Last week in the Mexico, Central America, and Caribbean region, a number of developments took place. Hundreds of women demonstrated in Mexico on the Day of the Dead (2 November) against gender-based violence. Elsewhere in Mexico, teachers affiliated with the National Coordination of Education Workers (CNTE) continued to demonstrate in the state of Michoacan. They called for the payment of outstanding wages and automatic job placements for teaching graduates of Normal schools. In Haiti, the kidnapping, rape, and killing of a student by members of a gang sparked unrest in the metropole of Port-au-Prince. Meanwhile, a politician of the National Party in Honduras was killed, while in Mexico, another journalist was killed for the second consecutive week.
In Mexico, hundreds of women gathered across the country on the Day of the Dead (2 November) and protested against gender-based violence. The Day of the Dead is a Mexican holiday dedicated to the remembrance of people who have died. The demonstrations took place against a backdrop of increasing violence targeting women — which includes domestic violence — during the coronavirus pandemic (The Conversation, 29 May 2020). In September 2020, the number of femicides surpassed levels registered in September 2019 (Executive Secretariat of the National Public Security System, 20 October 2020). The highest number of demonstrations were reported in the state of Veracruz, where the second highest number of femicides has been recorded this year (La Silla Rota, 20 August 2020).
Elsewhere in Mexico, members of the CNTE, one of the largest teachers’ unions in Mexico, continued to demonstrate across the state of Michoacan. The demonstrators called for the payment of outstanding wages and automatic job placements for teaching graduates of Normal schools. In August, the Secretary of Public Education announced the vacancy of 45,000 teaching positions for over 160,000 applicants in 2020 (Mexico News Daily, 12 August 2020), while the 2021 budget includes a 95% drop in funds allocated to these educational institutions that train high school graduates to become teachers (Animal Politico, 10 September 2020). As part of the teachers’ mobilization, train tracks in Caltzontzin have been blocked by demonstrators for more than 30 days, which is severely affecting the transport of goods and regional economic activities (Mi Morelia, 5 November 2020).
In Haiti, several days of unrest were reported in the metropole of Port-au-Prince following the kidnapping, rape, and killing of a female student. The victim was allegedly kidnapped by her boyfriend, a member of the Krache Dife gang, under the command of the G-9 gang alliance. The suspect was later handed to the police by the leader of the G-9 gang, himself wanted by law enforcement for his criminal activities. This further raises concerns over close ties maintained between the G-9 gang alliance and Haitian police forces (Haiti Standard, 6 November 2020). Demonstrators erected flaming barricades and demanded increased measures to curb rising insecurity in the country. Kidnappings perpetrated by alleged gang members have been on the rise. According to civil society organizations, gangs have multiplied kidnappings and requests for ransom after the government stopped funnelling payments to organized criminal groups (Le Nouvelliste, 7 October 2020). Members of the dissident police faction Phantom 509 participated in the demonstration and gave the government a five-day ultimatum to find a way to deter the soaring kidnappings (Haiti Press Network, 2 November 2020). The week of mobilization comes after waves of demonstrations in Port-au-Prince in September and October following the killing of a student during a police operation and the killing of a renowned constitutional lawyer by alleged gang members.
Meanwhile, politicians and journalists continue to be the targets of violence in the region. In Honduras, a candidate for the municipal elections affiliated with the Unity and Hope political movement was killed in Puerto Lempira. The Unity and Hope movement is composed of members of the National Party of Honduras and established itself as an internal branch of the party (El Heraldo, 29 August 2019). It has named several candidates in mayoral elections as well as a candidate for the next general elections scheduled in 2021. In 2020, ACLED has registered at least five attacks against members of the National Party.
In Mexico, another journalist was shot and killed in the state of Sonora, less than a week after the killing of a journalist in Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua. This is at least the twelfth journalist killing recorded by ACLED in 2020. Press workers are often the victims of targeted attacks perpetrated by members of organized criminal groups as part of their attempt to silence those that are reporting on their activities. Similarly, in the neighboring state of Baja California, a lawyer working for Article 19, an organization fighting for press freedom, was kidnapped outside of her house though released the following day.
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