Last week in South America, violence slightly decreased compared to the week prior, and demonstrations fell by almost half amidst Christian Holy Week celebrations. In Colombia, despite a significant decrease in organized political violence, clashes between armed groups and state forces continued last week, including several armed confrontations involving the Gulf Clan. In Chile, Indigenous militia groups continued to carry out attacks on forestry companies in the southern regions. In Brazil, violence levels increased in Amazonas state, while several clashes were reported between the Red Command (CV) and state forces in the metropolitan area of Rio de Janeiro city. Meanwhile, anti-government protesters staged demonstrations across Brazil.
In Colombia, armed clashes involving rival armed groups and state forces took place in Antioquia, Magdalena, Meta, Chocó, and Valle del Cauca departments last week. In La Uribe, Meta department, suspected members of the Gentil Duarte Dissident Faction of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) ambushed a military patrol, killing four soldiers and injuring another. The Gulf Clan was involved in a number of deadly clashes last week, including clashes with state forces in Chocó and Antioquia. The Gulf Clan also engaged in a shoot-out with the National Liberation Army (ELN) in Valle del Cauca. Violence in Antioquia and Valle del Cauca departments is both common and highly volatile; they are considered areas of ‘extreme risk’ by ACLED’s Volatility and Predictability Index.
In Ciénaga, Magdalena department, the Gulf Clan and the former paramilitary group Self-Defense Conquerors of Sierra Nevada — also called ‘Los Pachenca’ — engaged in heavy fighting in the rural area of La Secreta last week. Reports suggest that five members of the Gulf Clan were killed and seven more wounded during the clash, which also led to the displacement of more than 300 residents (El Heraldo, 15 April 2022). The Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta is a strategic area that connects the departments of Magdalena, César, and La Guajira. It also provides access to strategic drug export routes through ports on the Caribbean Sea (La Silla Vacia, 15 February 2022). The region’s agricultural and livestock industries are also a source of income for armed groups extorting money from cattle owners and agricultural producers (La Silla Vacia, 15 February 2022).
In Chile, Indigenous militia groups continued to attack forestry companies in the Araucanía, Biobío, and Los Rios regions last week. The Weichan Auka Mapu (WAM) claimed responsibility for two separate attacks in the Capitan Pastene and Trovolhue areas in Araucanía last week. In Trovolhue, WAM exchanged fire with police forces. The Coordination Arauco Malleco (CAM) and unidentified Mapuche Indigenous militias also carried out arson attacks in the Araucanía region. These trends contribute to the 233% increase in violence in Araucanía over the past week relative to the past month, as flagged by ACLED’s Subnational Surge Tracker.
Meanwhile, unidentified perpetrators, suspected of being members of an Indigenous militia, occupied and damaged a farm in Callaqui municipality in the Biobío region last week. This was the second time in less than a month that the farm was the target of an attack by an Indigenous armed group, with the first perpetrated by Pehuenche armed men the week prior (Biobio Chile, 9 April 2022). Recent events involving Indigenous militias contribute to the 114% increase in violence in Biobío last month relative to the past year flagged by ACLED’s Subnational Surge Tracker. The Subnational Tracker first warned of increased violence to come in Biobío region in the past month.
In Brazil, violence between organized crime groups and state forces resulted in at least 17 fatalities in Amazonas state last week. While violence in Amazonas state has been common, it has become increasingly volatile, resulting in a shift from a place of ‘consistent risk’ to being considered an area of ‘extreme risk’ by ACLED’s Volatility and Risk Predictability Index. Drug trafficking disputes, coupled with deforestation, illegal logging, and land conflicts, have coincided with an escalation of violence in states of the ‘Legal Amazon’ area, including Amazonas state (G1, 30 October 2021). The ‘Legal Amazon’ area comprises nine Brazilian states, which are located in the Amazon river basin, bringing together states with similar characteristics to better plan socio-economic development projects (Ministério do Desenvolvimento Regional, 10 March 2021).
Meanwhile, violence continued in the metropolitan area of Rio de Janeiro city last week, as members of the CV and state forces engaged in several armed clashes. In Duque de Caxias city, CV members and military police officers clashed in the Corte Oito neighborhood, resulting in the deaths of at least eight suspected CV members. The exchange of fire happened after the CV killed the brother of a federal police officer and burned his body. The CV reportedly kidnapped the victim and two other civilians following rumors that he was at a street party in a community controlled by the CV (Blog Crime News RJ, 10 April 2022). In the days that followed, the CV and military police clashed in the Jardim Catarina neighborhood in São Gonçalo city and Duque de Caxias city. In Duque de Caxias city, which borders Rio de Janeiro city, the CV controls the Corte 8, Cantuário, Favelinha, Mangueirinha, Sapo, and São Pedro communities (Blog Crime News RJ, 11 April 2022).
Meanwhile, anti-government protesters took to the streets of several state capitals in Brazil last week to protest against President Jair Bolsonaro and issues such as unemployment and rising living costs. Demonstrators also called for an investigation into a recent scandal involving the Ministry of Education and Evangelical churches, in which church members allegedly secured preferential treatment for funding requests in return for bribes (Brasil de Fato, 9 April 2022, G1, 9 April 2022). In the capital Brasília, the Free Land Camp (Acampamento Terra Livre, in Portuguese) — an Indigenous rights movement to demand the demarcation of Indigenous territories and oppose government exploitation of Indigenous land — also joined the anti-government movement (APIB, 7 April 2022). More than 7,000 Indigenous people set up a camp in Brasília from 4 to 14 April to condemn the government and call for the protection of their rights (DW, 13 April 2022).
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