For democracy to thrive, its major parts must be balanced, and its citizens must be educated. For democracy to thrive, it must be protected.
Mexico faces a dilemma: an eroding democracy. Democracy revolves around the rule of law, dependent on the just and fair trials not only of its citizens but of its officials and representatives. If democracy is to thrive, the principles of its foundation must be reinforced and protected. Facing the corruption of government officials, the evolution of organized crime, and consequential limitations on individual freedoms, Mexico must prevent the furthering of democratic erosion.
Democratic erosion, or backsliding as referred to by Nancy Bermeo, characterizes the gradual dismantlement of democratic principles. From forms such as coup d’etats, to internal shifts of democracy, erosion can disrupt the core system of any democratic institution. Though its initial symptoms are often ignored, older forms, similar to the rise of power of Adolf Hitler, occurred due to the infiltration of an individual into the government, whereas modern forms occur due to a gradual shift of ideology and practices from those based in democracy. Nancy Bermeo, in reference to democratic backsliding, exemplifies that modern democratic erosion does not rely on the overtaking of a democratic system, but the alteration of the current system in use by those who participate within it. These practices and alterations undermine the legitimacy of the democratic system and transfer power to a singular figure. Democratic erosion also may result in the elimination of democratic processes and individual freedoms. The key bases to democracy may slowly be chipped away at until they are in place to benefit only those who have power. Mexico faces this gradual decline in regard to its judicial system, which consequently impedes on the individual freedoms of its citizens.
Democracy In the Mexican Judicial System
The Mexican judicial system is similar to that of the United States, organized by local, state, federal, and supreme courts, but these very institutions become complacent in bribery and violence. The lower courts face limited resources, frequently allowing the majority of committed crimes in 2018 to go unreported according to freedomhouse.org. The police departments made to combat local crime face personnel who work in conjunction with drug cartels, creating communities vulnerable to crime and the elimination of due process. Mexican citizens rely on the judiciary aspect of democracy to protect them, to reinforce the rule of law. Now, they face a system construed to protect those who reject the rule of law.
Organized crime in Mexico today takes the form of not only limiting the parameters of the judicial system but also increased violence against journalists and the media. Self-censorship amongst networks in hopes of self-preservation has increased, leading to uninformed citizens about the true nature of organized crime. The keys to democracy have been construed, giving citizens no access to independent media, and limits on due process and the judicial system. Media outlets according to freedomhouse.org have become dependent on the government for regulation and distribution, as Congress now regulates the distribution of government advertising. Journalists now face a dire situation, the death of themself, or democracy as they know it.
Democracy relies on these factors to succeed, needing an educated body of citizens to regulate their officials and the judiciary system to provide regulation of the law. Organized crime dismantles that, providing democracy based on the necessary principles but in practice abandons them. The gradual chipping away at Mexican democracy provides the very essence of democratic erosion and leaving Mexico with a system that can result in the erosion of the democratic freedoms promised by their government. Nancy Bermeo illustrates that the democratic backsliding we face today can take forms not catastrophically emphasized before, and Mexico is a direct example of that. Mexico faces the dilemma of combating internal democratic erosion, the modern form of democratic backsliding. Understanding the consequences of organized crime on the democratic system of Mexico correlates with understanding the attack on Mexican democratic values. Nancy Bermeo constructs the ideology of democratic backsliding by contextualizing its effect in modern times, relating its past characteristics in order to identify it today. Mexico follows that characterization by not following the direct dismantlement of democracy once faced before, but now facing the gradual chipping away at democratic principles. The country faces democratic backsliding as it faces factors that erode democratic principles, preventing citizens from participating in a truly democratic society.
Mexican democracy is subject to erosion as it faces an environment that no longer serves to protect democracy or its individual citizens. It has now been prompted to reflect the ideology of its officials, bribed and influenced by crime organizations. Democratic backsliding continues to exist as its citizens are unable to receive independent media that accurately represents crime statistics, and the use of power by corrupt officials has retracted the very nature of democracy.
For democracy to thrive, it must be protected. Preemptive measures must be taken to uphold the principles which its citizens rely on, and symptoms of democratic erosion must be recognized and attacked. The state of Mexican democracy begins a domino effect and can result in the fall of several democratic institutions apart from the judicial system and media.
Mexico faces a dilemma: an eroding democracy, and for it to rebuild, it must be recognized, diagnosed, and treated before it no longer can exist.