Hernán Flom, "The Informal Regulation of Criminal Markets in Latin America" (Cambridge UP, 2022)


Political Scientist Hernán Flom has written a fascinating and nuanced analysis of how the criminal drug markets operate in Argentina and Brazil. Instead of tracking the path that illegal drugs take or examining how the criminal justice system works in Latin American countries, Flom has focused, instead, on the illegal drug markets as economic and political institutions to examine how they actually operates within Brazil and Argentina. From this perspective, we learn quite a lot about market forces, civilian and police institutions, and “law and order” approaches in both these countries. The Informal Regulation of Criminal Markets in Latin America (Cambridge UP, 2022) provides a comparative analysis of the criminal markets in these two countries—Brazil and Argentina—as well as differentiating between how these markets work in larger, urban centers, and in smaller cities. This effectively teases out distinctions between how police work with or against these criminal markets, and how the local and national politicians often articulate distinct approaches to how to manage criminal enterprises.

The Informal Regulation of Criminal Markets in Latin America examines patterns in the relationships between police, politicians, drug cartels, and criminal actors. These patterns are not necessarily new, but as Flom makes clear, they operate in different ways in different venues and with regard to different types of informal arrangements. In doing a cross national comparison as well as internal comparisons within country, Flom has been able to get at some distinctions that come from the colonial past that has also led to different racial configurations in these comparative urban environments. The research also measures different levels of both police and criminal violence, to gage the kinds of relationships that may be in place between these often-opposing entities. The relationship between the police, as subnational units, and politicians also figures into the various levels of police violence. The Informal Regulations of Criminal Markets in Latin America gets at the key variables that come into play in regard to police conduct and the kinds of policies that politicians are both articulating and trying to implement—often through the police.

This is a multi-dimensional analysis that explores criminal markets from important and unique perspectives. Flom worked at the National Ministry of Security in Argentina during the course of this research, and he is able to bring his scholarly expertise as well as his own experience to the research and analysis, making this a particularly rich comparison across countries and urban centers within those countries.

Lilly J. Goren is a professor of political science at Carroll University in Waukesha, WI. She is co-editor of The Politics of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (University Press of Kansas, 2022), as well as co-editor of the award winning book, Women and the White House: Gender, Popular Culture, and Presidential Politics (University Press of Kentucky, 2012), Email her comments at lgoren@carrollu.edu or tweet to @gorenlj.

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Lilly Goren

Lilly J. Goren is professor of political science at Carroll University in Waukesha, WI.

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