Last week in South America, violence erupted during demonstrations in Chile marking the 49th anniversary of the 1973 coup d’état on 11 September. In Brazil, acts of violence targeting Indigenous people occurred in Bahia and Mato Grosso do Sul states, fueling protests throughout the country. Additionally, drug trafficking disputes drove violent attacks against civilians in Piauí, Mato Grosso, and Pernambuco states. In Colombia, the Gulf Clan clashed with local gangs in Barranquilla city. The group also clashed with the National Liberation Army (ELN) for three consecutive days in the Chocó department. In the meantime, four social leaders were killed by unknown perpetrators in the Valle del Cauca department.
In Chile, citizens took to the streets across the country on 11 September to mark the 49th anniversary of the 1973 coup d’état that overthrew President Salvador Allende and installed the Augusto Pinochet dictatorship. The anniversary comes a week after Chileans rejected a draft to replace its Pinochet-era constitution. Demonstrators burnt government vehicles and clashed with security personnel, contributing to the 40% increase in weekly violent events in Chile in the past month relative to the weekly average for the preceding year. ACLED’s Conflict Change Map also warned of increased violence in the country during the preceding four weeks.
In Brazil, unidentified armed groups targeted Indigenous people during violent attacks in Bahia and Mato Grosso do Sul states last week. In the state of Bahia, a Pataxó Indigenous reserve was attacked by unknown shooters, who fired shots indiscriminately against the community. Likewise, in Mato Grosso do Sul, an Indigenous leader was victim of two separate attacks, and was killed in a drive-by shooting. The latest attacks come after unidentified gunmen have also targeted Guajajara Indigenous people in Maranhão state in recent weeks. The escalating violence targeting Indigenous people throughout the country led representatives of several Indigenous ethnicities to march in Brasília last week and call for investigations into these events. Activists claim that the recent events are linked to land disputes with farmers, miners, poachers, and criminal groups interested in exploiting traditional lands. Indigenous people have also accused the government of loosening environmental protection policies in critical areas, such as the Amazon region (HRW, 9 August 2022).
Elsewhere, drug trafficking disputes triggered violent attacks against civilians in Piauí, Mato Grosso, and Pernambuco states last week. In Piauí state, four violent attacks against civilians were carried out by unknown perpetrators, leaving two people dead. Similarly, five civilians were killed in drug trafficking-related attacks in Mato Grosso state. Violence in Piauí and Mato Grosso states is both common and highly volatile; they are considered areas of ‘extreme risk’ by ACLED’s Volatility and Risk Predictability Index. Likewise, five civilians were killed in Pernambuco state due to drug trafficking conflicts.
In Colombia, drug trafficking disputes between the Gulf Clan and a local criminal group prompted a deadly clash in Barranquilla, the largest city on the Caribbean coast. In the Las Flores neighborhood, the Gulf Clan opened fire against the Los Costeños gang at a commercial establishment, leaving six people dead and four severely injured, including civilians. Authorities claimed that the attack was triggered by the robbery of a Gulf Clan cocaine shipment by local gangs (El Espectador, 12 September 2022). Barranquilla has become an essential port for the Gulf Clan to ship drugs to other countries through the Caribbean Sea (Insight Crime, 4 August 2022). The presence of the Gulf Clan in the area has generated a dispute with local groups over drug trafficking and other criminal economies, such as extortion (Insight Crime, 4 August 2022).
Similarly, in the Chocó department, the Gulf Clan clashed with the ELN for three consecutive days in San Miguel municipality last week. The number of casualties is unknown. The Gulf Clan also engaged in a clash with military forces in Nuqui municipality, where three group members were killed. These trends contribute to the 300% increase in violent events in Chocó over the past week relative to the weekly average for the preceding month, as flagged by ACLED’s Subnational Surge Tracker.
Elsewhere, unknown perpetrators killed four social leaders in the Valle del Cauca department last week. Social leaders are at a heightened risk of suffering from political violence in Colombia, with armed groups often targeting them due to their role in curbing rebel and criminal activities (for more, see ACLED’s joint report: Understanding the Killing of Social Leaders in Colombia During COVID-19).
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