Mobile Solutions to the Mexican Kidnapping Epidemic: Beyond Elite Counter-Measures Towards Citizen-Led Innovation

Kidnapping has emerged as a major source of societal insecurity in Mexico, with public authorities recording 1,698 kidnappings in 2013. However, despite this being the highest number on record, official statistics reflect only a small fraction of incidents and the majority of kidnappings go unreported. Police complicity; high levels of impunity; failure to uphold the rule of law: all have eroded public confidence in state capacity to combat this illicit practice. In this context, the insecurity born of kidnapping pervades Mexican society and the so-called 'democratization' of this threat ensures that it is no longer just the rich who are exposed. This criminal phenomenon also manifests extra-territorial reach as its ramifications seep across the US-Mexico border.

Our project will chart the shifting topography of the Mexican kidnapping epidemic and examine various 'mobile solutions' that have emerged to counter it. These include strategies such as: internal/external migration; cross-border security services; escort security; and, personal locator-chips. However, our ambitions extend beyond these multiple mobilities and the protection of wealthy elites, to engage with innovative 'citizen-led' responses. Working with activist-citizens, NGOs and human rights defenders, our transnational academic collaboration will build capacity within Mexico by developing a portfolio of counter-kidnapping resources. Together we will work to provide answers to the key question: how do you counter kidnapping when you cannot access private solutions or rely on the state?

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