"Enforcing accumulation in a geo-strategic region: Paramilitaries in Oaxaca, Mexico" in Paramilitary Groups and the State under Globalization: Political Violence, Elites, and Security

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Rural social movements in Oaxaca are frequent targets of attacks by paramilitary groups and state actors. State and paramilitary violence aligns with the goals of dominant political parties in Mexico, economic elites, and foreign investors in booming resource sectors such as mining and wind energy. This chapter discusses forms of violence that aim to prevent indigenous citizens from exercising the internationally recognized right to fair consultation. International law under Convention 169 of the International Labor Organization (ILO) stipulates the right of indigenous people to free, prior, and informed consent on plans and programs (such as economic projects) that affect them directly (ILO, 1989). Violations include silencing independent radio stations, threatening land defenders, and facilitating the quasi-legal leasing of communal farmlands (propiedad comunal/ tierras comunales) to private companies. In agreement with other authors (e.g. Kilcullen, 2006), I suggest that state and paramilitary violence is but one component in a larger campaign of counter-insurgency, in which state actors attempt to subdue and prevent broad-based opposition. This tends to repress self-determination for Oaxaca’s indigenous majority while particularly reinforcing the subordination of indigenous women.


This book examines the phenomenon of paramilitarism across Latin America and the Caribbean, Eastern Europe, Africa, and Asia, offering a nuanced perspective while identifying key patterns in the way paramilitary violence is implicated in processes of capital accumulation, state-building, and the reproduction of social power.