Last week in South America, citizens took to the streets in Chile in support of the newly proposed constitution, which will be put to a referendum on 4 September. In Colombia, military forces killed 10 members of the First Dissident Front of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) in an airstrike, including one of the group’s most important commanders. Additionally, the Gulf Clan continued to carry out attacks as part of its so-called Plan Pistola in the northern departments. In Brazil, unknown perpetrators bombed an Afro-Brazilian religious temple in Roraima state. Meanwhile, a civil police operation targeting the Red Command (CV) in Rio de Janeiro city left six people dead, including civilians. Similarly, clashes between state forces and drug trafficking groups, and violent attacks against civilians, resulted in 17 deaths in the state of Bahia.
In Chile, people took to the streets in support of the proposed new national constitution last week. This comes a week after delegates of the Constitutional Convention presented the proposed constitution to President Gabriel Boric on 4 July, which now must pass in a referendum on 4 September (Prensa Presidencia, 4 July 2022). In the Valparaiso region, locals and members of socialist and communist parties protested the country’s current constitution, actively supporting the change ahead of the September vote. Unrest in 2019 led to the formation of a representative assembly, the Constitutional Convention, tasked with redrafting the country’s constitution, which has been in effect since Augusto Pinochet (El País, 18 October 2021). The Pinochet-era constitution was drafted without popular input during the military dictatorship and was approved in a rigged plebiscite in 1980 (El País, 18 October 2021).
In Colombia, state forces conducted an operation against the First Dissident Front of the FARC, also known as the Armando Ríos front, in Caquetá department on 8 July. In the San Vicente del Caguán municipality, the air force bombed a camp commanded by Nestor Gregorio Vera Fernández (alias: Iván Mordisco), killing 10 fighters, including the commander. Mordisco became one of the most important FARC dissident commanders following the death of Gentil Duarte in May 2022. The First Dissident Front of the FARC maintains a network of alliances with other dissident groups, as well as control over drug trafficking routes to Brazil and Venezuela (InSight Crime, 11 July 2022).
Elsewhere, in the Antioquia and Chocó departments, the Gulf Clan continued attacks on state forces last week, killing five military and police officers. In recent weeks, the group launched its so-called Plan Pistola in the departments of Sucre and Bolívar, as retaliation for the extradition of their top commander, Dayro Antonio Úsuga David (alias: Otoniel), on 4 May (El Colombiano, 12 July 2022). The plan is intended to commit criminal acts against state forces in the last weeks of President Iván Duque’s mandate (El Caracol, 30 June 2022). The Gulf Clan has also increased attacks against security forces in the Urabá and the Bajo Cauca regions of Antioquia. These trends contribute to the 200% and 122% increases in violence in Chocó and Antioquia, respectively, last week relative to the past month flagged by ACLED’s Subnational Surge Tracker. The Subnational Tracker first warned of increased violence to come in Antioquia in the past month; violence there is both common and highly volatile, and it is hence considered an area of ‘extreme risk’ by ACLED’s Volatility and Risk Predictability Index.
In Brazil, an unidentified group threw a bomb inside a Candomblé religious temple in Boa Vista, Roraima state, last week, injuring a civilian with shards. The temple coordinator claims that the attack was motivated by religious intolerance (G1, 10 July 2022). Candomblé is an Afro-Brazilian religion, and its practitioners are among the poorest and most vulnerable populations in Brazilian cities (UOL, 27 May 2020). They face strong prejudice from an increasingly Orthodox Evangelical population that positions itself against non-Christian religions (UOL, 27 May 2020). The attacks against Afro-Brazilian religious temples and practitioners coincide with the expansion of neo-pentecostal religions in the country (UOL, 27 May 2020). This event contributes to the 167% increase in violence in Roraima over the past week relative to the past month, as flagged by ACLED’s Subnational Surge Tracker.
Elsewhere, in Rio de Janeiro, civil police launched an operation against the CV in the Manguinhos neighborhood last week. Police opened fire during the operation and engaged in a shoot-out with CV members, resulting in many injuries and the deaths of at least six people, including civilians. Similarly, in Bahia state, clashes between drug trafficking groups and state forces, and violent attacks against civilians perpetrated by drug traffickers, left at least 17 people dead last week.
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