Last week in South America, several attacks targeting vulnerable communities, social leaders, and former combatants took place in Colombia, while the Gulf Clan continues to target police forces. In Brazil, clashes between state forces and armed groups linked to environmental crimes were reported in Rondônia state, while territorial disputes continued between criminal groups in Rio de Janeiro city. In Chile, Indigenous militias continued to carry out attacks against forestry companies in the southern regions, while Mapuche communities led demonstrations over several demands. In Peru and Bolivia, transportation drivers blocked highways over fuel price reductions and other demands.
In Colombia, several attacks targeting vulnerable communities, social leaders, and former combatants took place last week. In the Nariño department, unidentified armed individuals opened fire on Awa Indigenous people at the Inda Sabaleta Indigenous reserve while attending a human rights verification meeting. The perpetrators killed three men, including a governor of the community, and several other people were reported injured. A day later, in the rural area of Santander de Quilichao municipality of the Cauca department, three unidentified armed men shot dead an Indigenous social leader and well-known teacher in the community. Another civilian man was also killed in the attack. The area is known for the presence of different dissident factions of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) (El Espectador, 5 July 2022).
Furthermore, two former FARC members were killed in the south of the country. In the Huila department, an unidentified sniper killed a leader of the reincorporation process in the area while he was at a family farm in Palermo municipality. The reincorporation process, established during the 2016 Peace Agreement, aims for the integration of demobilized combatants into civilian life in the economic, social, and political areas (Agencia para la Reincorporación y la Normalización). Reports indicate that the victim had received death threats in the past and was the beneficiary of a security scheme; his security detail was not at full capacity on the day of the attack, however (El Espectador, 4 July 2022). In the Caquetá department, another former FARC member was also killed, alongside two other civilians in La Montanita municipality. ACLED’s Conflict Change Map first warned of increased violence to come in Colombia in the past month.
Meanwhile, in two separate incidents in Sucre department, Gulf Clan members shot and injured two police officers, in the cities of Corozal and Sampues. Gulf Clan members also threw a grenade at a police checkpoint in Ovejas city, though without any casualties reported. In recent weeks, the Gulf Clan has launched a series of attacks in the Sucre department that it calls Plan Pistola. The plan is to commit criminal acts against state forces in the last weeks of President Iván Duque’s mandate (El Caracol, 30 June 2022); it is part of the group’s strategy to show the communities, in areas where they have a presence, that they are stronger than state forces (El Colombiano, 12 July 2022). The Gulf Clan has recently intensified its activities across the country in retaliation for the government’s extradition of its leader, alias Otoniel, in May 2022 (El Colombiano, 12 July 2022). These trends contribute to the 100% increase in violence in Sucre last week relative to the past month flagged by ACLED’s Subnational Surge Tracker, which first warned of increased violence to come in the department in the past month.
In Brazil, clashes between state forces and armed groups linked to environmental crimes were reported last week in Rondônia state. In Guajará-Mirim city, loggers exchanged fire with military police during an inspection of a state reserve. Meanwhile, miners in the state capital, Porto Velho, sank a military police patrol boat that had identified an illegal mining site in the Madeira River. The officers were rescued from the river by workers of a towboat that was passing nearby, while the miners escaped (O Observador, 8 July 2022). Deforestation, predatory fishing, and illegal logging inside reservation areas are carried out by organized criminal groups that have branched out their network of illicit activities in the country’s northern region (Politize, 23 September 2021). These trends contribute to the 140% increase in violence in Rondônia over the past week relative to the past month, as flagged by ACLED’s Subnational Surge Tracker.
In Rio de Janeiro city, territorial disputes took place last week, with the Red Command (CV) engaging in several clashes with different actors. In the North Zone of the city, CV members exchanged fire with military police in the Morro do 18 community, resulting in the death of one CV member. One day later, in the Áz de Ouro community, CV members exchanged fire with the Pure Third Command (TCP), resulting in the death of one TCP member. In Morro do Jordão, West Zone of the city, the CV exchanged fire with a police militia, with the police militia subsequently losing control of the area after the shoot-out. In recent weeks, the CV has significantly expanded its territory in the West Zone of the city over areas previously controlled by several police militia groups (Mílicia News, 12 June 2022). The West Zone of the city has been a stronghold for police militias, but the groups present in the area have been losing strength following internal disputes (Milícia News, 14 June 2022).
In Chile, violence perpetrated by Indigenous militias continued at high levels in the southern regions for the second consecutive week. The Coordination Arauco Malleco (CAM) led at least six arson attacks last week in Los Rios, Araucanía, and Biobío regions. Near Traiguen commune in Araucanía, five CAM Indigenous militiamen set on fire three vehicles belonging to an agricultural company. The site owner shot at the militiamen, who fled the area. The attacks were coordinated to mark the one-year anniversary of the death of Pablo Merchant, a young Mapuche Indigenous militiaman killed on 8 June 2021 during a clash with police forces (Biobio Chile, 8 July 2022). Additionally, Mapuche communities also held demonstrations last week with several demands, including providing school supplies for rural schools, repudiating the construction of a wind farm, and calling for the protection of their ancestral lands. In Quidico city, Biobío region, police forces shot at demonstrators who had occupied a forestry site, resulting in three Mapuche people injured. ACLED’s Conflict Change Map first warned of increased violence to come in Chile in the past month.
Meanwhile, demonstrations carried out by transportation drivers continued to take place across the region. In Peru, truck drivers staged nationwide demonstrations for the second consecutive week during a national strike against high fuel prices in the country. Transportation unions call for a government subsidy as well as the regulation of unfair competition with drivers from Bolivia and Ecuador, among other demands (La Republica, 4 July 2022). Demonstrations were held in at least seven departments, with most events taking place in Piura. In some cases, the drivers blocked highways with burning tires. The strike came to a halt on 5 July after union leaders reached an agreement with the government, including beginning three weeks of negotiation talks (Europa Press, 5 July 2022). Violent demonstrations have contributed to the 132% increase in violence in Peru last week relative to the past month flagged by ACLED’s Conflict Change Map, which first warned of increased violence to come in the country in the past month.
Similarly, in Bolivia, truck drivers blocked the Santa Cruz – Beni highway for several consecutive days. They demand that authorities regularize transport tools, increase police patrolling on the highways, complete the construction of major highways, and improve road conditions (Página Siete, 5 July 2022). Hundreds of livestock trucks and buses were prevented from passing in the Gran Chiquitania area due to the blockades (Página Siete, 5 July 2022).
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