Social Banditry and the Public Persona of Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán
This article reviews nine key insights into social banditry originally described by Eric Hobsbawm and examines their applicability regarding Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán, leader of Mexico’s Sinaloa Cartel. Because some of Mexico’s organized crime leaders aim to be viewed as social bandits, and visit Guatemala and the Mexico-Guatemala border region to evade authorities, the article focuses on particularities of those culture zones in the potential application of three primary strategies of information operations to contest a social bandit’s prestige: emphasizing distance between the social bandit and the local poor, portraying collusion of the social bandit with local authorities and opposition to federal authorities, and emphasizing closeness between federal power and the local poor. A criminal organization leader who desires the prestige of social banditry would have cause to oppose each strategy. The analysis predicts that the first two strategies are more realistic, potentially more important strategically, and are more likely to become intensely contested through Information Operations, within culture areas of Guatemala and the Mexico-Guatemala border region.
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