This paper examines the relationship between neoliberalism and patterns of violence in Latin American cities. I argue that those neoliberal policies which have so impacted key agricultural and manufacturing sectors in Latin America also disrupt economically-driven social relations, making that the region’s transition to democracy a violent one. Although transitions from authoritarianism to democracy as a whole remove old relations between the government and the public, the criminalization of poverty as created and perpetuated by neoliberal ideology leads to higher rates of incarceration while colluding with criminal organizations in order to avoid lengthy and expensive urban renewal programs. When forced to confront any such collusion, states often turn to extrajudicial killings and widespread punitive measures. However, this is perhaps beginning to change. In selected case studies, the author analyzes the benefits and potential future of community-based policing in response to the challenges faced by Venezuela, Mexico, and Brazil in tackling these issues.

First Advisor

Professor Nick Kontogeorgopoulos

Second Advisor

Professor Brad Dillman

Degree Type




Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts in International Political Economy


International Political Economy

Date of Award

Spring 5-17-2015


University of Puget Sound