Last week in South America, military forces in Colombia engaged in armed clashes with different armed groups across the country. In Brazil, the Red Command (CV) engaged in clashes with police militias for several days in Rio de Janeiro, including intense shoot-outs in the North Zone of the city. Election-related violence events, including attacks targeting politicians and candidates, were also reported across the country ahead of the general elections. In Chile, students continued to riot for the third consecutive week over education-related demands. Finally, in Ecuador, women took to the streets in several cities following the killing of a woman lawyer.
In Colombia, military forces continued to clash with armed groups last week, with clashes reported in Antioquia, Bolívar, and Valle del Cauca departments. In Antioquia department, military and police forces clashed with Gulf Clan members during a joint operation in Betulia municipality. A Gulf Clan member was reportedly killed in the clash, while the Gulf Clan’s leader for Antioquia’s southwest region was arrested (El Colombiano, 21 September 2022). In southern Bolívar department, military forces clashed with the National Liberation Army (ELN) for two days in the rural area of Santa Rosa del Sur municipality, resulting in one ELN fatality. In Valle del Cauca, a military officer died in a clash with the Jaime Martinez Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) Dissident Faction in Jamundi municipality. ACLED’s Subnational Surge Tracker warned of increased violence in Valle del Cauca during the preceding four weeks.
Elsewhere, in Meta department, an unidentified group shot four people dead in Puerto Lleras municipality, an area in which both FARC Dissident groups and the Gulf Clan are reportedly present. A pamphlet was found next to the bodies claiming that the victims were killed for being lazy and wanting to make easy money (El Tiempo, 20 September 2022). The attack is similar to previous attacks carried out as part of ‘social cleansing plans,’ in which armed groups target and kill members of certain groups, including drug addicts and thieves (El Colombiano, 6 August 2022). ACLED’s Subnational Surge Tracker warned of increased violence in Meta department during the preceding four weeks.
In Brazil, clashes related to territorial disputes took place last week in Rio de Janeiro state between the CV and several other armed actors. In the North Zone of Rio de Janeiro city, the CV engaged in clashes with the Tico e Teco and Campinho police militias for five days. Intense shoot-outs were reported in the Morro do Fubá, Morro do Dezoito, and Caixa D’Água communities, reportedly resulting in the deaths of at least three militiamen. The CV set up barricades to deter mobility and ordered local businesses to close, forcing residents to stay indoors and forcing schools and healthcare centers to close (G1, 23 September 2022). In response to the violence, military police launched an operation that included increased patrolling, leading to further shoot-outs between state forces and criminal groups. According to authorities, the area under dispute provides armed groups with up to 1.5 million Brazilian reais of profit per week (approximately USD 280,000) from the sales of illegal water services, gas cylinders for domestic use, clandestine internet, and security fees (Extra, 24 September 2022). Meanwhile, members of an unidentified police militia shot and reportedly killed six suspected CV members in São João de Meriti city.
Elsewhere in Brazil, election-related violence, including attacks targeting politicians and candidates, was reported across the country ahead of the general elections that will take place on 2 October. In São Paulo state, two supporters of President Jair Bolsonaro beat a journalist from Datafolha, a polling institute, while they interviewed a civilian about the elections. The victim sustained injuries from the attack. In Amazonas state, drug traffickers shot and wounded a city councilor. The councilor had received death threats from drug trafficking groups for reporting drug trafficking activities to authorities and for his involvement in community issues (A Crítica, 19 September 2022). In Rio de Janeiro state, unidentified armed suspects opened fire on a vehicle carrying a state congressional candidate, who was not injured. Armed groups in Brazil also targeted politicians in the lead-up to municipal elections in 2020 (for more, see ACLED’s report on Municipal Candidates Under Attack in Brazil).
In Chile, violent demonstrations continued for the third consecutive week in several communes of Santiago city, with high school students demanding better school infrastructure and curriculum improvements. Amid the demonstrations, violent clashes were reported between demonstrators and the police, with at least one student detained. The recent trends contribute to the 155% increase in weekly violent events in the Metropolitana region in the past month relative to the weekly average for the preceding year flagged by ACLED’s Subnational Threat Tracker. The Subnational Tracker also warned of increased violence in the region during the preceding four weeks.
Finally, in Ecuador, the killing of a woman lawyer sparked demonstrations across the country last week. The woman went missing on 11 September after visiting her husband, a police officer, in his place of work in a police academy. On 21 September, her body was found near the academy, the main police training institution in the country. Her husband, who is the main suspect, is on the run (CNN, 22 September 2022). Following the discovery of her body, hundreds of people, including feminist organizations, took to the streets in Quito to call for justice and protest against femicide and gender-based violence (El Comercio, 21 September 2022). Protesters have also decried the poor handling of the case by government authorities. Reports have arisen that other officers heard shouting and cries for help inside the academy, while inconsistencies in the handling of her disappearance case were also reported (CNN, 22 September 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.