Mariana Ramírez

Mariana V. Ramírez Bustamante

PhD candidate Vanderbilt University

My name is Mariana V. Ramírez Bustamante. I am a Ph.D. candidate in Comparative Politics and Political Methodology in the Department of Political Science and a Graduate Research Affiliate in LAPOP Lab at Vanderbilt University. During 2023-2024, I am an APSA EPOVB Early-Career Fellow. I hold a B.A. in Political Science and Government from the Pontifical Catholic University of Peru, an M.A. in Political Science from Vanderbilt University, and an M.A. in Latin American Studies from the University of Salamanca (Spain).

My research focuses on criminal governance, drug trafficking, public opinion, and electoral outcomes.
I apply a mix of methodologies in my work, including surveys, experiments, as well as in-depth interviews, direct observation, and focus groups.

My dissertation addresses how the illicit drug trafficking economy and related actors influence vote choice, as well as citizens’ attitudes toward local authority and democracy more broadly. I examine these phenomena in four ways. First, I assess why people vote for narco-linked candidates using original online experiments conducted in Peru. Second, I show the effect of the illegal revenues from the coca industry in popular support for the incumbent, through an in-depth case study of the Monzón Valley (Peru). Third, I draw on survey data from Andean countries to examine illegal economic voting to explain the levels of support for the local government. Finally, I use survey data and qualitative evidence from direct observation and focus groups in Peru to assess drug trafficking organizations’ (DTOs’) impact on citizens’ support for democracy.

You can reach me at