and bad behavior, those behaviors that warrant reward and those that deserve punishment. Hence, citizens preferring stability and prosperity to an anarchical society create institutions. The inherent value of institutions, therefore, is the reduction of uncertainty and increasing stability out of certainty. Thus, institutions provide a function in that they do something or produce outputs. In the case of institutions of government, they too provide a function. Governments are supposed to protect our lives as well as guarantee justice. This is important for social stability and political order. Effective, developed states are those with strong, robust institutions, dispensing law and order with minimal corruption. Institutions also govern economic interactions between members of society, ensuring that contracts between people are respected and enforced. The institution of property rights hence is valuable to a society seeking prosperity. If someone breaks a contract, that person could be taken to court where that contract will be applied. There are also a number of other functions that institutions provide “by the needs of efficient contracting and investing: we need property rights to write contracts, bankruptcy laws and courts to enforce the contracts, financial market institutions to secure investment, governments to provide public goods and infrastructure.”5 Public goods and infrastructure are altogether essential for transactions to occur. Without public roads, railroads, or faith in the currency, the economy as well as the country would descend into fragility and failure. It is important to note that there are effective institutions and weak institutions. Effective institutions of government assist in creating a societal environment suitable to live and invest. Reflecting the demands of individuals living in a society, institutions offer structure, producing behavior that matches up with the demands of individuals.6 Institutions act as referees to ensure populations are abiding by the law. This promotes behavior conducive to the national spirit or identity of the state and thus provides a degree of certainty and predictability. This makes the state the ideal place for individuals to settle down, start a family, and take risks such as investing in themselves (education) and property. Effective institutions are those that succeed in their tasks or cited purpose against the whims, desires or political, economic or private interests of others. Weak institutions are those that exist, but have difficulty establishing their purpose either due to corruption from criminal or political groups, or due to lack of independence from branches of government.


Effective institutions happen to be located in developed countries of the first world: Europe, the US, Japan, among others. Weaker specifically corrupt institutions happen to be located in the so-called third world or developing world. There are many reasons for this yet the most obvious happens to be that the people of certain geographical territories either have, or do not have, experience with the formation of democratic institutions. People make up institutions dictated by a normative process of human behavior serving to strengthen the institutions for their own sake. This process took centuries, first in the UK, then in the US. In other areas of the world like in Africa, Latin America, the Middle East, South Asia as well as South East Asia, centralized bureaucratic institutions simply did not exist within a nation-state like what happened in the UK. Instead, people within those areas governed themselves in what we know as kingdoms, empires, and tribes. These societies had very little democratic principles in the sense of what we know today. They cannot be considered backward or less sophisticated than say European states regardless of development; they had their own way of doing things. People living in the global south lacked the technological resources to defend their territories. As a result, this inability to defend oneself led to a period of imperialism and colonialization, mass genocide, exploitation, and slavery. Large swaths of the global south were taken by European powers. The commodification of land and labor in those regions was their basic use. Little thought was given for the people. When European powers were unable to hold on to these territories after World War II, many areas were given independence. Again, large swaths of land were made into entire states, run by a local elite, which maintained close ties with former colonial powers. To protect their position, the elite would sometimes use violence, both physical and structural, to defeat any opposition. These governments were not democratic at all, but can be categorized as either authoritarian, socialist, or transitioning into a democracy with young, untried institutional foundations. States like Lebanon, Nigeria, India, and other states tried democracy at first, but were soon met with serious issues of separatism and internal strife. In many states, corruption and anti-democratic practices, coupled with serious institutional weaknesses, heralded the start of civil wars, separatist wars, and military coups that led to questions of state survival. The problem was not that the people were not ready for democracy, but rather they had no experience with democracy. After centuries



of domination, states were expected to take care of themselves and survive on their own, protecting the ideal of democracy within their own borders. The following section will argue that democracy is a homegrown institution, strengthened by years of hard work and dedication to the rule of law. Countries in the developing world cannot be expected to simply become democratic and uncorrupt overnight.

History of Western Institutions Western institutions have gone through centuries of development culminating in democratic government, an arrangement where constitutions check power. This section details the history of institutional development and the rule of law, from the first written code of Hammurabi to the ultimate manifestation of democracy in today’s representative republics. The aim of institutions, specifically democratic institutions, is to provide a check to power and the prevention of authoritarianism. Democratic institutions and democratization has been a Western work in progress since 1800 BCE. Hammurabi, the ruler of Babylon, around that time institutionalized the first legal code. The purpose of law is to formulate a good society held together by equal submission to his written word: “to bring about the rule of righteousness in the land, to destroy the wicked and the evil-doers; so that the strong should not harm the weak; so that I should rule…and enlighten the land, to further the well-being of mankind.”7 In Ancient Greece, Aristotle compared and contrasted different types of government and submitted that oligarchy is the best form of government over a king. Some representation of citizen interest would be good for the success of a society for the happiness of the people. Eventually, but briefly, Rome would take up the idea of democracy, promoting the Senate as the main institution that represented the interests of aristocracy. Soon though, the plebeians or the working poor and peasantry would also have say in government, even gaining veto power. Such was the Roman Republic in its purest form. Senātus Populusque Rōmānus (“The Roman Senate and People”) was also a belief system that the Roman government represented the will of the people. The legitimacy that spurred from such a belief spread after Julius Caesar crossed the Rubicon and turned the Republic into an Empire. Citizenship extended beyond Rome into all areas of the empire to all peoples of the empire, ushering a period of peace and prosperity known as Pax Romana.


The Fall of Rome led to the Dark Ages, which lasted centuries. However, the foundations of democracy were on paper in the works of Greek and Roman scholars. Events in the backwater of the Roman Empire, London, England would set the stage for further democratic progress. The first real constitution, one that checked unlimited power of the monarch and guaranteed the property rights and rights of people, was the Magna Carta (1215). In the thirteenth century during the reign of King John of England, hefty taxes were levied upon landowners with little thought about the impact of such policies. If landowners did not pay, then the King would snatch their lands. In response, landowners attacked the King, forcing him to negotiate a settlement. The settlement was the Magna Carta, which set limits on the power of the monarchy. King John and the landowners came together and penned a particular clause that lent itself to global aspirations to check the power of government: “No free man shall be seized or imprisoned, or stripped of his rights or possessions, or outlawed or exiled, or deprived of his standing in any other way, nor will we proceed with force against him, or send others to do so, except by the lawful judgement of his equals or by the law of the land. To no one will we sell, to no one deny or delay right or justice.”8 In this clause, land, liberty, and the pursuit of property—a phrase used by John Locke in his Second Treatise and then Thomas Jefferson in the Declaration of Independence—would be protected from unchecked power. The Magna Carta was revolutionary for the time; not only were citizens protected from the whims of the king, but the king was to be accountable to the law. In other words, the king was not above the law as in previous forms of government. The Magna Carta was not well received across Europe. However, it is the most influential piece of legislation in existence today, influencing the US Constitution itself. The next step toward democratic government was the establishment of the Bill of Rights in England in 1689. In the seventeenth century, there was renewed interest in limiting the power of the crown culminating in the English Civil War fought between the King of England and the newly formed Parliament of Aristocrats. The Bill of Rights severely limited the power of the monarch by bolstering the strength of an elected parliament. The following represents this check on power: By assuming and exercising a power of dispensing with and suspending of laws and the execution of laws without consent of Parliament;



By committing and prosecuting divers worthy prelates for humbly petitioning to be excused from concurring to the said assumed power; By issuing and causing to be executed a commission under the great seal for erecting a court called the Court of Commissioners for Ecclesiastical Causes; By levying money for and to the use of the Crown by pretence of prerogative for other time and in other manner than the same was granted by Parliament; By raising and keeping a standing army within this kingdom in time of peace without consent of Parliament, and quartering soldiers contrary to law.9

The Bill of Rights established the supremacy of Parliament, the fusion of two new branches of government: the executive and legislative branches of government. This was to be the foundation of democratic government. This was to be followed by the US in the penning of its own Bill of Rights in their war for independence against a tyrannical crown that gave no representation for what American Colonialists saw as unfair taxation. Ultimately here, the government of the USA helped provide a framework for domestic institutions around the world. After World War II and the crimes committed by Fascist governments, the US and its allies created an institution that would assist in proliferating democracy the world over: This was the United Nations and its Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Articles 1, 2, and 3 express the desires for the world after the horrors of the war, declaring: Article 1. All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood. Article 2. Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status. Furthermore, no distinction shall be made on the basis of the political, jurisdictional or international status of the country or territory to which a person belongs, whether it be independent, trust, non-self-governing or under any other limitation of sovereignty. Article 3. Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.10


From this, it was possible to hold states accountable for their actions regardless of their size and strength. While imperfect given the power of the permanent five members of the security council and their veto power, it provides states with a forum for disputes. All states can voice their opinion, lessening the necessity for war. As such, it can be argued that democratic institutionalism does serve an integral function in the provision of security and understanding. If we are to consider the United Nations as the ultimate institutionalization of democracy globally, such was not a natural exercise. It was the product of thousands of years of trial and error and its imposition upon the world by the victors of World War II. It was far from the natural outcome of human evolution of any sort. Institutions in developing states tend to be weak or not due to the type of external domination experienced. States experiencing imperialism with little to no institutional experience tend to be the most corrupt. States with colonialism, with at least some institutional experience, tend to have less corruption. This fact is interesting in considering empirical examples of British, French, and Spanish empires. English style colonialism was far friendlier to representation; in some circumstances, colonies enjoyed a degree of self-rule. French, especially Spanish colonies, were simply property of the crown. The following chapter shall discuss the progress of democratization in newly independent states. Colonialism and imperialism remain firm foundations of institutional weakness. Empires and the practice of imperialism and colonialism facilitated the rise of corruption and the creation of a static class system relying on existing cultural institutions, which were far from democratic and more feudal. The next section will discuss factors that influence state corruption.

Why Do Institutions Matter? Strengthening Weak Institutions Against Corruption While it may be true that some illicit activity may contribute to economic development, it is also true that “drug production helps weaken states, fuel civil conflicts; drug revenues support insurgents, other armed nonstate actors, and corrupt officials….”11 The fact remains that an economy based on illegality and corruption will ultimately reinforce criminality and weaken central governments. When an economy lacks licit diversity, that is, an economy outside of illicit markets, its institutional capacity will remain fragile. Institutions matter because they create an even playing



field from which citizens can invest their money in themselves and their businesses. The economy is based on markets made up by human beings that need to feel they have a stake in the game of legal production.12 People turn to illegal industries for several reasons, one being that extreme poverty and the profits from illegal trade tend to be enormous when compared to legitimate enterprise.13 The lure of easy money is always a motivation, but there is still danger if caught.14 The crux of the issue, however, is the fact that strong and effective state institutions are needed, not just to defeat organized crime, but to neutralize other threats. Hanna Samir Kassab argues this in Prioritization Theory and a Defensive Foreign Policy: Systemic Vulnerabilities in the Twenty-First Century. He contends that systemically vulnerable states, those states considered weak, fragile, or failed, cannot solve issues such as economic instability, environmental disaster, disease and health crises as well as cyberattacks. Since organized crime weakens a state’s capacity due to corrupt institutions, it becomes apparent that such a state simply will not survive; it will collapse under the pressure of internal and external threats listed. The existing literature determines that institutions may be able to hamper or dampen corruption within states. Daniel Lederman, Norman V. Loayza, and Rodrigo R. Soares in the article “Accountability and corruption: Political institutions matter” isolate the importance of democratic institutions in fighting corruption. They argue that “political mechanisms that increase political accountability, either by encouraging punishment of corrupt individuals or by reducing the informational problem related to government activities, tend to reduce the incidence of corruption.”15 Regardless of the geographic location of the state, the culture, religion, or climate, there is a direct correlation between institutional weakness and corruption. The authors further argue that the institutional makeup within the country may determine whether the state is corrupt or not. This has to do with checks and balances within the institution, and states with democratic institutions, whether presidential or parliamentary, suffer from low corruption. Specific institutional features, such as freedom of the press, help a great deal in reducing corruption. By strengthening institutions, protecting civil rights and freedoms, and ultimately boosting citizen representation, corruption may be dealt a serious blow. Furthermore, findings by Axel Dreher and colleagues reveal that corruption may help bolster criminality and reduce economic development.16 In other words, not only does corruption lower the overall health and wealth of people, but also provides a landscape by which


the state itself becomes weaker due to lower tax revenues.17 Tax revenue helps the state provide essential public goods necessary for continued economic transaction and ultimately growth and development.18 However, since the state is corrupt, citizens may not see the need to pay taxes and will instead keep all profits to themselves.19 The Dreher study determines this through a large-n study of between 78 and 135 states. They conclude that corruption drives businesses underground. As a result, the findings recommend that institutions actually help reduce corruption and restore confidence in the state.20 Following this, Toke S. Aidt maintains further that corruption erodes development.21 He argues, “high levels of corruption tend to go hand in hand with a lack of political accountability and with disrespect for property rights, factors which themselves tend to be obstacles to economic growth.”22 Aidt also focuses on corruption’s role in reducing the productivity of the state and its economy in favor of other, less transparent forms. This is the direct message of this book. Susan Rose-Ackerman’s Corruption: International Handbook on the Economics of Corruption provides a well-researched review of the dynamic. This edited volume provides an excellent overview of the role of institutional weakness on corruption, arguing that a fundamental lack of democratic institutions may serve as the foundation of kleptocracy and crime.23 Democracy is hampered in such an environment resulting in decreases in governmental legitimacy and rises in social unrest. Moreover, Cheryl W. Gray and Daniel Kaufman provide an excellent and concise overview of the types of corruption that may exist in a state.24 Their conceptualization centers on bribery. Bribery can be used to gain contracts, reduce taxes, avoid regulations, and influence legal outcomes.25 While beneficial to the select few who can afford it, bribery on this scale creates a number of issues for the state as a whole. There are serious costs associated such as high transaction costs due to the expected bribe and inefficiency due to wasted resources on rent-seeking behavior. All of this acts as a regressive tax that punished the poor with a high cost of living and an unequal political playing field.26 Ultimately, bribery sacrifices economic development. Botswana and Chile, states with low corruption due to the presence of strong, democratic institutions, enjoy low levels of corruption and, as a result, a more developed, diverse, and rich economy.27 Thus, by strengthening a state’s political institutions, citizens will be able to enjoy the fruits of their labor equally without having to “tip”28 their already rich leaders.



From such discussions, it is possible to narrow down the definition of corruption. Corruption is simply the use of power for private gain.29 Regardless of the source, the impact of corrupt domestic political institutions on development remains an important factor that defines weakness and weak states (driving asymmetrical interdependence). As seen in the previous section, many states, especially states of the developing world, are corrupt because they lack fundamental, democratic institutions. It may seem obvious thus for states to build democratic institutions to stamp out corruption forever through these devices. However, there will be inevitable pushback from those in power; people in power do not simply give up their positions. This section hopes to conceptualize the power of corruption and its impact on governmental institutions. Groups participate in corruption is not because they are inherently evil; these groups have interests to protect that happen to be illegal. Hence, corruption is a price paid for the purposes of utility: “to corrupt government and law enforcement officials can be seen as a form of competitive advantage for illicit traders, as certain criminal organizations can facilitate their own illicit trade, while protect[ing] their territorial integrity and use of key transportation routes against competition, through bribing government authorities.”30 This is the major reason for corruption as it is, at its core, a form of insurance policy. Insurance is “a transaction that transfers a specified risk to another party for a fee, called a ‘premium.’ In return the insurer provides the insured with a promise of indemnification (insurance company payment for damages) should the specified event occur.”31 The risk of legal business may be a fire or flood. For illegal business, it may be protection against competitors and law enforcement both internal and external. Identifying the risks associated with illegal business is fundamental to its success. Insurance provides that protection, greasing the government to run smoothly, always in your favor. Chapter 8 will identify one form of insurance, the institution known as krysha. Krysha in English means roof in its literal sense. One cannot build a house, a business without consideration for protection, the roof. Krysha is insurance to protect your business.32 The Italian Mafia also operates in a similar way, encouraging others to make payments to them in order to have protection from competitors and the government. Throughout this book, the point of corruption is to facilitate business by creating confidence through insurance payments that happen to a corruption agent in a state, and regions, governing institutions.


Insurance is part of risk management in that it protects a business from unforeseen circumstances and transfers that risk to a third party.33 Corruption is insurance because it reduces the costs associated with illegal business such as imprisonment, fines, and reputational costs. States with already weak institutions become prone to corruption measures and eventually fall victim to serious transnational organized crime networks.34 Strong, effective institutions may be able to protect the populous against predatory groups using corruption as they offer accountability and transparency; weak institutions, especially in already fragile or even failed states, cannot fulfill such role.35 High impunity rates are a major variable that attests to a corrupt state with weak institutions. If certain members of society go free regardless of the crime, then this points to the systemic power of corruption.36 From this analysis, this book will understand the impact of corruption on state and regional stability, specifically crime and violence, which is a direct result of organized crime and corruption: “Powerful groups emerging from criminal backgrounds are often well connected across international borders. Illegal narcotics trading and smuggling into rich country markets generate high profits and rents, with particularly corrupting effects on police and politicians in trans-shipment areas.”37 Thus, this book submits that corruption is fundamentally part of an illegal infrastructure formulated and maintained to not only protect an illegal business and organized criminal networks, but to facilitate and ease transactions. Empirically, however, aid rarely works as intended. Some scholars argue that aid has high economic and political costs and encourages governments to waste it. Political costs include bad or incompetent policies to benefit politicians at the expense of the population. This is known as corruption, and thereby one can argue that aid may cause corruption. Some individuals argue that aid should be as transparent as possible and be made through international agencies instead of bilaterally. The reverse has happened in the advent of the rise of China. David Dollar argues this in “Eyes Wide Open: On the Targeted Use of Foreign Aid.” Aid must target the right things that would bolster growth and curb corruption. He contends that corruption should not be used in the effort to create human capital and physical infrastructure, but rather aim to create institutions and governing structures that would monitor economic growth and the efficient allocation of capital and labor to avoid corruption. This will then create the environment to encourage investments that will drive development and ensure that funds are directed in



the right way: avoid misdirection and decrease corruption. He argues for the protection of property rights and the provision of public services to encourage investor confidence.38 There are of course other issues concerning how aid is dispensed. William Easterly asserts that the problem is the structure of foreign aid regime itself: The multilateral organization that manages aid provision is accountable to politicians in wealthy donor countries. These politicians concentrate on pleasing their constituents, and funds are not allocated in the best possible way that would enhance growth, aid is not effective in this sense. Organizations must be accountable to their clients and market competition may help avoid that result.39 Reducing corruption in a state is a difficult exercise. However, as summarized, it is important to develop the necessary institutions to allow people to have a transparent and accountable government that allows an even economic playing field. The less corrupt, the more likely people will take risks and build businesses, hire people, and follow lawful procedure. The more corrupt, the less likely this is to happen resulting in less tax revenue. Solving corruption seems to be simple and straightforward: To deal with corruption and underdevelopment, one must engage in institutional building and strengthening: Good institutions have three key characteristics: enforcement of property rights for a broad cross section of the society, so that a variety of individuals have incentives to invest and take part in economic life; constraints on the actions of elites, politicians, and other powerful groups, so that these people cannot expropriate the incomes and investments of others or create a highly uneven playing field; and some degree of equal opportunity for broad segments of society, so that individuals can make investments, especially in human capital, and participate in productive activities.40

Checks and balances in developing states must be improved to protect states, regions, and the globe from organized criminal networks among other destructive non-state actors. The question remains: How does an institution change given the degree of corruption within a state? Many people have argued for economic aid to strengthen institutions, to protect against corrupt practices. Funding from outside may assist in the strengthening of institutions to protect citizens and facilitate an equal playing field for all. This book forwards the connection between corruption as a major cause of state fragility and underdevelopment.


Is Some Illicit Activity Good for Development? Some organized crime may be good for economic development. For instance, say, a person makes a significant amount of money from bootlegging that person can then take that money and invest it in legitimate enterprises. That is what Joseph Kennedy did. Miami is another example of a city built on illegal activity. Miami was once a sleepy little town in South Florida. The drug trade made it wealthy. In the 1970s and 1980s, many millions in drug money flowed into the country. Since money can be saved, invested, or spent, suppliers and traffickers saved, invested, and spent their money in Miami. The flood of money financed legitimate business with no connection to trafficking. Clothing stores, car dealerships, real estate agents, and so forth, benefitted from drug profits. However, drug trafficking and organized crime in Miami came at a high price. Traffickers bribed politicians, police officers, and other government officials. Moreover, Miami experienced high levels of violence as different drug trafficking organizations fought for control and battled for routes and territory. As a result, Miami experienced spikes in violence during the 1980s and became an epicenter of drugs entering the US through South Florida.41 According to Peter Andreas, an expert on illicit markets, there is an important relationship between illegal activity and licit development. He writes that “the history of America as a battle over smuggling of goods and people…illicit flows – and the campaigns to police them – defined and shaped the nation.”42 He argues that it is completely impossible to understand the US’s history without having an appreciation for the role of illicit markets, especially with regard to economic development. For instance, Alexander Hamilton, one of the founding fathers, argued for intellectual piracy to fast-forward American industrialization.43 This tradition continued well into the twentieth century with prohibition. The Temperance Movement provided opportunities for many impoverished risk-takers to become extraordinarily rich. Poor, petty criminals, Jews from Eastern Europe and Italians escaping the Fascist government made many millions from the sale of bootleg alcohol. As a result, prohibition enriched many people. Some continued their illegal business while others invested in more legitimate enterprises.44 This allowed for the spillover from illegal activity into legitimate enterprises. Part of this was an effort to hide illegal profits. There was a great deal of pressure to hide money earned illegally. Al Capone, for instance, went to prison for tax evasion because his bookkeeper squealed. Money laundering, the attempt to “conceal [sic] the



existence, illegal source, or illegal application of income, and then ­disguises that income to make it appear legitimate.” Laundering criminally derived proceeds can be a lucrative business, and it is an indispensable element of organized criminal activities.45 There are several steps to money laundering: (i) placement: the criminally derived money is placed into a legitimate enterprise; (ii) layering: the funds are layered through various transactions to obscure the original source; and (iii) integration: the newly laundered funds are integrated into the legitimate financial world “in the form of bank notes, loans, letters of credit, or any number of recognizable financial instruments.”46

Money laundering is any attempt to hide money gained illicitly through legal businesses. This explains the Joseph Kennedy phenomenon among many others. Thus, in the short term, businesses may profit from illegal trafficking. After the clamp down on cocaine trafficking in the 1990s, many businesses dependent on illicit profits simply went out of business. The issue, however, is unsophisticated investors, rather than spending their illicit money wisely, speculate. For instance, Panama experienced a property boom in its capital city due to the influx of drug money. Panama City has some fancy new buildings, and many Panamanians benefitted from the construction boom. However, many of these buildings remain empty.47 Some experts argue that indeed, a bit of corruption serves the economy well: “corruption facilitates beneficial trades that would otherwise not have taken place. In doing so, it promotes efficiency by allowing individuals in the private sector to correct or circumvent pre-existing government failures of various sorts.”48 However, if corrupt and illegal practices dominate the economy, then the state could see economic disorder, political instability, and possibly the domination of illegal actors in a society (i.e., such activities could even create a narco-state). This type of state will then present a considerable challenge to all states within the international system as it will remain weak and fragile, eventually succumbing to a dominant non-state actor: “drugs have enabled a range of powerful actors who have become, to use a phrase coined by…Gen. H.R. McMaster, stakeholders in state weakness—people who are part of the state, or benefit from the state, but who actively wish that state to be weak, in order to maximize their own power base and revenue-earning capabilities.”49


Conclusion Each chapter in this book will focus on key states to illustrate how organized crime spreads to other states within its region, especially those with already weak and easily corruptible institutions. For instance, Colombian cartels need to corrupt other states to get their product to the US market. This causes institutions to be weak systemically, regardless of borders. This manifestation is similar in Central Asia, with the case of Afghanistan and its heroin and similar in various African cases. This book will also discuss major illicit commodities in every region: drugs, humans/organs, counterfeit goods. Each chapter will use a similar format and will discuss the following: (1) analyze trends in corruption in the region (as some states are built on it); (2) describe the various illicit commodities produced and or trafficked in the region; and (3) examine the ways product reaches the market/short description of how corruption works across borders. This book covers several case studies to exemplify corruption and institutional challenges, from Central Asia to Latin America to Eastern Europe and Russia. By doing so, we hope to uncover the importance of strong and effective institutions in providing justice and protecting property rights for all citizens.


1. Jonathan D. Rosen and Hanna Samir Kassab, Drugs, Gangs, and Violence (New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan, 2018). 2. For more on this topic, see: Pierre-Guillaume Méon and Laurent Weill, “Is Corruption an Efficient Grease?” World Development 38, No. 3 (2010): pp. 244–259. 3. Douglass North, Institutions, Institutional Change and Economic Performance (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990), p. 3. 4. Ibid., p. 4. 5.  Gérard Roland, “Understanding Institutional Change: Fast-Moving and Slow-Moving Institutions,” Studies in Comparative International Development 38, No. 4 (1990): p. 112. 6. This book will not address whether or not all individuals, or just elites, have more say in creating these institutions. If institutions reflect the interests of elites, ignoring the plight of the masses, then this will lead to instability. The masses must feel as if their interests are represented to protect the legitimacy of the institution in the long-term.



7. L. W. King, “Code of Hammurabi,” hamframe.asp, accessed May 7, 2017. 8. The Magna Carta; for more, see: John Robert Maddicott, “Magna Carta and the Local Community 1215–1259,” Past & Present 102 (1984): pp. 25–65. 9. English Bill of Rights 1689, england.asp, accessed February 9, 2018. 10. “Universal Declaration of Human Rights,” 1948, en/universal-declaration-human-rights/, accessed February 9, 2018. 11. Mark A. R. Kleiman, Jonathan P. Caulkins, and Angela Hawken, Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2011), p. 16. 12. K. Polanyi, The Great Transformation: The Political and Economic Origins of Our Time (Boston: Beacon Paperback, 2001), p. 76. 13.  Scott H. Decker and Margaret Townsend Chapman, Drug Smugglers on Drug Smuggling: Lessons from the Inside (Philadelphia, PA: Temple University Press: 2008), p. 52. 14. Quoted in Scott H. Decker and Margaret Townsend Chapman, Drug Smugglers on Drug Smuggling: Lessons from the Inside, p. 37. 15.  Daniel Lederman, Norman V. Loayza, and Rodrigo R. Soares, “Accountability and Corruption: Political Institutions Matter,” Economics & Politics 17, No. 1 (2005): pp. 1–2. 16. Axel Dreher, Christos Kotsogiannis, and Steve McCorriston, “How Do Institutions Affect Corruption and the Shadow Economy?” International Tax and Public Finance 16, No. 6 (2009): p. 774. 17. Ibid. 18.  Bernd Schlenther, “The Impact of Corruption on Tax Revenues, Tax Compliance and Economic Development: Prevailing Trends and Mitigation Actions in Africa,” EJournal of Tax Research 15, No. 2 (2017): p. 218. 19. Axel Dreher, Christos Kotsogiannis, and Steve McCorriston, “How Do Institutions Affect Corruption and the Shadow Economy?” International Tax and Public Finance 16, No. 6 (2009): p. 775. 20. Ibid., p. 792. 21. Toke S. Aidt, “Corruption, Institutions, and Economic Development,” Oxford Review of Economic Policy 25, No. 2 (2009): p. 273. 22. Ibid., p. 272. 23. Susan Rose-Ackerman, ed., International Handbook on the Economics of Corruption (Cheltenham: Academic Press, 2013), p. xx. 24. Cheryl W. Gray and Daniel Kaufmann, “Corruption and Development,” Finance and Development 35, No. 1 (1998): p. 7. 25. Ibid., pp. 7–8. 26. Ibid., p. 8.


27. Ibid. 28. See Chapter 4 on the norm of baksheesh. 29. Axel Dreher, Christos Kotsogiannis, and Steve McCorriston, “How Do Institutions Affect Corruption and the Shadow Economy?” International Tax and Public Finance 16, No. 6 (2009): p. 774. 30. Gautman Basu, “Concealment, Corruption, and Evasion: A Transaction Cost and Case Analysis of Illicit Supply Chain Activity,” p. 219. 31. William A. Darity, ed., International Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences (Detroit: Macmillan, 2nd ed., 2008), p. 48. 32. David O. Whitten, “Russian Robber Barons: Moscow Business, American Style,” European Journal of Law and Economics 13, No. 3 (2002): p. 195. 33. William A. Darity, ed., International Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences, p. 48. 34. Bruce Bagley, Drug Trafficking and Organized Crime in the Americas: Major Trends in the Twenty-First Century (Washington, DC: Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, 2012). 35. Bruce Bagley, Drug Trafficking and Organized Crime in the Americas: Major Trends in the Twenty-First Century; for more on corruption, see: Joseph S. Tulchin and Ralph H. Espach, Combating Corruption in Latin America (Washington, DC: Woodrow Wilson Center Press, 2000); Kurt Gerhard Weyland, “The Politics of Corruption in Latin America,” Journal of Democracy 9, No. 2 (1998): pp. 108–121. 36. Robert Muggah and Ilona Szabó de Carvalho, “There’s a Cure for Latin America’s Murder Epidemic—And It Doesn’t Involve More Police or Prisons,” The Conversation, April 4, 2017, p. 3. 37. OECD, International Drivers of Corruption (Paris: OECD, 2012), p. 10. 38. Dollar, David. “Eyes Wide Open,” Harvard International Review 25, No. 1 (2003): 48. Cancel. 39. William Easterly, “The Cartel of Good Intentions,” Foreign Policy 131 (2002): pp. 40–49. Cancel. 40.  Daron Acemoglu, “Root Causes: A Historical Approach to Assessing the Role of Institutions in Economic Development,” Finance and Development (2003): p. 27. 41. For more, see: Dale K. Sechrest and Pamela Burns, “Police Corruption: The Miami Case,” Criminal Justice and Behavior 19, No. 3 (1992): pp. 294–313; Mark L. Walters, “American Dreammasters v. The Cocaine Cowboys: Caplin, Monsanto, and the New Cold War,” Texas Law Review 69 (1990): p. 159; and Alison Meek, “Murders and Pastels in Miami: The Role of ‘Miami Vice’ in Bringing Back Tourists to Miami,” The Florida Historical Quarterly 90, No. 3 (2012): pp. 286–305.



42. Peter Andreas, Smuggler Nation: How Illicit Trade Made America (New York, NY: Oxford University, Oxford, 2013). 43. Ibid., p. ii. 44.  Peter Reuter, “The Decline of the American Mafia,” Public Interest (Summer 1995): p. 89. 45. Pancho Nagel and Christopher Weiman, “Money Laundering,” American Criminal Law Review 52 (Fall 2015): p. 1357. 46. Ibid. 47.  Andrew Beatty, “Construction Boom in Panama Is Built on Drug Money,” Reuters, December 30, 2007. 48. Toke S. Aidt, “Corruption, Institutions, and Economic Development,” Oxford Review of Economic Policy 25, No. 2 (2009): p. 272. 49. “IISS-US Adelphi Book Launch: Drugs, Insecurity and Failed States: The Problems of Prohibition,” International Institute for Security Studies, May 15, 2012, 06:37.


Latin America and Lebanon: A Comparative Study of Fragility

Thomas More once argued that institutional building that shapes lawful behavior is beneficial to a society.1 Institutional change accomplishes little without this component. Countries have constitutions to ensure all laws, rules, norms, or government policy, fit within their political culture. Constitutions protect citizens from the government and certain laws or regulations that cut into individual rights and freedoms.2 On the other hand, they also protect and entrench existing political orders. As a result, the power dynamic may contribute to political stagnation and underdevelopment given the cementing of political infrastructure and culture. This lack of inclusive robust political institutions may forestall economic activity as individual propensity to invest is hampered. Consequently, a state’s domestic economy may remain underdeveloped and vulnerable to external economic shock. These states will remain weak and fragile members of the international system. State fragility simply means vulnerability to external shocks such as economic, environmental, and political.3 Economic development is crucial for resilience against such shocks yet without a proper state apparatus, such as a constitution, this may never be attained.

This chapter is from Hanna S. Kassab, “Latin America and Lebanon: A Comparative Study of Fragility,” in Fragile States in the Americas, eds. Jonathan D. Rosen and Hanna S. Kassab (Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2017), pp. 323–341. We have received permission to reprint it and have made edits to the original version. © The Author(s) 2019 H. S. Kassab and J. D. Rosen, Corruption, Institutions, and Fragile States,



Many countries of Latin America have constitutions. They also have many constitutional amendments and, more importantly, versions. For example, Venezuela has had 26 different constitutions since independence.4 While many believe that such changes are reflective of political instability, many scholars suggest that a certain number of versions are indeed important for evolution. Scholars often try to find a magic number which reflects some kind of happy medium. An important question is: Why do some states have so many constitutional changes while others, like Lebanon, simply do not? More importantly, how does a constitution effect economic development and contribute to state fragility? This chapter will answer these questions by suggesting the following: constitutions change or remain static depending on a country’s reigning political culture. The argument is that a country’s centuries old political culture determines how political power is distributed among individuals. Political culture “organizes meanings and meaning-making, defining social and political identity, structuring collective actions, and imposing a normative order on politics and social life.”5 It “provides a framework for organizing people’s daily worlds – locating the self and others in them and making sense of the actions and motives of others – for grounding an analysis of interests, for linking identities to political action, and for predisposing people and groups toward specific actions and away from others.”6 The chapter’s hypothesis is that if political power is concentrated given the culture of patrimony and clientelism, then one can expect the constitution to reflect that. There will be competition between the patrons to win top positions in government. Once won, there would be an exerted effort to change the constitution, such as strengthening executive power, to prolong the life of a patron. In other words, the culture of patrimony determines who is in power and the consolidation of executive power through constitutional change. In other countries, like Lebanon, the society is stratified into diverse religious sects. There is an imperfect power-sharing dynamic that protects the political culture of patronage and solidifies the Lebanese constitution, forcing it to remain static over time. As a result, the same political concerns and families of the 1950s persist till this day. Progress is stifled because of this reigning political discourse. This explains the lack of constitutional change in that country. This outcome, like in Latin America, is attributed to the reigning political culture of the country and results in persistent economic underdevelopment.



In both these cases, political culture perpetuates itself as a source of power and dominance that can create or stifle constitutional change. This ultimately interferes with progressive political change and economic development. If power is married to certain patrons, then the chances of new “blood” entering political discourse become increasingly less likely. This chapter will therefore discuss the importance of understanding the prominence of a country’s political discourse to explain constitutional changes or a lack thereof. It first tries to explain the logic of a constitution and its birth in Europe. The chapter underscores the Eurocentric understanding of a constitution to explain the next section, the cultural power dynamic of Latin America and Lebanon. Subsequently, this work synthesizes the cases of political culture by underscoring the ramifications of political culture in society especially considering economic growth, development, and continuing economic vulnerability. Such matters curse these states into perpetual weak/fragile status. It concludes by offering up a framework of investigation.

The Logic of the Constitution: The Western Perspective The constitution is an institution born from European ideas and found success in the US and the world. This section defines constitutions as a reflection of a country’s political culture given the specific political context of the time. While constitutions are regularly defined as an institution which “places limits upon government, proscribing the means by which official power may be exercised,”7 and, as a “code of rules which aspire to regulate the allocation of functions, powers and duties among the various agencies and officers of government, and define the relationships between these and the public,”8 they must also be considered first as the ideas they represent: citizens demanding protections from government. They seek to place limits on government to protect freedom and individuality. Politics in this perspective can be described simply as the struggle for power between the state and the individual to best organize a society and its scarce resources. This is part of our understanding of politics due to the work of Socrates and Plato and the Republic, and their followers: Aristotle, Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau, among others. The idea of the constitution comes about as a kind of peace treaty between the citizen


and the government. If we think of the constitution as a peace treaty, we begin to better understand the struggle between the ruler and the ruled. The first attempt at describing a constitution was to demarcate the procedures of government. Aristotle in Politics puts forth a Constitution of Athens for that purpose: “our purpose is to consider what form of political association is best for people able so far as possible to live as they would wish.”9 The purpose is to gain some equilibrium between the ruler and the ruled. Aristotle posits that a country is ruled by its constitution. Constitutions can either be the rule by One, the Few, or the Many: “here the rule is either exercised in the interest of the ruler or for the attainment of some advantage common to both ruler and ruled. Essentially, it is exercised in the interest of the ruled…for this reason, when the constitution of a city is constructed on the principle of its members are equals and peers, the citizens think it proper that they should hold office by turns.”10 If a constitution changes, then the city itself changes as it abides by another political culture. For Aristotle, the goal of each arrangement remains the same: “there is one thing clear about the best constitution: it must be a political organization which will enable anyone to be at his best and live happily.”11 This notion has continued throughout the classic period to the age of enlightenment and in contemporary times. The idea of constitutionalism remains constant: It places limits on the exercise of power.12 However, constitutions differ from country to country as a reflection of its political culture. To understand constitutions and constitutional change, it is important to understand a country’s political culture. The constitution of the US speaks using the voice of the masses stating: “we the people.”13 Governments must have limited powers so that citizens can maintain their right to be free as dictated by natural law. This lays the foundation for the concept of the “social contract” as the manifestation of a people’s general will and rooted in customs existing prior to the establishment of a country.14 Constitutions reflect this demarcation of powers and hence, reflect a political culture. The American constitution model helped create the constitutions of the world. The Polish (1791) and French (1791) constitutions were inspired by the American model. The French model mixed American innovations with royalist protections. Out of this came the Cadiz Constitution (1812) which had a Hispanic cultural interpretation. It was carried to Portugal, Russia, Naples, and Latin America, influencing and



shaping local political discourse and culture while retaining and solidifying certain traditional aspects. In Latin America, for example, the Bolivarian constitution (1826), created by Simón Bolívar, provided the framework for popular dictatorship in the region thereby combining American values with the culture of patronage prevailing at the time.15 Bolívar’s construction ultimately determined the political culture in Latin America which lasts till today. Furthermore, the constitutions of Asian countries, such as China and Japan, were also based on European conceptions which came out of America. However, certain aspects attune to the indigenous political culture of Asia were maintained. In China and Japan, authoritarianism was maintained even as the feudal system was dismantled.16 In summation, with all these cases, one can see how political institutions, constitutions, can simultaneously transform a political culture and itself be transformed. In 1848, Europe’s year of revolution, many new constitutions came to serve changes in political discourse and culture. These continued the liberal tradition first promoted by the US: principles of popular sovereignty, individual rights, and freedoms as well as other progressive notions of liberty were given prominence against a centralized government. In 1906, the Russian constitution served to placate radicals taking advantage of Russian economic underdevelopment and weakness. Liberal concessions that promoted the freedom and liberty of Russian citizens, of course, were not enough to gain popular consent; they came too late to save the Tsar. With communist take-over, a new constitution was created to merge Marxist ideals with political culture to erase the Tsarist past. These brief illustrations serve the stated argument: changes in the constitution reflect changes in political culture.17 Since constitutions describe the method for moderating political organization and its process, it must reflect norms of goodness and rightness; it must reflect the country’s political culture and expectations of right and wrong.18 They must adhere to the reigning cultural discourse of the time. In other words, in the context of political culture, constitutions reflect the political culture of countries. The context of political culture is the structure of knowledge which dominates during a certain time and space. This then determines political outcomes, like the formulation or invention of constitutions. Consequently, constitutions change or evolve given changes in political culture. This is part of political progress. If constitutions remain stagnant even in the face of popular support for a particular


amendment, it becomes necessary to ask who benefits from such an arrangement. To truly understand a constitution, one must first consider the political culture which defined the constitution in the first place. The following sections will provide a historical background of two areas of the world: the countries of Latin America and Lebanon. Latin American countries will be considered as a block as they have some repeated patterns of behavior given the plethora of constitutional changes since independence. Lebanon will serve to contrast the Latin American context given the fundamental lack of constitutional change. The political culture and power symmetry that exist in these countries will give us a better understanding of political outcomes. This will help explain the lack of political development in these states as well as their relative positions in the international system as weak and fragile states.

Patronage and Clientelism: The Culture of Latin America and Lebanon One cannot understand the politics of Latin America and Lebanon without first understanding their political cultures. While many academics and scholars seek to explain political outcomes using some generalized rational formulation, such studies are inappropriate without first appreciating the historical and social context of this region. Two foundational and rudimentary but powerful concepts help define politics for Latin America and Lebanon: patronage and clientelism. The acceptable definition of patronage is the relationship between a citizen with little power and influence and another possessing greater power and influence. For this relationship to happen, political institutions of the country in question must themselves be weak. The lack of trust in the country’s government (even with a constitution to defend citizens) systematizes patronage as a practice within a mutually reinforced dynamic. Faith in the patron to provide protection and justice is essential to survive given the inability of government to provide these public goods. In other words, “the best way of protecting themselves from this uncertainty is often to create a special relationship with a person who has knowledge of, and access to, the state and its resources – a person whose patronage will create through informal means the security that is lacking in the formal system.”19 Lack of faith in a government bureaucracy due to corruption, incompetence, or inefficiency creates a need for this relationship, especially in cases where citizens “do not know



what their position is vis-a-vie the state and its agents, and if they do know the formal rules of the democratic regime, they cannot be sure that these will be employed.”20 Clientelism is defined as “perhaps the principal informal mechanism used to integrate or co-opt otherwise marginalized sectors of the population….”21 Marginalized segments of the population are those individuals or groups that are fundamentally excluded or ignored from political participation and discourse. Clientelism is a relationship with several elements. It comprises of a “a long-term relationship of unequal power in which identifiable actors exchange goods and services that often involve political allegiance…it operates to a logic of exchange, whereas the ideal of democracy is based on the ethos of citizenship rights….”22 Clientelism has been further defined as either exclusionary or inclusionary. Some possess a patron while others will swear allegiance to another, or sometimes, to none. Those without a patron will certainly be excluded from the benefits of having a patron. Benefits may include social mobility, societal integration, and access to resources.23 Within a democratic system, all citizens have the same rights and access to resources. Under clientelism, this is quite different.24 Latin American countries and Lebanon have a mixed system that combines the dichotomous forces of democracy and clientelism. While some individuals view clientelism as mutually beneficial, the patron benefits most for two reasons. First, the patron controls the form of the relationship as the stronger party. He is the owner of resources that allows him to maintain a formidable client base. The patron holds the power or the agency to shape outcomes.25 This fundamentally European instrument of governance would find itself in Latin America and Lebanon during periods of colonialization and imperialism.

Constitutional Change and Political Culture in Latin America Constitutions are created to conserve and protect the reigning political culture through institutionalization.26 These documents preserve the rules of the political game, the duties between branches of government and most important, the relationship between the government and the public. They represent the dominant values of a country, yet they are changed quite regularly.


Scholars disagree on the actual number of constitutional replacements and modifications, but these changes are prolific and plentiful. The purpose of this chapter is to discuss political culture as the main driver for constitutional change or a lack thereof not to develop a justification for the count. Since Latin America shares a similar political culture, and similar outcome, they must be discussed in tandem. Historically, the clientelism and patronage networks in Latin America were cultural products of Medieval European socioeconomic practice of feudalism.27 The landowners in Latin America then had to swear loyalty to the European (Spanish or Portuguese) Crown in Europe. However, due to the slow process of communication and transportation at the time, landowners enjoyed considerable autonomy. The landowner was king in his area of rule. More importantly for stability, the ruled, the indigenous populations, rarely revolted. They accepted the authority of the Crown and the landowner and seldom examined the power dynamic.28 The period of colonialism lasted three centuries and the social, political, and economic mechanisms implemented over time were consolidated through decades of socialization. Feudalism was more institutionalized in Latin America than in Europe given the enhanced autonomy of the landowning class and the ability to exploit factors of production: land and labor. The practices of the hacienda, encomienda, the repartimiento and the audience were vital institutions not present in Europe during feudal times yet are notably feudal relationships with their own particularities between the landowner and the peasant. The hacienda was large estates taken from indigenous populations and given to Spanish elite to encourage settlement into the new world.29 Such a policy related to the allotment of land and it aimed to produce agricultural goods for the colonial market. The encomienda was a royal grant of slaves given to a conquistador to create wealth for the crown and for himself. It was the first of the feudal practices and did not last long due to the suffering experienced by the enslaved. The encomienda practice was then replaced by the repartimiento which was more sensitive to the culture of the enslaved. These systems defined life for the majority of people in Latin America for many generations.30 These institutions explained above served to produce a political culture specific to Latin America. In Mexico and Bolivia, the practices of the hacienda lasted until relatively recently. These were overturned by the 1952 revolutions.31 A key departure point for Latin America was the introduction of a more liberal order due to changes in the international system. After the



Spanish and French defeat at Trafalgar by the British in 1805, Spain lost control over much of its overseas territories. This weakness forced the monarchy to enact political reform through the establishment of a constitution to curtail the power of the ruling class. The constitution at Cadiz would in part be a result of the American and French revolutions. Here, independence from Spain also became a possibility and was discussed by the landowning and military classes of the Americas. The ideas of independence and a constitution were prominent during these years. From February 1821, starting with Mexico, the colonies of Spain would become independent, practicing liberal principles such as liberty for all. Caracas in modern-day Venezuela would be next in June of the same year. These independence campaigns were led by the military leader Simón Bolívar.32 Bolívar was the first to argue for republicanism and a nationalist identity throughout Latin America. He is held in high esteem by many in Latin America today and is known as the region’s first constitutionalist. However, he held a preference for strong executive dictatorial power to hold the nation together given existing disparities. He made a convincing case given the issues of the day: a continued war with Spain and increasing economic, social, and cultural divides. Thus, in a practical and pragmatic sense, Bolívar desired a strong presidency. However, many wanted a more liberal country with a separation of powers like that of the US, yet Bolívar preferred a nation held together by a strong presidency given the political and cultural nature of Latin America at the time: “We must never forget that the excellence of government lies not in its theories, not in its form or mechanism, but in its being suited to the nature and character of the nation for which it is instituted.”33 The constitution for Bolívar would not serve or protect the population as originally planned by past constitutionalists. In Latin America, the constitution reflected the political culture and its large economic divides. As a result, Bolívar designed the first Constitution of Bolivia (1826) that inserted structures and mechanisms to correct what he thought were inadequacies of the population. In this document, he lays out his plans for government. First, there should be a separation of powers like the federalist system of the US: an executive, a legislature and a judicial branch. However, these would not allow for checks and balances as in a federalist system. Instead, it would serve to protect a strong executive central government. Power would be concentrated in the president who would be given a life term.34 For Bolívar, the president is the “sun… which imparts life to the political universe.”35


As a result, the constitution, rather than protect the population, served to correct the populations’ flaws with the strong hand of the dictator.36 This was rather unorthodox given the discourse of liberalism and constitutionalism present at the time. In a very paternal and authoritarian manner, Bolívar would underscore the immaturity of the population; they were not ready for true liberalism: “Our citizens lack the political virtues of true republicans.”37 In much of his political writing (the Jamaican Letter of 1815; the Angostura Address of 1919; and the Address of the Bolivarian Constitution of 1826), Bolívar expressed a lack of confidence for democracy in Latin America; people needed the heavy hand of government. Hence, we can conclude that Bolívar was not a democrat; he was an authoritarian and patriarchal. The constitution would not protect the people, but rather it would protect the dictator giving him lifelong power which would then be used to discipline the people. At this critical juncture, Latin America became further entrenched by the political culture of authoritarianism. The new constitution was simply a continuation of the colonial policies that existed before. It defined ruler and ruled. Through the constitution, Bolívar not only institutionalized authoritarianism, but solidified the social structure which existed since colonialism: clientelism and patrimony. Bolívar was the instigator of this policy as the constitution caters to the will of a strong executive. This continues until today in the many constitutions and amendments which help strengthen and protect the executive.38 Thus, while the transition to democracy in most of the Latin American states in the twentieth century has led to the creation of new constitutions to protect citizens from authoritarianism, those in power only strengthen further the power of the president and the executive branch.39 When states of Latin America won their independence, contending elite factions with their clients fought for the highest positions of government. This was endemic to the region. Stakes were high as once power was won, further wealth and influence could be acquired due to the acquired capabilities of the state.40 By the mid-nineteenth century, Latin American states shared three common traits: a strong executive branch of government, a high degree of centralization and suffrage limited to literate, propertied men.41 The government was “by, of and for the elite.”42 The elite thought it necessary to have constitutions, importing ideas from foreign lands. While constitutions were designed to protect civilians



from their government, Latin American elites designed constitutions to protect themselves from civilians. As Burns and Charlip illustrate: “generally the constitutions invested the chief executive with paramount powers so that both in theory and practice he exercised far greater authority than other branches of government, which were invariably subservient to his will…the Latin Americans reverted to their experience of the past. The president played the omnipotent role of past kings.”43 In 150 years, Latin American countries went through 190 constitutional changes since their respective independence. Elites, naturally, were the main drivers of these changes and did so to protect their positions in the executive. Hence, the political culture of patronage and clientelism, not only explains the abundance of constitutional change, but also the force of dictatorial populism and the willingness of most civilians to accept dictators that defined much of the twentieth century.44 Thus, the reason for the many constitution replacements and modifications, and the willingness of citizens to accept these changes reflects the continued relevance of clientelism as a system of governance and the power of patrimony within democracy. Democracy as an institution becomes polluted by power and the patrons that battle for dominance within a country. The executive, relative to other subservient branches of government, was the most dominant seat of power. To protect their position, the executive perverted the constitution as a liberal invention to serve their own search for power, influence, and wealth.

Constitutions and Power Sharing in Lebanon While Latin American countries make numerous constitutional changes, Lebanon made none. Moreover, its constitution remains unwritten, defined by an agreement between leaders of two of its fifteen different political communities. Even more interesting is the continued domination of specific family dynasties and the peoples’ unrelenting allegiance. To fully understand these realities, it is important to highlight the importance of political culture and context to explain political stagnation especially regarding the evolution of the Lebanese identity. With regard to the lack of constitutional change, the Lebanese must be compared and contrasted to the case of Latin America within the cultural framework of patronage and clientelism, the structural context that shapes political outcomes.


The History of the Lebanese Republic and the Formulation of Its Constitution Throughout its history, Lebanon has been the subject of imperialism. The Ottoman Empire and the distribution of power within its Syrian province serve as a coherent starting point. Ottoman rule installed the pertinent political mechanisms governing religious minorities. This brought forth the clientelism and patronage enforced to ensure stability during the time. Patronage and clientelism in the Lebanese context will now be discussed. By describing the Ottoman millet system, we will begin to make sense of Lebanese politics today, especially given the lack of progress since independence in 1943. The Ottomans first entered Syria, including the area known as Lebanon today, in 1516. This invasion successfully destroyed Mamluk control over the territory and led to four centuries of Ottoman rule with a short episode of liberation. Between 1831 and 1840, the Egyptian Muhammad Ali successfully revolted against the Ottomans and Mount Lebanon existed as an autonomous region until the Ottoman’s reconquered the area.45 The Ottomans held control over Mount Lebanon and its surrounding areas until its destruction after World War I. During their rule, the Ottomans, who themselves were Sunni, gave prominence to the Sunni populations in Syria.46 In Mouth Lebanon, the Assaf dynasty was established as the prominent family of Sunni chiefs.47 The Assafs favored Maronite sects in Mount Lebanon over other communities such as the Druze who were seen as untrustworthy.48 The Assafs were given power to appoint local chiefs to rule within their particular religious communities. Members of one particular family were appointed to govern the Maronites of Mount Lebanon: the Hubaysh family. The Hubaysh clan encouraged Maronite communities to settle in the mountains. One family, the Gemayels, followed. The Gemayel family would rise to political importance only in the nineteenth century. In the sixteenth century, there were other clans that would be given importance to the governorship of Mount Lebanon. The Khazin family also settled at this time was far more powerful than the Gemayels.49 Families, like the Khazin, were given rule over their respective communities within a geographic territory. This is known as the millet system. The accepted definition of the millet system is not one without controversy, but it is widely accepted that “the major non-Muslim communities were granted civil and religious self-government…consigned to



benign neglect on the fringes of an imperial Ottoman imagination.”50 Focusing on the Maronite minority of the Ottoman Empire, the Khazin family was bestowed with authority, which was certainly not absolute, through patronage. The Christian Sheikh would have to show his respect by giving gifts and participating in rituals of humility and loyalty: kissing the hand of the Ottoman governor or the hem of his robe.51 When the Ottoman governor was satisfied with the level of dedication, the Christian Sheikh’s rule would be further cemented by the annual gift of the hil’at: the ceremonial robe of honor. This designated him as an Ottoman functionary. The Ottoman functionary and his people were allowed the necessary freedom to practice their religion and customs as long as they were subordinate to Ottoman power. Some of the responsibilities of the Christian Sheikh included: “discipline, prosperity, tranquility and security of the imperial subjects, as well as the prompt deliverance of required taxes and all other obligations, the safeguarding of roads, the eradication without forgiveness of all those who would sow corruption and transcend their hudud, or limits.”52 The Christian Sheikh had much power to govern his populations as he saw fit to ensure that the Ottomans were satisfied. Like Spanish landowners in Latin America, the Ottoman Sultan was a far distance away in Istanbul. Never present, the Christian Sheikh was his representation, but ultimately, all his subjects were considered in metaphoric terms, his slaves.53 Even with this, the Christian Sheikh, and his family, wielded much power. Because of their position, they were given an important position in the Maronite Church. This helped him consolidate power throughout Lebanon far into the nineteenth century. They bought large amounts of land with their wealth and took on serfs, peasants who tilled the land.54 Hence, the Ottoman Christian designate wielded great power that religious institutions were subordinate. One member of the Khazin family was honored by the church in a letter sent from the Patriarch to the Pope in 1657: “Prince [Abu Nawfal al Khazin] of all the Catholics in Mount Lebanon and the Orient, protector of the Church: its patriarch, bishops, monks, priests, churches, monasteries, and the faith of Christians in these regions. He shields the Maronite community and the church from the ills which are visited upon them by their rulers.”55 Patronage of this magnitude was a practice for the Khazin family and other notable religious minority families, Druze and Shi’a included.


On many occasions, the Khazins directly interfered in the affairs and administration of the church at every level, so much that their signatures appear on church documents to give authority, sanction, and political sway.56 The patriarch would intervene to the pope on the Khazin family’s behalf, not on religious matters, but to gain honors, titles, and medals to further enhance his standing in the Maronite community. When one Khazin would die, his son would succeed him in dynastic fashion. A special letter would be written to the pope: “Now Sheikh Abu Nasif [al Khazin] has passed away and been succeeded by his son Khalid. We wish that you honor him with the same signs which his father and grandfather enjoyed before him in order that the Maronite community shows greater deference toward him and that the becomes more obedient to your Holiness and more concerned about the interests of the Maronite community.”57 When the state of Lebanon was declared independent in 1920 as a liberal, Western state, one would think that such practices would disappear. Instead, they were further entrenched and institutionalized in the constitution. The principle author of the constitution was Michel Chiha, a Roman Catholic banker. In 1926, he drew up the document with the idea that political positions should be divided equally among the plethora of religious groups existing in Lebanon.58 This became known as confessionalism and was considered a temporary solution until a secular system could successfully be put into place.59 In 1943, a largely informal and unwritten agreement, the National Pact, became the main principle of governance within Lebanon. In this agreement, positions of government were designated to specific religious communities: The Maronite would be president, the prime minister, a Sunni, and the speaker of the house, Shi’a. Other religious sects, like the Druze, would hold top positions like the chief of staff of the armed forces.60 In parliament, it was agreed that Christians would hold six seats for every five Muslim representatives. This equation, although sound on paper, proved to be a matter of discord between the political-religious communities given changes in population. Given that Lebanese identity is divided into religious sects and not the nation, the communities would see one another as enemies or competitors rather than as part of a wider nation. Patronage and clientelism were also a practice even after independence. The old system of political culture described before continued as a structural ­mechanism reinforced now by politicians and their political parties. Each party had their own family which dominated the force of politics. Electoral districts



also had their respective patrons who were tied to a political party. These political bosses, or za’im, helped manipulate elections by means of consent, and when necessary, through coercion.61 The za’im held great political power because they could get individuals elected to government. Once in power, the person was indebted to the za’im, not the country. Because this was a structural force, all the religious communities operated in like fashion. With Christians, it was Pierre Gemayel leading the Lebanese Kataeb, a conservative party who borrowed from the Spanish Phalanx party; for the Liberal Party, it was Camille Chamoun and for the Lebanese Druze, it was Kamal Jumblatt of the Druze stronghold region of the Shouf; and he led the Progressive Socialist Party.62 Across Lebanon, the za’im system defined the politics of Lebanon, and as William Cleveland would illustrate: “the za’im was in effect a feudal lord dressed in a tailored European suit.” He adds poignantly: “the attire misled many outside observers at the time and prompted them to write glowing reports about Lebanese democracy… [This] hid the blunt force that made up Lebanese politics.”63 This metaphorically points to the sham of Lebanese democracy as the cloak of Western democracy would hide the festering strife that hindered the progression of national identity. Since the National Pact wanted to ensure balance within the Lebanese political system, no changes or amendments were ever made. This was ultimately a consequence of the political culture which remains in place even to this day. Moreover, religious sects thought it better to go to war with one another than make any adjustments that would serve the national interests. The National Pact would change eventually in 1991, not because of political negotiation domestically, but because of outside and illegal pressure from Damascus after the end of the civil war in 1991. Political communities in Lebanon, then and now, operate under the political culture of clientelism and patronage. The Lebanese civil war was fought among the communities under the leadership of certain families who, for the same reason of political culture, remain in charge today. The Gemayels and the Jumblatts are infamous. As part of the landowning class, their presence continues to be felt not only in their specific areas, but in Lebanese politics. For the Gemayels: First Pierre, then his sons Amin and Bashir, then his son Pierre who died in 2008 and now his brother who is expected to take the helm of the party after his father, Samy; for the Jumblatts we have Kamal and son Walid. This political culture continues for those who are not traditionally powerful but once they


have contributed something perceivably positive, their family is given hegemony: the Harirris for example. Now, given changing norms about the role of women in society, the wives of major figures are now given respect and admiration: Solange Gemayel, the wife of Bashir, is now a public figure and member of parliament. This fact reflects how even positive changes in society, and international society can somehow be swallowed up in the wider political context of a country; in this case, Lebanon.

Working Within a Political Context: Accepting Social Power Relations and Context The research presented here seeks to describe not simply the reasons behind constitutional change, but the lack of economic development in these cases. To contrast Latin America and Lebanon, one sees two outcomes regarding constitutional change. In Latin America, changes to the constitution seem like a common practice. In Lebanon, there is reluctance to make any change. In both cases, the outcome in terms of economic performance is similar: These countries remain largely economically underdeveloped. The vast resources of these countries are not used to their full potential. This stems from the lack of inclusive political institutions to guide economic growth and development. Daron Acemoglu and James A. Robinson set out to define their argument by arguing that development and underdevelopment is caused by the presence (or lack) of inclusive political institutions. Inclusive political institutions are those that encourage development by providing the necessary infrastructure to those that desire to invest in businesses and themselves in the form of education. This can take the form of law and order, property rights, respect for the democratic process, efficient taxation, and surveillance of economic governance. This helps with the proper allocation of resources and encourages entrepreneurship and Schumpeter’s Creative Destruction concept.64 Creative Destruction occurs when a new idea transforms society, making it new while simultaneously destroying the old society. Inclusive Political Institutions promote this by allowing this process to occur, helping develop the country and the economy. On the other hand, underdevelopment is caused by a fundamental lack of these provisions and takes the form of Extractive Political Institutions. Underdeveloped countries do not promote growth because their institutions do not encourage it; they actively block development with their malpractices. Patronage and clientelism interfere with the



processes of development and, as a result, countries remain corrupt and hence extremely fragile. Governors suck the country dry with high taxes that are not reinvested in any political or economic infrastructure. They are more interested in protecting their power and position. Further, Extractive Political Institutions block Creative Destruction’s process by ensuring that the old society with all its power asymmetry persists. If the old society continues to exist, then their political regime and exploitative actions continue to exist. Acemoglu and Robinson’s hypothesis (if inclusive, then development; if extractive, then underdevelopment) is proven through comparative historical analysis, looking at countries within similar geographies, cultures, climates, and peoples. They look at Nogales, Arizona and Nogales, Mexico and ask why these two regions are so similar (similar culture, geography, and climate), yet have different economic outcomes. Briefly, Nogales, Arizona is different than its Mexican counterpart because of the US’s encouragement of entrepreneurship verses Mexico’s tumultuous political past. The authors also look at different cultures, like the rapid development and modernization of Muhammad Ali’s Egypt in the nineteenth century, Botswana in continental Africa and North Korea and South Korea. Fundamentally, the difference in development in these similar regions is due to their different institutions: inclusive verses extractive. Botswana’s inclusive political institution encourages investment by having a political process that respects the democratic process. Conversely, neighboring Zimbabwe’s Mugabe regime destroys the political process and sets up a regime that steals land from property owners and even rigs the lotto. Why would a citizen try to set up a business or a farm (or even buy a lotto ticket) if the government does not create an environment friendly to it or respect the rule of law? Their whole argument is predicated around political institutions and their duty to promote property rights to encourage the investment needed to drive economic growth. The same can be said about Latin American countries and Lebanon. The constitutions of these countries did nothing more than to protect the leadership and position of the elites. They did nothing to encourage long term, sustainable economic investment and growth. While growth had indeed been achieved in these countries, there remains question as to economic development and its sustainability given the governmental mechanisms in place. The developmental modernist Henry Bruton asserts: “The rich country seems to have an economy that has growth built into it, while the poor country seems to have an economy in which


‘nongrowth’ is built into it.”65 Essentially, patronage and clientelism are the structures of nongrowth that discourage progressive and dynamic economic development from taking place. Further, development is absolutely essential for states to gain strength to exist as separate political entities within the international system. Development as defined by Kindleberger: “improvements in material welfare, especially for persons with the lowest incomes; the eradication of mass poverty with its correlates of illiteracy, disease and early death; changes in the composition of inputs and output that generally include shifts in the underlying structure of production away from agricultural toward industrial activities… in which they should move to improve welfare.”66 Without the correct institutions, Latin American countries and Lebanon are doomed to underdevelopment and systemic weakness. By relying on past social organizing principles discussed, the country remains a snapshot of the past. This is ultimately reflected in its economic development. Lack of development, especially the continued use of archaic technologies and economic production, creates a state that is vulnerable and impoverished. Weak and fragile states are defined by their inherent systemic vulnerability due to underdevelopment.67 The consequence of being underdeveloped condemns the country to weakness relative to other states. While countries with inclusive political institutions grow, like the US for example, the countries of Latin America and Lebanon are fragile given the lack of citizen confidence in the economy due to inequality. These countries will neither become developed nor will they become great powers as long as their constitutions defend the elite and the government at the expense of the citizen. Fundamentally then, constitutions that defend the elites contribute to underdevelopment and to state weakness. Constitutions establish a state’s political culture and set the tone for the political discourse that would follow. Political issues are all framed in terms of the constitution.

Conclusion: Establishing a Framework for Political Investigation and Policy Briefing This chapter underscores and examines the importance of political context: a state’s postcolonial power dynamic as personified by the demands of its political culture. While political culture in every country is fundamentally different, it remains a form of power relations. With culture come sets of expected and acceptable behaviors that people must abide by.



Ultimately, it is the responsibility of the citizenry to demand such change through the country’s political and cultural process; whatever that process might be. Within this context and discussing possibilities for democratic change, it could be hypothesized that freedom of speech, exchange and so forth are respected by the government. In Saudi Arabia, Iran, China, Russia, and other countries with major limitations to free speech and organization, such practices become dangerous endeavors. However, if there is a will, there is a way. Remaining anonymous through technological innovation and the explosion of social networks has proved integral for such movements to develop organically. Norms of political change may be able to cascade into acceptability by a person’s forcible entry into political discourse through technology. The core of the argument then becomes one of power: Constitutions are just one of the many political institutions existing today. As an ideal, democracy becomes sullied by power as E. H. Carr states: “Where utopianism has become a hollow and intolerable sham, which serves merely as a disguise for the interests of the privileged, the realist performs an indispensable service in unmasking it…[for] the ideal, once it is embodied in an institution, ceases to be an ideal and becomes the expression of a selfish interest, which must be destroyed in the name of a new ideal.”68 Power will be able to adjust to any invention or institution thrust upon it; this is why we cannot understand politics unless we first understand how power is used and who uses such power. In the US, the power of lobbying groups is clearly seen given the political culture of pluralism, wealth, and wealth creation. The more money a political party can get and the more lobby groups behind a candidate, the better chance the candidate has at winning an election. Understanding the political culture of the US illustrates to us the power of money and influence in the US. Hence, there are no superior constitutional systems; just systems with diverse undemocratic elements.


1. H. V. S. Ogden, “Introduction,” in Utopia, ed. Thomas More (New York: Appleton-Century-Crofts, 1949), p. viii. 2.  For more, see: William J. Brennan Jr., “State Constitutions and the Protection of Individual Rights,” Harvard Law Review 90 (1976): p. 489. 3.  Hanna Samir Kassab, Weak States and International Relations Theory: The Cases of Armenia, St. Kitts and Nevis, Lebanon and Cambodia (New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan, 2015), p. 1.


4.  “Constitutional History of Venezuela,”, accessed September 4, 2015,, accessed May 2, 2018. 5.  Mark Irving Lichbach and Alan S. Zuckerman, Comparative Politics: Rationality, Culture and Structure (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009), p. 5. 6. Lichbach and Zuckerman, Comparative Politics, p. 5. 7. Albert P. Blaustein and Jay A. Sigler, Constitutions That Made History (New York: Paragon House Publishers, 1988), p. xi. 8. S. E. Finer, Five Constitutions (Sussex: The Harvester Press: 1979), p. 16. 9. Aristotle, “Politics,” in Political Philosophy: The Essential Texts, ed. Steven M. Cahn (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005), p. 138. 10. Aristotle, “Politics,” p. 145. 11. Aristotle, “Politics,” p. 163. 12. Blaustein and Sigler, Constitutions That Made History, p. xii. 13. Blaustein and Sigler, Constitutions That Made History, p. xii. 14. Blaustein and Sigler, Constitutions That Made History, p. xiii. 15. Blaustein and Sigler, Constitutions That Made History, p. xiv. 16. Blaustein and Sigler, Constitutions That Made History, p. xv. 17. Blaustein and Sigler, Constitutions That Made History, p. xv. 18. Finer, Five Constitutions, p. 13. 19. Tina Hilgers, “Democratic Processes, Clientelistic Relationships and the Material Goods Problem,” in Clientelism in Everyday Latin American Politics, ed. Tina Hilgers (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2012), p. 6. 20. Hilgers, Democratic Processes, p. 6. 21. Hilgers, Democratic Processes, p. 7. 22. Hilgers, Democratic Processes, p. 7. 23. Hilgers, Democratic Processes, p. 11. 24. Hilgers, Democratic Processes, p. 11. 25.  E. Bradford Burns and Jule A. Charlip, Latin America: A Concise Interpretive History (Upper Saddle River: Prentice Hall, 2002), p. 38. 26. Craig L. Arceneaux, Democratic Latin America (Boston: Pearson, 2013), p. 84. 27. Burns and Charlip, Latin America, p. 38. 28. Burns and Charlip, Latin America, p. 40. 29. Burns and Charlip, Latin America, p. 50. 30. Craig L. Arceneaux, Democratic Latin America (Boston: Pearson, 2013), pp. 48–50. 31. John Ward, Latin America: Development and Conflict Since 1945 (New York: Routledge, 1997), p. 79. 32. Arceneaux, Democratic Latin America, pp. 58–60. 33. Bolívar quoted in Arceneaux, Democratic Latin America, p. 122.



34. Blaustein and Sigler, Constitutions That Made History, p. 159. 35. Bolívar quoted in Blaustein and Sigler, Constitutions That Made History, p. 159. 36. Blaustein and Sigler, Constitutions That Made History, p. 158. 37. Bolivar quoted in Blaustein and Sigler, Constitutions That Made History, p. 158. 38. Arceneaux, Democratic Latin America, p. 91. 39. Arceneaux, Democratic Latin America, p. 92. 40. Burns and Charlip, Latin America, p. 88. 41. Burns and Charlip, Latin America, p. 91. 42. Burns and Charlip, Latin America, p. 91. 43. Burns and Charlip, Latin America, p. 91. 44. Burns and Charlip, Latin America, pp. 230–231. 45. Ussama Makdisi, The Culture of Sectarianism: Community, History and Violence in Nineteenth-Century Ottoman Lebanon (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2000), p. 37. 46. Makdisi, The Culture of Sectarianism, p. 37. 47. Kamai Salibi, The House of Many Mansions: The History of Lebanon Reconsidered (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1988), p. 15. 48. Makdisi, The Culture of Sectarianism, p. 37. 49. Salibi, The House of Many Mansions, p. 14. 50. Makdisi, The Culture of Sectarianism, p. 37. 51. Makdisi, The Culture of Sectarianism, pp. 37–38. 52. Makdisi, The Culture of Sectarianism, p. 38. 53. Makdisi, The Culture of Sectarianism, p. 38. 54. Salibi, The House of Many Mansions, p. 113. 55.  Bulus Mas’ad quoted in Iliya A. Harik, Politics and Change in a Traditional Society Lebanon (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1968), p. 89. 56. Harik, Politics and Change in a Traditional Society, p. 92. 57.  Bulus Mas’ad quoted in Iliya A. Harik, Politics and Change in a Traditional Society Lebanon (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1968), p. 93. 58. Helen Cobban, The Making of Modern Lebanon (Boulder: Westview Press, 1985), p. 61. 59. Cobban, The Making of Modern Lebanon, pp. 61–62. 60. Cobban, The Making of Modern Lebanon, p. 70. 61. William L. Cleveland, The History of the Modern Middle East (Cambridge: Westview Press, 2004), p. 334. 62. Cleveland, The History of the Modern Middle East, p. 334. 63. Cleveland, The History of the Modern Middle East, p. 334.


64. Daron Acemoglu and J. James Robinson, Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity and Poverty (New York: Crown Publishers, 2012), p. 50. 65. Henry Bruton, Principles of Development Economics (London: PrenticeHall, 1965), pp. 2–3 66. Charles Kindleberger, Economic Development (New York, NY: Mc-GrawHill, 1956), p. 1. 67.  For more, please see book: Hanna Samir Kassab, Weak States and International Relations Theory: The Cases of Armenia, St. Kitts and Nevis, Lebanon and Cambodia, Published by Palgrave. 68. E. H. Carr, The Twenty Years’ Crisis, 1919–1939 (London: Macmillan, 2001), p. 94.


Central Asia and Middle East

Central Asia and the Middle East are part of a larger regional security complex. This region possesses porous borders, an ideology that unites people regardless of the state, and a cash crop, heroin, funding it all.1 The region is important to the three major great powers of the contemporary era: China, Russia, and the US. Yet it is one of the more unstable and corrupt regions in the international system. As such, it is very important to this study. In many of these states, corruption and the drug trade provide a source of stability to the region as major crackdowns may further the chance of physical violence.2 As these states are fragile and underdeveloped, cooperation through peaceful negotiation becomes a part of the political way of doing things.3 Without these mechanisms in place, conflict areas may spread through already porous border by way of corruption.4 This chapter discusses major corrupt states in this region as it relates to weak institutions. The Corruption Perceptions Index (2017) features all states in these regions at the bottom tier of corrupt countries.5 In Central Asia, of 180 states measured, the region is among the worst offenders: Afghanistan #177 Turkmenistan #167 Tajikistan #161 Uzbekistan #157 Kyrgyzstan #135 © The Author(s) 2019 H. S. Kassab and J. D. Rosen, Corruption, Institutions, and Fragile States,



Ukraine #130 Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, & Moldova #122 Armenia #1076 These scores are striking and worrisome as corruption helps weaken already fragile states and their ability to destroy major drug and arms routes.7 This fact fits within the hypothesis of this book that illustrates the correlation between corruption and its diffusion within a specific region. This chapter is divided into two parts. The first will cover Central Asia and the second the Middle East. It focuses on major issue areas stemming from these regions, specifically narcoterrorism and its practices of corruption. These groups are the main mechanism for state weakness and fragility as well as corruption. The foundational framework to follow here is the construct commonly referred to as narcoterrorism. Defined, it is any “part of an illegal complex of drugs, violence and power, where the illegal drug trade and the illegal exercise of power have become aggregated in such a way that they threaten democracy and the rule of law.”8 Their modus operandi is quite similar to that of other global organized crime networks.9 As a consequence, this chapter will pay special attention to networks that build illicit supply chains for the purpose of forwarding a specific political ideology.

Afghanistan: Demonstrating the Systemic Power of Corruption in Central Asia Afghanistan is a state that cannot be understood as a unitary actor. Western states, even multiethnic ones, usually have representation for all minorities in some way. Spain, with its large Catalan minority, Canada and the province of Quebec, and Belgium with its Flemish populations, all pursue some balance between the federal government and autonomous regions of ethnic minorities. In the case of developing states, Afghanistan included, such balance has yet to be successfully achieved. Afghanistan boasts a multitude of different ethnicity and tribal makeups, most notably are the Pashtuns, Tajiks, Hindus, Baluchis, Uzbeks, Khirghiz, Hazaras, Nuristanis, and Turkmans. Pashtuns and Tajiks make up the most significant majorities.10 These tribes are quite different yet are united by an unhealthy, mutual distrust for one another. Indeed, the issues that plague stability and peace between these tribes are based on



years of political socialization of stereotype reproduction and groupthink.11 The history of Afghanistan is one of tribal war which continues to the present day. Some may argue that political leaders must try to overcome such processes by inserting a new way of thinking into the entire population of Afghanistan, one that appreciates diversity as a potential strength rather than a source of weakness. In the case of Afghanistan, there seems to be a convergence of approval over corruption, that is, corruption seems to be a good thing.12 Like Russia and the practice of krysha, Afghanistan has its own, baksheesh. Baksheesh’s literal meaning is “tip.” In the US, people tip voluntarily for a job well done. However, the true meaning of baksheesh does not translate well in the Western world as tips are usually given after the services have been rendered. Baksheesh is paid before services are rendered, meaning that payment is a form of insurance policy for timely and efficient solution to problems. Baksheesh, for all intensive purposes, is a bribe that only the wealthy can easily afford at the expense of the poor. Another cost is to international investment: No serious investor will feel comfortable being subjected to extortion over time. Baksheesh also causes people to feel less inclined to deal with a government that refuses justice in favor of money. Bribery, at its core, is an example of corruption as it is the “granting of some type of benefit to unduly influence an action or decision.”13 According to Afghans, baksheesh is just a part of doing business, an insurance policy that makes things happen. One businessman, the owner of a truck driver company, negotiates prices on the border with Tajikistan: “Sometimes $50, sometimes $200…We also have to negotiate bribes at checkpoints along the way. If they ask for $100, we may settle on $50.”14 In a country where, on average, people make USD$50 per month, estimates put total spending on baksheesh per year as of 2009 at USD$100.15 According to a 2010 report by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, that figure rose to US$160 with an even lower GDP per capita at US$425 per year.16 An Afghan citizen discusses how corruption works there, contending: There are people known as Employed on Commission in front of each government building…They approach people saying that they can solve any kind of issue in a short time and then they quote the price. For example, if you need a passport or driving license or paying taxes and customs

68  H. S. KASSAB AND J. D. ROSEN duties they can give you the final receipt which has been processed through all official channels in matter of days which takes usually weeks. Then he takes money and of course he will distribute it with those who are sitting inside offices.17

Another example points to the difficulty of pursuing a legitimate line of work: “We sell different goods on the streets here. The head of the police for this area has appointed a person who is responsible for collecting money from us and give it to him.”18 Given this fact, any Afghan will conclude government employment is a license to steal. For Afghanistan, the problem is not simply that government officials are corrupt; it is the culture of the political system itself that is corrupt. The normative foundation of the governmental system there is fundamentally this idea of baksheesh. Even if the government changes and democratic institutions become successful, the idea may prevail voiding progress. The problem is intensified because of the drug trade. If legitimate business is expected to pay bribes, how much more will border security be ready to receive payment for opium and heroin shipments? Afghans paid USD$2.5 billion in bribes in 2010 and produced an estimated $2.8 billion in drugs—half of their GDP in that year.19 These are selling figures that point to the state as a corrupt, criminal enterprise. Afghanistan remains the center of illegal opium production. The state’s climate and altitude provide firm ground for crops. Moreover, Afghanistan as a failed state with porous borders and a destitute population provides further fertile ground for further heroin processing and export. The issue is of course amplified and increasingly urgent as profits are used to finance terrorism. Corruption, political weakness, and natural endowments go together well for those willing to risk getting into the business. Afghanistan is well suited for opium production. Political weakness disables a state to provide law and order in certain regions. This allows suppliers and traffickers the ability to conduct business without the burden of law enforcement. A lack of proper law enforcement, especially one infected by corruption, allows for ease of transport across borders. From this, we can see how corruption becomes a systemic force, transferring illicit economies from a domestic problem to an international market. The following section discusses how Afghan drugs enter market using the porous and corrupt borders of the Central Asian Republics.



Central Asian Republics: Chronic Corruption and Institutional Weakness The Central Asian Republics continue to experience high levels of corruption even after the fall of the Soviet Union. According to the Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI), when citizens were asked “Did you or any member of your household make an unofficial payment or gift when using these services over the past 12 months?” the answers had a significant range (Table 4.1). Corruption as a practice remains a serious issue due to geopolitical location as well as fundamental institutional weaknesses. In states closest to Afghanistan, corruption remains remarkably high. However, this is not to ignore other major factors such as persistent poverty, unemployment, and illegal trafficking.20 Afghanistan’s state failure is spreading to encompass neighboring states like Tajikistan. Tajikistan, the state with the highest level of corruption, fits this mold. State institutional weakness to patrol the border is one of the major reasons for this, but so is the increasing price of food. Rising food prices is making it harder for people to feed their families. This pressure brings forth factors that worsen corruption and narcotics trafficking, strengthens black markets, and reduces governmental revenue, ultimately making the state weaker and more vulnerable to violent non-state actors like terrorists and criminals. Law enforcement and the political leadership feature corruption at all levels of government with some of the highest impunity levels in the world granted to state officials.21 Freedom House’s rating of Tajikistan with regard to corruption declined significantly from 2015. This is due to the ruling family’s increasing control Table 4.1  Percentage of household making bribes State

YES (%)

Armenia Azerbaijan Georgia Kazakhstan Kyrgyz Republic Tajikistan

24 38 7 29 38 50

Source Transparency International, “People and Corruption: Europe and Central Asia,” Seventh Framework Programme for Research and Technological Development of the European Union (2016), p. 18


over the state’s already fraudulent institutions.22 This has led to increases in the likelihood of state instability and worsening economic prospects for citizens, especially the poorest. Concerning the trafficking of illegal goods, corruption in Afghanistan is also an important factor to consider. The border between these two states is the main gate connecting Afghan heroin to its consumer markets in Europe and Russia. Russia used to patrol the area, but pulled out in 2005. Since then, trafficking has skyrocketed.23 It is estimated that about one-third of GDP can be attributed to heroin trafficking from Afghanistan.24 The problem for Tajikistan and its monitoring of the 1344-­kilometer border with Afghanistan is not just corruption. It is also institutional weakness and the power of Islamic fundamentalism. On some occasions, government officials work closely with traffickers, insuring safe passage across borders.25 On many occasions, there have been outright clashes between well-trained and well-armed terrorists from Afghanistan and Tajik border fighters.26 Border guards are unprepared for clashes with Islamic fighters. Border guards are often kidnapped and bargained for captured traffickers. This may be due to worsening economic conditions; people are in dire need of finances to survive and are willing to jeopardize the state to feed themselves and their families.27 The problem of Afghanistan is not simply limited to Tajikistan. Narco-terrorist networks are growing across Central Asian states.28 The wealth generated by heroin and opium sales is a major source of power in states that are struggling to develop. While Afghan terrorists produce the opium, terrorists operating in other Central Asian Republics, like Uzbekistan, are moving product, or trafficking it, all over the world.29 Uzbekistan shared a border with Tajikistan and Afghanistan, each with various porous entry points making control of illicit flow difficult. The US Department of State also describes the importance of railways in smuggling, but also the use of harsh terrain as individuals smuggle goods on foot as well as using animals. The US has aided Uzbekistan in their fight against trafficking, paying up to $1 billion since 1991.30 It could be argued that this has been effective as Uzbekistan leads the Central Asian Republics in seizures (in 2013, 1.09 metric tons of narcotics were seized). However, these figures are significantly less than the previous year as 2012 had 2.71 metric tons.31 The problem of corruption remains, however, given that the US needs Uzbekistan’s ruling regime to fight terrorism and corruption. This means that



regardless of Uzbekistan’s corruption, violation of human rights and freedoms and so on, no sanctions will be brought upon the state for fear of pushing Uzbekistan away from American efforts in curtailing drug trafficking and the fight against terrorism.32 There have been attempts to control the spread of Islamic-driven narcotics trafficking throughout Central Asian Republics serving as hubs of transshipment. The United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime (UNODC) has isolated this area as essential in the fight against narcotics trafficking and terrorism. The political instability in Afghanistan has been isolated as the major cause of these issues. The report describes the route for Afghan heroin, which of course starts in Afghanistan and then works its way through Central Asia and the Middle East into Turkey and the Balkans and Southern Europe and then into its major consumer markets in Europe. As a result, the UNODC’s One Concerted Approach for Europe, West and Central Asia attempts to provide the region with specific yet holistic guidance in the following spheres: • The Triangular Initiative (TI) involving cooperation between Afghanistan, Pakistan, and (the Islamic Republic of) Iran focusing on the Southern Route, as well as on the Balkan Route; • The Afghanistan–Kyrgyzstan–Tajikistan (AKT) Initiative focusing on the Northern Route; • The Regional Working Groups, including on Precursors, Forensics, and Law Enforcement Training, involving all countries in the region; • The “Central Asia and Southern Hub” (CASH) and “Network of Prosecutors and Central Authorities from Source, Transit and Destination Countries in response to Transnational Organized Crime in Central Asia and Southern Caucasus” (CASC) Initiatives, to address money laundering in the wider region, including facilitating cooperation between the Financial Investigative Units (FIUs), the creation of networks among judicial offices and financial investigators, development of practical tools and provision of training.33 Serious coordination efforts are required to stem the flow of illegal materials throughout the world through a combined approach of monitoring, coordinated legal procedure, and education to reduce trafficking. This is trying to deal with the issue of trafficking from a regional perspective. However, the other major issue is of course corruption, which,


thus far given the example with Uzbekistan, has not yet been effectively addressed for fear of marginalizing the government. Corruption may erode any attempt at curtailing narcotics trafficking beginning in Afghanistan. Hence, it may be altogether reasonable to deal with corruption at the source of heroin trafficking: Afghanistan. There have been serious attempts at institution building and corruption eradication at the state level in Afghanistan. The USA spent $77.8 million on the tracking of customs to track bribery on Afghanistan’s border.34 Bribery at the border is the center of the practice of Baksheesh. A report by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction stated that in 2013 “approximately half of customs duties were believed to have been stolen.”35 An electronic payment system was developed and put in place to track customs payments, but this was a dismal failure: “data shows that more than three years after the [e-payment] project began… e-payments still account for less than 1% (0.59%) of all customs duties collected.”36 Customs agents in Afghanistan did not use the system due to connectivity and technical issues, but also because it did not allow them to accept bribes. This is telling about the culture as people would risk their jobs over accepting bribes. The practice of baksheesh is just so inherent to citizens there and thus cannot be overcome simply by technology. Given the power of corruption in this respect, institutional building will remain a serious challenge for Afghanistan and surrounding states. Transparency International submits the following suggestions regarding the building of proper, inclusive, and democratic political institutions in Afghanistan: • Establish a new independent body to lead and coordinate the fight against corruption, and ensure it is well-resourced and its activities are truly free from political interference. • Establish an independent judicial service commission to select, appoint, and train new judges and judicial staff. The commission should be empowered to make recommendations to parliament on any existing judges who do not meet required levels of integrity. • Appoint with the highest levels of integrity to key posts, including the Attorney General, who should have a track record of showing leadership against corruption.37 While these suggestions follow the institutional route, without complete, systemic change in the cultural beliefs of Afghanistan with regard to the



practice of Baksheesh (an institution itself), any new institution, new judge, new staff, or new post will eventually become prey to corruption. If Baksheesh as an institution is not replaced by another (an altogether reasonable but difficult endeavor and expectation), we cannot but expect further corruption and its spread across the already delicate region. The fragile states of Central Asia are at risk, but also Pakistan. Pakistan seems to be increasingly unreliable in the fight against global terrorism and narcotics trafficking. The following section will discuss Pakistan and its reluctant and ineffective fight against corruption, narcotics trafficking, and the global war against terrorism.

Pakistan: The Unreliable Partner Pakistan continues to be listed as one of the world’s most corrupt states (117 of 180).38 The porous border with Afghanistan serves to move people and illegal materials back and forth. The Durand Line, a 1500mile shared border, serves as a transshipment point and is at the focal point of trafficking and corruption. While it may seem in these state’s interests to protect their geographic territories by bolstering border security, it seems both Pakistan and Afghanistan are completely uninterested. Furthermore, the dispute is that either side would prefer the Durand Line to remain permeable.39 This is to ensure that either state may be able to influence political outcomes in the other state. This policy of interference is mutually destructive to both powers yet this has remained an issue. The other more relevant cause for the border remaining open is the power of smuggling networks within these states. Smuggling networks have developed and strengthened along the Durand Line due to the presence of shared tribalism that exists across states.40 The Pashtuns of Afghanistan and Pakistan once shared a similar nationalistic zeal and pushed for independence of a sovereign Pashtunistan in the early 1920s. Many argue that such zeal exists even today, and may explain why many in Afghanistan seek tribal autonomy rather than wider national discourse. Tribalism remains an integral part and even dominates politics in this particular region.41 Even if it is unrecognized, the tribal areas of the border region between Afghanistan and Pakistan operate as if they were an independent nation. This is because the states in question refuse to demonstrate their sovereign power over the region. This plays into the hand of the Pashtun tribal leaders that operate freely in their region.


Afghanistan and Pakistan are reluctant to perform their sovereign duty along with their shared border because of corruption. The Pashtuns of Afghanistan and Pakistan both have access to the ruling government and regimes in their respective countries. As a result, they can protect their particular tribal leaders from any attempt at curtailing tribal autonomy. Regardless of this, the Pashtuns are still able to influence both Pakistani and Afghan politics in Islamabad and Kabul. Within tribal areas, however, they are reluctant to cooperate with their states so much that they refuse opportunities to develop. Tribalism dominates the shared border along the Durand Line. The Pashtuns protect multiple open border entry points that thousands of Pashtun people walk across every day.42 All sorts of goods, both licit and illicit, also pass through unhindered by the central governments and their customs agents. Instead, they pay any fee to the Pashtun tribes governing the area. This may explain how Osama bin Laden escaped Afghanistan for Pakistan after the terrorist attacks on 9/11. Today, many leaders such as Colonel Muhammad Usman of Pakistan are calling for a border wall between Afghanistan and Pakistan to control such movements.43 This is due to a specific clash between the Pakistani central government and Pashtun tribes along the border as they attempted to collect census data. Col. Usman argues that it is important “to understand that this is Pakistan and that place is Afghanistan.”44 The more the Pashtuns are able to operate freely, supporting the transport of drugs and people across the border, the more unstable Pakistan and Afghanistan will become. This has much broader implications for the states as well as the rest of the world. In the case of the Pashtuns governing the Durand Line and the significant level of corruption in Afghanistan and Pakistan, one wonders about connections to terrorism. For instance, Osama bin Laden crossed into Pakistan from Afghanistan through this very border. According to reports: “With help from Afghans and Pakistanis who had been paid in advance, the group [al Qaeda] made its way on foot and horseback across the mountain passes and into Pakistan without encountering any resistance.”45 A former head of the Pakistani intelligence service, the ISI, admits that they may have known about the location of bin Laden in Pakistan but failed to act: “My assessment […] was it is quite possible that they [the ISI] did not know but it was more probable that they did. And the idea was that at the right time, his location would be revealed. And the right time would have been, when you can get the necessary



quid pro quo – if you have someone like Osama bin Laden, you are not going to simply hand him over to the United States.”46 While these statements describe a certain amount of anti-Americanism (choosing to deal with a known terrorist over cooperating with the US), it also shows that porous nature of that border and the corrupt nature of the political system across these states. However, corruption of this scale is not limited to the border. In the city of Abbottabad, Pakistan, where bin Laden was residing, the local government missed opportunities to arrest him. Several opportunities presented itself as Saba Imtiaz and Ben Arnold of the Christian Science Monitor report: Evidence of everyday corruption or simple dereliction of duty piles up in page after page of the report, including military and civilian officials who failed to flag the countless violations on how bin Laden’s property was acquired using falsified identification papers, breaches of the building code, and the lack of tax payments and building inspections. The police in Abbottabad reportedly also didn’t investigate a shooting incident on the property in 2010 or the residents’ secluded lifestyle. Intelligence agencies didn’t pay much attention to Abbottabad even though Umar Patek – wanted for his role in the 2002 Bali bombings – was arrested in that town.47

In other words, corruption allowed one of the most infamous terrorist leaders to walk across a border unopposed and then live for several years without (supposedly) any knowledge. Such a fact is ultimately not only discouraging, but destabilizing for the region and the world. Terrorist financing remains a major issue in the world today. From international connections that can be made through shell corporations,48 those states willing to make accommodation to, to states that finance terrorism, outright, it can be altogether reasonable to assume that those monies may be used to further corrupt a state. In other words, terrorism contributes to further corruption of states and regions. Simply put, Islamic terrorist networks, like states, may use any forms of power to force outcomes. They may use soft power through their radical interpretation of Islam (Islam is a form of soft power),49 and they may use hard power (terrorist attacks, raids, and military campaigns). They also may use economic power, corruption, to bribe already weak societies to bend to their will. Like organized criminal networks that may use bribery prior to coercion (e.g., plata o plomo), terrorist organizations


often utilize the type of policy. As a result, it is important to note the deep connection between Central Asia and the Middle East, not just in regional proximity but in terms of a culture of corruption and Islamic fundamentalism. Osama bin Laden, a man from a well-to-do Saudi Arabian family found his way to Afghanistan to liberate the state from foreign influence. Cultures, political doctrines, and corrupt practices are shared between these two regions. Thus, they must be discussed together. Afghanistan remains a failed state and traditionally serves as a geopolitical base of operations for the region. The 2001 invasion by the US and its allies may have removed the Taliban. However, the invasion did not remove its raison d’etre; it continues to serve as a base of operations and as a method for terrorist and organized criminal financing. Until this is dealt with, Afghanistan will continue to serve as the center of destabilization.

Regional Instability in the Middle East: Corruption and Survival The Middle East has been in turmoil for most of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. From internal political upheaval in every state great and small, to the many failed wars against the state of Israel, to terrorist attacks and organized crime, this particular region has never been stable. The state of Iraq has been particularly useful as a lynchpin of regional security, separating two major powers: Iran and Saudi Arabia. With the removal of this cornerstone, these two states have been battling for dominance in the region. Each with their own proxies in the Middle East split among religious sectarian lines (Sunnis for Saudi Arabia, Shi’a for Iran); these regional powers are trying to best their opponent. Within competing weaker units of the Middle East, the governments of Iran and Saudi Arabia are using proxy units in states dominated by their competitor. For instance, in Yemen, the Iranians are using their Shi’a proxies against the Sunni-dominated government. This is repeated in Syria, where Saudi Arabia is battling through their Sunni counterparts against the Iranian-backed Assad regime. All of this opens the door to corruption in the Middle East. Within the context of the current power vacuum, this chapter discusses the varieties of corruption in the Middle East. In this region, corruption is a major tool for forcing outcomes friendly to your needs. The actors using corruption could be the government but also the



individuals. Because the agent wielding corruption changes the definition of corruption, we must then discuss the uses of corruption by various people, government, non-government, and external actors, that is, from other states.

Cultural Institutions: The Still Prominent Practice of Wasta Wasta is like baksheesh in the sense that it is a cultural aspect of doing business that is more in tune with Western understandings of nepotism. Wasta is a fundamental part of networking in the region; its literal translation means “center” as a prominent member of society will introduce another lesser-known person to a number of other prominent members of society.50 In the Middle East, having the right connections can make the difference between eking out a meager existence and living in comfortable or even luxurious lifestyle. The following example from an interview describes the process of wasta, specifically the way in which name-dropping may secure you a job or even put one on the fast track to success: People know that we’re from a respected family with a long history. Which actually sometimes can facilitate/ The name itself can facilitate things for you. Yes, like “Do you know this guy?” – “Yes, I know this guy” – “Uh, he’s my friend!” So. Unfortunately, I’m saying unfortunately, sometimes it just do wasta on its own. By the name. Without trying or intending to make any wasta. But just seeing “Uh, yeah, you’re from this family. I know this guy. I know this guy.” He would like to try to treat you well because of your cousin or uncle or whatever.51

Wasta may be used to acquire favoritism for promotion, but may easily get you a driver’s license without passing a test.52 In this sense, some have argued that wasta is indeed a form of corruption as it does not foster an equal playing field for all people.53 Such practices may even be done without even realizing wasta is being carried out (see above quote). Such mechanisms replace effective hiring strategies, mixing business with personal ties in order to strengthen one’s own position and patronage in an already unequal and stratified political, economic, and social system. The practice of wasta keeps certain families, groups, and people in power for many generations. Such a practice, while it seems to come natural for those trying to advance their careers, may not be the best way


forward. In other states, Western understandings of “conflict of interest” are the realization that nepotism is not the correct way forward.54 Hiring people from a specific clan or religion does not ensure competency. Instead, it bolsters corruption.55 Further, such practices can be understood as discrimination, leading those in other families or religions to become alienated and marginalized from the political and economic system. The Middle East is renowned for this procedure due to the prevalent culture of tribalism understood by the concept of wasta. The most obvious example of this is the monarchies. A monarchy hails from a specific tribe such as the Hashemites in Jordan or the Saudis in Saudi Arabia. This also follows in authoritarian dictatorships in Iraq (Hussein), Libya (Qaddafi), and Syria (Assad).56 In these three cases, a father takes government and places his sons in the highest offices so that one may eventually succeed him. The person that takes power then installs his own tribe in the government, not just to protect his life and position, but to protect his regime for many years to come. States with democratic institutions such as Lebanon and Israel also seem to suffer from nepotism. In Lebanon, political dynasties strengthen political rule from each of the religious communities (discussed in the following chapter). Similarly, in Israel, people are hired based on family ties.57 Hence, regardless of religion and state, nepotism remains a serious problem in the region. The danger of nepotism is multifaceted. First and most obvious is that it exacerbates inequality in a state. It creates classes based not on wealth purely, but on tribe and religion.58 This may disenfranchise other communities from enjoying their state’s natural endowments such as oil deposits. Government contracts may be given to companies enjoying family ties, not to the company which can produce the best results.59 Further, if wrongdoing is committed, such as bribery or other corrupt acts, family members may be given immunity. This increases moral hazard: the fact that without punishment as a deterrent, people will continue their corrupt and immoral practices. Many people in the Middle East understand this and conduct themselves thusly seemingly unaware of their behavior having any negative consequences on the state. In summary, nepotism defeats any chance of a strong democratic state in the Middle East.60 Each state has this specific issue plaguing its people. The next section moves away from hopes of democracy to an appreciation of regional power politics. The battle for regional domination between Saudi Arabia and Iran uses corruption as part of its overall proxy war in weaker states of the region.



Iran and Saudi Arabia: Competing Corruption and Political Influence Like any other country, corruption buys support and protection in many Middle Eastern states. While terrorists try to win support and recruits by advocating for the overthrow of their corrupt governments, terrorists themselves use corruption as a willful part of their strategy. Saudi Arabia has had serious issues with corruption. The new Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman has embarked on a great effort to stamp out corrupt practices to modernize and expand influence around the world. Much of the power elite in Saudi Arabia, like Waleed Al Ibrahim, the richest man in Saudi Arabia, has been held on non-specific corruption charges.61 The West seems to be onboard with his efforts, giving him the affectionate abbreviation of MBS. Regardless, this anti-corruption effort seems to be an attempt for the young prince to consolidate his power relative to the older, more entrenched members of the Saudi Royal Family.62 Furthermore, he has emphasized that no longer will terrorism be financed and supported by Saudi Arabia.63 This could all be a power play to gain support from the international system against Iran. Currently, Iran and Saudi Arabia have been engaging one another around the Middle East through proxy battles. In Yemen, Lebanon, Iraq, and Syria, Iran and Saudi Arabia have been financing and using domestic partners to undermine one another. While coercion is an important part of such battles, financial support and corruption remain a vital tool. However, corruption in Iran has reached the point where people have taken to the streets in protest.64 Protestors themselves identify the issue of corruption and show that the conflict with Saudi Arabia hinders the Iranian economy. They shout slogans like “Leave Syria, remember us!” and “Not Gaza, not Lebanon, my life for Iran!”65 Such a political environment threatens the long-term capability of the Iranian regime to continue its course of corruption and aggression against its neighbors. In a similar instance, much should be done by Saudi Arabia in its anti-corruption efforts, but it must be genuine, not simply as part of an overall strategy to consolidate power. Iran as an undemocratic sponsor of terrorism, dependent on oil for revenue and suffering at the hand of American-led sanctions, has few options when compared to Saudi Arabia. It remains to be seen if Middle Eastern states will become havens for democracy and development. The oil curse is altogether too real.


Conclusion This chapter illustrates the power of corruption in the promotion of underdevelopment, narcotics trafficking, and the war on terrorism. The Middle East and Central Asia have the perfect concoction: a lack of inclusive and democratic political and economic institutions and a culture that promotes corruption. The concepts of wasta in the Middle East and baksheesh in Central Asia will continue to hinder any attempt at institutional reform. The culture of the people must adapt to positive change. Through education and law, progress may help overcome this inherently destructive aspect of their behavior. Education programs at the primary and secondary level may help citizens understand that corruption and nepotism are not simply wrong, but may have negative consequences in the long run. Thus, while institutions may be helpful to overcome corrupt practices, these institutions may become a product of corruption if the people refuse to change. Transparency International recognizes that Middle Eastern and Central Asian states have real issues with corruption: Fighting corruption in the Middle East and Northern Africa region requires serious and genuine political will for change and reform. To break away from politically corrupt institutions, Arab governments must take long-term action to establish transparent and accountable institutions, prosecute wrongdoing, and allow for citizen engagement and participation. Civil society has a crucial role to play here. Arab governments must promote the participation of civil society and protect activists and journalists in exposing and fighting corruption. Cracking down on political dissent, enabled by draconian laws such as anti-terrorism and cybercrime laws, must end. Without serious reform, corruption will continue to flourish, further exacerbating the political and economic instability of the region and hindering its social and economic development.66

This theme is repeated throughout this book. Chapter 2 examines the role of culture and tradition in corrupt societies. It compares cultural traditions in the wider Latin America and the Middle Eastern state of Lebanon to understand and explain constitutional change. Constitutions protect citizens from the government and certain laws or regulations that cut into individual rights and freedoms. However, they may also guard and further imbed existing political hierarchies. Political cultures thus may consolidate an already established power dynamic



contributing to political stagnation, criminal activities, terrorism, and ultimately economic underdevelopment. This is due to the solidification of a state’s political infrastructure and culture. The argument is that a country’s deficiency in inclusive robust political institutions could slow progress, especially economic underdevelopment. This may be due to a fundamental lack of investor confidence. Consequently, a state’s domestic economy may remain underdeveloped and vulnerable to external economic shock. These states will remain weak and fragile members of the international system. State fragility simply means vulnerability to external shocks such as economic, environmental, and political.67 Economic development is crucial for resilience against such shocks yet without a proper state apparatus.68


1.  Quoted in Mujib Mashal, “Afghan Taliban Awash in Heroin Cash, a Troubling Turn for War,” The New York Times, October 29, 2017. 2. Volker, Boege, M. Anne Brown, and Kevin P. Clements, “Hybrid Political Orders, Not Fragile States,” Peace Review 21, No. 1 (2009): pp. 13–21. 3. Jonathan D. Rosen and Hanna Samir Kassab, “Introduction,” in Fragile States in the Americas, eds. Jonathan D. Rosen and Hanna S. Kassab (Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2016), p. xiii. 4.  Jessica West, “The Political Economy of Organized Crime and State Failure: The Nexus of Greed, Need and Grievance,” Development and Change 33 (2002): p. 10. 5. Corruption Perceptions Index 2016, Transparency International, January 25, 2017,, accessed January 27, 2018. 6. Ibid. 7. OECD, International Drivers of Corruption: A Tool for Analysis (Paris: OECD, 2012), p. 10. 8. Hartelius, “Narcoterrorism,” The East-West Institute & the Swedish Carnegie Institute, p. 3. 9. Deep connections between organized crime and terrorism have been discovered in the network known as Islamic State. 10.  Bahaudin G. Mujtaba, “Ethnic Diversity, Distrust and Corruption in Afghanistan,” Equality, Diversity and Inclusion: An International Journal 32, No. 3 (2013): p. 247. 11. Ibid., p. 248. 12. Ibid., p. 250.

82  H. S. KASSAB AND J. D. ROSEN 13.  Frank J. Cavico and Bahaudin G. Mujtaba, “Baksheesh or Bribe: Payments to Government Officials and the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act,” Journal of Business Studies Quarterly 2, No. 1 (2010): p. 84. 14.  Quoted in Jackie Northam, “Corruption Ignored, Deplored in Afghanistan,” NPR, December 23, 2009. 15. Lorenzo Delesgues in Jackie Northam, “Corruption Ignored, Deplored in Afghanistan,” NPR, December 23, 2009. 16.  United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime (UNODC), Corruption in Afghanistan: Bribery as Reported by Victims (New York: UNODC, 2010), p. 4. 17. Ibid., p. 21. 18. Ibid., p. 21. 19. Ibid., p. 4. 20.  Evan A. Feigenbaum, “Central Asia Contingencies: Assessment of Political and Economic Stability,” in Managing Instability on China’s Periphery, eds. Paul B. Stares, Scott A. Snider, Joshua Kurlantzick, Daniel Markey, and Evan A. Feigenbaum (New York: Council on Foreign Relations, 2011), p. 60. 21.  Edward Lemon, “Tajikistan,” Freedom House 2016 Report (2016),, accessed May 2, 2018, p. 2. 22. Ibid., p. 3. 23.  Nazarali Pirnazarov, “Barely Guarded Afghan Border Puts Ex-Soviet Tajikistan in Peril,” Reuters, April 21, 2016. 24.  “Opiate Flows Through Northern Afghanistan and Central Asia: A Threat Assessment,” United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, May 2012, Afghanistan_northern_route_2012_web.pdf, accessed May 1, 2018. 25.  Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs, “Country Report: Tajikistan,” US Department of State, 2015, http://, accessed May 2, 2018. 26.  “Tajik Border Guard Killed in Clashes with Alleged Afghan Drug Traffickers,” Radio Free Europe, December 3, 2017. 27. Edward Lemon, “Tajikistan,” Freedom House 2016 Report, pp. 9–10. 28. Erica Marat, “The State-Crime Nexus in Central Asia: State Weakness, Organized Crime, and Corruption in Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan,” Silk Road Studies Program (2006), pp. 13–14. 29. Ahmed Rashid, “Why Afghanistan’s Neighbours Fear Drugs Influx,” BBC News, July 2, 2015. 30. David Trilling, “Uzbekistan: The Corruption Corridor,” Politico, March/ April 2014.



31.  US State Department’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs “Uzbekistan,” US State Department, 2014, https://, accessed May 2, 2018. 32. Jim Nichol, Uzbekistan: Recent Developments and U.S. Interests (Congressional Research Service, 2013), p. 11. 33. “Drug Trafficking in West and Central Asia,” UNODC, https://www.unodc. org/unodc/en/drug-trafficking/central-asia.html, accessed December 16, 2017. 34.  Adam Weinstein, “US Spent $78 Million On Afghan Anti-corruption Scheme That Failed Epically,” Task and Purpose, August 22, 2017. 35. Ibid. 36. Ibid. 37.  “Corruption in Afghanistan: What Needs to Change,” Transparency International, February 16, 2016, feature/corruption_in_afghanistan_what_needs_to_change, accessed May 2, 2018. 38. Corruption Perceptions Index 2016. 39. Conrad Schetter, “The Durand Line Introduction,” Internationales Asien Forum: International Quarterly for Asian Studies 44, No. 1/2 (2013): p. 6. 40.  Conrad Schetter, “The Durand Line: The Afghan-Pakistani Border Region Between Pashtunistan, Tribalistan and Talibanistan. Internationales Asien Forum,” International Quarterly for Asian Studies 44, No. 1 (2013): p. 47. 41. Ibid., pp. 56–57. 42. Ibid., p. 63. 43. Drazen Jorgic and Gul Yousafzai, “Afghan-Pakistan Border Villages Brace for Berlin Wall-Style Divide,” Reuters, October 10, 2017. 44. Ibid. 45. Annie Lowrey, “How bin Ladin Escaped,” Foreign Policy, December 11, 2009. 46. Ishaan Tharoor, “Pakistan Likely Knew of Osama bin Laden’s Presence, Admits Former Spy Chief,” Washington Post, February 11, 2015. 47.  Saba Imtiaz and Ben Arnoldy, “Why Was Pakistan a Safe Haven for Osama? Pervasive Corruption,” Christian Science Monitor, July 9, 2013. 48. J. C. Sharman, Michael G. Findley, and Daniel L. Nielson, Global Shell Games: Experiments in Transnational Relations, Crime and Terrorism (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2014). 49. Hanna Samir Kassab, Prioritization Theory and a Defensive Foreign Policy: Systemic Vulnerabilities in International Politics (New York, Palgrave, 2017), p. 133.


50. Robert B. Cunningham and Yasin K. Sarayrah, “Taming Wasta to Achieve Development,” Arab Studies Quarterly 16, No. 3 (1994): p. 29. 51. Kea. S. Brahms and Manfred Schmitt, “‘It’s All About Something We Call Wasta’: A Motivated Moralization Approach to Favoritism in the Jordanian Workplace,” Social Justice Research 30, No. 2 (2017): p. 160. 52. Ibid., p. 162. 53. See Jonas Blume, Verena Schönleber, Stella Seibert, Johanna Speer, and Christian Voss, The Impact of Favoritism on the Business Climate: A Study on Wasta in Jordan (Bonn: German Development Institute [DIE], 2007). 54. David L. Sills, ed., International Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences (New York: Macmillan Publishing, 1968). 55.  Arsim Gjinovci, “The Impact of Nepotism and Corruption in the Economy,” Knowledge Horizons: Economics 8, No. 2 (2016): p. 133. 56. For an excellent summary on the subject of dynasties in the Middle East, see Roger Owen, Rise and Fall of Arab Presidents for Life (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2012). 57. Sharon Udasin, “Nepotism Still Widespread in Government Companies,” Jerusalem Post, October 30, 2014. 58.  Neville Teller, “Nepotism or Inherited Genes—A Middle East Conundrum,” Jerusalem Post, July 22, 2017. 59.  Arsim Gjinovci, “The Impact of Nepotism and Corruption in the Economy”. 60. Seth J. Frantzman, “Terra Incognita: Nepotism’s Threat to Democracy,” English ed. Jerusalem: The Jerusalem Post, 2017. 61. “Saudi Arabia Releases MBC’s Owner Held on Corruption Charges,” Egypt Today, January 27, 2018. 62.  Shahid Javed Burki, “Turmoil in Saudi Arabia,” Southasia 22, No. 1 (2018): pp. 14–15. 63.  “Saudi FM Confirms Kingdom Will Not Tolerate Terrorism,” Egypt Today, November 20, 2017. 64. “Berating the Tyrants of Tehran; Protests in Iran: 2018,” The Economist, January 6, 2018, p. 8. 65. Ibid. 66.  “Rampant Corruption in Arab States,” Transparency International, February 21, 2018,, accessed May 2, 2018. 67.  Hanna Samir Kassab, Weak States and International Relations Theory: The Cases of Armenia, St. Kitts and Nevis, Lebanon and Cambodia (New York: Palgrave, 2015), p. 1. 68.  Hanna Samir Kassab, Weak States and International Relations Theory: The Cases of Armenia, St. Kitts and Nevis, Lebanon and Cambodia (New York: Palgrave, 2015), p. 61.



Countries in Africa have been plagued by high levels of poverty. In addition, Africa is home to some of the most corrupt countries in the world.1 This chapter examines some of the trends in corruption. Moreover, it analyzes recent trends and developments in drug trafficking and organized crime. Countries in Western Africa, in particular, have become transit zones for drugs coming from Latin American en route to European markets. The chapter also examines the role of terrorist organizations, focusing on an organization in Nigeria. Finally, it concludes with a discussion of foreign aid.

The Poverty Trap Jeffrey Sachs, an economist at Columbia University, analyzes why countries are poor and how the global community can eradicate poverty forever by 2025. Like a doctor, Sachs seeks to diagnose the problems of poor countries and develops a top-down solution to solve the situation. Before delving into the solutions, we must understand why countries are poor? Sachs has a laundry list of why countries suffer from high levels of poverty: a fiscal trap, governance shortcoming, and cultural barriers. One of the most important factors is geography when trying to understand why some countries are poor and other countries thrive. Certain states are blessed with access to ports, while other countries remained landlocked. Some countries have rugged terrain and mountains that make it difficult to build roads to access markets. © The Author(s) 2019 H. S. Kassab and J. D. Rosen, Corruption, Institutions, and Fragile States,



In addition to physical barriers and rugged terrain, some countries do not have a climate that is conducive to growing certain products. Some states cannot farm efficiently because of arid soils and poor conditions that make it nearly impossible to yield an effective harvest. For example, a country that receives very little rainfall per year will not be able to produce an effective harvest compared to another country located in a region that experiences a plentiful rainfall is and conducive to growing certain goods. Perhaps one of the most famous works describing such conditions is the book Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies by Jared Diamond.2 This work provides a detailed analysis of why geography matters and the role that geography has played in development and the history of civilization. Thus, the argument is that some countries are poor and are stuck in what has been referred to as a poverty trap.3 The poverty trap is akin to the cycle of poverty but on a larger scale. Poverty itself becomes a trap and countries are caught in a cycle. Sachs argues that poor countries need “help” in order to escape this devastating trap. He declares: The key problem for the poorest countries is that poverty itself can be a trap. When poverty is very extreme, the poor do not have the ability— by themselves—to get out of the mess. Here is why: Consider the kind of poverty caused by a lack of capital per person. Poor rural villages lack trucks, paved roads, power generators, irrigation channels. Human capital is very low with hungry, disease-ridden, and illiterate villagers struggling for survival. Natural capital is depleted: the trees have been cut down and the soil nutrients exhausted. In these conditions the need is for more capital—physical, human, and natural—but that requires more saving.4

A country that lacks basic infrastructure has many problems and developmental issues. In addition, a country with poor and starving people will not be able to work efficiently. Sachs advocates for a “big push” of money to these poor countries to help them escape the poverty trap with the logic being that the more resources given to these countries, the quicker they will be able to escape poverty.5

Trends in Corruption Countries in Africa have been plagued by high levels of corruption. For instance, Somalia scored a nine on the Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI), with zero being the most corrupt and 100 being the cleanest.



While the region is plagued by corruption, other countries that stand out for extremely high levels of corruption include Sudan, which scored a 16, and South Sudan, which scored a 12 on the CPI. In addition, Equatorial Guinea scored a 17, while Angola scored a 19 (see Fig. 5.1).6 The estimated cost of corruption in Africa is approximately $150 billion per year. Elizabeth Blunt argues, “From the bottle of whisky slipped under the counter to speed a traveller’s way through customs, to the presidents and ex-presidents living way beyond their declared means, it results in an assumption that no business will ever get done without a present changing hands”.7 Moreover, such high levels of corruption are sustained by the fact that approximately 75 million individuals paid bribes in one year in sub-Saharan Africa.8 Is corruption worsening in some countries? A 2014 survey ­conducted by the Afrobarometer found that 68% of people in Zimbabwe perceived that corruption has increased “somewhat/a lot,” while only 11% believed that corruption decreased “somewhat/a lot.” The survey results also show that there is a difference between the urban and rural parts of the country regarding perceptions of corruption. In fact, 79% of people in urban areas believed that corruption increased “somewhat/a lot” compared to 61% of rural areas.9 Moreover, the case of Zimbabwe demonstrates low levels of trust in authorities. For instance, the public has very low levels of trust in the police. In the 2014 survey, 58% of the respondents believed that “most/all of them” were corrupt, when asked about the police. Futhermore, 46% believed that most or all of the Zimbabwe ϰϬ ϯϱ ϯϬ

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Fig. 5.1  Corruption perceptions index score (2017) (Source “Corruption Perceptions Index 2017,” Transparency International, February 21, 2018)


Revenue Authority are corrupt. Yet many respondents in the survey had little confidence in the ability to change the levels of corruption. In fact, 38% of the people contended that “ordinary people cannot do anything” to combat corruption in the country.10

Drug Trafficking and Organized Crime







Africa is becoming a major hub for drug trafficking and organized crime as many countries in the region are ideal places for drug traffickers to operate.11 Many African states can be characterized by high levels of poverty and inequality. As demonstrated in the previous section, many countries throughout the continent have been plagued by corruption and impunity. Drug trafficking organizations can take advantage of such high levels of corruption and penetrate the state apparatus. Countries such as Nigeria and Liberia have seen shipments of heroin moving through West Africa (see Figs. 5.2 and 5.3). Some African countries are ideally located for drug traffickers who seek to move drugs (e.g., heroin and cocaine) to European markets. This creates the possibility for violence as organized crime groups can fight among each other for control of drug trafficking routes. There have been cases of traffickers from South America moving drugs to Africa. Experts contend that part of the reason is the increasing prices of drugs that have enticed drug traffickers to move into Africa. Michael Lohmuller contends, “Hugo Moldiz, Bolivia’s Minister of Government, said a kilo of cystalized (sic)







Fig. 5.2  Heroin seizures in West Africa (2006) (by kilograms) (Source Created by authors with data from United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime [UNODC], Drug Trafficking as a Security Threat in West Africa [New York, NY: UNODC, 2008]; original data from UNODC Individual Seizures Database)





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Fig. 5.3  Destination of heroin seizures originating from West Africa (2000– 2007) (Source Created by authors with data from United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime [UNODC], Drug Trafficking as a Security Threat in West Africa [New York, NY: UNODC, 2008]; original data from UNODC Individual Seizures Database)

cocaine (chlorohydrate) fetches between $70,000 and $85,000 in coastal Africa or Lebanon, prices that are nearly 1400% greater than the $5000– $14,000 per kilo in South America.”12 In addition, Brazil, for instance, is a major trafficker of cocaine, and the product has passed through Africa en route to markets in Europe. Some reports indicate that there has been an increasing demand for products within Africa. According to Mike LaSusa, “Cocaine shipped from Brazil to Africa often continues to make its way to European markets. But there is mounting evidence that the use of African countries as transshipment points has contributed to the growth of domestic African markets for the drug.”13 Drug traffickers in Latin America are seeking to diversify their markets and respond to rising demand and increases in prices. Moreover, some terrorist organizations have become involved in the drug trade, using the revenues to finance their operations. According to the Africa Center for Strategic Studies, “Terrorist organizations on the continent have taken advantage of the revenue opportunities created by controlling these trade routes for drugs. Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb and its breakaway, the Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa, are involved in cannabis and cocaine trafficking in the Sahel. Boko Haram has been implicated in cocaine and heroin smuggling across West Africa. Trafficking routes through West Africa vary.”14 This creates major challenges for regional security.


Narco-States in Africa? Guinea-Bissau, located in West Africa, is an example of a state with extreme elements of fragility, making it vulnerable for drug trafficking and organized crime. The country is one of the poorest in the world. In 2016, the country had a GDP of $1.165 billion. According to 2010 data, the poverty headcount ratio is 69.3.15 The country is also plagued by extremely weak institutions and high levels of corruption. The country scored a 17 on the Corruption Perceptions Index, with the lower the number the more corruption. In addition, the country ranked 171 out of 180, with the higher the number the more corruption.16 Corruption in this country is pervasive. Further, there are clientelist practices among the wealthier members of society.17 Guinea-Bissau’s location in West Africa makes it an ideal place for drug traffickers to transit drugs from Latin America to Europe. Drug trafficking organizations from Latin America have taken advantage of the high levels of corruption within the country to transit drugs. As a result, some experts contend that this country could be the first narco-state in Africa.18 The value of cocaine that is transited through West Africa has been estimated to be worth around $2 billion, demonstrating the lucrative nature of the business.19 In 2013, prosecutors in New York charged the head of the armed forces of Guinea-Bissau for conspiring to traffic weapons as well as drugs to the largest guerrilla organization in Colombia, the FARC.20 Charles Parkinson contends: “The extent of this corruption was revealed by a Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) sting operation in April, which resulted in the arrest of several Guinea-Bissau military officials in international waters. The officials involved believed they were brokering a weapons and drugs deal with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).”21 Preet Bharara, a US Attorney, argues: As alleged, from his position atop the Guinea-Bissau military, Antonio Indjai conspired to use his power and authority to be a middleman and his country to be a way-station for people he believed to be terrorists and narco-traffickers so they could store, and ultimately transport narcotics to the United States, and procure surface-to-air missiles and other military-grade hardware to be used against United States troops. As with so many allegedly corrupt officials, he sold himself and use of his country for a price. The charges against Indjai, together with the recent arrests of his co-conspirators, have dismantled a network of alleged narco-terrorists, and



once again showcased the extraordinary work of our DEA partners who, at great personal risk, travel across the globe to investigate and make arrests in these cases in order to protect the American people and American interests here and abroad.22

Guinea-Bissau, therefore, has all the necessary conditions to become a hub of drug trafficking and organized crime: the country is plagued by high levels of poverty, weak institutions, and corrupt officials. As demonstrated in the aforementioned cases, organized crime groups desire weak institutions where they can penetrate the state apparatus. Furthermore, the case of South Africa demonstrates that foreign citizens have become involved in crime in the country. Figure 5.4 shows the number of foreign citizens that have been arrested in South Africa. Thus, there is the potential for criminal groups to move around the continent and penetrate the state apparatus. This creates alarm for regional security as porous borders and states plagued by corruption will have many individuals who are involved in organized crime and seek to expand their markets in other countries.

Terrorist Organizations in Africa: Boko Haram and Beyond Boko Haram is an example of the potential for a terrorist organization to expand its reach and inflict harm on countries in Africa.23 This Islamic extremist group seeks to overthrow the Nigerian government.









Fig. 5.4  Foreigners arrested in South Africa in 2005, by citizenship (Source Created by authors with data from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime [UNODC], Drug Trafficking as a Security Threat in West Africa [New York, NY: UNODC, 2008])


This organization has been involved in attacks throughout Nigeria. For instance, the group has attacked public institutions, schools, religious buildings, and various other government entities. The number of attacks by the organization has increased over time. In 2011, there were 5 attacks. By 2014, the number of attacks increased to 23. In 2015, there were 58 recorded attacks (see Fig. 5.5). Some sources estimate that more than 20,000 people have been killed since 2011.24 Between 2010 and 2016, there were 98 suicide terror attacks in Nigeria that resulted in the death of 1638 people and wounded 2938. However, it is important to note that suicide terror attacks by Boko Haram have not only occurred in Nigeria. Between 2010 and 2016, there were 14 attacks in Cameroon that resulted in the death of 140 people as well as 475 wounded. During the same period, there were 10 attacks in Chad that resulted in the death of 117 people and wounded 430 (see Fig. 5.6).25 Boko Haram kidnaped around 200 school girls in 2014 in Chibok. Emmanuel Sam, an education official, contended: “Many girls were abducted by the rampaging gunmen who stormed the school in a convoy of vehicles.”26 The militant group does not believe that girls should study, and the organization has continued to attack schools.27 Attacks against schools have continued over time. Landry Signé argues that “Boko Haram, the Islamist terrorist group originating from Nigeria is frightened by this enlightening power of education. Unsurprisingly, on Monday, February 19 [2018], the group, whose name often translates ϳϬ ϱϴ

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Fig. 5.5  Global Boko Haram attacks (2011–2016) (Source Created by authors with data from the Chicago Project on Security & Threats)




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Fig. 6.3  Percentage of population that believes the following issues are big problems in Mexico (Source Created by authors with data from Margaret Vice and Hanyu Chwe, “Mexicans are Downbeat About Their Country’s Direction,” Pew Research Center, September 14, 2017)

demonstrating the high levels of impunity. In addition, only 1.6 out of the 4.6 crimes that have been investigated by authorities are prosecuted criminally. Finally, 1.2 out of 1.6 of the crimes that are investigated are brought to trial before criminal courts.26

Dirty Money: Money Laundering Mexican drug trafficking organizations and other networks of ­criminal groups and actors have been reported to earn between $19 and $29 billion in the US. This money comes from various illegal activities and returns to Mexico.27 How do such large sums of money leave the US undetected and enter Mexico? Drug traffickers have been able to ­launder large sums of money earned from illegal activities via what has been referred to as Casas de Cambio or exchange houses.28 Organized crime groups continue to adapt and evade detection from the US by changing the mechanisms or strategies for laundering money. Criminals have even used cars to move different quantities of money.29 The use of these cards has become prominent because organized criminal networks avoid having to declare amounts of money that are greater than $10,000 when transferring money between the two countries.30 In sum,



some critics contend that the USA has not been an effective partner with regard to curbing money laundering, and, as a result, criminals from Mexico have been able to bypass the law and continue to move large sums of money each year from illegal activities, mainly drugs, from the US into Mexico. Dirty money enables Mexican drug trafficking organizations to systemically infiltrate major institutions in Mexico and thwarts the democratic consolidation process.31

What the Future Holds for Mexico and Its Impact on Regional Security? The number of drug trafficking organizations has proliferated over time. In 2012, for example, the attorney general contended that there are as many as 80 organizations. Today, some estimates place the number of drug trafficking cells at more than 200. The number of cartels has increased as result of criminal fragmentation.32 There have been organizations that have splintered off and formed their own cartels. For instance, the Zetas worked as hired assassins and enforcers for the Gulf cartel. The Zetas, many of whom were defectors from the Mexican military, decided to form their own drug cartel.33 The cartel is known for violence and its ruthless tactics. In sum, cartels will continue to fight among each for control of territory and drug trafficking routes. Infighting within cartels and between organizations could lead to more divisions. Organized crime groups are opportunists and will continue to search for new markets and trafficking routes, which could impact Central American countries. Given the current opioid epidemic plaguing the US,34 Mexican cartels have moved into the trafficking of products like Fentanyl. States like Guerrero have seen increases in the production of opium. Some drug trafficking organizations have moved into other businesses, including human trafficking. Drug cartels that already control trafficking routes can traffic humans. This horrific crime, which is today’s version of modern-day slavery, has proved to be a lucrative industry for cartels searching to diversify their revenue streams away from drug trafficking and extortion. Patrick Corcoran contends that “the chaos ensuing from the drug wars started under former President Felipe Calderón wrought a breakdown in governance in certain parts of the country such as Tamaulipas. In these areas, the gangland hierarchies essentially usurped certain functions of the state. The expanding authority


of hegemonic gangs gave them influence over a wide range of legal and illegal activities, including human trafficking.”35 The involvement of organized crime groups in drug trafficking and other criminal activities is not limited to Mexico and the US, but rather such activities spill over into other countries. Mexican drug cartels operate in other countries in Central America, such as Honduras and Guatemala. For instance, security officials have contended that the Zetas have a strong presence in Honduras.36 The Zetas also operate in Guatemala. Experts note that the Gulf cartel already had operations in this country.37 Traffickers take advantage of states that are plagued by high levels of corruption as these countries provide fertile conditions for the growth and success of drug trafficking operations.38 Thus, drug trafficking organizations will continue to operate in fragile states as long as they are able to. In summary, drug trafficking and organized crime does not only impact one country. An organization that operates in Mexico can also impact regional stability by penetrating other countries (e.g., Guatemala and Honduras). The section below discusses some of the challenges that Central American countries face regarding organized crime, drug trafficking, and corruption. High levels of insecurity in Central America could lead to a migrant crisis and people fleeing violence in their home countries.

Corruption, Organized Crime, and Violence in Central America Central American countries have a long history of poverty, ­inequality, and violence.39 Today, Central America is home to some of the most violent countries in the world. The Northern Triangle countries, Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador, have been plagued by violence.40 In 2017, El Salvador had a homicide rate of 60 per 100,000 people, which is an improvement from the 81.2 per 100,000 recorded in 2016. Honduras, which was the most violent country in the world several years ago, has seen improvements in the homicide rate. In 2017, Honduras recorded a homicide rate of 42.8 per 100,000 people (see Fig. 6.4). Finally, Guatemala had a homicide rate of 26.1 per 100,000 inhabitants in 2017.41 Drug trafficking, organized crime, and gang-related activities have contributed to the high levels of violence in Central America.42 Two of













Fig. 6.4  Homicide rate per 100,000 (2016 and 2017) (Source Created by authors with data from Tristan Clavel, “InSight Crime’s 2017 Homicide Round-Up,” InSight Crime, January 19, 2018; David Gagne, “InSight Crime’s 2016 Homicide Round-up,” InSight Crime, January 16, 2017)

the most powerful gangs in the Northern Triangle are Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) and the 18th Street gang.43 Both gangs originated in Southern California.44 MS-13 began in Los Angeles during the 1980s. Many of the youth fled El Salvador during the violent days of the civil war. Youth from marginalized communities seeking respect and identity joined MS-13, which could help these individuals fill such voids.45 The US ­government began deporting people back to their countries of origin, which led to the spreading of the gang. The estimates about the number of gang members differ depending on the sources. According to 2012 data, there are 20,000 members of the 18th Street and MS-13 gangs in El Salvador compared to 12,000 in Honduras and 22,000 in Guatemala.46 As will be discussed in more detail below, fighting between gangs and other criminal actors as well as hardline government strategies has contributed to the high levels of violence in Central America.47 However, experts also note that the high levels of corruption and relationships between gangs and politicians have facilitated such activities. According to Florida International University’s José Miguel Cruz, an expert on Central American street gangs, “In August, prosecutors there showed that El Salvador’s two main political parties had colluded with MS-13 and other gangs, paying them more than US$300,000 for help winning the country’s 2014 presidential election. Party officials allegedly


utilized MS-13 to mobilize some voters and suppress others. Still, the attorney general’s office has not indicted party leaders.”48 This is one of many examples of the corruption plaguing countries in the Northern Triangle.49 According to Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index, El Salvador scored a 33 in 2017, with zero being highly ­corrupt and 100 being very clean. Moreover, the country ranked 112 out of 180, with the higher the number representing the more corruption. Guatemala scored a 28 and ranked 143 out of 180. Finally, Honduras scored a 29 and ranked 135 out of 180.50 The high levels of corruption present in these countries, coupled with organized crime, gang activity, and violence, only contribute to state fragility.

El Salvador El Salvador has been plagued by gang activity as well as poverty and inequality. The country has a long history of violence, including a more than 10-year civil war. However, violence continues today. In 2015, El Salvador exceeded Honduras as the most violent country in the world. Gangs as well as counter-gang strategies have furthered the high levels of violence.51 The Francisco Flores government (1999–2004) launched hardline strategies to combat gangs and gang-related violence. The police began to arrest people with alleged gang affiliations. These strategies caused a spike in the prison population.52 El Salvador’s prison population increased from 7754 in 2000 to 24,662 in 2010. By 2016, El Salvador had a prison population of 36,824.53 Prisons have functioned as networks of crime. Today, many of the leaders of MS-13 and the 18th Street gangs are incarcerated in Salvadoran prisons. The authorities separated gangs within the prison system as mixing rival gangs could lead to high levels of violence and protests. While this strategy seems logical in terms of security measures, the gang members used this as an opportunity to better organize. In other words, prisons enable gangs to plan their operations and think about different strategies for expanding their respective organizations. Thus, prisons became a place where gang members from different parts of the country can network.54 El Salvador’s high levels of corruption have contributed to the state’s fragility. Former Salvadoran President Tony Saca was arrested in 2016 for allegations of corruption.55 Investigations reveal that Saca stole



more than $100 million from the Salvadoran government.56 The previous President of El Salvador, Mauricio Funes, fled the country shrouded in corruption scandals and has been living in Nicaragua. According to Funes, he fled because of political persecution. However, prosecutors have questioned where he received the US$700,000.57 Security leaders in El Salvador have warned about the power of the gangs in the country and corruption present among institutions. Moreover, Howard Cotto, the Police Chief, contended that gangs continue to try to penetrate the local political scene, particularly prior to the March 2018 elections. According to Parker Asmann, “El Salvador Police Chief Howard Cotto recently warned that gangs are continuing efforts to infiltrate local politics ahead of the country’s March 2018 legislative and municipal elections. Cotto explained that gangs offer to secure votes for candidates or help bring down levels of violence in exchange for benefits such as reducing anti-gang security measures or providing jobs on the municipal payroll.”58 In 2017, reports emerged that the Salvadoran police have operated secret jails and have held people who have alleged connections with the gangs. Moreover, the police have been accused of torturing suspects and participating in grave human rights abuses.59 In addition, special units of the police force have been accused of committing extrajudicial executions.60 As a result, the perception of the population of the police is quite low. People believe that the police forces are corrupt and are not professional. Such events as well as the power of the gangs have led El Salvadorans to question the ability of the government to control the country. In 2017, 42% of the 1000 people that participated in a survey contended that gangs control/rule El Salvador.61

Honduras Honduras faces many challenges, ranging from high levels of insecurity and violence to political instability. In 2009, President Manuel Zelaya was removed from office by the Honduran military and politicians. Honduras has been beleaguered by high levels of political instability and corruption.62 This country faced a volatile round of elections in 2017. Many critics contended that the results of the election were fraudulent and took to the streets in protest. Yet protesters died as a result of the repression of the police and military. Sarah Kinosian, a security expert and independent journalists, contends: “The contested results triggered the country’s worst political crisis in a decade and have led to the deaths


of at least 30 people, according to the Committee for the Families of the Detained and Disappeared in Honduras (Cofadeh), a human rights group.”63 President Juan Orlando Hernández was sworn in January 2018 despite the high levels of suspected voter fraud.64 Thus, the political future of Honduras will likely continue to be rife with corruption, impunity, and lack of trust in the government’s institutions. Honduras faces many security challenges from gangs (e.g., MS-13 and the 18th Street) to organized crime groups.65 The government has responded to insecurity and organized crime by creating a militarized police force known as the Military Police of Public Order (La Policía Militar del Orden Público—PMOP) in 2012.66 The argument is that the police force has been riddled with corruption, and the government needed to involve a professional force in the fight against organized crime during a period in which Honduras was ranked as the most violent country in the world. Yet there is a distinct difference between the military and the police, and a hybrid force only blurs the line more. Critics of the militarized police force contend that there should be a clear division between the police and the military. The creation of the PMOP has alarmed many experts and human rights activists due to the potential for abuse.67 There have been many cases of human rights abuses involving the militarized police, including cases of torture and illegal detentions. Juan Almendarez, who is the director of a center that helps individuals that have been victims of torture, made the argument during an interview that human rights abuses have increased: “The number of human rights violations by the military is rising, and the threat is greater and growing because military police operate with their faces covered and without visible identification, which fans impunity.”68 However, advocates of the PMOP contend that violence in Honduras has dropped in the country in recent years. The future of Honduras remains ominous as the country is plagued by violence, inequality, and political corruption. The number of scandals and the relationship between Honduras elites and organized crime is alarming. Experts contend that the high levels of organized crime will only continue to help weaken the state apparatus due to the corrupting power of criminal operations. Steven Dudley, an expert on organized crime, contends: “Organized crime plays a role in this violence, but it is more like the gasoline than the engine: it provides an already corrupt system with the fuel it needs to run.”69 The documented cases of corruption and ties between Honduran elites and organized crime groups indicate that corruption impacts the core of the political system.



Immigration Trends After the events of September 11, 2001, the US government stressed the need to improve border security.70 The George W. Bush administration created the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to improve coordination between agencies dealing with the issue of homeland security to prevent future attacks.71 According to the DHS, the following are some of the major accomplishments on the southwest border. • The Border Patrol is better staffed today than at any time in its 87-year history. Along the southwest border, DHS has increased the number of boots on the ground from approximately 9100 Border Patrol agents in 2001 to more than 17,700 today. • Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has deployed a quarter of all its personnel to the southwest border region—the most ever—doubling the number of personnel assigned to Border Enforcement Security Task Forces which work to dismantle criminal organizations along the border; increasing the number of intelligence analysts focused on cartel violence; and quintupling deployments of Border Liaison Officers to work with their Mexican counterparts. • Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has deployed dual detection canine teams, which identify firearms and currency, as well as nonintrusive inspection systems, mobile surveillance systems, remote video surveillance systems, thermal imaging systems, radiation portal monitors, and license plate readers to the southwest border. • CBP now screens 100% of southbound rail shipments for illegal weapons, drugs, and cash, has expanded Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) coverage to the entire southwest border, and completed 650 miles of fencing. • President Obama authorized the temporary deployment of up to 1200 additional National Guard personnel as a bridge to longerterm enhancements in border protection, and law enforcement personnel from DHS to target illicit networks’ trafficking in people, drugs, illegal weapons, money, and the violence associated with these illegal activities.72 The number of deportations of people, both non-criminals and ­criminals, has continued to spike over time. In 2001, for instance, the


US deported 189,000 people. The majority, 116,000, were not criminals. By 2008, the number of deportations increased to 360,000, with the majority (255,000) of people classified as non-criminals. The number of deportations continued to climb during the Obama administration. By 2013, the US government deported 435,000 people.73 Many of the children who have arrived in the US by making the perilous journey through Mexico have been escaping high levels of violence in their home countries.74 In particular, the Northern Triangle countries have faced high levels of gang-related violence. Extortion has become a major problem for people living in Central America. Gangs, like MS-13, earn money by extorting the population. People who do not make the rent payments to the gangs can face severe consequences, including torture or death.75 By 2015, 110,000 people sought asylum in the USA.76 Many immigrants apply for asylum under the Convention Against Torture (CAT). Article 1 of the CAT defines torture in the following manner: For the purposes of this Convention, the term “torture” means any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person information or a confession, punishing him for an act he or a third person has committed or is suspected of having committed, or intimidating or coercing him or a third person, or for any reason based on discrimination of any kind, when such pain or suffering is inflicted by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity. It does not include pain or suffering arising only from, inherent in or incidental to lawful sanctions.77

Immigrants applying for refugee status under the Convention Against Torture must show in the court of law that they are going to be tortured or killed if they return to their country of origin.78 There have been countless cases of women and children who have been victims of gang violence and are seeking protection. Maureen Meyer and Elyssa Pachico contend: “Due to the way that Central American gangs operate, in many cases women and children are targeted by these criminal groups precisely because they are women and children, which U.S. courts have repeatedly interpreted as them being persecuted due to ‘membership in a particular social group.’”79 The challenge for many individuals seeking asylum is the cost of legal proceedings. There have been many non-profit organizations, such as Kids in Need of Defense-KIND, that work on these



cases for free. Many law firms also work on a certain number of pro bono cases per year. If not, the cost of a private immigration attorney could be thousands of dollars. This is an obstacle for many individuals who are from marginalized communities and an underprivileged socioeconomic backgrounds as they cannot afford legal representation. President Trump campaigned on a platform to “Make America Great Again.” He argued that the US border is porous and needs to be strengthened. He contended that a wall between the US and Mexico must be built to stop the flow of drugs and crime.80 Trump’s comments not only offended many people, but experts have been highly critical of the wall. Trump assured his voters that Mexico will pay for the wall. Trump contended that the wall will not only be tall, but it will be beautiful: “I will build a great wall – and nobody builds walls better than me, believe me –and I’ll build them very inexpensively. I will build a great, great wall on our southern border, and I will make Mexico pay for that wall. Mark my words.”81 Trump became frustrated over time during his first term with the lack of funding for his wall. In April 2018, Trump took to Twitter to show his supporters and the supporters of the wall that he was serious about constructing the wall. On April 5, 2018: He tweeted: “The Caravan is largely broken up thanks to the strong immigration laws of Mexico and their willingness to use them so as not to cause a giant scene at our Border. Because of the Trump Administrations actions, Border crossings are at a still UNACCEPTABLE 46 year low. Stop drugs!” The US and Mexico share an almost 2000-mile border. It is important to note that there are fencing and other apparatuses that exist along nearly half of the border.82 Experts have also questioned whether the wall, which could cost more than $20 billion would be an effective use of resources. There are tunnels that have been discovered on the border. In fact, Vicente Fox, the former President of Mexico, stressed that there are ladders that can be used to climb a wall.83 It is estimated that the border wall will cost $25 million per mile of border wall that is constructed.84 Adam Isacson, a security expert at the Washington Office on Latin America, created a list of 23 things that the money used to build the wall could finance. He contends: 1.  The entire 2017 budget of Cincinnati’s police force equals 5.8 Border-Wall Miles. The budget of St. Louis’s police force equals 6.5 Border-Wall Miles. That of Washington DC’s Metro Police is about 25 Border-Wall Miles.


2. For every Border-Wall Mile, 16,361 kids can be covered by the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). 10 Border-Wall Miles are enough to fund CHIP for a year in Colorado, Oklahoma, Michigan, or Kentucky. 3. 18 Democratic Senators introduced legislation last year to “effectively address” America’s opioid-abuse emergency at a cost of 179 Border-Wall Miles per year. 4. Assuming $20,000 each, it would cost about 32 Border-Wall Miles to house every one of the United States’ 40,000 homeless veterans for a year. 5. The vast majority of heroin, fentanyl, cocaine, and methamphetamine enters the United States through official ports of entry, many of which are dilapidated. Fully modernizing all of the ports of entry would cost about 200 Border-Wall Miles. 6. The Nationals Park baseball stadium was built for a cost of 28 Border-Wall Miles. 7. The Washington, DC Metro subway’s emergency safety renovation program, known as SafeTrack, has disrupted countless commutes at a cost of about 4.7 Border-Wall Miles.85 The data show that the number of apprehensions of children at the border has decreased in 2018 (see Fig. 6.5). Yet the number of arrests by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has increased by 40% (see Fig. 6.6). The increases in arrests are a direct result of the Trump administration’s policies as President Trump signed an executive order upon entering the White House to grant the immigration officials more authority in an effort to combat illegal immigration. Acting Director Thomas Homan contended that “ICE agents and officers have been given clear direction to focus on threats to public safety and national security, which has resulted in a substantial increase in the arrest of convicted criminal aliens. However, when we encounter others who are in the country unlawfully, we will execute our sworn duty and enforce the law.”86 In February 2017, ICE arrested 600 people in one week.87 Moreover, ICE detained one individual residing in New York just prior to his graduation from high school.88 This has also resulted in a spike in the number of cases that go before immigration courts.89 Prosecutors are under pressure from Attorney General Sessions to be tough on crime and push for the deportation of unauthorized immigrants. Sessions has attempted to make the process of







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Fig. 6.5  Apprehensions unaccompanied children (by country). Note FY is Fiscal Year. FYTD is from October 1, 2017, to March 31, 2018 (Source Created by authors with data from “U.S. Border Patrol Southwest Border Apprehensions by Sector FY2018,” US Customs and Border Protection)






Fig. 6.6  Immigration and customs enforcement arrests (FY 2017) (Source Created by authors with data from Kristen Bialik, “ICE Arrests Went Up in 2017, with Biggest Increases in Florida, Northern Texas, Oklahoma,” Pew Research Center, February 8, 2018)

deporting illegal immigrants easier. In an interview, Nancy Morawetz of New York University stated: “What [Sessions] wants is an immigration court system which is rapid, and leads to lots of deportations.” She continued: “It’s really just an unprecedented move by the attorney general to change the way the whole system works.”90


Shifting Routes to Central America and Back to Colombia The result of the focus on Mexico and its role in the drug war has been the shifting of routes back to Colombia and Central America. The shifting routes to Central America also present a major challenge because many of the states in Central America and the Caribbean are extremely weak and laden with corruption.91 In fact, some states in the region, such as Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador, are extremely fragile states. These states are quite poor and have extremely weak institutions, which enables drug traffickers and organized criminal networks to infiltrate nearly every aspect of society. The Caribbean also has a problem with drug trafficking and organized crime because of states plagued by high levels of corruption, poverty, and inequality. In Haiti, for example, poverty and corruption are rampant and institutions do not function effectively. As a result, Haiti has become a target of drug traffickers.92

Conclusion As a result of such high levels of violence and corruption, some people have argued that Mexico is on the verge of becoming a failed state. Yet Mexico is not a failed state by any means as it has the 15th largest GDP in the world. The Mexican economy at one point was growing faster than the economy of the US. According to Anthony Harrup of The Wall Street Journal, “The National Statistics Institute, or Inegi, said Thursday first-quarter gross domestic product grew 4.6% from the first-quarter of 2011, with industrial production up 4.5%, services up 5% and agricultural production 6.8% higher. The increase was above the 4.3% median estimate of 14 economists polled by Dow Jones Newswires.”93 The economic growth for Mexico is a bright spot among the news reported on a daily basis about violence and drug trafficking. While Mexico has major issues with drug trafficking organizations, corruption, and socioeconomic issues, it would be an error to argue that Mexico is a failed state. Critics contend that the US has not been an effective ally in combating drug trafficking and organized crime but instead has contributed to the problem.94 Serious reforms of the gun laws, particularly gun sales



at trade shows, must occur in the US to prevent Mexican criminals from buying guns and returning to Mexico and inevitably using these weapons. The Obama administration faced major challenges to gun ­ reform, particularly from Republicans, who have advocated—and continue to advocate—for the right to bear arms and protection of the Second Amendment of the US Constitution. The power of the gun lobbies made it very difficult for Obama to sign into law a new gun law preventing assault rifles or requiring strict background checks at gun shows. Groups such as the National Rifle Association believe that guns are not the problem, instead arguing that guns should be used for protecting against criminals and “bad” guys. In fact, the gun lobby wants there to be more “good guys” with guns to protect school shootings and other massacres from occurring. Mexico is at a critical juncture, and the new administration recognizes that the violence must decrease in Mexico. Mexico and many Central American countries have serious challenges because of the high levels of corruption and impunity.95 An elemental part of the rule of law is that there must be coordination between agencies. For instance, the police must work effectively and arrest people who break the law. However, this has been a major problem in Mexico and countries like El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala as many police agencies have been plagued by high levels of corruption. There are have been countless cases of police officers that are connected to organized crime groups. If someone is arrested, then the judicial system needs to work efficiently. In other words, prosecutors must prosecute people who have violated the law. Yet the reality is that the impunity rates in Mexico and Central America are extremely high. Reforming institutions does not happen overnight. Instead, it requires tremendous effort as well as political will.96 Central American countries and Mexico are at a critical juncture and face many challenges of state fragility. Many citizens have low levels of trust in institutions—from politicians to the police. Reforming an institution also requires political will. However, people benefiting from the current system (e.g., corrupt politicians) do not want to change the system as they have vested interests in maintaining the high levels of corruption. Ultimately, unless the countries examined in this chapter can combat the high levels of impunity, corruption, and inequality, it appears likely that organized crime groups will continue to thrive.



1.  Clare Ribando Seelke and Kristin M. Finklea, U.S.-Mexican Security Cooperation: The Mérida Initiative and Beyond (Washington, DC: Congressional Research Service, 2013); Luis Fernando Alonso, “Rising Violence in Juárez, Mexico May Signal Return of Cartel War,” InSight Crime, October 31, 2016, rising-violence-in-juarez-mexico-may-signal-return-of-cartel-war, accessed April 2018; Shannon K. O’Neil, “Corruption in Mexico,” The Huffington Post, July 18, 2013, p. 2. 2. For more, see Emily Edmonds-Poli and David A. Shirk, Contemporary Mexican Politics (Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 3rd ed., 2016). 3. Peter Watt and Roberto Zepeda, Drug War Mexico: Politics, Neoliberalism and Violence in the New Narcoeconomy (London, UK: Zed Books, 2012); Kate Doyle, “The Militarization of the Drug War in Mexico,” Current History 92, No. 571 (1993): p. 83; Robert C. Bonner, “The Cartel Crackdown: Winning the Drug War and Rebuilding Mexico in the Process,” Foreign Affairs 91 (2012): p. 12. 4. For more on this topic, see Stephen D. Morris and Joseph L. Klesner, “Corruption and Trust: Theoretical Considerations and Evidence from Mexico,” Comparative Political Studies 43, No. 10 (2010): pp. 1258–1285. 5.  For more on this topic, see Juan Gabriel Tokatlian, “América latina ante la pax mafiosa: Entre la confusión y la indiferencia/Latin America and the Pax Mafiosa: Between Perplexity and Indifference,” Estudios Internacionales 40, No. 157 (2007): pp. 137–150; Juan Gabriel Tokatlian, “Illicit Drugs and the Americas: Avoiding a Pax Mafiosa,” Fletcher Forum of World Affairs 31 (2007): p. 57; Louise Shelley, “Corruption and Organized Crime in Mexico in the Post-PRI Transition,” Journal of Contemporary Criminal Justice 17, No. 3 (2001): pp. 213–231. 6. Edgardo Buscaglia, “Mexico: Neither Pax Mafiosa, Nor Rule of Law,” Al Jazeera, December 15, 2016, p. 2. 7. Raúl Benítez Manaut, “Mexico-Colombia: U.S. Assistance and the Fight Against Organized Crime,” in One Goal Two Struggles: Confronting Crime and Violence in Mexico and Colombia, eds. Cynthia J. Arnson and Eric L. Olson with Christine Zaino (Washington, DC: Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, 2014), p. 53. 8.  For more, see David A. Shirk, Mexico’s New Politics: The Pan and Democratic Change (Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner, 2005). 9. Peter Watt and Roberto Zepeda, Drug War Mexico: Politics, Neoliberalism and Violence in the New Narcoeconomy.



10.  Jorge Castañeda, “A U.S. War with Mexican Consequences,” CATO Institute, August 5, 2009, 05/jorge-castaneda/us-war-mexican-consequences, accessed April 17, 2018, p. 4. 11.  Jonathan D. Rosen and Roberto Zepeda, Organized Crime, Drug Trafficking, and Violence in Mexico: The Transition from Felipe Calderón to Enrique Peña Nieto (Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2016); Kimberly Heinle, Octavio Rodríguez Ferreira, and David A. Shirk, Drug Violence in Mexico: Data and Analysis Through 2015 (San Diego, CA: University of San Diego, 2016). 12. Victoria Dittmar, “Study: 2017 Was Deadliest Year in Mexico for Homicides Linked to Organized Crime,” InSight Crime, January 26, 2018, https://, April 17, 2018; the data can be found at Semáforo Delictivo and Lantia Consultores,, accessed April 16, 2018. 13. Parker Asmann, “Is the Impact of Violence in Mexico Similar to War Zones?” InSight Crime, October 23, 2017, https://www.insightcrime. org/news/brief/war-like-impact-violence-mexico/, accessed April 17, 2018, p. 3. 14.  Thiago Rodrigues, Mariana Kalil, Roberto Zepeda, and Jonathan D. Rosen, “War ZoneAcapulco: Urban Drug Trafficking in the Americas,” Contexto Internacional 39, No. 3 (2017): pp. 609–631. 15. For more, see Vilalta, Carlos and Robert Muggah, “Violent Disorder in Ciudad Juarez: A Spatial Analysis of Homicide,” Trends in Organized Crime 17, No. 3 (2014): pp. 161–180; Jessica Livingston, “Murder in Juárez: Gender, Sexual Violence, and the Global Assembly Line,” Frontiers: A Journal of Women Studies 25, No. 1 (2004): pp. 59–76; Lydia Alpízar, “Impunity and Womens Rights in Ciudad Juarez,” Human Rights Dialogue 10 (2003): pp. 27–29. 16. Patrick Corcoran, “What Is Behind Spiking Violence in Tijuana, Mexico?” InSight Crime, April 13, 2017, analysis/what-is-behind-spiking-violence-tijuana-mexico/, accessed April 17, 2018; Juan Arturo Salinas, “Van 208 homicidios en Tijuana y contando,” PSN, de febrero de 28, 2017. 17.  Patrick Corcoran, “What Is Behind Spiking Violence in Tijuana, Mexico?”, p. 5. 18.  Laura Tillman, “How Mexico’s President Saw His Approval Rating Plummet to 17%,” Los Angeles Times, March 1, 2017. 19. Quoted in Patrcik J. McDonnell and Cecilia Sanchez, “It’s Been Two Years Since 43 Mexican Students Disappeared, and We Still Don’t Know


Exactly What Happened to Them,” Los Angeles Times, September 26, 2016. 20.  Josefina Salomón, “UN Points to Abuses, Cover Up in Mexico’s Ayotzinapa Investigation,” InSight Crime, March 16, 2018, https://, accessed April 17, 2018; United Nations Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner, Double Injustice: Report on Human Rights Violations in the Investigation of the Ayotzinapa Case (New York: United Nations Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner, 2018). 21.  Josefina Salomón, “UN Points to Abuses, Cover Up in Mexico’s Ayotzinapa Investigation,” pp. 5–6. 22. Tracy Wilkinson, “Mexico Cancels Deal with Chinese-Led Consortium to Build Bullet Train,” Los Angeles Times, November 7, 2014. 23. Quoted in Reuters in Mexico City, “Mexico’s President Apologizes for Wife’s Purchase of Home from Contractor,” The Guardian, July 18, 2016. 24.  Jonathan D. Rosen and Roberto Zepeda, Organized Crime, Drug Trafficking, and Violence in Mexico: The Transition from Felipe Calderón to Enrique Peña Nieto. 25.  James Bargent, “Mexico Impunity Levels Reach 99%: Study,” InSight Crime, February 4, 2016, mexico-impunity-levels-reach-99-study/, accessed April 17, 2018, p. 3. 26.  Clare Ribando Seelke, Supporting Criminal Justice System Reform in Mexico: The U.S. Role (Washington, DC: Congressional Research Service, 2013); Guillermo Zepeda Lecuona, Crimen Sin Castigo: Procuración de Justica Penal y Ministerio Público en México (Fondo de Cultural Economómica, 2004). 27.  Clare Ribando Seelke and Kristin M. Finklea, U.S.-Mexican Security Cooperation: The Mérida Initiative and Beyond (Washington, DC: Congressional Research Service, 2017); Daniel Sabet, Police Reform in Mexico: Advances and Persistent Obstacles (Washington, DC: Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, 2010). 28.  Adam David Morton, “Failed-State Status and the War on Drugs in Mexico,” Global Dialogue 13, No. 1 (2011): p. 94; Ed Vulliamy, “How a Big US Bank Laundered Billions from Mexico’s Murderous Drug Gangs,” The Guardian, April 3, 2011. 29.  Clare Ribando Seelke and Kristin M. Finklea, U.S.-Mexican Security Cooperation: The Mérida Initiative and Beyond. 30.  Clare Ribando Seelke and Kristin M. Finklea, U.S.-Mexican Security Cooperation: The Mérida Initiative and Beyond.



31.  For more on money laundering, see Michael Levi and Peter Reuter, “Money Laundering,” Crime and Justice 34, No. 1 (2006): pp. 289– 375; John Walker, “How Big Is Global Money Laundering?” Journal of Money Laundering Control 3, No. 1 (1999): pp. 25–37; Jason C. Sharman, “Power and Discourse in Policy Diffusion: Anti-money Laundering in Developing States,” International Studies Quarterly 52, No. 3 (2008): pp. 635–656. 32.  For more on this topic, see “Criminal Violence in Mexico,” Council on Foreign Relations, April 23, 2018,!/conflict/criminal-violence-in-mexico, accessed April 24, 2018; Bruce Bagley, Drug Trafficking and Organized Crime in the Americas: Major Trends in the Twenty-First Century (Washington, DC: Woodrow Wilson Center International Center for Scholars, 2012). 33.  For more, see Guadalupe Correa-Cabrera, Los Zetas Inc.: Criminal Corporations, Energy, and Civil War in Mexico (Austin: The University of Texas Press, 2017); Tomas Kellner and Francesco Pipitone, “Inside México’s Drug War,” World Policy Journal 27, No. 1 (2010): pp. 29–37. 34.  For more, see Laxmaiah Manchikanti, II Standiford Helm, Jeffrey W. Janata MA, Vidyasagar Pampati, and Jay S. Grider, “Opioid Epidemic in the United States,” Pain Physician 15 (2012): pp. ES9–ES38; Rose A. Rudd, Noah Aleshire, Jon E. Zibbell, and R. Matthew Gladden, “Increases in Drug and Opioid Overdose Deaths—United States, 2000–2014,” American Journal of Transplantation 16, No. 4 (2016): pp. 1378–1382. 35.  Patrick Corcoran, “Study Examines Drug and Human Trafficking Overlap in Mexico,” InSight Crime, December 21, 2016, https://www., accessed April 17, 2018, p. 5; Jeremy Slack and Howard Campbell, “On Narco‐coyotaje: Illicit Regimes and Their Impacts on the US–Mexico Border,” Antipode 48, No. 5 (2016): pp. 1380–1399. 36.  Jeremy McDermott, “The Zetas Set Up Shop in Honduras,” InSight Crime, February 4, 2013,, accessed April 17, 2018, p. 2. 37. Steven Dudley, “Part I: The Incursion,” InSight Crime, September 8, 2011,, accessed April 17, 2018, pp. 5–6. 38. Bruce Bagley, Drug Trafficking and Organized Crime in the Americas: Major Trends in the Twenty-First Century; Bruce M. Bagley and Jonathan D. Rosen, eds., Drug Trafficking, Organized Crime, and Violence in the Americas Today (Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2015).


39. For more, see José Miguel Cruz, “Criminal Violence and Democratization in Central America: The Survival of the Violent State,” Latin American Politics and Society 53, No. 4 (2011): pp. 1–33; Mitchell A. Seligson, “The Measurement and Impact of Corruption Victimization: Survey Evidence from Latin America,” World Development 34, No. 2 (2006): pp. 381–404. 40. Jonathan Watts, “One Murder Every Hour: How El Salvador Became the Homicide Capital of the World,” The Guardian, August 22, 2015, p. 1. 41. Tristan Clavel, “InSight Crime’s 2017 Homicide Round-Up,” InSight Crime, January 19, 2018,, accessed April 17, 2018. 42. Thomas Bruneau, Lucía Dammert, and Elizabeth Skinner, eds., Maras: Gang Violence and Security in Central America (Austin: University of Texas Press, 2011). 43. T. W. Ward, Gangsters Without Borders: An Ethnography of a Salvadoran Street Gang (New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2013); Sonja Wolf, “Mara Salvatrucha: The Most Dangerous Street Gang in the Americas?” Latin American Politics and Society 54, No. 1 (2012): pp. 65–99; José Miguel Cruz, Jonathan D. Rosen, Luis Enrique Amaya, and Yulia Vorobyeva, The New Face of Street Gangs: The Gang Phenomenon in El Salvador (Miami, FL: Florida International University, 2017); Laura Pedraza Fariña, Spring Miller, and James L. Cavallaro, No Place to Hide: Gang, State, and Clandestine Violence in El Salvador (Cambridge, MA: Human Rights Program, Harvard Law School, 2010). 44. For more, see James C. Howell, The History of Street Gangs in the United States: Their Origins and Transformations (Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2015); Sonja Wolf, “Mara Salvatrucha: The Most Dangerous Street Gang in the Americas?” Latin American Politics and Society 54, No. 1 (2012): pp. 65–99. 45. José Miguel Cruz, “Central American Gangs Like MS-13 Were Born Out of Failed Anti-crime policies,” The Conversation, May 8, 2017, https://, accessed April 17, 2018, p. 2. 46.  Clare Ribando Seelke, Gangs in Central America (Washington, DC: Congressional Research Service, 2016). 47.  José Miguel Cruz and Nelson Portillo Peña, Solidaridad y violencia en las pandillas del gran San Salvador: más allá de la vida loca, Vol. 9. (San Salvador: UCA Editores, 1998); For more, see Sonja Wolf, Mano Dura: The Politics of Gang Control in El Salvador (Austin: University of Texas Press, 2017); Thomas Bruneau, Lucía Dammert, and Elizabeth Skinner; Chris van der Borgh and Wim Savenije, “De-securitising and Re-securitising Gang Policies: The Funes Government and Gangs in



El Salvador,” Journal of Latin American Studies 47, No. 01 (2015): pp. 149–176; Steven Dudley, “How ‘Mano Dura’ Is Strengthening Gangs,” InSight Crime, November 21, 2010,, accessed April 2018. 48. José Miguel Cruz, “In Central America, Gangs Like MS-13 Are Bad— But Corrupt Politicians May Be Worse,” The Conversation, October 23, 2017, p. 2. 49.  For more, see Orlando J. Pérez, “Democratic Legitimacy and Public Insecurity: Crime and Democracy in El Salvador and Guatemala,” Political Science Quarterly 118, No. 4 (2003): pp. 627–644; J. Mark Ruhl, “Political Corruption in Central America: Assessment and Explanation,” Latin American Politics and Society 53, No. 1 (2011): pp. 33–58. 50.  Corruption Perceptions Index 2017, Transparency International, index_2017, accessed April 17, 2018; “El 42% cree que las pandillas mandan más que el Gobierno,” El Mundo, de noviembre de 8, 2017. 51. Elisabeth Jean Wood, Insurgent Collective Action and Civil War in El Salvador (New York, NY: Cambridge University Press, 2003); Philippe Bourgois, “The Power of Violence in War and Peace: Post-cold War Lessons from El Salvador,” Ethnography 2, No. 1 (2001): pp. 5–34; Mo Hume, “‘It’s as if You Don’t Know, Because You Don’t Do Anything About It’: Gender and Violence in El Salvador,” Environment and Urbanization 16, No. 2 (2004): pp. 63–72; Ana Arana, “How the Street Gangs Took Central America,” Foreign Affairs 84 (2005): p. 98. 52. José Miguel Cruz, “Central American Maras: from Youth Street Gangs to Transnational Protection Rackets,” Global Crime 11, No. 4 (2010): pp. 379–398; Sonja Wolf, “El Salvador’s Pandilleros Calmados: The Challenges of Contesting Mano Dura Through Peer Rehabilitation and Empowerment,” Bulletin of Latin American Research 31, No. 2 (2012): pp. 190–205 53. “World Prison Brief,” Institute for Criminal Policy Research,, accessed April 17, 2018. 54. José Miguel Cruz, “Central American Maras: From Youth Street Gangs to Transnational Protection Rackets.” 55. Associated Press, “El Salvador Police Arrest Ex-President Tony Saca on Corruption Allegations,” Los Angeles Times, October 30, 2016. 56. Focus, “Antonio Saca movió 131 millones de dólares en cuentas propias y de sus empresas,”, de noviembre de 17, 2016. 57.  “Nicaragua grants asylum to El Salvador’s Mauricio Funes,” BBC, September 6, 2016. 58.  Parker Asmann, “El Salvador Citizens Say Gangs, Not Government ‘Rule’ the Country,” InSight Crime, November 8, 2017, https://www.


, accessed April 17, 2018, p. 3. 59. Tristan Clavel, “El Salvador Police Running ‘Clandestine Jails’: Report,” InSight Crime, September 20, 2017, news/brief/el-salvador-police-running-clandestine-jails-report/, accessed April 17, 2018, p. 3. 60. InSight Crime, “El Salvador Special Police Unit Committed Extrajudicial Executions: Report,” InSight Crime, August 23, 2017, https://www., accessed April 17, 2018. 61. Parker Asmann, “El Salvador Citizens Say Gangs, Not Government ‘Rule’ the Country.” 62. For more on this topic, see Rodolfo Pastor Fasquelle, “The 2009 Coup and the Struggle for Democracy in Honduras,” NACLA Report on the Americas 44, No. 1 (2011): pp. 16–21; J. Mark Ruhl, “Honduras Unravels,” Journal of Democracy 21, No. 2 (2010): pp. 93–107. 63.  Sarah Kinosian, “Families Fear No Justice for Victims as 31 Die in Honduras Post-election Violence,” The Guardian, January 2, 2018, p. 1. 64. James Bargent, Ronna Rísquez, and Kelly Grant, “Corruption and Impunity Allegations Seed Doubts for Second Term of Honduras President,” InSight Crime, January 26, 2018, corruption-and-impunity-allegations-seed-doubts-for-second-term-of-honduras-president/, accessed April 17, 2018. 65. Lirio Gutiérrez Rivera, “Discipline and Punish? Youth Gangs’ Response to ‘Zero‐tolerance’ Policies in Honduras,” Bulletin of Latin American Research 29, No. 4 (2010): pp. 492–504; Juan J. Fogelbach, “Gangs, Violence, and Victims in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras,” San Diego International Law Journal 12 (2010): p. 417; Sophie Yacoub, Sergio Arellano, and Dennis Padgett-Moncada, “Violence Related Injuries, Deaths and Disabilities in the Capital of Honduras,” Injury 37, No. 5 (2006): pp. 428–434; John M. Hagedorn, “The Global Impact of Gangs,” Journal of Contemporary Criminal Justice 21, No. 2 (2005): pp. 153–169. 66.  For more, see Alexander Main, “The US Re-militarization of Central America and Mexico,” NACLA Report on the Americas 47, No. 2 (2014): pp. 65–70; José Miguel Cruz, “Criminal Violence and Democratization in Central America: The Survival of the Violent State,” Latin American Politics and Society 53, No. 4 (2011): pp. 1–33. 67. Marguerite Cawley, “Honduras Gives Green Light to Military Police,” InSight Crime, August 23, 2013, brief/honduras-gives-green-light-to-military-police/, accessed April 17, 2018, p. 3. 68. Quoted in Reuters Staff, “Military Helps Cut Honduras Murder Rate, But Abuses Spike,” Reuters, July 9, 2015.



69. Steven Dudley, “Honduras Elites and Organized Crime: Introduction,” InSight Crime, April 9, 2016,, accessed April 17, 2018, p. 2. 70.  For more, see Edward Alden and Bryan Roberts, “Are U.S. Borders Secure? Why We Don’t Know, and How to Find Out,” Foreign Affairs, No. 90 (July/August 2011): pp. 19–27; David Kamien, ed., McGrawHill Homeland Security Handbook: Strategic Guidance for a Coordinated Approach to Effective Security and Emergency Management (New York, NY: McGraw-Hill, 2nd ed., 2012); Marc R. Rosenblum, Jerome P. Bjelopera, and Kristin M. Finklea, Border Security: Understanding Threats at U.S. Borders (Washington, DC: Congressional Research Service, 2013); Mattea Kramer and Chris Hellman, “‘Homeland Security’: The Trillion-Dollar Concept That No One Can Define,” The Nation, February 28, 2013. 71.  For more on this topic, see Kristen Elizabeth Uhl, “Freedom of Information Act Post-9/11: Balancing the Public’s Right to Know, Critical Infrastructure Protection, and Homeland Security,” American University Law Review 53 (2003): p. 261; Mathew Coleman, “What Counts as the Politics and Practice of Security, and Where? Devolution and Immigrant Insecurity After 9/11,” Annals of the Association of American Geographers 99, No. 5 (2009): pp. 904–913; Bryan Mabee, “Re-imagining the Borders of US Security After 9/11: Securitisation, Risk, and the Creation of the Department of Homeland Security,” Globalizations 4, No. 3 (2007): pp. 385–397. 72. Direct quote from “Securing and Managing Our Borders,” Homeland Security, March 10, 2017,, accessed April 17, 2018. 73.  Ana Gonzalez-Barrera and Jens Manuel Krogstad, “U.S. Immigrant Deportations Declined in 2014, But Remain Near Record High,” Pew Research Center, August 31, 2016,, accessed April 17, 2018. 74. For more, see Muzaffar Chishti and Faye Hipsman, “The Child and Family Migration Surge of Summer 2014: A Short-Lived Crisis with a Lasting Impact,” Journal of International Affairs 68, No. 2 (2015): p. 95. 75. Rocio Cara Labrador and Danielle Renwick, “Central America’s Violent Northern Triangle,” Council on Foreign Relations, January 18, 2018,, accessed April 16, 2018. 76. Rocio Cara Labrador and Danielle Renwick, “Central America’s Violent Northern Triangle”; Jan Egeland, “Central America: At the Tipping Point,” Humanitarian Practice Network, June 2017.

132  H. S. KASSAB AND J. D. ROSEN 77. “Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment,” United Nations Human Rights Office of the Higher Commissioner, Pages/CAT.aspx, accessed April 16, 2018; for more, see James Raymond Vreeland, “Political Institutions and Human Rights: Why Dictatorships Enter into the United Nations Convention Against Torture,” International Organization 62, No. 1 (2008): pp. 65–101; Jay Goodliffe and Darren G. Hawkins, “Explaining Commitment: States and the Convention Against Torture,” The Journal of Politics 68, No. 2 (2006): pp. 358–371. 78.  For more, see Jay Goodliffe and Darren G. Hawkins, “Explaining Commitment: States and the Convention Against Torture,” The Journal of Politics 68, No. 2 (2006): pp. 358–371; Andrea Montavon-McKillip, “CAT Among Pigeons: The Convention Against Torture, A Precarious Intersection Between International Human Rights Law and US Immigration Law,” Arizona Law Review 44 (2002): p. 247. 79.  Maureen Meyer and Elyssa Pachico, “Fact Sheet: U.S. Immigration and Central American Asylum Seekers,” Washington Office on Latin America, February 1, 2018,, accessed April 16, 2018, p. 2. 80. Sally Kohn, “Trump’s Outrageous Mexico Remarks,” CNN, June 18, 2015; Phil Helsel, “Donald Trump: ‘Nobody Wants to Talk About’ Immigration and Crime,” NBC News, July 10, 2015; Philip Rucker, “Chilling Trump Video Attacks Bush for Calling Illegal Immigration ‘Act of Love,’” The Washington Post, August 31, 2015. 81. “30 of Donald Trump’s Wildest Quotes,” CBS NEWS, https://www., accessed April 17, 2018. 82. For more on this topic, see Peter Andreas, Border Games: Policing the USMexico Divide (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2012). 83. Lee Moran, “Former Mexican President Vicente Fox Says He’ll Pay for Donald Trump’s Wall,” Huffington Post, March 1, 2017. 84. Adam Isacson, “23 Amazing Things You Can Do for the Cost of a Few Miles of Border Wall,” Washington Office on Latin America, January 9, 2018,, accessed April 17, 2018. 85. Adam Isacson, “23 Amazing Things You Can Do for the Cost of a Few Miles of Border Wall.” 86.  Quoted in Priscilla Alvarez, “What the Spike in Immigration Arrests Might Mean for Detention Centers,” The Atlantic, May 20, 2017; “ICE ERO Immigration Arrests Climb Nearly 40%,” ICE, gov/features/100-days, accessed April 17, 2018.



87.  Liz Robbins and Caitlin Dickerson, “Immigration Agents Arrest 600 People Across U.S. in One Week,” The New York Times, February 12, 2017. 88. Ruth Brown, “ICE Detains Teen Just Days Before His Graduation,” New York Post, June 9, 2017. 89. Priscilla Alvarez, “What the Spike in Immigration Arrests Might Mean for Detention Centers.” 90. Quoted in Joel Rose, “Sessions Pushes to Speed Up Immigration Courts, Deportations,” National Public Radio, March 29, 2018. 91.  Bruce M. Bagley and Jonathan D. Rosen, eds., Drug Trafficking, Organized Crime, and Violence in the Americas Today. 92. For more on this topic, see Clare Ribando Seelke, Liana Sun Wyler, June S. Beittel, and Mark P. Sullivan, Latin America and the Caribbean: Illicit Drug Trafficking and US Counterdrug Programs (Washington, DC: Congressional Research Service, 2011). 93. Anthony Harrup, “Mexico’s GDP Exceeds Expectations,” The Wall Street Journal, May 17, 2012. 94.  Bruce Michael Bagley, “The New Hundred Years War? US National Security and the War on Drugs in Latin America,” Journal of Interamerican Studies and World Affairs 30, No. 1 (1988): pp. 161– 182; Bruce Bagley, “The Evolution of Drug Trafficking and Organized Crime in Latin America,” Sociologia, Problemas e Práticas 71 (2013): pp. 99–123; Julien Mercille, “Violent Narco-Cartels or US Hegemony? The Political Economy of the ‘War on Drugs’ in Mexico,” Third World Quarterly 32, No. 9 (2011): pp. 1637–1653. 95.  For more on this topic, see Mark Ungar, Elusive Reform: Democracy and the Rule of Law in Latin America (Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner Publishers, 2001); Joe Foweraker and Roman Krznaric, “The Uneven Performance of Third Wave Democracies: Electoral Politics and the Imperfect Rule of Law in Latin America,” Latin American Politics and Society 44, No. 3 (2002): pp. 29–60; Guillermo A. O’donnell, “Why the Rule of Law Matters,” Journal of Democracy 15, No. 4 (2004): pp. 32–46. 96. For more on the issue of reforms, see Anna Persson, Bo Rothstein, and Jan Teorell, “Why Anticorruption Reforms Fail—Systemic Corruption as a Collective Action Problem,” Governance 26, No. 3 (2013): pp. 449–471; Susan Rose-Ackerman, “Corruption and Government,” International Peacekeeping 15, No. 3 (2008): pp. 328–343.


South America

This chapter examines corruption along with trends in organized crime and other activities that contribute to state weakness in countries in the region. The tentacles of drug trafficking and organized crime have spread throughout the region as organized crime groups have become transnational in nature. Corruption, organized crime, drug trafficking, and violence in Latin America continue despite declining poverty rates and transitions to democracy over the past decades.1 Many countries in the region have been plagued by weak institutions that are laden with high levels of corruption and impunity. Peru, for instance, has been attempting to strengthen its democratic institutions for decades. President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski resigned in 2018 amid a major corruption scandal that forced him to step down after serving as the country’s president for just two years. Other Peruvian presidents, such as Alejandro Toledo and Ollanta Humala, have also been involved in massive corruption scandals. Peru has four presidents who are either in jail or are trying to avoid prosecution.2 The problems for this country, which are emblematic of many Latin American countries, do not stop there as many politicians are facing corruption allegations. On the Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI), Venezuela scored an 18 in 2017, with zero being the most corrupt and 100 being the least corrupt. Moreover, it ranked as 169 out of 180, with the higher the number the more corruption.3 Other countries in the region also scored low on the CPI. Colombia, for instance, scored a 37 in 2017. Colombia’s © The Author(s) 2019 H. S. Kassab and J. D. Rosen, Corruption, Institutions, and Fragile States,



neighbors, Ecuador and Peru, did not score much better, with 32, and 37, respectively (see Fig. 7.1). High levels of organized crime have contributed to corruption in countries like Venezuela.4 Jeremy McDermott argues, “In order to facilitate business, organized crime groups corrupt certain elements of the state — particularly the security forces and the judiciary. Organized crime has also shown an interest in infiltrating the political arena in many parts of the region.”5 Institutions that are plagued by high levels of corruption create a perfect place for organized crime groups to flourish in the country.6 In sum, corrupt officials are key in helping facilitate many illicit activities. In other words, drug traffickers and organized crime groups need such officials to penetrate the state apparatus. Drug traffickers want to avoid losing money and serving time in prison. Criminals want to have influence (i.e., bribe) corrupt politicians as well as judges, prosecutors, and police. People in Latin America have very negative perceptions about politicians. In fact, 34.8% of individuals surveyed in the Latin American Public Opinion Project (LAPOP) at Vanderbilt University contended that more than half of the politicians are corrupt. In addition, 26.1% responded that all the politicians are corrupt.7 Brazil had the highest percentage of people (83.4%) who perceived that more than half of all politicians are corrupt, followed by Mexico, Peru, Colombia, and Venezuela (see Fig. 7.2).

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Fig. 7.1  Corruption perceptions index score (0–100) (Source Created by authors with data from “Corruption Perceptions Index 2017,” Transparency International, February 21, 2018)





















Fig. 7.2  Perceptions that more than half of every politician is corrupt (Source Created by authors with data from Molllie J. Cohen, Noam Lupu, and Elizabeth J. Zechmeister, The Political Culture of Democracy in The Americas 2016/2017 [Nashville, TN: Vanderbilt University, Latino Public Opinion Project, 2017])

The Odebrecht Scandal: The Tentacles of Corruption Throughout the Region The Odebrecht scandal has shaken countries throughout the Western Hemisphere. Odebrecht, a Brazilian construction company, has been involved in a large bribery scandal throughout the region. The company has bribed politicians and government officials in 12 countries. The cost of the bribery operation is an estimated $3.3 billion. The scandal has involved top political figures, such as Alejandro Toledo, the former President of Peru. In addition, Juan Manuel Santos, the President of Colombia, allegedly received money from the Brazilian contracting firm for his 2014 presidential campaign.8 The Brazilian construction company’s problems began with the exposure of the scheme in 2016. However, the bribery operation started in 2001. Charles Orta writes, “Beginning in 2014, Odebrecht, then Latin America’s largest transnational construction company, began facing accusations of engaging in illicit activities with Brazil’s state-owned oil giant, Petrobras, related to the investigation known as ‘Operation Car Wash’ (‘Operação Lava Jato’). What originated as a local money laundering investigation, soon mushroomed into an international corruption scandal


as Brazilian authorities discovered evidence suggesting Odebrecht had paid bribes to political elites in both Peru and Argentina.”9 The ability of this company to penetrate the state apparatus and its role in bribing top officials created major concerns about the corrupt practices of politicians in power. Odebrecht utilized a complex method for partaking in bribery to win favor and gain contracts throughout the region. Odebrecht used offshore companies to hide money and various accounting methods to facilitate the illicit flow of goods. Moreover, the company made convincing lucrative offers to politicians throughout the region—from the Dominican Republic to Venezuela—that officials did not deny.10 In sum, this scandal has created alarms across the region about the ethical behavior of leaders. It shows that a major corporation that had bribery build into its business model could gain favors in countries throughout the Americas, in turn, helping erode the legitimacy of the state.

Colombia’s Drug War Colombia has a long history of organized crime, drug trafficking, and violence. During the 1980s and 1990s, many policy makers feared that Colombia was on the verge of collapse due to the high levels of drug trafficking and organized crime. Pablo Escobar, the leader of the Medellín cartel, penetrated the state apparatus, impacting both Colombian and regional security. Escobar vowed to combat his competition and enemies using force. Escobar bribed police officers, judges, and politicians and tortured or killed those in his way.11 He killed presidential candidates and attempted to kill the president at the time by blowing up an airliner. The University of Miami’s Bruce Bagley, an expert on organized crime, contends: “In the early 1990s, following the August 1989 assassination of the leading Liberal party presidential candidate-- Luis Carlos Galan-- by hitmen (sicarios) on the payroll of the Medellin drug lord Pablo Escobar, first the government of President Virgilio Barco Vargas (1986-1990) and then of Cesar Gaviria Trujillo (1990-1994) mounted concerted attacks against the Medellin cartel.”12 With the help of the US government, the Colombian government sought to dismantle the two major drug trafficking organizations in Colombia during the 1980s and early 1990s: The Medellín and Cali cartel. Colombian authorities intercepted a call that Escobar made and killed him on a rooftop in Medellín in 1993.13 While the Medellín cartel



collapsed, the Cali cartel increased in power, but later was dismantled. Despite the success of the Colombian government against the major drug cartels in the country, the dismantling of the two major organizations did not disrupt the overall drug markets.14 Bagley notes, “The undeniable significance of the Colombian government’s successful assaults on the Medellin and Cali cartels over the decade should not, however, obscure the underlying reality of the ongoing explosion of drug cultivation and drug trafficking in Colombia over the second half of the 1990s. Nor should it distract attention from the accelerating political corrosion that flowed from the country’s still-flourishing illicit drug trade.”15 The toppling of the major kingpins in Colombia and the dissolution of the cartels created a vacuum that enabled other smaller organizations to flourish. In fact, there are hundreds of smaller cartels that operate in Colombia today.16 The high levels of drug trafficking, organized crime, and violence in Colombia not only threatened Colombia but also regional security. Colombia shares borders with Venezuela, Ecuador, Peru, and Brazil. In addition, Colombia is located adjacent to Panama, which is home to the Panama Canal, a major port of commerce. Thus, drug trafficking and organized crime within the country can spread to Colombia’s neighbors. Fears existed that a weak or fragile Colombia could not only impact regional security but also US national security given the country’s proximity to the US.17 Drug trafficking has continued in Colombia despite decades of the war on drugs.18 In fact, the US provided the Colombian government with $10 billion in aid between 2000 and 2015.19 Plan Colombia began as a counter-narcotics initiative designed to reduce coca cultivation and drug trafficking.20 While the goals of the initiative evolved over time, combating drug trafficking and increasing security remained an important part of the plan.21 An important component of Plan Colombia was combating the production of coca, which is the key ingredient used to make cocaine.22 Colombia witnessed the “balloon effect,” which is when coca cultivation—and drug trafficking—routes shift over time when a government attempts to combat such operations.23 The spraying of herbicides from aircraft has resulted in coca farmers shifting where they cultivate the crop. Farmers often grow coca with other licit crops, which makes it harder to locate from a satellite image. Thus, coca production shifted and moved around to different regions within the country. Coca cultivation also increased in Colombia’s neighbors (e.g., Peru).


In 2015, Colombia surpassed Peru and regained its title as the number one producer of coca on the planet.24 The increased coca cultivation is linked with spikes in the production of cocaine in Colombia (see Fig. 7.3). According to Jeremy McDermott, “Colombia is now producing more cocaine than ever before, just as a new chapter in the country’s criminal history begins and the government tries to implement a peace agreement with Marxist rebels.”25 Today, 90% of the cocaine that is confiscated in the US hails from Colombia.26 Drug traffickers have also responded to the rising demand for cocaine in the US.27 The number of people who have tried cocaine has increased in recent years (see Fig. 7.4). Other experts contend that the increase in cocaine consumption is related to the spike in Colombia’s cocaine production. Nick Miroff maintains: “This surge in consumption can be traced directly to Colombia’s bumper harvest. The country’s illegal coca crop doubled between 2013 and 2015, reaching nearly 400,000 acres. That’s almost twice as much as the combined output of Peru and Bolivia, the world’s second- and third-largest producers.”28 In addition to drug cartels, Colombia has had more than five decades of internal armed conflict. The most powerful organization is the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia—FARC).29 The FARC participate in many illicit activities, such as kidnaping, extortion, and drug trafficking. This ϭϲϬ͕ϬϬϬ


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Fig. 7.3  Coca cultivation in Colombia (hectares) (Source Created by authors with data from United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime [UNODC], Colombia: Monitoreo de territorios afectados por cultivos ilícitos 2016 [Bogotá, CO: UNODC, 2017])


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Fig. 7.4  Potential cocaine production in Colombia (Source Created by authors with data from Drug Enforcement Administration [DEA], Colombian Cocaine Production Expansion Contributes to Rise in Supply in the United States [Springfield, VA: DEA, 2017]; estimates are from the US government and the Colombian Observatory on Drugs)

organization has been notorious for attacking infrastructure (e.g., oil pipelines). The other major guerrilla group is the National Liberation Army (Ejército de Liberación Nacional—ELN). The guerrilla groups present major challenges for Colombia and its neighbors. The attacks have impacted Colombia and neighboring countries. For example, the power grid has shut down on numerous occasions, resulting in blackouts. Charles Parkinson contends: “As well as targeting oil infrastructure, the FARC have recently caused havoc by attacking electricity supplies, cutting off 300,000 people’s energy in the southwestern department of Nariño in October. On December 11, [2013] the rebels declared there could be an uptick in attacks before a temporary ceasefire scheduled to take effect on December 15.”30 The attacks in Colombia have resulted in major environmental challenges because of oil spills. In addition to the guerrilla organizations, Colombia has a history of paramilitary groups. The United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (Autodefensas Unidas de Colombia—AUC) has been involved in major human rights abuses.31 These paramilitaries demobilized during the Álvaro Uribe administration (2002–2010). The demobilization has been criticized by many scholars as they paramilitaries now operate as criminal bands, often known as the BACRIM, and are involved in a variety of illicit activities such as drug trafficking, extortion, and illegal mining.32


The results of the internal armed conflict have been overwhelming. There are been more than 220,000 people killed over the past 55 years. In addition, more than 7 million people have been displaced.33 Many communities, particularly indigenous groups and Afro-Colombians, have suffered because of the internal armed conflict. According to James Bargent and Mat Charles, “The BACRIM in places like the region of Bajo Cauca are a typical manifestation of Colombia’s underworld today: a semi-autonomous local cell that is part of a powerful national network.”34 Some experts contend that the BACRIM are “third generation” drug cartels. The BACRIM operate in certain territories and can control what and whom moves across certain terrains.35 In sum, the BACRIM was involved in many organized crime and human rights abuses and are considered to be one of the major threats to Colombian security. Critics contend that President Uribe had connections to the paramilitaries, the predecessors of the BACRIM. Experts argued that the paramilitaries had high levels of infiltration in the Colombian Congress. Uribe has denied such claims. However, reports emerged confirming linkages between Uribe’s family members and the paramilitaries. One of Uribe’s cousins, for instance, was arrested for links to the paramilitaries. Mario Uribe, along with 30 other politicians who began their Congressional terms in 2006, has succumb to the corruption scandal as they have been arrested for allegedly having ties to paramilitary death squads operating in Colombia.36 Reports also emerged after the Uribe administration that he has been involved with the formation of deaths squads that have been responsible for grave human ­aramilitaries rights abuses (see Fig. 7.5).37 Even former leaders of the p have linked Uribe to illicit activities. “Don Mario,” which is the alias for the founder of the Urabeños has indicated that Uribe has had c­ onnections to the paramilitaries. Yet Uribe has argued that such claims are false and merely are attempts to smear his name because of some of his policy stances, such as his opposition to the peace process.38 Colombia has seen increases in security in terms of the total number of homicides. The number of homicides declined from 28,837 in 2002 to 12,673 in 2015.39 The number of kidnapings has also dropped over time.40 However, the number of extortions has increased. In 2008, there were 830 recorded extortions. The number of extortions climbed to 5304 in 2015 (see Fig. 7.6). In addition, the number of “armed actions” carried out by the FARC has increased until recent years (see Fig. 7.7). In sum, such actions can generate feelings of insecurity among the populace.













Fig. 7.5  Number of murders of human rights defenders (Colombia) (Source Created by authors with data from “15th Anniversary of Plan Colombia: Learning from Its Successes and Failures,” Washington Office on Latin America, February 1, 2016; original data from Somos Defensores)









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Fig. 7.6  Extortion in Colombia (Source Created by authors with data from “15th Anniversary of Plan Colombia: Learning from Its Successes and Failures,” Washington Office on Latin America, February 1, 2016; original data from the Ministry of Defense of Colombia)


















Fig. 7.7  “Armed Actions” by the FARC (Source Created by authors with data from “15th Anniversary of Plan Colombia: Learning from Its Successes and Failures,” Washington Office on Latin America, February 1, 2016; original data from the Fundación Paz y Reconciliación)

The Colombian Peace Process President Juan Manuel Santos (2010–2018), the former Defense Minister, came to office as the candidate who would continue the war against the FARC.41 As Defense Minister, Santos was responsible for carrying out major military operations against the FARC. Thus, it appeared that Santos would continue the policies of his predecessor and former boss, Álvaro Uribe. President Santos had a different agenda as he sought peace to the more than 50-year internal armed conflict that has cost Colombia countless lives in terms and cost billions of dollars. After two years of secret negotiations, the Colombian government began four years of negotiations in Havana, Cuba between the FARC and the government.42 The FARC and the Colombian government signed a peace accord in September 2016, marking a historic moment. The Santos administration requested the Colombians vote whether they approved or disapproved. While the polls indicated that society would vote yes in the plebiscite, the “No” vote won, though by very small margins.43 After the “No” vote won, the Colombian government went back to the drawing board and published a new modified version of the peace accord on November 2016. The Colombian Congress also ratified this version of the accord in the same month.44 Despite the signing of a peace accord, Colombia has faced major challenges with the implementation of the agreement. The implementation



process has come at an inopportune time for Colombia as the country faces financial challenges because of the decline of the price of oil. Moreover, the government can no longer rely on support from other countries, such as the US. The Donald Trump administration appears uninterested in helping the Colombian government during the implementation phase, which is a shift away from the $450 million that President Obama pledged to provide this country through an initiative known as Peace Colombia (Paz Colombia).45 Trump has contended that he is concerned about the high levels of drug production in Colombia, but he has not indicated that the US government will provide financial support.46 This is consistent with Trump’s “America First” pledge—to focus on problems within the US and not in other countries around the world.47 The peace process has major challenges during the implementation process. Experts have also been critical of the implementation phase. Adam Isacson, an expert on Colombia security issues, contends: “The effort to implement the accord never recovered. It limped out of the starting gate like a runner with a sprained ankle. The Legislature failed to pass several laws needed to keep promises made in the agreement. Ex-guerrillas languished in rural demobilization camps, many of which the government didn’t even finish building. In the March 2018 legislative elections, the Common Alternative Revolutionary Force crashed into reality: Its candidates got a combined 0.3% of the national vote. The former insurgents face the possibility of more defeat if, as polls indicate might happen….”48 President Santos is not popular among Colombians, and many people have lost confidence in the government for a variety of reasons.49 As of January 2018, Santos had an approval rating of around 14%.50 The accord has also faced challenges with the April 2018 arrest of Seusis Hernández, who is known as Jesus Santrich.51 This individual has been indicted by a grand jury in the US for exporting cocaine from Colombia to the US Iván Márquez, a FARC leader, contended: “With the capture of our comrade Jesus Santrich the peace process finds itself at its most critical point and threatens to be a true failure.”52 In addition, the Colombian government dismissed the director of the Colombia Peace Fund (Fondo Colombiano de Paz—FCP) after the embassies of various European countries voiced serious concerns about lack of transparency in some of the funds under the umbrella of the FPC.53 There is the possibility that FARC members who demobilize could face rejection in Colombian society given their criminal pasts. The issue of reinsertion of former guerrilla members is a difficult proposition.


Other actors, such as gangs and former criminals, have faced many obstacles in other countries from El Salvador to the US. There often exist high levels of discrimination by society against former criminals.54 Thus, the possibility exists that FARC defectors who are unable to be reinserted successfully in society may be tempted to return to a life of crime. They could also become involved with other criminal groups (e.g., the BACRIM). Mike LaSusa argues that “[r]ecent reports suggest that dissident members of Colombia’s main guerrilla group have begun forming new criminal structures in Ecuador, raising the possibility that others could follow in their footsteps as the group’s leadership finalizes a peace deal with the Colombian government.”55 Thus, there is a possibility that former FARC rebels could impact security not only in Colombia but also among its neighbors. In sum, the issue of corruption in Colombia has been estimated to be worth possibly as much as $14 billion, demonstrating the impact on the country’s economy.56 Impunity is intricately connected to corruption. In fact, some sources indicate that impunity in Colombia is nearly 99%. This requires that the implementation of the rule of law.57 Such high levels of corruption has resulted in distrust in Colombian institutions. Corruption and impunity mean that people do not trust that the rule of law will be carried out within the country.58 The perception is that people can get away from crimes in Colombia, particularly if one has political connections or is able to bribe government officials, politicians, and police officers.

Venezuela: A Country in Crisis Venezuela has faced countless problems in recent years. The death of President Hugo Chávez in 2013 led to the Nicolás Maduro administration.59 Venezuela, which has more oil reserves than any country in the world, had been on the verge of economic collapse. Levels of inflation in the country have increased to 4000%, according to some sources.60 Yet some sources predict that inflation in the country will reach 13,000% in 2018. Moreover, unemployment in the country is predicted to hit 30% in 2018.61 The economic woes within the country are a result of economic mismanagement and high levels of corruption as well as the drop in the price of oil. The result has been complete chaos as the country has run out of basic raw materials and food. Hundreds of children living in the country are currently starving of hunger.62 Stores have been looted







Fig. 7.8  Number of Venezuelans living in the United States (Source Created by authors with data from “Origins and Destinations of the World’s Migrants, 1990–2017,” Pew Research Center, February 28, 2018)

as starving citizens attempt to survive. One looter commented, “We either loot or we die of hunger.”63 The food shortage led to the average Venezuelan losing more than 20 lb in one year.64 The situation in the country has resulted in Venezuelans fleeing to neighboring countries as well as the US (see Fig. 7.8). Data show that there are more than 600,000 Venezuelans living in Colombia. There are also tens of thousands of asylum cases in the US.65 The number of Venezuelans living in the US has increased over time. Moreover, there are 12,960 Venezuelans who are seeking asylum in Brazil, 4300 in Spain, and 1044 in Mexico—among other countries.66 Experts ­indicate the number of people fleeing the country will continue. According to Shannon K. O’Neil of the Council on Foreign Relations, “These flows will likely continue, as Maduro’s government remains unwilling to change economic direction. The possibility of these human outflows accelerating into mass emigration is also significant.”67 Along with economic woes, Venezuela has been plagued by drug trafficking, organized crime, and corruption. The Cartel of the Suns (Cartel de los Soles) is a drug trafficking organization that is comprised of the Venezuelan military. This organization is heavily involved in the trafficking of cocaine.68 Moreover, countless government officials have been involved in corruption scandals. For example, Tareck El Aissami, the Vice President of Venezuela, has alleged links to drug trafficking organizations. It is claimed that he has overseen drug shipments and has had connections


with other criminal organizations, such as Los Zetas of Mexico.69 Furthermore, the high levels of corruption have also impacted the president’s family. Efrain Antonio Campo Flores, a nephew of the first lady of Venezuela, admitted to a Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agent that he has been involved in drug trafficking for years.70 In 2017, two of the nephews of the first lady received 18 years in prison after being convicted of drug trafficking in a New York court.71 The high levels of corruption and involvement have led some experts to contend that Venezuela is on the verge of becoming a narco-state.72 Venezuela has also seen increasing trends in violence.73 In 2017, Venezuela recorded a homicide rate of 89 per 100,000, making it the most violent non-waring country in the region.74 Moreover, security forces have been culpable for high levels of violence. According to Tristan Clavel, “In Venezuela, for instance, security forces were responsible for a stunning 20 percent of all murders last year — more than 5500 out of the country’s rough total of 26,000. In Caracas, the world’s second-most homicidal city according to the CCSPJP ranking, Runrun reported that this figure could surpass 40 percent.”75 Thus, violence remains quite troubling in the country.

Brazil: Its Rise and Decline Economists have argued that Brazil is a developing country that had tremendous economic potential. Many experts published research on the rise of Brazil several years ago and the potential of this nation.76 In fact, one Goldman Sachs economists coined the term BRICS, which stands for Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa. This group of countries was said to have economic promise and have become developing countries that have emerged on the international scene as significant actors. The rise of Brazil has been halted by countless corruption scandals. The country has been plagued by extremely weak institutions that are laden with high levels of corruption. The massive amounts of corruption, coupled with a drop in the price of oil and an economic decline, have accelerated Brazil’s fall from grace. The Brazilian government impeached President Dilma Rousseff in 2016. In addition, her replacement, Michel Temer has been shrouded in corruption scandals. In September 2017, the attorney general of the country charged the president with participating in a criminal conspiracy revolving around a major bribe scheme as



well as obstruction of justice.77 The corruption woes have continued for politicians. In April 2018, the highest court of the land did not accept a petition to let Luiz Inácio “Lula” da Silva, a former president who is mired in corruption scandals, avoid waiting in jail while he awaits legal proceedings as the courts determine his fate.78 Along with the corruption scandals, Brazil confronts many security challenges as the country has battled high levels of drug trafficking, organized crime, and gang activity. Amigos dos Amigos, Primeiro Comando da Capital, and Comando Vermelho are major players in the trafficking of drugs in Brazil.79 Some criminal groups have sought to diversify their markets. As witnessed in other countries, criminal groups do not want to invest all their energy in one product in case demand decreases. The PCC, for example, has expanded its operations and moved into the trafficking of arms. Experts note that the Venezuelan military, which as described above, has been involved in a variety of illicit activities such as drug trafficking. The military has also moved into the arms trade, and is working with the PCC in this illicit endeavor.80 The result of increasing levels of drug trafficking and organized crime in Brazil has been high levels of violence.81 Places like Rio have seen spikes in violence. According to Tristan Clavel, “New figures show that violence is rising across Brazil. But the country’s deteriorating security situation has hit the north particularly hard, providing a snapshot of factors driving high murder rates in the country.”82 The violence has impacted poor communities in Brazil, known as favelas. Youth have been affected by the high levels of violence.83 The number of disconnected youth from poor neighborhoods who can be recruited by organized crime groups and gangs to work in various aspects of the drug trade is alarming. Brazil is at a critical juncture as the country has been shrouded by political scandals as well as an economic downturn. Many experts have been critical of the state’s response to the high levels of drug-related crime and violence. There has been a push to bring the military in to combat internal security. While there are high levels of corruption in the police forces, critics contend that the militarization of the drug war could lead to more violence and human rights concerns.84 Apprehension exists that the security forces respond to areas plagued by crime and violence. However, there is less of an emphasis on understanding the nature of crime and attempting to prevent the violence from occurring.85


Conclusion Countries in Latin America face major challenges with high levels of corruption. The Odebrecht scandal demonstrates the ability of a corporation to bribe top-level officials, including presidents, throughout the region. States with weak institutions provide the perfect conditions for a company to be able to bribe government officials in exchange for contracts and business favors. As mentioned in this chapter, there are countless cases of corruption that have emerged in Latin America. This has resulted in protests in civil society in opposition to certain politicians. In general, the high levels of corruption create distrust among politicians as well as other institutions. Along with corruption and impunity, many Latin American countries analyzed in this chapter have been plagued by drug trafficking and organized crime. Colombia has been at the epicenter of this struggle.86 Despite spending billions of dollars on counter-narcotics initiatives, drug cultivation, production, and trafficking in Colombia continue to flourish. Drug traffickers make the rational choice to traffic drugs because of the large profits that can be earned. Some critics contend that Washington has often perceived the problem as an “us versus them” issue. Said differently, the US would not have a drug problem if Colombian traffickers did not traffic cocaine.87 While Plan Colombia had some successes in increasing security within Colombia, the initiative the goals set forth regarding drug production and trafficking. Critics contend that Plan Colombia also has been counterproductive because certain policies, such as the aerial spraying initiatives, have destroyed the environment in Colombia.88 It is extremely likely that new criminal actors will emerge on the scene. Drug cartels will continue to fight for control of drug routes, which could lead to high levels of violence. The militarization of the war on drugs has been criticized by experts as resulting in high levels of violence.89 Politicians who do not trust the police due to high levels of corruption have involved in the military in the internal security issues. While reforming the police is a long an arduous process, the use of the military in the drug war will likely lead to more violence between traffickers and the armed forces. Finally, the militarization of the drug war will not solve the demand issue. More needs to be done to combat the demand for drugs.




1. For more, see Larry Jay Diamond, “Is the Third Wave Over?” Journal of Democracy 7, No. 3 (1996): pp. 20–37; Terry Lynn Karl and Philippe C. Schmitter, “Modes of Transition in Latin America, Southern and Eastern Europe,” International Social Science Journal 128, No. 2 (1991): pp. 267–282; Nora Lustig, Luis F. Lopez-Calva, and Eduardo Ortiz-Juarez, “Declining Inequality in Latin America in the 2000s: The Cases of Argentina, Brazil, and Mexico,” World Development 44 (2013): pp. 129–141; John Weiss and Heather Montgomery, “Great Expectations: Microfinance and Poverty Reduction in Asia and Latin America,” Oxford Development Studies 33, No. 3–4 (2005): pp. 391–416. 2.  Sonia Goldenberg, “Can Peru’s Democracy Survive Corruption?” The New York Times, March 25, 2018. 3.  “Corruption Perceptions Index 2017,” Transparency International, February 21, 2018,, accessed April 23, 2018. 4.  Jim Wyss, “Study: Organized Crime Undermining Venezuelan Institutions,” Miami Herald, April 28, 2015. 5. Jeremy McDermott, “How Organized Crime & Corruption Intersect in LatAm,” InSight Crime, December 4, 2014, https://www.insightcrime. org/news/analysis/organized-crime-corruption-meet-latin-america/, accessed April 23, 2018, pp. 1–2. 6. Charles Parkinson, “Why Is Latin America so Corrupt?” InSight Crime, January 8, 2014,, accessed April 23, 2018, p. 5. 7. Mollie J. Cohen, Noam Lupu, and Elizabeth J. Zechmeister, eds., The Political Culture of Democracy in the Americas, 2016/17 (Nashville, TN: LAPOP, 2017). 8.  Linette Lopez, “One Company Has Thrown Politics in the Western Hemisphere Completely Off-Kilter,” Business Insider, May 30, 2017. 9.  Charles Orta, “How Odebrecht Profited from Corrupting LatAm Political Elites,” InSight Crime, August 9, 2017,, accessed April 23, 2018, p. 2. 10. Charles Orta, “How Odebrecht Profited from Corrupting LatAm Political Elites.” 11. Victor J. Hinojosa, Domestic Politics and International Narcotics Control: U.S. Relations with Mexico and Colombia, 1989–2000 (New York, NY: Routledge, 2007); Bruce Michael Bagley, “Drug Trafficking, Political Violence, and U.S. Policy in Colombia in the 1990s,” Miami, Florida,


2001, content-assets/international-studies/documents/publications/ Bagley%20Drugs%20and%20violence%20final3.pdf, accessed April 2017. 12. Bruce Michael Bagley, “Drug Trafficking, Political Violence, and U.S. Policy in Colombia in the 1990s,” p. 7. 13. Mark Bowden, Killing Pablo: The Hunt for the World’s Greatest Outlaw (New York, NY: Atlantic Monthly Press, 2001). 14. For more, see Bruce M. Bagley, “Colombia and the War on Drugs,” Foreign Affairs 67, No. 1 (1988): pp. 70–92; Michael Kenney, “The Architecture of Drug Trafficking: Network Forms of Organisation in the Colombian Cocaine Trade,” Global Crime 8, No. 3 (2007): pp. 233–259. 15. Bruce Michael Bagley, “Drug Trafficking, Political Violence, and U.S. Policy in Colombia in the 1990s,” p. 8. 16. Bruce Bagley, Drug Trafficking and Organized Crime in the Americas: Major Trends in the Twenty-First Century (Washington, DC: Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, 2012). 17. Jonathan D. Rosen, The Losing War: Plan Colombia and Beyond (Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, 2014). 18. For more on the drug war, see Ted Galen Carpenter, Bad Neighbor Policy: Washington’s Futile War on Drugs in Latin America (New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan, 2003). 19.  See Ernesto Londoño, “Taking Stock of the $10 Billion Washington Spent on Colombia’s War,” The New York Times, November 16, 2015. 20. For more, see Jonathan D. Rosen and Roberto Zepeda Martínez, “La Guerra contra las Drogas y la Cooperación internacional: el caso de Colombia,” Revista CS, No. 18 (2016): pp. 63–84; Jonathan Daniel Rosen, “Lecciones y resultados del Plan Colombia (2000–2012),” Contextualizaciones Lat., Año 6, número 10 (enero–julio 2014): pp. 1–12. 21. Jennifer S. Holmes, Sheila Amin Gutiérrez Piñeres, and Kevin M. Curtin, “Drugs, Violence, and Development in Colombia: A Department Level Analysis,” Latin American Politics and Society 48, No. 3 (2006): pp. 157–184; “15th Anniversary of Plan Colombia: Learning from Its Successes and Failures,” Washington Office on Latin America, February 1, 2016,, accessed April 2018; Jonathan Daniel Rosen and Roberto Zepeda Martínez, “La guerra contra las drogas en Colombia y México: estrategias fracasadas,” Ánfora 21, No. 38 (2014): pp. 179–200. 22. Jonathan D. Rosen, The Losing War: Plan Colombia and Beyond; Russell Crandall, Driven by Drugs: US Policy Toward Colombia (Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner, 2nd ed., 2008); Adam Isacson, Plan Colombia—Six Years Later (Washington, DC: Center for International Policy, 2006); Jonathan



D. Rosen, “The War on Drugs in Colombia: A Current Account of U.S. Policy,” Perspectivas Internacionales 9, No. 2 (2013): pp. 58–83. 23. Bruce Bagley, Drug Trafficking and Organized Crime in the Americas: Major Trends in the Twenty-First Century. 24.  David Gagne, “Colombia Overtakes Peru as World’s Top Coca Cultivator: UN,” InSight Crime, July 17, 2015, accessed April 23, 2018; Rocio Moreno-Sanchez, David S. Kraybill, and Stanley R. Thompson, “An Econometric Analysis of Coca Eradication Policy in Colombia,” World Development 31, No. 2 (2003): pp. 375–383. 25.  Jeremy McDermott, “Record Cocaine Production in Colombia Fuels New Criminal Generation,” InSight Crime, July 17, 2017, https://www., accessed April 23, 2018, p. 1. 26. Nick Miroff, “American Cocaine Use Is Way Up: Colombia’s Coca Boom Might Be Why,” The Washington Post, March 4, 2017. 27.  Bruce Michael Bagley, “Dateline Drug Wars: Colombia: The Wrong Strategy,” Foreign Policy, No. 77 (Winter 1989–1990): pp. 154–171; Christopher Woody, “In the World’s Biggest Cocaine Producer, Cultivation Reportedly Surged Again in 2016,” Business Insider, March 13, 2017; James Petras, “The Geopolitics of Plan Colombia,” Monthly Review 53, No. 1 (2001): p. 30; Michelle L. Dion and Catherine Russler, “Eradication Efforts, the State, Displacement and Poverty: Explaining Coca Cultivation in Colombia During Plan Colombia,” Journal of Latin American Studies 40, No. 3 (2008): pp. 399–421. 28. Nick Miroff, “American Cocaine Use Is Way Up: Colombia’s Coca Boom Might Be Why,” p. 1. 29.  For more, see Jim Rochlin, “Plan Colombia and the Revolution in Military Affairs: The Demise of the FARC,” Review of International Studies 37, No. 2 (2011): pp. 715–740; Chris Dishman, “Terrorism, Crime, and Transformation,” Studies in Conflict and Terrorism 24, No. 1 (2001): pp. 43–58; Arlene B. Tickner, “Colombia and the United States: From Counternarcotics to Counterterrorism,” Current History 102, No. 661 (2003): p. 77. 30. Charles Parkinson, “Guerrilla Oil Pipeline Attacks Surge Amid Colombia’s Peace Talks,” InSight Crime, December 12, 2013,, accessed April 26, 2018, p. 2. 31.  Marc Chernick, “The Paramilitarization of the War in Colombia,” NACLA Report on the Americas 31, No. 5 (1998): pp. 28–33; Winifred


Tate, “Paramilitaries in Colombia,” The Brown Journal of World Affairs 8, No. 1 (2001): pp. 163–175. 32.  Tristan Clavel, “Colombia’s Urabeños Recruiting Dissidents from FARC Peace Process,” InSight Crime, January 26, 2017, http://www., accessed April 23, 2018; Elvira Maria Retrepo and Bruce Michael Bagley, eds., La desmovilización de los paramilitares en Colombia entre el escepticismo y la esperanza (Bogotá, CO: Universidad de los Andes, 2011). 33.  Associated Press in Bogotá, “Colombian Conflict Has Killed 220,000 in 55 Years, Commission Finds,” The Guardian, July 25, 2013; Nick Miroff, “Colombia’s War Has Displaced 7 Million: With Peace, Will They Go Home?” The Washington Post, September 5, 2016. 34. James Bargent and Mat Charles, “Inside Colombia’s BACRIM: Power,” InSight Crime, July 13, 2017,, accessed April 23, 2018, p. 2; Jeremy McDermott, “The BACRIM and Their Position in Colombia’s Underworld,” InSight Crime, May 2, 2014, http://www.insightcrime. org/investigations/bacrim-and-their-position-in-colombia-underworld, accessed April 23, 2018. 35. Jeremy McDermott, “The BACRIM and Their Position in Colombia’s Underworld,” p. 6. 36. Sibylla Brodzinsky, “Colombia’s ‘Parapolitics’ Scandal Casts Shadow Over President,” The Guardian, April 23, 2008, p. 2. 37.  Adriaan Alsema, “Why Colombia’s Former President Is Accused of Forming Bloodthirsty Death Squads,” Colombia Reports, February 22, 2018. 38.  Elise Ditta, “Colombia Drug Trafficker Links Ex-President Uribe to Murders,” InSight Crime, January 27, 2016, https://www.insightcrime. org/news/brief/colombia-drug-trafficker-don-mario-links-uribe-murders/, accessed April 23, 2018, p. 1. 39. “15th Anniversary of Plan Colombia: Learning from Its Successes and Failures,” Washington Office on Latin America, February 1, 2016,, accessed April 2018. 40. “15th Anniversary of Plan Colombia: Learning from Its Successes and Failures,” Washington Office on Latin America, February 1, 2016,, accessed April 2018. 41. Adam Isacson, Ending 50 Years of Conflict in Colombia (Washington, DC: WOLA, 2014). 42.  Bruce M. Bagley and Jonathan D. Rosen, eds., Colombia’s Political Economy at the Outset of the Twenty-First Century: From Uribe to Santos and Beyond (Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2015); Caitlyn Davis and



Harold Trinkunas, “Has Colombia Achieved Peace? 5 Things You Should Know,” Brookings, August 25, 2016, order-from-chaos/2016/08/25/has-colombia-achieved-peace-5-thingsyou-should-know/, April 2018. 43.  Annette Idler, “Colombia Just Voted No on Its Plebiscite for Peace: Here’s Why and What It Means,” The Washington Post, October 3, 2016; Eduardo Álvarez-Vanegas, Juan Carlos Garzón-Vergara, and José Luis Bernal, “Voting for Peace: Understanding the Victory of ‘No’,” Wilson Center: Latin America Program, October 20, 2016,, accessed January 2017, p. 20. 44. “Key Changes to the New Peace Accord,” WOLA, November 15, 2016,, accessed April 2017. 45. “Fact Sheet: Peace Colombia—A New Era of Partnership Between the United States and Colombia,” The White House, February 4, 2016, fact-sheet-peace-colombia-new-era-partnership-between-united-statesand, accessed April 2018; for more, see Jonathan D. Rosen and Roberot Zepeda, “Crimen Organizado, Narcotráfico y Conflicto Interno en Colombia: Tendencias y Desafíos,” 2018, Working Paper. 46. Maggie Haberman, “Trump to Make First Visit as President to Latin America,” The New York Times, March 10, 2018. 47.  Jonathan D. Rosen and Roberot Zepeda, “Crimen Organizado, Narcotráfico y Conflicto Interno en Colombia: Tendencias y Desafíos,” 2018, Working Paper. 48. Adam Isacson, “Colombia’s Imperiled Transition,” The New York Times, April 5, 2018, p. 2. 49.  Gallup Poll, #116 Colombia diciembre de 2016, http://www.elpais., enero de 2017; Juanita León, “Las diez conclusiones demoledoras de la Gallup,” Silla Nacional, de marzo de 2, 2017,, febrero de 2017. 50. Adriaan Alsema, “Approval Rating of Colombia’s Santos Sinks to Lowest Point Since Election,” Colombia Reports, January 17, 2018. 51. Redacción Judicial, “Fiscalía captura a alias ‘Jesús Santrich’,” El Espectador, de abril de 9, 2018. 52. Quoted in Reuters Staff, “Colombia’s FARC Says Peace Process at Risk After Arrest of Ex-rebel,” Reuters, April 10, 2018. 53. Felipe Puerta, “Corruption Plagues Implementation of Colombia-FARC Peace Deal,” InSight Crime, April 16, 2018, https://www.insightcrime.


org/news/analysis/corr uption-plagues-implementation-colombia-farc-peace-deal/, accessed April 23, 2018. 54. José Miguel Cruz, Jonathan D. Rosen, Luis Enrique Amaya, and Yulia Vorobyeva, The New Face of Street Gangs: The Gang Phenomenon in El Salvador (Miami, FL: FIU, 2017); Michelle Alexander, “The New Jim Crow,” Ohio State Journal of Criminal Law 9 (2011): p. 7. 55. Mike LaSusa, “FARC Dissidents Forming Criminal Groups in Ecuador: Reports,” InSight Crime, August 9, 2016, https://www.insightcrime. org/news/brief/farc-dissidents-forming-criminal-groups-in-ecuador-reports/, accessed April 26, 2018, pp. 1–2. 56.  Mimi Yagoub, “Colombia’s Multibillion-Dollar Corruption Problem Could Impact Peace Deal,” InSight Crime, April 7, 2017, https://www., accessed April 23, 2018. 57. Adriaan Alsema, “Colombia’s Impunity Rate at Virtually 99%: Incoming Chief Prosecutor,” Colombia Reports, August 2, 2016. 58.  For more on this topic, see Miguel García Sánchez, Jorge Daniel Montalvo, and Mitchell A. Seligson, Cultura política de la democracia en Colombia, 2015: Actitudes democráticas en zonas de consolidación territorial (Nashville, TN: Vanderbilt University, 2015). 59. For more on this topic, see Jennifer McCoy, “Chavez and the End of ‘Partyarchy’ in Venezuela,” Journal of Democracy 10, No. 3 (1999): pp. 64–77; Miguel Tinker Salas, Venezuela: What Everyone Needs to Know® (New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2015); Raúl Gallegos, Crude Nation: How Oil Riches Ruined Venezuela (Lincoln, NE: Potomac Books, 2016). 60. Girish Gupta, “Venezuela Annual Inflation at More Than 4000 Percent: National Assembly,” Reuters, February 7, 2018. 61.  Patrick Gillespie, “Half the Venezuelan Economy Has Disappeared,” CNN, January 25, 2018. 62. Carolina Moreno, “Hundreds of Children in Venezuela Are Starving to Death, Says New York Times Report,” Huffington Post, December 18, 2017; Meredith Kohut and Isayen Herrera, “For Five Months, The New York Times Tracked 21 Public Hospitals in Venezuela: Doctors Are Seeing Record Numbers of Children with Severe Malnutrition: Hundreds Have Died,” The New York Times, December 17, 2017. 63. Quoted in John Otis, “‘We Loot or We Die of Hunger’: Food Shortages Fuel Unrest in Venezuela,” The Guardian, January 21, 2018. 64.  Vivian Sequera, “Venezuelans Report Big Weight Losses in 2017 as Hunger Hits,” Reuters, February 21, 2018. 65. Editorial Board, “Latin-America’s Worst-Ever Refugee Crisis: Venezuelans,” The Washington Post, February 23, 2018.



66.  “As Asylum Applications by Venezuelans Soar, UNHCR Steps Up Response,” UNHCR, July 14, 2017, news/briefing/2017/7/596888474/asylum-applications-venezuelans-soar-unhcr-steps-response.html, accessed April 23, 2018. 67. Shannon K. O’Neil, “A Venezuelan Refugee Crisis,” Council on Foreign Relations, February 15, 2018,, accessed April 23, 2018, p. 4. 68. Venezuela Investigative Unit, “GameChangers 2016: Venezuela’s Cartel of the Suns Revealed,” InSight Crime, January 4, 2017, https://www., accessed April 23, 2018. 69. Alicia Hernández and Sibylla Brodzinsky, “Venezuelan VP Claims Show There’s No Separation of Drugs and State,” The Guardian, February 17, 2017, p. 1. 70. Venezuela Investigative Unit, “Venezuela’s ‘Narco Nephew’ Claimed He Dealt Drugs for 12 Years,” InSight Crime, November 11, 2016, https://, accessed April 23, 2018. 71. Reuters Staff, “Sandy Hook Parents Sue Conspiracy Theorist Alex Jones for Defamation,” Reuters, April 17, 2018. 72. José Cárdenas, “The U.S. Needs to Act in Venezuela,” National Review, June 13, 2017. 73. For more, see Alexandra Ulmer, “Specter of Coup, Surge in Violence Haunt Venezuela,” Reuters, August 7, 2017. 74. “2017 Homicide Rates in Latin America and the Caribbean,” InSight Crime,, accessed April 23, 2018; for more, see Hanna S. Kassab and Jonathan D. Rosen, eds., Violence in the Americas (Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2018). 75.  Tristan Clavel, “Why Latin America Dominates Global Homicide Rankings,” InSight Crime, March 12, 2018, https://www.insightcrime. org/news/analysis/why-latin-america-dominates-global-homicide-rankings/, accessed April 23, 2018, p. 4. 76.  Peter Dauvergne and Déborah B.L. Farias, “The Rise of Brazil as a Global Development Power,” Third World Quarterly 33, No. 5 (2012): pp. 903–917; Kristen Hopewell, “Different Paths to Power: The rise of Brazil, India and China at the World Trade Organization,” Review of International Political Economy 22, No. 2 (2015): pp. 311–338. 77.  Shasta Darlington, “President Temer of Brazil Faces New Corruption Charges,” The New York Times, September 14, 2017. 78.  Angelika Albaladejo, “Brazil Ex-President to Be Jailed After Losing Another Judicial Battle,” InSight Crime, April 5, 2018, https://www.


, accessed April 21, 2018, p. 2. 79.  John Bailey and Matthew M. Taylor, “Evade, Corrupt, or Confront? Organized Crime and the State in Brazil and Mexico,” Journal of Politics in Latin America 1, No. 2 (2009): pp. 3–29; Ana R. Sverdlick, “Terrorists and Organized Crime Entrepreneurs in the ‘Triple Frontier’ Among Argentina, Brazil, and Paraguay,” Trends in Organized Crime 9, No. 2 (2005): pp. 84–93. 80.  Venezuela Investigative Unit, “Brazil’s PCC Expands Criminal Activity, Trafficking Arms from Venezuela,” InSight Crime, February 21, 2018,, accessed April 20, 2018. 81. Martha K. Huggins, “Urban Violence and Police Privatization in Brazil: Blended Invisibility,” Social Justice 27, No. 2 (80) (2000): pp. 113–134; Enrique Desmond Arias, “Faith in Our Neighbors: Networks and Social Order in Three Brazilian Favelas,” Latin American Politics and Society 46, No. 1 (2004): pp. 1–38; Enrique Desmond Arias, “The Impacts of Differential Armed Dominance of PoliVics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil,” Studies in Comparative International Development 48, No. 3 (2013): pp. 263–284; Enrique Desmond Arias and Corinne Davis Rodrigues, “The Myth of Personal Security: Criminal Gangs, Dispute Resolution, and Identity in Rio de Janeiro’s Favelas,” Latin American Politics and Society 48, No. 4 (2006): pp. 53–81. 82.  Tristan Clavel, “Rising Violence Across Brazil Hits North Especially Hard,” InSight Crime, August 21, 2017, https://www.insightcrime. org/news/brief/rising-violence-across-brazil-hits-north-especially-hard/, accessed April 23, 2018, p. 1; Marco Antônio Carvalho, “Brasil registra 28 mil homicídios no 1º semester,” Estadão, August 21, 2017. 83.  James Bargent, “Brazil’s Youth Violence Crisis Deepening: Report,” InSight Crime, October 12, 2017, brief/brazil-s-youth-violence-crisis-deepening-unicef/, accessed April 23, 2018; “43 mil adolescentes podem ser vítimas de homicídio nos grandes municípios brasileiros entre 2015 e 2021,” UNICEF Brasil, October 11, 2017,, accessed April 21, 2018. 84. For more on this topic, see Loïc Wacquant, “The Militarization of Urban Marginality: Lessons from the Brazilian Metropolis,” International Political Sociology 2, No. 1 (2008): pp. 56–74; Peter Zirnite, “The Militarization of the Drug War in Latin America,” Current History 97 (1998): p. 166.



85. Angelika Albaladejo and Mike LaSusa, “Brazil Lacks Coherent Plan to Deal with ‘National Emergency’ of Insecurity,” InSight Crime, October 30, 2017,, accessed April 23, 2018, p. 5. 86. For more on Colombia, see Patrick L. Clawson and Rensselaer W. Lee III, The Andean Cocaine Industry (New York, NY: St. Martin’s Griffin, 1998). 87.  For more on this debate, see Bruce Bagley, Drug Trafficking and Organized Crime in the Americas: Major Trends in the Twenty-First Century; Francisco E. Thoumi, “The Numbers Game: Let’s All Guess the Size of the Lllegal Drug Industry!” Journal of Drug Issues 35, No. 1 (2005): pp. 185–200; Adam Isacson and Abigail Poe, After Plan Colombia: Evaluating “Integrated Action”: The Next Phase of U.S. Assistance (Washington, DC: Center for International Policy [CIP], International Policy Report, December 2009). 88.  Adam Isacson and Abigail Poe, After Plan Colombia: Evaluating “Integrated Action”: The Next Phase of U.S. Assistance. 89. Peter Zirnite, “The Militarization of the Drug War in Latin America,” Current History 97, No. 618 (1998): p. 166; Juan Gabriel Tokatlian, “A New Doctrine of Insecurity? US Military Deployment in South America,” NACLA Report on the Americas 41, No. 5 (2008): pp. 6–10; Angélica Durán-Martínez, “Drug Trafficking and Drug Policies in the Americas: Change, Continuity, and Challenges,” Latin American Politics and Society 59, No. 2 (2017): pp. 145–153; Alexandra Guáqueta, “Change and Continuity in US-Colombian Relations and the War Against Drugs,” Journal of Drug Issues 35, No. 1 (2005): pp. 27–56.


Russia and the International System

A common saying expresses the power of the Russian mafia and its ability to corrupt states all over the globe: “a Mafioso is in new territory because he escapes to it. Once there, he explores local opportunities.”1 When given the opportunity to operate, the Russian mob can prove effective and intelligent. During the height of Stalin’s rule, most of the so-called Russian mafia, organized criminal groups, were either imprisoned or killed. The fall of the Soviet Union and the weakness of governmental institutions allowed for a revival, one that would bring corruption into the center of Russian politics.2 The expansion of the Russian mafia poses a real threat to already weakened democracy in Russia, fermenting a population that suffers from weak development and criminality. Instead of fighting corruption directly, the Vladimir Putin regime, in power since 2000, formulated an interesting relationship with criminal groups. In essence, criminals and legitimate businesses and investors may be able to operate in Russia free of interference from law enforcement if they pay protection money to the government, and, do not oppose or criticize the Russian government. This chapter is divided into two parts. The first deals with the Russian mob and the second analyzes the power of Russian oligarchs in today’s global world.3 These two entities may overlap, but must be separately discussed to understand the mechanics. Like previous chapters, it explores the power of cultural institutions. One such ­institution is referred to as krysha, translated into English literally as “roof.” In the © The Author(s) 2019 H. S. Kassab and J. D. Rosen, Corruption, Institutions, and Fragile States,



case of a mobster or an oligarch, krysha is used, as any roof is used, as protection from external forces. For the Russian mobster, krysha may serve the purpose of building the illicit infrastructure necessary to protect illicit market supply chains. For the oligarch, krysha may be used to protect legitimate enterprises, but also to gain the necessary protection from competition and governmental agencies.4 In each of these cases, corruption has allowed both the Russian mafia and the Oligarchs to thrive; while they expand their wealth and power, citizens are treated as second-class citizens. The judicial system in Russia is second to other more expensive alternatives. If we understand economic development to be a product of inclusive democratic institutions, we should expect to remain largely underdeveloped and weak. This chapter will illustrate the need for institutional change and reform within Russia as it suffers from serious endemic corruption and a fundamental lack of citizen confidence in its political system. This environment encourages a culture of corruption. This culture that developed after the fall of the Soviet Union attests to the hypothesis that during times of extreme economic duress and political instability, non-state actors may enter the arena to take advantage of the power vacuum.5 It may have been a vital strategy for the US to have been more careful regarding the death of the Soviet Union, their hands-off approach coupled with their aggressive stance toward a weak Russia led to the rise of Putin, who may be the world’s first trillionaire.6

Russian Mafia and Corruption as a Survival Strategy The Russian mafia has existed in one way or another for several hundred years.7 Like Fascist Italy, the Stalinist regime clamped down on any challenges to sovereignty and authority. During the advent of glasnost and perestroika, the Russian mob began to increase their activities.8 This process began in the 1960s and slowly increased with time.9 They made money selling scarce food items and other resources on the black market. During the 1980s, they made even more money when Mikhail Gorbachev instituted the prohibition of alcohol.10 Further, the more liberalization enacted, and the more private business came to be and expanded. For the mob, this presented an excellent opportunity to extort the local population as well as establish fronts for money laundering. By the 1990s, the mob reemerged as a powerful force. As the vacuum of power began to widen and the economy worsened, the mob’s ability to corrupt the government became less difficult and more profitable.



As the government began to sell its private enterprise, the mafia took great lengths to buy. In the era of the 1990s, mob wars were more common and occurred in the open. Moreover, the police would not intervene.11 Corruption of the newly created Russian Federation was also a significant issue. This allowed the mafia to increase their prominence during a time of significant political and economic upheaval, specifically the inability of the Russian state to solve problems and defeat challenges to sovereignty and autonomy.12 Today, corruption in Russia remains a considerable issue almost thirty years after the Soviet Union. Russia finds itself ranked 135 out of 180 on the Corruption Perceptions Index for 2017, tied with states like Kyrgyzstan and Mexico.13 Corruption may spread quickly around the world due to the transfer of illegal goods for profit. The Russian mafia tends to sell specific items, which sets them apart from any other organized crime syndicate. The main sources of income for the Russian mafia are a wide array of products that may include drugs, weapons, rare metals, people, and even radioactive materials.14 Two specific goods, weapons, which range from small arms to large equipment, and radioactive materials are of great interest as the Russian mafia does it quite efficiently in terms of competitors. One can imagine that in these two cases, the former Soviet Union would be a holder of monopolies in these two specific goods as they are potentially dangerous. The fall of the Soviet Union and the chaos that followed played a remarkable role in diffusing these goods around the world; especially, important is the role corruption played in getting these goods to consumer markets. The success of the Russian mafia today is attributed to endemic corruption that reigned during the 1990s. Former members of the Soviet nomenklatura, that is high-ranking government officials and bureaucrats, developed relationships with members of the Russian organized criminal groups. These officials were already corrupt during the Soviet Union years, but furthered their criminal career through these ties. Former members of the Communist Party of Russia became capitalists overnight. In other words, “at one fine point, two lines—the power ministries and the criminal world—intersected. … The criminal world was admitted to secret facilities. The power ministries—to the criminal world.”15 Beginning in Russia, mafia groups quickly grew, meeting demand in several areas of the world where crime and corruption goes unpunished: Central Asia, Israel, Latin America, the Middle East, and Europe are all prime locations of Russian mafia trafficking of goods supplied by former


members of the Soviet administration.16 Developing connections, they harnessed political chaos to sell off a plethora of Soviet assets to criminals.17 The Russian mafia is global in scope, cooperating with other e­ thnic criminal groups all over the globe.18 In terms of the trafficking of illegal firearms, the Russian mafia has access to millions upon millions of fi ­ rearms produced by the Soviet Union. These arms manage to find their way to conflict zones like in Africa and Latin America, as well as others in the Middle East.19 One scholar points out that corruption plays a huge role in the development of the illicit supply chain of guns, contending that “crime and corruption in the wake of Soviet dissolution quickly began to shape and influence every dimension of state and private life. Military establishments in the region—shrinking, impoverished, and demoralized— were far from immune to these pressures, and in the case of the Russian armed forces in particular, have become major participants in the illegal diversion of weapons as well as being profoundly affected by crime in other way.”20 For the Russian mafia, successfully delivering products to target markets required the development of a path of corruption. Many of these states were already remarkably corrupt. States of Latin America, Central Asia, and Africa were already open for business, with an illicit infrastructure already set up for the export of their own products like cocaine, heroin, small arms, black-market goods among other commodities. This is due to the political environment of those regions during the Cold War. The civil wars that plagued those states were fueled in part by illicit activity such as narcotics trafficking. The Russian mafia was now going to import even more weaponry into Latin America. A BBC News report in July 1999 illustrated that Russian illicit arms were contributing to the prolonged and bloody nature of these conflicts in a time celebrated as a new period of peace and prosperity: Large-scale trafficking in light weapons has been singled out as a major cause of the wars being waged in large parts of Africa. A report by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute also reports that Africa has more major armed conflicts than any other continent. The report identified 11 major armed conflicts [A “major armed conflict” is defined as one with at least 1000 battle-related deaths] in Africa in 1998 - making the continent the world’s worst conflict zone for the first time since 1989…over eight million of the roughly 22 million refugees



around the world were in Africa, the report says, with millions more Africans internally displaced. The proliferation of light weapons on the continent - AK-47 automatic rifles, rocket-propelled grenade launchers, mortars, and land mines - is viewed as a particular concern. In some countries an AK-47 automatic rifle can be bought for as little as $6.21

The proliferation of cheap weaponry sold to the people of Africa was a major contributor to the many civil and ethnic war destabilizing the region.22 The sharp influx of weapons coming into African states flooded the market, making it less expensive to fight a war as opposed to the much more difficult option of negotiation or following democratic procedure. Soviet weaponry also made its way to Latin America. While there are similarities with conflicts in Africa, Latin America had its own particular problem with narcotics trafficking.23 According to US Congressman Benjamin Gilman, “Russian organised crime elements have become virtual arms bazaars for the Colombian narco-guerrillas.”24 One case in particular stands out as telling, combining the political and economic instability of Russia with the propensity of Latin American states to export drugs en masse into major demand states like the US. During the 1990s, at the height of Russian weakness and instability, members of the Russian criminal underworld tried to sell a nuclear submarine to Colombian drug cartels to smuggle cocaine and other illegal products into the US.25 In this case, members of the Russian underworld traveled to Miami, Florida to meet their Colombian counterparts. The Soviet nuclear submarine would be able to avoid a number of surveillance technologies, bypassing authorities and get their goods to the US.26 Interestingly, the attempted submarine sale set off various alarms including: would former Soviet bureaucrats sell nuclear materials and weapons to traffickers for sale to terrorists, criminals and psychotics? This remains a very important concern to many seeking to stabilize world politics, as terrorism became more and more of a security problem in the 1990s and early 2000s. In 1995, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) recognized that “if Russian organized crime could help foreign crime networks to gain access to nuclear material or other fissile weapons then the scenario becomes truly frightening.”27 Nuclear and other fissile material are the building blocks of destructive capacity, enabling a person or small group of individuals to hold the people of the world,


and its economy and environment hostage. The repercussions of such an act may do irreparable damage, changing the culture of humanity possibly forever. Nuclear materials have found their way into the hands of nefarious actors.28 As early as 1994, German police recovered a large quantity of illicit fissile material; its point of origin remains a mystery, yet many suspect it is from the former Soviet Union.29 The issue of Russian nuclear materials trafficking remains significant today. With Islamic State on the cusp of defeat due to continued Russian and US’s action, one can expect further and violent reprisals. The world could also expect acts of desperation. In 2015, in Moldova, an arms dealer promised a member of the Islamic State enough radioactive cesium to contaminate a large area of a city for 2.5 million euros.30 Fortunately, the person was an informant. However, there are real buyers looking; and the sellers are more than happy as long as their product ends up injuring western states.31 For example, there was a real buyer in Sudan looking to purchase a quantity of radioactive material, along with attack helicopters and other offensive weaponry. This was again stopped by law enforcement.32 In the case of Russia and the sale of weapons, not only did corruption spread globally, but also did violence in the form of civil war and intra-national conflict. After the Cold War, many ancient tensions were brought to the surface especially without the Soviet Union. This, combined with a wider pullback by the US, allowed non-state actors to buy and amass small arms from Russia to carry out their fight. The issue was not defense, but offense. In other words, since importing weapons was so affordable, many civil actors experiencing conflict sought to solve their issues using violence and terror. Weapons, and their wide availability, makes it easier to go to war over peaceful negotiation. To many scholars, including Stuart Kaufman, war becomes more and more attractive once it has become less expensive to fight over settlement. In Modern Hatreds: The Symbolic Politics of Ethnic War, he argues that a spiral of insecurity, also known as the security dilemma seemingly drives the first attack with the perception that such a move would be strategically advantageous.33 These decisions were made around the world and could have been prevented by proper mechanisms to prevent the sale of weapons to non-state actors. Without weapons, it may have been likely that many conflicts could have been avoided altogether or at least lessened their bloody nature.



The issue with arms is the most prevalent issue and is the focus of this chapter. However, there are other issues. For instance, the Russian mafia operates with great freedom in Mexico, taking advantage of the poorly regulated casino industry there.34 They also deal with prostitution, gambling, and drugs to name a few other illicit commodities.35 In effect, we see the relationship between corrupt states and criminal networks. This section has shown how corruption breeds further corruption, fueling not just a cycle of violence, but chronic and persistent underdevelopment, political and economic instability and whole generations lost to war. Economic inequality is another consequence. As examined in the following section, corruption may transfer resources to those in the right place at the right time. In the Soviet Union, bureaucrats, due to their management experience, could purchase state-owned enterprises during the period of liberalization we know as Glasnost and Perestroika. These enterprises could make great profits following, with all the work to build the company already complete, the new owner just had to make it run efficiently for a monetary reward. Inequality in Russia facilitated the rise of an industry that exists outside of the realm of justice for less wealthy individuals. This is inequality over and above what could be considered acceptable. While the trafficking of illegal goods is an interesting subject, corruption may also take other forms. The next section will focus on the power of Russian oligarchs, the wealthier members of Russian society that benefitted from privatization of state-owned enterprises after the fall of the Soviet Union. The culture and practice of kyrsha, the power of extra-judicial, private enforcement given its intrinsic relationship, and use by the oligarchs will also be analyzed.

Russian Oligarchs and the Power of Corruption in Russia Russian Oligarchs are the small number of the wealthiest members of Russia dominating its economic landscape.36 While these individuals were active during Boris Yeltsin’s reign, they have decided to take a backseat to Vladimir Putin.37 Privatization, beginning in the late 1980s under Gorbachev, transferred publicly owned state enterprises to private actors.38 This was not just an economic reform, but also something unprecedented in a legal sense.39 Those in managerial positions bought much of the manufacturing plants, leaving the workers, who already had


little buying power, with nothing. Anatoly Chubais, then Minister of Privatization, describes the procedure: “The result of spontaneous privatization, in reality was theft of the state property by the factory managers, but it was not illegal, because there was no legal basis for transfer of property into private hands.”40 When President Yeltsin established the new Russian Federation, a new fervor began to take hold. The business environment underwent serious fluctuation during the 1990s, quickly culminating in the financial crash of 1994. By 1995, President Yeltsin proved a weak leader, yet enjoyed the support of the new business class. In 1996, he won the presidency for the second time with the help of Boris Berezovsky. Berezovsky, himself an oligarch, bankrolled Yeltsin’s campaign. As a reward, he was rewarded with several important political appointments.41 Other oligarchs, like Vladimir Gusinsky, began media companies with profits acquired from the continued privatization of former Soviet, now Russian, enterprises. The rich enjoyed real power, but by the beginning of Vladimir Putin’s tenure as president, both individuals would be either in prison on embezzlement charges or in self-­imposed exile. Consequently, Russia transformed almost overnight, between the reign of these two presidents, into a state where the rich dominate the political and business culture to where one man, Putin, dominated all landscapes. As Dmitri Trenin of the Carnegie Moscow Center described: “Private and corporate interests are behind most of Moscow’s major policy decisions, as Russia is ruled by people who largely own it…the government has been turned into Russia Inc., with top Kremlin staffers and senior ministers sitting on the boards of various state-owned corporations and taking an active interest in their progress and profits.”42 Wealth was so concentrated that by 2000, 22 Russian businesses controlled 40% of the Russian economy.43 Many wealthy individuals began to seek public service. It was now that Putin would launch a very aggressive campaign to control the burgeoning power of this new elite; Russia itself would no longer be controlled by an oligarchy, but by one strong person; and corruption would be an essential tool to keep the rich in line. The power of the oligarchs in Russia continues to be significant. However, since Putin’s regime, much of their power has been effectively contained—now from two sides, an internal force from Putin and an external force from the US. As said, critics of Putin’s regime, for example, Boris Berezovsky and Vladimir Gusinsky, have been altogether eliminated, both in exile for their opposing views. The oligarch, ultimately, can be compared as a duke or a lord in Putin’s kingdom. The US has



increased its efforts to weaken Russia. The clampdown was brought on in part by the sanctions placed upon certain people and industries following the invasion of Ukraine and the annexation of the Crimean Peninsula.44 On December 21, 2017, Putin held a conference at the Kremlin where all the major oligarchs met to assure their loyalty prior to the election that was held in early 2018. Interestingly, these meetings are held once a year, but in the case of 2017, three were already held. This is due to a number of international arrests and accusations. Four notable oligarchs for corruption and money laundering show the levels of corruption. According to Al Jazeera: On December 13, the premises of the Dutch subsidiary of Russian Alfa Bank were searched and its assets frozen; the bank is owned by Michael Fridman, Pyotr Aven, Alexey Kuzmichev and German Kahn (combined net worth of $35.6bn). On December 13, as well, a Daily Beast investigation revealed that Mikhail Prokhorov (net worth of $8.9bn) had 23 accounts in the Cyprus branch of the now closed FBME bank. The bank lost its license and the accounts of its clients were frozen after the US accused it of facilitating money laundering. Gennady Timchenko (net worth of $16bn), a close friend of Putin’s, and his company, Novatek, are still under US sanctions. Russia’s richest man, Leonid Mikhelson (net worth of $18.4bn), who is also Timchenko’s partner and co-owner of Novatek, is threatened with sanctions. Russia’s largest private oil company, Lukoil, owned by Vagit Alekperov (net worth of $14.5bn) and Leonid Fedun (net worth of $6.3bn), is also still on the sanctions list. There are other Russian oligarchs who might get slapped with sanctions, including Dmitry Rybolovlev (net worth of $7.3bn) and Viktor Vekselberg (net worth of $12.4bn).45

While it is expected that these arrests are related to Putin’s expansionary measures, Putin expects his oligarchs to be loyal. This must be done without being critical of the president’s actions. Essentially, while these individuals had the right to participate and criticize the system in a democracy, such procedures have not been respected under the current regime. An oligarch’s success today is measured by the extent of which his participation in the political system is minimal and his position subordinate to the power of the president. However, the corrupt practices of the current administration as well as the oligarchs have led to political and criminal reprisals. Such a system cannot last for long.


A Russian oligarchy developed over time from corrupt practices. Moreover, corruption only breeds further corruption. The state becomes the major loser in this equation as people pursue non-state forces to seek justice and to escape justice.46 Over time, certain ideas, beliefs, and practices are developed to protect oneself; to get out of situations both legal and illegal. One such institution, krysha, provides assurance for these individuals. Its literal meaning, “roof,” signifies such protection from external forces. Krysha is protection money one pays to an outside force, sometimes the Russian mob, to protect oneself against a number of threats from other gangs to handling legitimate problems outside of the slow moving Russian court system. In 2004, it is estimated that 70–80% of legitimate businesses hire some form of krysha at a hefty price of 10–20% of their profit.47 To explain the specifics, krysha is a necessary tool for success in Russia. Like gaining a permit in the US to build a condo or passing a health and safety check in France, investing in krysha is a necessity for anyone wanting to start, survive, and succeed in business.48 Protection from a godfather of sorts. In one circumstance, the same Berezovsky saw that his lack of protection led to increased occurrences of vandalism at his car dealerships.49 In other words, “Anyone with the ambition to flourish in Russian big business …had to hire an apparatus of political and physical protection.”50 Thus, krysha defined or understood is a form of patron-client relationship based on extortion. If payment is not made, then a penalty would have to be imposed. There are also other forms of krysha, such as political krysha. Such an example regards the same patron-client relationship, but for use of networking in the political sense. One would need a patron to enhance your own position, to ensure proper exposure, get particular legislation passed, protect oneself from any accusation of corruption, and to exchange political favors. One’s success as a career politician does rest on the ability to maintain strong relations with a patriarch. This doubles as an efficient way to strengthen the position of a patriarch as well, extending his time in office for many years. Underlings vie for influence, position, and prestige in government by proving their loyalty to, in the case of Russia today, President Putin.51 If one has a strong relationship with a person with ties to Putin, then one can expect protection from others seeking to replace you and your interests. Obviously, krysha is supposed to be outside the realm of legitimate and democratic practice. We can hence expect there to be krysha in the



criminal underworld.52 If you decide to take up criminality, then one would again need an agency to protect you from being attacked or harassed by the competition.53 The power of the protector is ultimately dispersed among legitimate and illegitimate practices; and among political leaders between Putin and former Prime Minister and President Medvedev.54 In terms of asymmetry, the client was subservient to the patron; even though the client made payments for protection, the one offering krysha was indeed the more powerful partner. For example, to become a powerful politician, one would have to pay krysha. The individual’s success is thus a product of krysha. The krysha agent may hence regard themselves as the major beneficiary of the person’s success. However, success cannot be solely accredited to the person, only to krysha. While different qualitatively, the practice of krysha promotes the same culture of corruption that undermines economic development democracy and other institutions that would essentially promote equality among citizens. Privatized protection allows, simultaneously, a criminal, a business person, and a politican to succeed. To summarize, krysha then serves several functions: – a connection to a financial/credit center or bank; – a deep penetration into governmental structures (local, republic, or national); – an armed force, often illegal, sometimes from within the government itself.55 These are public goods that are supposed to be provided to all citizens. This of course is not the case, which is the very definition of inequality. Such a situation affects those who are the worst off. Furthermore, a fundamental lack of confidence in the legal system remains a serious ­challenge. Respect for law and order remains low. Former Soviet Foreign Minister Edward Shevardnadze fully appreciates that Russia’s problems stem from this. He argues the state still needs “to create as soon as possible a moral and legal environment in which anyone guilty of grave crimes against humanity … [like] acts of terrorism or torture … [will not] escape punishment and [should] not be absolved from personal responsibility.”56 The Russian state and its people must confront this inherent weakness. Maybe then, people may feel comfortable with the business environment so that legitimate investments may grow and prosper. Like previous


chapters, culture plays an important role in the corruption of politics, the economy, and society. In the Middle East, wasta plays a significant role in economic relations as nepotism. In Central Asia, baksheesh is understood as a tip paid by people to grease the wheels of government to solve their issues. In Russia, kyrsha is used as protection, to eliminate rivals, and to avoid prison time. Institutions may help offset such mechanisms but the people must also want to change. The problem for Russia is that President Putin operates in a corrupt manner. The 65-year-old president needs krysha as part of his power base. Without it, he may not be able to hold on to power. Russia remains dominated by Putin since his nomination by then-President Yeltsin. Today, many in the Democratic Party of the US would advocate that Putin’s appeal is spreading from Russia into other regions of the world such as Europe and the US. In the case of Russia, democratic institutions are barely developed. The US’s democratic institutions are many centuries old. The transfer of power from Yeltsin and Putin is not as suspect as Putin’s ability to run the office of President even while Prime Minister. The ability to control the Duma and the Courts is beyond the check and balance of power in the US where power is equally dispersed between the executive, legislature, and judiciary. The recent Russian election has been rife with fraud, using the same tactics as in 2011. The following interview with Russian election watchdogs describes ballot stuffing: We were observers, but we were not truly allowed to observe. They kept us out of the way so we couldn’t see anything. But then I accidentally passed a ballot box, and I witnessed the vice president of the committee stuffing 23 ballots into one of the boxes. I tried grabbing them from him, but he pushed me away. So I kept trying, and finally I was able to snatch them from him. But he cut his hand, and blood spilled on the ballots and on the floor. It looked like a thriller scene…I was holding the ballots in my hands, and I was afraid to put them down. The people who ran the polling station approached me. They wanted me to hand them the ballots, but I refused. I said, I will give them only to a court official. Even the police came up to me, but I said, I won’t give them to you. I’ll give them only to the judge.57

When the watchdog handed over the ballots to the courts, the judicial system casually told the person to be quiet.58 Essentially, the Russian election of 2018 was nothing more than a ruse to illustrate that Putin



and his policies are mandated by the citizens of Russia. This fact goes against democratic procedures and resembles more of a type authoritarian governance. Placing the Russian election into the wider political context, is it possible to argue that Russia today is simply the broken Soviet-style system with slivers of capitalism and democratic practice? Is it indeed in line with the rest of the democratic world? Does it still promote instability in the world due to corrupt practices? What could be placed upon Russia to protect democratic process? This book ultimately posits that unless inclusive democratic institutions replace corrupt political regimes, nothing will change. The problem for Russia is that corrupt structures are so entrenched, very little can be done in terms of reform. Revolution may not be the solutions, neither is the death or removal of Putin from power. Like Venezuela, the death of Hugo Chávez resulted in the rise of an even more incompetent leader in Nicolás Maduro. If the people of Russia are indeed interested in changing Russia into a more democratic and equal federal republic, then it may be necessary to politically mobilize, confronting the regime and slowly but surely arranging a more democratic style regime. Leaders may die, but regimes live forever as long as the people consent.

Conclusion Gavriil Popov, former Mayor of Moscow, once said that “the mafia is necessary given the current situation in Russia … it fulfils the role of Robin Hood, distributing wealth.”59 This statement is telling for two major reasons that describe the contemporary political economy of Russia. The first is the lure of organized crime in a state that experiences economic inequality. Citizens, when they perceive that their poverty cannot be solved by hard work, may take significant risks by turning to organized crime. The wealth that the Russian mob enjoys is due to the weakness of the Russian state since the fall of the Soviet Union. While the mafia has always been around to sell black-market goods, the new Russian Federation remains ineffectual. The major reason here is the mercantilist style regime of Vladimir Putin that relies solely on energy markets for wealth. Very little diversification has been achieved; indeed, very little independence has been achieved as well, since the price of oil is predicated on external forces of supply, demand and, of course, the attitude of major states of Europe and the US toward Russia. For Russia


to advance, the state itself must transform to be inclusive toward people other than the Russian oligarchs. This book argues that the most important force for political and economic development is inclusive political institutions that allow for equal access to justice and security independent of wealth. The culture of krysha that prevails in Russia is the main culprit. This book thus concludes by arguing that Russia will neither change nor develop unless the regime itself changes. President Putin has been brilliant in his desire to hold on to power. He uses the oligarchs to preserve himself and his position. However, once Putin leaves government, what will happen to the Russian regime and state? Further, is Putin’s regime sustainable in the long term? Is his economy, the kleptocracy, the reason for Russia’s economic stagnation? This book argues that without democratic political institutions and the belief that all citizens, regardless of status, has equal opportunity, economic development may never occur. This means that corruption, inequality and organized crime will persist for many years to come.


1.  Federico Varese, “How Mafias Take Advantage of Globalization: The Russian Mafia in Italy,” British Journal of Criminology Advance Access 52, No. 2 (2011): pp. 235–253. 2. Vadim Valeryevich Radaev, “Corruption and Violence in Russian Business in the Late 90s,” in Economic Crime in Russia, eds. Alena V. Ledeneva and Marina Kurkchiyan (Kluwer Law International, 2000), p. 64. 3. For more, see Patricia Rawlinson, “Mafia, Media and Myth: Representations of Russian Organised Crime,” The Howard Journal of Criminal Justice 37, No. 4 (1998): pp. 346–358. 4.  Alexander Zaslavskiy, “Foreign Companies and the Russian Oil,” in Russian, Pro et Contra 53 (2011): pp. 40–50. 5. Hanna Samir Kassab, Grand Strategies of Weak States and Great Powers (New York: Palgrave, 2016), p. 37. 6. For more, see Elena Holodny, “Former Kremlin Banker: Putin ‘Is the Richest Person in the World Until He Leaves Power’,” Business Insider, July 28, 2015. 7. James O. Finckenauer, “The Russian ‘Mafia’,” Society 41, No. 5 (2004): p. 61. 8. Margaret E. Beare, “Russian (East European) Organized Crime Around the Globe,” A Paper Presented at the Transnational Crime Conference, Canberra, Australia, March 9–10, 2000, pp. 1–2.



9. Mark Galeotti, “The Russian ‘Mafiya’: Consolidation and Globalisation,” Global Crime 6, No. 1 (2004): p. 56. 10. Ibid. 11. Ibid. 12. Margaret E. Beare, “Russian (East European) Organized Crime Around the Globe,” A Paper Presented at the Transnational Crime Conference, Canberra, Australia, March 9–10, 2000, pp. 1–2. 13.  “Corruption Perceptions Index 2016,” Transparency International, January 25, 2017,, accessed January 27, 2018. 14.  James O. Finckenauer and Yuri A.Voronin, “The Threat of Russian Organized Crime,” US Department of Justice (2001): p. 18. 15.  Sergey Smirnov, “Takoy vot biznes: strelba po svoim” (That’s What Business Is About: Shooting at Your Own), Literaturnaya Gazeta, No. 16, 19 (April 1995). 16. “US Targets ‘Thieves-in-Law,’ Russian Mafia Royalty,” Times of Israel, December 23, 2007. 17.  James O. Finckenauer and Yuri A.Voronin, “The Threat of Russian Organized Crime,” US Department of Justice (2001): p. 18. 18. Gretchen Peters, “Mexico: Drug Trafficking in the Pacific Has a Distinct Russian Flavor,” San Francisco Chronicle, May 30, 2001. 19. David Kinsella, “Illicit Arms Transfers to Africa and the Prominence of the Former Soviet Bloc: A Social Network Analysis,” Crime, Law and Social Change 62, No. 5 (2015): p. 536. 20. Graham H. Turbiville, Jr., “Weapons Proliferation and Organized Crime: The Russian Military Dimensions,” Airpower Journal 10, special edition (1996): p. 18. 21. “World: Africa Light Weapons Trade ‘Fuels African Wars’,” BBC News, July 15, 1999. 22.  For more, see Graham H. Turbiville, Jr., “Weapons Proliferation and Organized Crime: The Russian Military Dimensions.” 23. Mark Galeotti, “The Russian ‘Mafiya’: Consolidation and Globalisation,” Global Crime 6, No. 1 (2004): p. 60. 24. US Congressional Hearings, “The Threat from International Organized Crime and Global Terrorism,” Committee on International Relations of the House of Representatives, October 1, 1997. 25.  Milreya Navarro, “Russian Submarine Drifts into Center of a Brazen Drug Plot,” New York Times, March 7, 1997. 26.  Juanita Darling, “Submarine Links Colombian Drug Traffickers with Russian Mafia,” LA Times, November 7, 2007. 27.  Quoted in “The Rise and Rise of the Russian Mafia,” BBC News, November 21, 1998.

176  H. S. KASSAB AND J. D. ROSEN 28. Claire Shipman, “‘Nuclear Entrepreneurs’ Proliferate in Former USSR” (CNN Television Broadcast, February 18, 1993) (transcript # 280-5), available in LEXIS, News Library, Script File. 29.  Wendy L. Mirsky, “The Link Between Russian Organized Crime and Nuclear-Weapons Proliferation,” Journal of International Law 16, No. 4 (1995): p. 751 30. “Nuclear Smugglers Shopped Radioactive Material to Islamic State, Other Terrorists: AP Report,” The Chicago Tribune, October 6, 2015. 31. Ibid. 32. Ibid. 33. Stuart Kaufman, Modern Hatreds: The Symbolic Politics of Ethnic War (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2001), pp. 4–5. 34. Douglas Farah, “Money Laundering and Bulk Cash Smuggling: Challenges for the Merida Initiative,” in Shared Responsibility: U.S.-Mexico Policy Options for Confronting Organized Crime, eds. Eric L. Olson, David A. Shirk, and Andrew Selee (Washington, DC: Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, Mexico Institute, October 2010), pp. 141–203. 35. James O. Finckenauer, “The Russian ‘Mafia’,” p. 62. 36. David E. Hoffman, The Oligarchs: Wealth and Power in the New Russia (New York: Public Affairs, 2003), p. 321. 37. Chaim Shinar, “The Russian Oligarchs, from Yeltsin to Putin,” European Review 23, No. 4 (2015): p. 583. 38.  Bernard Black, Reinier Kraakman, and Anna Tarassova, “Russian Privatization and Corporate Governance: What Went Wrong? Stanford Law Review 52, No. 6 (2000): p. 37. 39. David E. Hoffman, The Oligarchs: Wealth and Power in the New Russia, p. 186. 40. Ibid. 41. Chaim Shinar, “The Russian Oligarchs, from Yeltsin to Putin,” European Review 23, No. 4 (2015): p. 587. 42.  Quoted in David E. Hoffman, “How’d We Do Covering the Revolution?,” Foreign Policy, 187 (July/August 2011): p. 5. 43. Chaim Shinar, “The Russian Oligarchs, from Yeltsin to Putin,” European Review 23, No. 4 (2015): p. 591. 44.  Roman Dobrokhotov “How Putin Became a Problem for Russian Oligarchs,” Al Jazeera, December 24, 2017. 45. Ibid. 46.  See Alexandra V. Orlova and Veselin Boichev, “‘Corruption Is Us’: Tackling Corruption by Examining the Interplay Between Formal Rules and Informal Norms Within the Russian Construction Industry,” Journal of Developing Societies 33, No. 4 (2017): pp. 401–427.



47. Mark Galeotti, “The Russian ‘Mafiya’: Consolidation and Globalisation,” Global Crime 6, No. 1 (2004): p. 57. 48. A succinct summary of Russian business practices may be found here: Thane Gustafson, Capitalism Russian-Style (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999). 49. For more, see, accessed May 2, 2018. 50. Ibid. 51. Ibid. 52. For the Reputed Crime Boss Known as Taiwanchik, Moscow Is “Paradise” (Washington: Federal Information & News Dispatch, Inc, 2013). 53. Ibid. 54. “Accrediting Krysham,” Financial Express, 2012. 55.  “Russian Organized Crime,” CSIS, Cited in PBS Frontline, https://, accessed February 17, 2018. 56. Quoted in John N. Moore and Robert F. Turner, “The Principles of Cooperation and Good Faith Fulfillment of International Obligations,” International Law and International Security 275 (1991): p. 283. 57. Mary Louise Kelly, “Election Watchdog Group in Moscow Says Russian Voter Fraud Is Rising,” NPR, March 16, 2018. 58. Ibid. 59. Quoted in E. Luttwak, “The Good Bad Guys,” The Guardian, July 31, 1995; Popov’s comments were during a conference in Moscow, July 26, 1995.


Conclusion: Police, Judicial, and Prison Reform

Institutions are a fundamental part of any functioning government.1 This book has examined different variables such as corruption, organized crime, and other illicit activities that contribute to state fragility. This concluding chapter examines some fundamental institutions that need reform in many countries studied in this work: the police, judiciary, and the penitentiary system. These institutions play a vital role in helping states strengthen their institutional capacity to combat corruption and impunity.

Police Police play a fundamental role in society as they help maintain law and order. The issue of police corruption has been a major obstacle in many of the case studies examined in this book (e.g., the cases of Colombia and Mexico). Countries have faced many challenges with their police forces. Various reforms have been implemented.2 Despite many reforms, there still are many obstacles with the police. In Mexico, for example, the government has used the military in the war on drugs given the high levels of corruption in the police forces.3 However, it is important to note that the military is designed to protect the country against external threats, while the police deal with internal security issues and maintaining law and order. Mike LaSusa contends that “[t]here are good reasons why the Mexican government opted for a militarized strategy to fight against criminal organizations. One of the © The Author(s) 2019 H. S. Kassab and J. D. Rosen, Corruption, Institutions, and Fragile States,



most prominent is the marked lack of trust most Mexican citizens have in the civilian police. This distrust is not necessarily undeserved. Recent reports have found that thousands of Mexican police officers unfit for service are still on the streets. Meanwhile, emblematic cases involving corrupt police have made police reform even more urgent….”4 The public has also expressed high levels of distrust in the police.5 The Social Studies and Public Opinion Center (Centro de Estudios Sociales y de Opinión Pública—CESOP) conducted a survey of confidence in the various institutions.6 The Marines scored the highest with a rank of 8, while the Army scored a 7.8 on a scale of one to 10, with one being the lowest and 10 being the highest. The federal police scored a 6.2 compared to the municipal police, which received a 4.9. The municipal police, therefore, are the least trusted institution compared to the Marines, Army, federal police, judges, and public ministry.7 One of the reasons why people have low levels of trust in the Mexican municipal police is the interaction between the civilians and the police. This could be because the local police are not well-trained. Moreover, they are not well paid. In Tamaulipas, a state that is located on the US-Mexico border, police officers make slightly over US$250 per month. Patrick Corcoran contends, “Whatever the justification, the Tamaulipas wage is truly a pittance. Teachers commonly earn three times that amount, and indeed a successful streetside burrito vendor would make significantly more. Furthermore, the price levels in the border states are generally higher than in the country as a whole, and most of Tamaulipas is in the most costly bracket according to the government’s minimum wage scale, which can be taken as a proxy for the cost of living.”8 While this amount is extremely low, police officers throughout Mexico receive little compensation for their work. The salary of a state police officer is approximately US$700.9 In addition, this job is extremely dangerous. The result is that Mexico has seen high levels of turnover among its police forces. For instance, more than 8000 officers passed the entrance exam to enter the Mexican Federal Police between 2007 and 2010. Most of these individuals are no longer police officers: 5890 of them left the job, while 400 people died.10 Experts contend that the Mexican government has utilized the federal police because of the high levels of corruption in other police units, particularly the municipal police.11 While the Federal Police are perceived as more professional than the municipal police, the agency has also been involved in many human rights abuses. The number of complaints of human rights abuses has



increased from 197 in 2009 to 595 in 2010. By 2012, there were 802 complaints of human rights violations by this agency.12 According to the National Human Rights Commission (CNDH), in 2015, the Mexican Federal Police were involved in the arbitrary execution of 22 civilians who died in a confrontation in Michoacán. It has been reported that members of the police shot and killed 13 people. In addition, the police were involved in torture as well and even participated in the contamination of crime scene by planting evidence and moving bodies.13 The police have also been criticized for using “death squat tactics” against alleged drug suspects in the State of Veracruz. According to Juan Carlos Gutiérrez, a lawyer specializing in human rights, “This is the first time they have charged people in significant numbers and of significant rank and demonstrated that there was an organized, structured governmental apparatus that had an agreed-on, systemic method to carry out a policy of disappearing people.”14 Mexican police officers also have the reputation of looking for bribes.15 Despite many attempts to reform the police, many experts are critical of the progress and contend that the institution continues to be laden with high levels of corruption and inefficiency.16 The leadership in Mexico has vowed to reform institutions, often touting the reorganization of certain institutions as the key to improving the levels of safety within the state. Yet the promised reforms have not been effective, leading many critics to question why things should be different today.17 Furthermore, in November 2017, the lower house of the Mexican Congress passed a new proposed Internal Security Law that would increase the role of the military in the internal fight against drug trafficking and organized crime. The law would strengthen the ability of the military to play a role in internal security issues that threaten the country’s security. Maureen Meyer and Ximena Suarez-Enriquez of the Washington Office on Latin America, argue: “If approved, the law would further militarize public security in Mexico and limit civilian oversight of the military, allowing soldiers to intervene in any situation deemed a threat to the ‘interior security of the country.’ In its current version, the law fails to present a plan to gradually withdraw the armed forces from their current prominent role in combating organized crime.”18 If the government does not take the appropriate steps to seriously reform the police and address the issues that plague the institution, politicians will continue to favor using the military given the perception that the institution is more professional and less corrupt than the police.19


The case of the police in Mexico provides various lessons. Policing in a country plagued by high levels of drug trafficking, organized crime, and violence presents many security challenges for law enforcement. Police who are not well-trained or compensated adequately will face many obstacles. Unprofessional and poorly paid officers many leave the job due to the nature of the work. In addition, these individuals who operate in areas with high levels of organized crime and insecurity may be tempted to accept bribes and partake in corruption. The perception of police corruption generates distrust among the population. Corruption within the police forces can lead to distrust among different agencies. For instance, there could be distrust between local and federal police forces and different branches of law enforcement. This could prevent information sharing.

Self-Defense Forces Mexico has seen the rise of self-defense forces in states like Guerrero and Michoacán in 2013. The self-defense forces have emerged for various reasons. One of the primary motives is the lack of trust in law enforcement and the failure of the states to resolve problems. Both Guerrero and Michoacán have been plagued by high levels of drug trafficking and criminal activity. Citizens have decided to take the law into their own hands because the police forces have not been able to provide security. In sum, state weakness and the failure to provide security and law and order have resulted in the emergence of these self-defense groups. The self-defense forces consist of residents living in the town from different backgrounds. These groups established various checkpoints20 throughout the town to increase security and combat crime and delinquency. However, it is important to note that these groups operate outside of the law. The Peña Nieto administration did not know how to properly handle these organizations. In other words, should they treat them as vigilante groups taking justice into their own hands or should they legalize them? Legalizing the self-defense forces provides them with a sense of legitimacy and can encourage other non-state actors to emerge and attempt to enforce the rule of law. The Peña Nieto government was forced to confront the issue of the self-defense forces in 2014 and indicated that the government would not accept the presence of such groups. However, the government later shifted positions and sought to legalize the groups, changing their name to the Rural Defense Units. Deborah



Bonello contends, “Michoacán was where Mexico’s contemporary wave of self-defense groups first emerged. (Volunteer community policing has been a tradition in indigenous communities across southern Mexico for centuries.) Armed civilian groups there helped the government dismantle criminal organizations, but following the defeat of the Knights Templar crime group, President Enrique Peña Nieto’s government attempted to co-opt the self-defense movement into a rural police force—a plan that ultimately failed.”21 However, the government has not been consistent on how to address the self-defense forces. The Peña Nieto government has supported these organizations. Yet at other times high-level government officials have made statements against these organizations. For instance, Miguel Ángel Osorio Chong, the Interior Minister, made the following comments in Guerrero: “Nothing allows society to arm itself, because that would lead us into anarchy, which is what some [groups] want.”22 In sum, the lack of a consistent public policy around this issue has created confusion about how the government will respond to the self-defense forces. Ultimately, the self-defense forces have emerged because of state fragility within Mexico. Some scholars have contended that while Mexico is not a failed state, there are failed zones within Mexico. Places like Michoacán have seen the penetration of organized crime groups into the state apparatus.23 The high levels of corruption and state fragility foster criminal activities. The police should be responsible for maintaining law and order. Individuals who violate the law must be arrested and have their day in court. Furthermore, people who are convicted must be sentenced to jail. Promoting vigilante groups creates a dangerous precedent as average citizens will patrol the streets and seek to implement law and order. In addition, there have been linkages between some self-defense forces and illicit activities. Michael Lohmuller contends, “But Mexican officials could have easily foreseen the security problems now being caused by the vigilantes. Even before the launch of the Rural Defense Force, there were signs self-defense groups were carrying out criminal activities, and some vigilante leaders even acknowledged they had taken in former Knights Templar members.”24 In summary, state fragility due to corruption and high levels of impunity only serves to foster the rise of vigilante groups. States that function efficiently require police forces that can ensure the safety of the public. Unless states like Guerrero are able to combat the high levels of state weakness and corruption among security forces, criminal activities will continue to flourish and some citizens will respond by taking the law into their own hands.25


Prisons Prisons are a fundamental part of the criminal justice system. While there are scholarly and policy debates about whether the emphasis should be more on punishment or rehabilitation, prisons in many countries need major reforms. The US incarcerates more people than any other country in the world, including states that are non-democratic and plagued by human rights issues. The US has seen a large increase in the prison population because of the war on drugs that began with Richard Nixon in 1971 (see Fig. 9.1).26 The Ronald Reagan administration ramped up the drug war during the crack cocaine epidemic in the US.27 As a result, the US has seen the number of people in prison increase over the years. Approximately, half of the federal prison population is incarcerated for drugs.28 The cost of the prison system has increased over time.29 In fact, it is cheaper to send an inmate to an Ivy League school for one year than how much it costs to incarcerate inmates in certain states.30 The costs as well as the high recidivism rates have led some individuals, both Republicans and Democrats, to argue for criminal justice reform. Critics contend that more money could be spent on treatment and rehabilitation for drug users as opposed to prison sentences.31 Many countries have also had major challenges with overcrowded prisons. For instance, the number of prisoners and incarceration rates ϳϴϬ ϳϲϬ ϳϰϬ ϳϮϬ ϳϬϬ ϲϴϬ ϲϲϬ ϲϰϬ ϮϬϬϬ








Fig. 9.1  US prison population rate (per 100,000) (Source Created by authors with data from “World Prison Brief,” Institute for Criminal Policy Research)




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Fig. 9.2  A comparison of prison population rates per 100,000 people (Source Created by authors with data from “World Prison Brief,” Institute for Criminal Policy Research) ϳϬϬ ϲϬϬ ϱϬϬ ϰϬϬ ϯϬϬ ϮϬϬ ϭϬϬ Ϭ hŶŝƚĞĚ^ƚĂƚĞƐ






Fig. 9.3  Prison population rates per 100,000 an assortment of countries. Note Data from most recent years with available information (Source Created by authors with data from, “World Prison Brief,” Institute for Criminal Policy Research)

in many Latin American states are quite alarming (Figs. 9.2 and 9.3). Overcrowding can lead to high levels of tension between inmates and violence. Such vast levels of overcrowding have led to critics contending that some prison conditions represent major human rights abuses. In addition to overcrowding, many countries around the world face challenges with high percentages of the prison population that has not been tried (see Fig. 9.4). People who are arrested must have their day in



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Fig. 9.4  Percentage of pre-trail detainees in prison. Note Data from most recent years with available information (Source Created by authors with data from, “World Prison Brief,” Institute for Criminal Policy Research)

court.32 However, inmates in some countries wait many months—and even decades—in some cases before they are tried. Michael Lohmuller contends, “The issue of pre-trial detention leading to prison overcrowding is a problem in countries throughout Latin America. The governments claim they face budget constraints, but that is simply the result of the little political will on the part of politicians and elites to invest in the prison and judicial systems.”33 An efficient penitentiary system requires a justice system that works effectively. Individuals who are not convicted should be released. Yet inefficiencies slow down the process and result in high levels of overcrowding. Moreover, as seen in some of the case studies in this book, some prisons (e.g., the case of El Salvador) operate as schools of crime. Prison officials separated gangs as they did not want to have riots and violence that could have ensued if rival gang members are placed in the same cells. Yet the separation of gang members has had unintended consequences as prisons have served as criminal training grounds.34 Countries, such as El Salvador and Mexico, have gang and drug trafficking leaders who call shots from behind prison bars. There have been cases of escapes and corruption within the prison system leading skeptics to question the levels of control within the penitentiary system.35



Combating the high levels of corruption and impunity in the prison system is a difficult task, yet dire reforms are needed. Working in many Latin American prisons—and prisons in other parts of the world—can be a very dangerous job for correctional officers. Powerful drug ­traffickers can bribe guards, many of whom are not paid adequately. In addition, powerful criminals can threaten the lives and/or safety not only the prison guards but also their families.36

Judicial Reform Reforming the police and the prison system is important for many countries afflicted by high levels of corruption and impunity (see Fig. 9.5). Yet reforming these two institutions alone will not solve the problem. Many countries must undergo serious transformations in the judicial system. Implementing the rule of law means that someone who is arrested and charged with a crime must be prosecuted. The case of Mexico provides various lessons regarding judicial reform. In 2008, Mexico underwent major reforms to the judiciary system to create an adversarial trial system. The judicial reforms in Mexico have been designed to change the trial procedures as the country shifts toward an adversarial system, which means that oral arguments are made during a public trial. This is a drastic change from the previous ϳϴ͘ϬϬ ϳϲ͘ϬϬ ϳϰ͘ϬϬ ϳϮ͘ϬϬ ϳϬ͘ϬϬ ϲϴ͘ϬϬ ϲϲ͘ϬϬ ϲϰ͘ϬϬ ϲϮ͘ϬϬ ϲϬ͘ϬϬ ϱϴ͘ϬϬ WŚŝůůŝƉŝŶĞƐ









Fig. 9.5  Countries ranked with high levels of impunity. Note Zero means impunity does not exist, while 100 signifies the highest level of impunity (Source Juan Antonio Le Clercq Ortega and Gerardo Rodríguez Sánchez Lara, Global Impunity Dimensiones: GII-2017 Global Impunity Index [Puebla, Mexico: University of the Americas Puebla, 2017])


legal system which relied on closed-door proceedings based on ­written documents. The goal of these reforms is to make the judicial system more transparent in order to decrease corruption.37 This could also help improve the efficiency (i.e., speed) of the system as the judicial system has been plagued by high levels of ineffectiveness as a result of bureaucracy and paperwork. According to Claire Ribando Seelke of the Congressional Research Service, some of the recent changes include: • Investigation. A greater role will be given to police in investigations under the guidance of the public prosecutor; evidence gathered can be contradicted in an oral, public trial, and convictions can no longer be made based upon confessions alone. This phase of the judicial process will be abbreviated and less formal. • Pre-trial detention. The use of this will be limited to violent crimes. • Creation of new judgeships for each stage of criminal proceedings. This aims to strengthen judicial impartiality by ensuring that the judge who decides that there is enough evidence to send a case to trial (the due process judge) is not the same judge who presides over the trial phase and issues the final verdict (the sentencing judge). While one judge will preside over most trials, some will function as grand juries and have three judges presiding. The reforms also create a sentencing implementation judge who is to determine when a prisoner has fulfilled the terms of his or her sentence and to monitor processes of restorative justice (including agreements between victims and perpetrators reached through alternative dispute resolution). Individual judges can play all three roles as part of their duties, but not on the same case. • Alternative methods of resolving cases. This includes plea bargaining and alternative justice mechanisms that may result in compensation agreements between victims and perpetrators • Hearings and trials. Under this reform, hearings and trials are to be conducted in public; attended by judges, prosecutors, and public defenders; based on oral arguments; and videotaped for the record.38 While some states have enacted the changes on paper, many Mexican states have not actually implemented the reforms. Such changes also require the retraining of thousands of lawyers throughout the country. Many experts have been quite skeptical of the implementation of the reforms for a variety of reasons. Some law schools in the country have



not adjusted their courses to address the new changes in the law.39 Thus, reforming a judicial system requires time and will not occur over night. However, the reforms must be implemented and lawyers must be trained for the changes to be effective. International organizations have also been involved in judicial reform. The World Bank has a variety of initiatives designed to help countries reform their judiciary system. In fact, this organization has financed 36 projects focused exclusively on judicial reform that are worth $850 million since 1994.40 According to the World Bank, some of their activities include: Improving the performance of justice sector institutions. We apply public sector management expertise to agencies at all levels of the justice system in areas such as human resources, budgeting, IT, and supply chain management. This work is informed by agency and user assessments, impact evaluations, political economy analysis, and reviews of governing legislative frameworks. Advising on criminal justice reform and citizen security. Effective delivery of services in the criminal justice sector is an essential part of the crime prevention and enforcement chain. In our work on crime and violence, we advise teams working with a wide range of criminal justice sector institutions, including prosecutors, police, corrections, criminal courts, and public defenders, and collaborate with other World Bank Global Practices on crime prevention. Promoting justice in development sectors such as land, extractives, and urban development. We recognize that just outcomes are not the sole purview of justice institutions, thus we work across sectors to support effective mediation of rights and entitlements, address grievances, and promote accountability…. Reforming the justice sector for better business and investment climate. An accessible and efficient justice system is essential for sustained economic growth. We review legal and regulatory frameworks, as well as business court and court enforcement operations, to improve the business and investment climate of client countries.41

The World Bank has also focused on the importance of fragility as well as the issue of violence.42 Other organizations, like the United Nations, also have many programs related to rule of law initiatives. The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) focuses on creating and strengthening partnerships not only within the organization but between other agencies. According to the UNODC, “Since its inception, UNODC’s work in the area of crime prevention and criminal justice


has had a strong element of building partnerships with other UN agencies, regional organisations, international non-governmental organisations, and the institutes of the Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice Network.”43 These global partnerships, education, and training are a way to help countries combat many of the present challenges. However, it is important to note that each country has a different reality. The concept of a model that works for every state is unrealistic.44 Thus, it is essential that international organizations understand the importance of context. Furthermore, international institutions do not want to be perceived as imposing their views on other countries. Therefore, countries who are interested in assistance must be at the forefront in working with international agencies to agree on the different types of projects that could occur to help improve the judicial system.

Conclusion States that are plagued by high levels of corruption and impunity are ripe places for organized crime groups to operate. Many states that have elements of fragility are in serious need of institutional reform across a variety of institutions. Reforming one institution is not enough as there must be coordination and cooperation between the executive, legislative, and judiciary branches.45 In addition, reforming something on paper or passing a new law is not effective unless the laws are implemented. The implementation, or enforcement, is the most difficult part and requires political will, effective leadership, and accountability. This is a long process, but it is essential in helping fragile states consolidate and strengthen their institutions.46


1. For more, see Robert A. Dahl, “What Political Institutions Does Large Scale Democracy Require?” Political Science Quarterly 120, No. 2 (2005): pp. 187–197. 2. For more, see John Bailey and Lucia Dammert, eds., Public Security and Police Reform in the Americas (Pittsburgh, PA: University of Pittsburgh Press, 2006). 3.  Stephen D. Morris and Joseph L. Klesner, “Corruption and Trust: Theoretical Considerations and Evidence from Mexico,” Comparative Political Studies 43, No. 10 (2010): pp. 1258–1285.



4.  Mike LaSusa, “Mexico’s War on Crime: A Decade of (Militarized) Failure,” InSight Crime, December 6, 2016, https://www.insightcrime. org/news/analysis/mexico-drug-war-decade-failure/, accessed April 17, 2018, p. 4; for more on this topic, see Diane E. Davis, “Undermining the Rule of Law: Democratization and the Dark Side of Police Reform in Mexico,” Latin American Politics and Society 48, No. 1 (2006): pp. 55–86; Kate Doyle, “The Militarization of the Drug War in Mexico,” Current History 92, No. 571 (1993): p. 83; Jonathan Daniel Rosen and Roberto Zepeda Martínez, “La guerra contra el narcotráfico en México: una guerra perdida,” Revista Reflexiones 94, No. 1 (2015): pp. 153–168. 5.  Daniel M. Sabet, “Corruption or Insecurity? Understanding Dissatisfaction with Mexico’s Police,” Latin American Politics and Society 55, No. 1 (2013): pp. 22–45. 6. For more, see Jorge G. Castañeda, “What’s Spanish for Quagmire?” Foreign Policy 177 (2010): p. 76; Peter Reuter, “Systemic Violence in Drug Markets,” Crime, Law and Social Change 52, No. 3 (2009): pp. 275–284. 7. Mimi Yagoub, “Most Mexicans Think Police ‘Controlled by Org Crime’: Poll,” InSight Crime, January 10, 2017, https://www.insightcrime. org/news/brief/most-mexicans-think-police-controlled-by-org-crimepoll/, April 17, 2018, for a link to The Social Studies and Public Opinion Center (Centro de Estudios Sociales y de Opinión Pública—CESOP) and their surveys, see Centros-de-Estudio/CESOP/Opinion-Publica/Encuestas/Seguridad-yparticipacion-ciudadana, accessed April 17, 2018. 8.  Patrick Corcoran, “Pay Rises Alone Won’t Break Chain of Police Corruption,” InSight Crime, September 29, 2011,, accessed April 16, 2018, p. 2; “¿Dónde están los policías mejor y peor pagados de México?” Animal Político, septiembre de 28, 2011. 9.  Patrick Corcoran, “Pay Rises Alone Won’t Break Chain of Police Corruption.” 10. Elyssa Pachico, “Mexican Federal Cops Quitting Nearly as Fast as They Join,” InSight Crime, October 10, 2011, https://www.insightcrime. org/news/brief/mexican-federal-cops-quitting-nearly-as-fast-as-theyjoin/, accessed April 17, 2018. 11. Elyssa Pachico, “Mexican Federal Cops Quitting Nearly as Fast as They Join,” p. 2. 12. Maureen Meyer, Mexico’s Police: Many Reforms, Little Progress (Washington, DC: Washington Office on Latin America, 2014); data from National Human Rights Commission (Comisión Nacional de Derechos Humanos, CNDH).

192  H. S. KASSAB AND J. D. ROSEN 13. “Mexico: Events of 2017,” Human Rights Watch, 2017, https://www., accessed April 16, 2018, p. 3. 14. Quoted in Associated Press in Veracruz, “Mexico Police Charged with Using Death Squad Tactics on Drug Suspects,” The Guardian, February 28, 2018. 15. For more on this topic, see Julien Mercille, “Violent Narco-Cartels or US Hegemony? The Political Economy of the ‘War on Drugs’ in Mexico,” Third World Quarterly 32, No. 9 (2011): pp. 1637–1653; Stephen D. Morris, “Corruption and the Mexican Political System: Continuity and Change,” Third World Quarterly 20, No. 3 (1999): pp. 623–643; Diane E. Davis, “Undermining the Rule of Law: Democratization and the Dark Side of Police Reform in Mexico,” Latin American Politics and Society 48, No. 1 (2006): pp. 55–86. 16.  For more on this topic, see Maureen Meyer, Mexico’s Police: Many Reforms, Little Progress; see also Jonathan D. Rosen and Roberto Zepeda Martínez, “La Guerra contra las Drogas y la Cooperación internacional: el caso de Colombia,” Revista CS, No. 18 (2016): pp. 63–84; Roberto Zepeda Martínez and Jonathan D. Rosen, “Corrupción e inseguridad en México: consecuencias de una democracia imperfecta,” Revista AD UNIVERSA, Año 4, Vol. 1 (diciembre 2014): pp. 60–85. 17. Patrick Corcoran, “Peña Nieto’s Mexico Police Reform Proposal Fails to Convince,” InSight Crime, December 1, 2014,, accessed April 17, 2018, p. 6. 18.  Maureen Meyer and Ximena Suarez-Enriquez, “By Strengthening Military’s Role in Fighting Crime, Mexico’s Proposed Security Law Will Worsen Human Rights Abuses and Harm Transparency,” Washington Office on Latin America, December 13, 2017, https://www.wola. org/analysis/strengthening-militarys-role-fighting-crime-mexicos-proposed-security-law-will-worsen-human-rights-abuses-harm-transparency/, accessed April 17, 2018, p. 1. 19. Deborah Bonello, “Report Finds Major Flaws in Proposals to Further Militarize Mexico’s Drug War,” InSight Crime, February 15, 2017,, accessed April 17, 2018, p. 5. 20. Kimberly Heinle, Cory Molzahn, and David A. Shirk, Citizen Security in Michoacán (Washington, DC: Wilson Center and Mexico Institute, 2015). 21.  Deborah Bonello, “Mexico Authorities Schizophrenic on Self-Defense Groups,” InSight Crime, July 19, 2017, news/brief/mexico-authorities-schizonphrenic-on-self-defense-groups/, accessed July 6, 2018, p. 3.



22. Quoted in Deborah Bonello, “Mexico Authorities Schizophrenic on SelfDefense Groups”. 23.  Jonathan D. Rosen and Roberto Zepeda, Organized Crime, Drug Trafficking, and Violence in Mexico: The Transition from Felipe Calderón to Enrique Peña Nieto (Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2016). 24.  Michael Lohmuller, “No Solution in Sight for Mexico’s Vigilante Problem,” InSight Crime, November 13, 2015,, accessed July 6, 2018, p. 4. 25. For more, see Jonathan D. Rosen and Roberto Zepeda, Organized Crime, Drug Trafficking, and Violence in Mexico: The Transition from Felipe Calderón to Enrique Peña Nieto. 26.  Michelle Alexander, “The New Jim Crow,” The Ohio State Journal of Criminal Law 9 (2011): p. 7; David F. Musto, The American Sisease: Origins of Narcotic Control (New York: Oxford University Press, 1999); Eva Bertram, Morris Blachman, Kenneth Sharpe, and Peter Andreas, Drug War Politics: The Price of Denial (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1996). 27.  Marten W. Brienen and Jonathan D. Rosen, eds., New Approaches to Drug Policies: A Time for Change (New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan, 2015); Bruce M. Bagley and Jonathan D. Rosen, eds., Drug Trafficking, Organized Crime, and Violence in the Americas Today (Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2015). 28. For more, see Michelle Alexander, The New Jim Crow; Alfred Blumstein and Allen J. Beck, “Population growth in US Prisons, 1980–1996,” Crime and Justice 26 (1999): pp. 17–61; Patrick A. Langan, “America’s Soaring Prison Population,” Science 251, No. 5001 (1991): pp. 1568– 1573; Jonathan Rothwell, “Drug offenders in American Prisons: The Critical Distinction Between Stock and Flow,” The Brookings Institution, November 25, 2015,­criticaldistinction-between-stock-and-flow/, accessed May 3, 2018. 29.  For more, see Jill McCorkel, “Race to Incarcerate,” Contemporary Sociology 30, No. 3 (2001): p. 294; Marc Mauer and Michael Coyle, “The Social Cost of America’s Race to Incarcerate,” Journal of Religion & Spirituality in Social Work: Social Thought 23, No. 1–2 (2004): pp. 7–25; Michelle Alexander, The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness (New York, NY: The New Press, 2010). 30. Scott Jaschik, “Price of a Year in Jail vs. a Year at Harvard,” Inside Higher ED, June 5, 2017. 31.  For more, see Maya Schenwar, Locked Down, Locked Out: Why Prison Doesn’t Work and How We Can Do Better (Oakland, CA: Berrett-Koehler Publishers, 2014); Robert Martinson, “What Works?—Questions and


Answers About Prison Reform,” The Public Interest 35 (1974): p. 22; Marc Mauer, “The Causes and Consequences of Prison Growth in the United States,” Punishment & Society 3, No. 1 (2001): pp. 9–20. 32. For more, see Jonathan D. Rosen and Marten W. Brienen, eds., Prisons in the Americas in the Twenty-First Century: A Human Dumping Ground (Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2015). 33. Michael Lohmuller, “Over 50% of Incarcerated in Honduras in Pre-trial Detention: NGO,” InSight Crime, July 2, 2015,, accessed April 27, 2018, pp. 3–4. 34. José Miguel Cruz, “Central American Maras: From Youth Street Gangs to Transnational Protection Rackets,” Global Crime 11, No. 4 (2010): pp. 379–398. 35.  Jonathan D. Rosen and Roberto Zepeda, Organized Crime, Drug Trafficking, and Violence in Mexico: The Transition from Felipe Calderón to Enrique Peña Nieto (Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2016); Victoria Dittmar, “Crime Groups Control 65 Percent of State Prisons in Mexico: Report,” InSight Crime, May 23, 2017. news-briefs/crime-groups-control-65-percent-state-prisons-mexico-report, accessed April 24, 2018. 36. For more, see Jonathan D. Rosen and Marten W. Brienen, eds., Prisons in the Americas in the Twenty-First Century: A Human Dumping Ground. 37.  Clare Ribando Seelke, Supporting Criminal Justice System Reform in Mexico: The U.S. Role, p. 4. 38. Quoted directly from Clare Ribando Seelke, Supporting Criminal Justice System Reform in Mexico: The U.S. Role, p. 5; for more, see David Shirk, “Criminal Justice Reform in Mexico: An Overview,” Mexican Law Review III, No. 2 (January–June 2011), pp. 199–200. 39. Patrick Corcoran, “Mexico’s Judicial Reform, One Year In: A Mix of Successes and Defects,” InSight Crime, August 8, 2017, https://www., accessed April 17, 2018, p. 6. 40.  The World Bank, The World Bank: New Directions in Justice Reform (Washington, DC: The World Bank, 2012). 41. This is a direct quote from “Justice and Rule of Law,” The World Bank, April 28, 2015, brief/justice-rights-and-public-safety, accessed April 27, 2018, p. 2. 42. “Justice and Rule of Law,” The World Bank, April 28, 2015, http://www., p. 2.



43.  “Inter-Agency Coordination,” UNODC, unodc/en/justice-and-prison-reform/interagency.html?ref=menuside, accessed April 27, 2018, p. 1. 44. Jonathan D. Rosen and Bruce M. Bagley, “Is Plan Colombia a Model? An Analysis of Counternarcotics Strategies in Colombia,” Global Security Review 1 (2017): pp. 8–14; Jonathan Daniel Rosen, “Lecciones y resultados del Plan Colombia (2000–2012)” Contextualizaciones Lat., Año 6, número 10 (enero–julio 2014): pp. 1–12. 45.  Jonathan D. Rosen and Roberto Zepeda, Organized Crime, Drug Trafficking, and Violence in Mexico: The Transition from Felipe Calderón to Enrique Peña Nieto (Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2016). 46.  Bruce M. Bagley and Jonathan D. Rosen, eds., Drug Trafficking, Organized Crime, and Violence in the Americas Today (Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2015); Jonathan D. Rosen and Hanna S. Kassab, eds., Fragile States in the Americas (Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2016).

Selected Bibliography

Andreas, Peter. Border Games: Policing the US-Mexico Divide. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2012. Bagley, Bruce Michael. “The New Hundred Years War? US National Security and the War on Drugs in Latin America.” Journal of Interamerican Studies and World Affairs 30, No. 1 (1988): pp. 161–182. Carpenter, Ted Galen. Bad Neighbor Policy: Washington’s Futile War on Drugs in Latin America. New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan, 2003. Correa-Cabrera, Guadalupe. Los Zetas Inc.: Criminal Corporations, Energy, and Civil War in Mexico. Austin: The University of Texas Press, 2017. Easterly, William. The White Man’s Burden: Why the West’s Efforts to Aid the Rest Have Done So Much Ill and So Little Good. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2006. Hinojosa, Victor J. Domestic Politics and International Narcotics Control: U.S. Relations with Mexico and Colombia, 1989–2000. New York, NY: Routledge, 2007. Kassab, Hanna Samir. Weak States in International Relations Theory: The Cases of Armenia, St. Kitts and Nevis, Lebanon and Cambodia. New York: Palgrave, 2015. Kindleberger, Charles. Economic Development. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1956. Mauer, Marc. “The Causes and Consequences of Prison Growth in the United States.” Punishment & Society 3, No. 1 (2001): pp. 9–20.

© The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Switzerland AG, part of Springer Nature 2019 H. S. Kassab and J. D. Rosen, Corruption, Institutions, and Fragile States,


198  Selected Bibliography Mercille, Julien. “Violent Narco-Cartels or US Hegemony? The Political Economy of the ‘War on Drugs’ in Mexico.” Third World Quarterly 32, No. 9 (2011): pp. 1637–1653. Reuter, Peter. “Systemic Violence in Drug Markets.” Crime, Law and Social Change 52, No. 3 (2009): pp. 275–284. Ribando Seelke, Clare. Supporting Criminal Justice System Reform in Mexico: The U.S. Role. Washington, DC: Congressional Research Service, 2013. Rosen, Jonathan D. The Losing War: Plan Colombia and Beyond. Albany: State University of New York Press, 2014. Rosen, Jonathan D. and Zepeda, Roberto. Organized Crime, Drug Trafficking, and Violence in Mexico: The Transition from Felipe Calderón to Enrique Peña Nieto. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2016. Rose-Ackerman, Susan. “Corruption and Government.” International Peacekeeping 15, No. 3 (2008): pp. 328–343. Ruhl, Mark. “Honduras Unravels.” Journal of Democracy 21, No. 2 (2010): pp. 93–107. Sabet, Daniel M. “Corruption or Insecurity? Understanding Dissatisfaction with Mexico’s Police.” Latin American Politics and Society 55, No. 1 (2013): pp. 22–45. Sachs, Jeffrey. The End of Poverty: Economic Possibilities for Our Time. New York, NY: Penguin Books, 2006. Shirk, David A. Mexico’s New Politics: The Pan and Democratic Change. Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner, 2005. Ungar, Mark. Elusive Reform: Democracy and the Rule of Law in Latin America. Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner, 2001. Wannenburg, Gail. “Organised Crime in West Africa.” African Security Studies 14, No. 4 (2005): pp. 5–16. Wolf, Sonja. “Mara Salvatrucha: The Most Dangerous Street Gang in the Americas?” Latin American Politics and Society 54, No. 1 (2012): pp. 65–99. Wolf, Sonja. Mano Dura: The Politics of Gang Control in El Salvador. Austin: University of Texas Press, 2017.


A Aid, 17, 34, 35, 85, 94–96, 99, 102–104, 139 B Baksheesh, 67, 68, 72, 73, 77, 80, 82, 172 Bankruptcy laws, 25 Bill of Rights, 28, 29, 39 Boko Haram, 17, 89, 91–93, 102 Border security, 68, 73, 117, 131 Bribery, 17, 32, 67, 72, 75, 78, 82, 137, 138 C Cartel, 14, 40, 103, 108, 111, 112, 117, 124, 138, 139, 147, 157 Checks and balances, 31, 35, 51 Civil war, 26, 28, 57, 113, 114, 127, 129, 164, 166

Clientelism, 16, 44, 48–50, 52–54, 56–58, 60, 62 Cocaine, 2, 5, 37, 40, 89, 90, 101, 120, 139, 140, 145, 147, 150, 152, 153, 164, 165, 184 Colonialization, 26, 49 Confessionalism, 56 Constitutions, 27, 43–47, 49, 52, 53, 59–63, 80 Contagion, 4, 12 Contracts, 5, 25, 32, 78, 98, 138, 150 Corruption, 1–14, 16–18, 20, 21, 23– 26, 30–35, 37–41, 48, 55, 65–88, 90, 91, 94, 96–101, 104–106, 108, 109, 112–116, 122–124, 128–130, 133, 135–137, 142, 146–151, 155–157, 161–164, 166–172, 174–176, 179–183, 186–188, 190–192 Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI), 7–9, 69, 86, 87, 90, 135, 163 Creative destruction, 58, 59

© The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Switzerland AG, part of Springer Nature 2019 H. S. Kassab and J. D. Rosen, Corruption, Institutions, and Fragile States,


200  Index Crime, 4, 21, 22, 40, 67, 82, 83, 88, 101, 105, 112, 124, 125, 127– 133, 151–159, 174–177, 190–195 Culture, 16, 48, 49, 62, 63, 76 D Developing states, 2, 60 Development. See Economic development Durand Line, 73, 74, 83 E Economic development, 3, 4, 6, 9–12, 14, 16, 23, 30–32, 36, 43–45, 58, 60, 80, 81, 162, 171, 174

Institutions, 1–10, 12–18, 20, 23–27, 29–35, 38–41, 43, 47, 48, 50, 55, 58–61, 65, 68, 70, 72, 78, 80, 81, 90–92, 96, 97, 105, 111, 115, 116, 122, 123, 132, 135, 136, 146, 148, 150, 151, 161, 162, 171–174, 179–181, 187, 189, 190 extractive, 1, 3, 4, 7, 8, 59, 189 inclusive, 1, 8, 10, 43, 58–60, 72, 80, 162, 173, 174 INTERPOL, 15, 16, 22 Islamic state, 10, 13, 81, 106, 166, 176 J Judicial reform, 6, 18, 187, 189, 194

F Failed states, 9–12, 14, 15, 18, 21, 34, 41 Fragile states, 1–4, 6, 8, 10–13, 16, 19–21, 43, 48, 60, 66, 73, 81, 94, 112, 122, 190, 195

K Krysha, 33, 67, 161, 162, 170–172, 174

H Hammurabi, 27, 39 Heroin, 2, 5, 20, 21, 38, 65, 68, 70–72, 81, 88, 89, 120, 164

M Magna Carta, 28, 39 Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13), 113, 128

I Illicit supply chains, 5, 6, 13, 66 Imperialism, 24, 26, 30, 49, 54 Impunity, 9, 16–18, 34, 69, 88, 99, 100, 109, 110, 116, 123, 125, 126, 130, 135, 146, 150, 156, 179, 183, 187, 190 Insecurity, 4, 9, 13, 14, 18, 23, 41, 105, 107, 112, 115, 116, 129, 131, 142, 159, 166, 182

L Locke, John, 28

N Narcoterrorism, 66, 81 Narcotics, 16, 34, 69, 71–73, 80, 82, 83, 90, 150, 151, 164, 165 Nongrowth, 60 O Oligarchs, 18, 161, 162, 167–169, 174, 176


Organized crime, 1–8, 10–14, 17, 20, 21, 31, 34, 36, 38, 40, 66, 76, 81, 82, 85, 88, 90, 91, 99, 105–108, 110–112, 114, 116, 122–127, 131, 133, 135, 136, 138, 139, 142, 147, 149–151, 163, 165, 173, 174, 179, 181–183, 190 P Partido Revolucionario Institucional (PRI), 105, 106, 124 Patronage, 16, 44, 47, 48, 50, 53–58, 60, 77 Plata o plomo, 13, 22, 75 Police reform, 6, 126, 180, 190–192 Political culture, 16, 43–53, 56, 57, 60, 61, 80, 151 Poverty, 6, 14, 17, 19, 20, 31, 60, 64, 69, 85, 86, 88, 90, 91, 94–97, 99, 100, 103, 112, 114, 122, 135, 151, 153, 173 Poverty trap, 85 Prison reform, 6, 179, 194 Prohibition, 36, 41, 162 Property rights, 7, 16, 25, 28, 32, 35, 38, 58, 59, 98 Public goods, 7, 8, 12, 25, 32, 48, 171 R Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), 9 Resilience, 2, 13, 43, 81 Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), 90, 101, 140–142, 144–146, 153–156


S Security, 2, 8, 9, 11, 13, 15–18, 21, 22, 29, 30, 41, 48, 55, 65, 76, 91, 94, 99, 101, 102, 105, 107, 112, 114–117, 119, 120, 124, 126, 128, 131, 133, 136, 138, 139, 142, 145, 146, 148–150, 165, 166, 174, 177, 179, 181–183, 190, 192, 195 Self-defense forces, 141, 182, 183 Shell corporations, 75 Social contract, 46 Socialization, 50, 67 T Tax, 1, 7, 32, 35, 36, 39, 40, 75 Terrorism, 4, 12, 14, 16, 68, 70, 71, 73–75, 79–81, 83, 84, 153, 165, 171, 175 Transparency Perception Index, 65 Transshipment, 5, 71, 73, 89, 101 Tribalism, 73, 74, 78 U Underdevelopment, 1–3, 6, 8, 12, 24, 35, 43, 44, 47, 58–60, 80, 81, 167 United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime (UNODC), 67, 71, 82, 83, 189 V Variable (dependent), 9, 23 Variable (independent), 6, 7, 23 Violence, 2, 4, 6, 8, 10–12, 14, 17, 21, 23, 24, 26, 34, 36, 38, 63, 65, 66, 88, 93, 95, 99, 105–107,

202  Index 111–118, 122–130, 133, 135, 138, 139, 148–152, 157, 158, 166, 167, 174, 182, 185, 186, 189, 191, 193–195 Vulnerable, 10, 12, 19, 23, 31, 43, 60, 69, 81, 90

W Wasta, 77, 78, 80, 84, 172 Z Zetas, 111, 112, 127, 148

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