Last week in Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean, gang violence intensified in Mexico and Haiti, driven by anti-gang operations and attacks targeting political figures. In Mexico, following a clash between state forces and the Jalisco New Generation Cartel (CJNG), the cartel blocked roads and destroyed stores in Guanajuato and Jalisco states. Meanwhile, six journalists were killed amid increased gang violence in Chihuahua and Baja California states. In Haiti, law enforcement operations targeting gangs, including the 400 Mawozo gang, continued in the Croix-des-Bouquets district, while members of the Ti Makak gang killed a former senator in Port-au-Prince. In Trinidad and Tobago, unidentified groups continued to engage in violence against civilians at heightened levels last week. In Guatemala, anti-government demonstrations intensified as demonstrators continued to demand the release of an arrested journalist. Meanwhile, power outages continued to drive anti-government demonstrations in Cuba and sparked demonstrations in the Dominican Republic.
In Mexico, military forces clashed with members of the CJNG in Jalisco state on 9 August, leaving a member of the cartel and two civilians dead. According to authorities, the clash started after military officers arrived in an area where two main leaders of the CJNG were meeting; the leaders managed to escape, while six members of the criminal group were arrested and several weapons were seized (Infobae, 15 August 2022). Following the clash, the CJNG blocked roads in Ixtlahuacán del Rio municipality, Jalisco, and in another six municipalities of the neighboring state of Guanajuato, forcing civilians to abandon their vehicles before setting them on fire. The CJNG burned down at least 28 stores in Guanajuato state (La Jornada, 11 August 2022). The CJNG is the dominant group in the region, controlling drug trafficking routes in Jalisco state and more than 20 municipalities in Guanajuato state (Infobae, 3 August 2022; La Silla Rota, 12 August 2022).
Similarly, the CJNG intensified its activity in Baja California state last week, blocking roads and burning stores in five municipalities. In Mexicali municipality, military forces clashed with CJNG members that were setting a roadblock. Members of the CJNG also imposed a curfew on 12 August in Baja California; however, state authorities rejected the curfew claiming that they could guarantee free movement in the state (Debate, 14 August 2022). Local sources report that these events are related to conflicts between the CJNG and the Sinaloa Cartel for control of drug trafficking routes that connect to the US (Zeta Tijuana, 13 August 2022).
Meanwhile, a clash between members of the Los Mexicles and Los Chapos gangs — two rival branches of the Sinaloa Cartel — inside a prison in Chihuahua state left three men dead. It also triggered a wave of retaliatory gang attacks in Ciudad Juárez that left at least eight civilians dead, including four journalists. The journalists were killed by the Los Mexicles gang during an attack on a restaurant where they were broadcasting a show. The Inter-American Press Association demands the federal government investigate the latter attack and denounces the increasing violence against journalists in Mexico (La Vanguardia, 15 August 2022). Additionally, unidentified armed suspects killed two managers of a news website covering issues related to organized crime in Mexicali, Baja California state. These attacks last week follow attacks on journalists the week prior as well. In 2022, the number of targeted attacks against journalists recorded by ACLED already surpasses the number of such attacks recorded during the whole of 2021.
In Haiti, military and police forces continued security anti-gang operations last week in Croix-des-Bouquets, Ouest. Security forces killed a 400 Mawozo gang member and destroyed several properties, which, according to police, were used as the private residences of gang leaders and to hold abduction victims. Police also killed a member of the Ti Madi gang and a member of the Patchouko gang. ACLED’s Emerging Actor Tracker flagged the Patchouko gang as an emerging actor over the past month in Haiti; the presence of emerging actors indicates a change in the conflict environment, with civilians often bearing the burden of such shifts. In recent weeks, police have intensified their anti-gang operations in Croix-des-Bouquets district, seeking to restore security in areas controlled by the 400 Mawozo gang and other gangs (Le National, 9 August 2022).
Elsewhere, members of the Ti Makak gang killed and burned the body of the former senator for the South department, Yvon Buissereth, and a relative in Petionville commune, Port-au-Prince. Buissereth was also the director of the Public Company for the Promotion of Social Housing (Juno 7, 6 August 2022). ACLED records an increase in violent events in Petionville commune in 2022, with more than double the number of violent events recorded thus far in 2022 compared to the whole of 2021. Petionville is a wealthy area of Port-au-Prince that has traditionally seen low levels of violence (InSight Crime, 23 March 2022).
In Trinidad and Tobago, attacks by armed men targeting civilians continued last week, contributing to the 138% increase in weekly violent events in Trinidad and Tobago in the past month relative to the weekly average for the preceding year, according to ACLED’s Conflict Change Map, which also warned of increased violence in the country during the preceding four weeks. Most of last week’s attacks were recorded in the northern part of the country, with attacks in Arima and San Juan-Laventille regions and the municipality of Port of Spain. Police have reported the operations of gangs in these areas, which control the sale and trafficking of drugs and illegal guns (Newsday, 11 May 2022).
In Guatemala, anti-government demonstrations increased last week as people continue to demand the release of the journalist José Rubén Zamora Marroquín. Students, Indigenous people, and members of civil and social organizations staged demonstrations in at least 10 of the country’s 22 departments, denouncing government corruption, the high cost of basic goods, and the persecution of activists and journalists. Demonstrators also call for the resignation of President Alejandro Giammattei, accusing him of weakening the political and justice system.
In Cuba, demonstrations against power outages continued last week, though to a lesser extent compared to the week prior. Residents banged pots, marched, and shouted anti-government slogans to decry continuous power outages in Cienfuegos, Mayabeque, and Holguín provinces. Police intervened in the demonstration in Holguín and arrested several demonstrators. The ongoing outages come as the Cuban state energy company has reported an energy deficit of up to 35% of the maximum capacity of the energy system (EFE, 8 August 2022).
In the Dominican Republic, power outages and the high cost of food and electricity sparked two consecutive days of demonstrations in the Espaillat province last week. Rioters burned tires and threw debris on the streets of the Moca and Canca La Reyna districts. During a police intervention in the latter, rioters shot at a police truck, injuring an officer who died later in the hospital. The demonstrations come amid energy rate hikes, with local sources denouncing the failure of energy companies to repair damaged infrastructure and guarantee the proper function of the energy system (Listín Diario, 18 July 2022; Diario Libre, 1 August 2022).
Note: This dashboard automatically updates to cover the latest four weeks of data released by ACLED. Use the date filters to view data for the one-week period covered by this Regional Overview.