Broken windows in the Rio de la Plata: Constructing the disorderly other


  • Sebastián Sclofsky California State University Stanislaus


Since 2010, Uruguay has moved towards a tough-on-crime approach adopting Broken Windows and zero-tolerance policing. The interesting fact is that this tough-on-crime approach has been developed by a social democratic government, which, during its first administration, was committed to fight crime through social-democratic policies, rejecting the tough-on-crime approach. The policies and rhetoric developed by the left-wing government led to the criminalization of low-income communities and the construction of an “undeserving other,” adhering to a neoliberal logic of competition and security. As a consequence, the left-wing set the policy and institutional bases for an increase in mano dura and recent police violence with the electoral victory of the right-wing in 2019. This article examines this process and shows how the uncritical adoption of Broken Windows and other U.S. style policing initiatives can be extremely pernicious in Latin America.