Document Type



Politics and Economics (CGU)

Publication Date



Political Science | Public Affairs, Public Policy and Public Administration


A recent insight, gained by the authors after the conclusion of a major research project on Mexican drug groups, is that this insurgency has at its basis a spiritual, if not religious, component that threatens the underlying foundations of our modern Western value system. This component is derived from the well known cartel technique of offering an individual ¿Plata O Plomo?—take our silver or we will fill you with our lead. As a tactic taken by groups with a theological bent, such as La Familia, this offer becomes Faustian, join us and in the process give up your soul or die, a choice historically associated with incidents of religious conversion at the tip of a sword. That technique is typically carried out by young religions, such as militant Christianity and Islam, during their expansionistic phases. These post-battlefield mass conversions are considered by the victors as actually saving the souls of those joining the righteous ranks of God's chosen.


"The Spiritual Significance of ¿Plata O Plomo?" by Pamela L. Bunker and Robert Bunker is reprinted from Small Wars Journal per the Creative Commons license granted upon its original publication.

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 License.