Political Science


Manuel is a sixth-year Ph.D. candidate in Political Science at Brown University, specializing in comparative politics and research methods. His research interests include war-to-peace transitions, Latin American politics, and the politics of public security. He focuses on designing and evaluating crime prevention initiatives and programs that promote the (re)integration of police authorities into society. Most of his work employs a quantitative approach, utilizing both experimental and observational methods. He holds a B.A. and M.Sc. in Economics from Universidad Javeriana and an M.A. in Political Science from Brown University. His work has received funding from Brown University, J-PAL, UNDP, and IOM.

Manuel’s dissertation, “Causes and Origins of the Uneven Distribution of Security in Colombia,” is a three-paper study that uses original quantitative and qualitative data to explore the decision-making process behind security allocation in Colombia. It examines the consequences of these allocations on various sides, including the emergence of conflict resolution strategies, the division of labor between communities and police, the capacities of both community members and police authorities, and the prevailing perceptions of security and peace.

Title of Job Market Paper:

Expanding the State: A Case Study of Colombia's Law-and-Order Politics

Abstract of Job Market Paper:

Why do states selectively extend security to certain areas within their borders while neglecting others? What are the electoral and security implications of such strategic resource allocations? Despite the widespread expansion of security apparatuses within states, we know little about the decision-making processes underlying security distribution and the consequences of such allocations. In this study, I delve into one of the largest police capacity-building strategies undertaken by a conflict-affected country. In 2002, the Colombian government launched an ambitious initiative to bolster its police presence, funded by war taxes. Through a detailed examination of the assignment mechanism, I illustrate that police stations were primarily allocated to opposition strongholds areas and areas that had witnessed more FARC attacks. By leveraging variations in the deployment, I conduct a differences-in differences analysis and event study analysis to show that these allocations persuaded and mobilized more votes in the national election and specifically reduced FARC unilateral attacks, rather than paramilitary and ELN attacks. The allocation of police stations also produced diverse impacts on security indicators and illegal economies. While the allocation immediately reduced homicide and kidnapping rates and increased the number of extortion cases known by the police on the treated units, it did not affect local patterns of coca cultivation. My results illustrate that law-and-order politicians may strategically expand their police apparatus driven by both electoral motivations and specific security considerations.