Last week in Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean, gang violence remained high in Mexico, Honduras, and Haiti, while demonstrations to demand better living conditions and respect for women’s rights were reported in several countries. In Mexico, an Indigenous leader and a government official were killed by armed groups amid increasing civilian targeting in Michoacán state, while gang violence increased in Puebla state. In Honduras, attacks against civilians by gangs and other armed groups drove an increase in violence in Francisco Morazán and Cortés departments. In Haiti, anti-government demonstrations continued as police operations against the G-9 gang alliance failed to retake control of the Varreaux oil terminal. In Cuba, Hurricane Ian-related power outages triggered demonstrations as people continue to demand solutions for the country’s ongoing energy crisis. Meanwhile, in Mexico and El Salvador, women demanded the right to safe and legal abortions.
In Mexico, attacks against civilians by armed groups increased last week in Michoacán state, including targeted attacks against political figures. In Uruapán municipality, armed suspects shot and killed a member of the Supreme Indigenous Council of Caltzontzin community, triggering a demonstration by Indigenous people demanding justice. Though the motivation for the attack remains unknown, this Indigenous community has previously denounced the state’s repression and criminalization of their protest actions to demand better education and labor conditions for Indigenous groups (El Sol de Morelia, 14 February 2022; Milenio, 9 February 2022). Elsewhere, in Zitácuaro municipality, members of the Jalisco New Generation Cartel (CJNG) shot and killed the secretary of the Ocampo City Hall and his father, leaving a threatening message to other officials who refuse to pay extortion fees (Infobae, 29 September 2022). While the secretary had received previous threats from the CJNG, state authorities deny having received information about such threats (Contramuro, 29 September 2022). The CJNG and the United Cartels feud over the control of extortion and drug trafficking routes in Michoacán state (InSight Crime, 25 May 2021). While violence in Michoacán has been common, it has become increasingly volatile, resulting in a shift from a place of ‘consistent risk’ to being considered an area of ‘extreme risk’ by ACLED’s Volatility and Risk Predictability Index.
Elsewhere, in Puebla state, attacks against civilians by unidentified gangs and armed groups reportedly left at least 11 people dead last week, including four killed in a drive-by shooting attack in Santiago Miahuatlán. These attacks contribute to the 146% increase in violent events in Puebla over the past week relative to the weekly average for the preceding month, as flagged by ACLED’s Subnational Surge Tracker. While the state’s governor has claimed that there is no presence of major drug cartels in Puebla (La Jornada, 15 August 2022), security experts have reported the operation of several criminal groups in Puebla, including the CJNG (El Universal, 5 June 2022).
Similarly, in Honduras, heightened violence against civilians drove the 133% and 186% increases in violent events in Francisco Morazán and Cortés departments, respectively, over the past week relative to the weekly average for the preceding month, as flagged by ACLED’s Subnational Surge Tracker. In Francisco Morazán, unidentified gang members killed an off-duty police officer, who was also a member of the Miskito Indigenous group, after breaking into his house in Distrito Central. In Cortés, multiple attacks in San Pedro Sula left three people dead. Observatories of violence in Honduras have attributed the high levels of violence in Distrito Central, Francisco Morazán and San Pedro Sula, Cortés to gangs that control drug markets and carry out extortions in several areas of these cities (Proceso Digital, 9 August 2022).
In Haiti, people continued to hold demonstrations calling for the resignation of Prime Minister Ariel Henry and solutions for the rise in fuel prices across the country last week. In Ouest and Nord departments, rioters barricaded roads, looted stores, and clashed with police officers. Meanwhile, state forces intervened in at least one demonstration, where officers used tear gas and gunfire to disperse demonstrators. In Artibonite department, thousands of people participated in an anti-government demonstration led by Wilfort Ferdinand, leader of the former rebel group Artibonite Resistance Front, who threatened to call upon former Artibonite Resistance Front fighters to take up arms again if Henry refuses to step down (Le Nouvelliste, 28 September 2022). Amid last week’s demonstrations, taxi drivers and other labor groups went on a three-day national strike, demanding Henry revoke the rise in fuel prices announced on 11 September (Alterpresse, 29 September 2022).
Meanwhile, police forces clashed with G-9 gang members in a failed attempt to retake control of the Varreux oil terminal in Cite Soleil district, Ouest department. Access to this oil terminal has been blocked by the G-9 gang since 19 September. This violence contributed to the 65% increase in weekly violent events in Haiti 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. Humanitarian organizations have warned that the oil terminal blockade has worsened the fuel shortage in the country, putting hospitals at risk because of their reliance on diesel energy generators (Reuters, 27 September 2022).
Elsewhere, in Nord-Est department, workers and residents looted a Haitian factory located in the trade custom-free zone at the border between Haiti and the Dominican Republic in Ouanaminthe. While details of the incident remain vague, reports indicate that the looting began after Dominican military officers evicted a group of Haitians from an illegal camp on the Dominican side of the trade custom-free zone (El Nacional, 29 September 2022). Following the incident, Dominican authorities closed markets on the Dominican side of the custom-free zone and deployed military officers to guarantee security (Acento, 19 September 2022). While violence in Nord-Est has not been common, it has become increasingly volatile, resulting in a shift from a place of ‘low risk’ to being considered an area of ‘growing risk’ by ACLED’s Volatility and Risk Predictability Index.
In Cuba, people marched on the streets and held pot-banging protests, demanding solutions to the energy crisis. Demonstrations were recorded in La Habana, Holguín, and Mayabeque provinces. In Boyeros, La Habana, police forces intervened in the demonstrations, with witnesses claiming that demonstrators were beaten by officers (CubaNet, 30 September 2022). Amid ongoing demonstrations, the government has cut internet services across the country and deployed state forces to prevent demonstrations in other cities (El Mundo, 1 October 2022). While last week’s demonstrations followed a national power outage caused by Hurricane Ian, demonstrations around this issue have been ongoing since late July due to constant energy cuts (BBC, 30 September 2022).
Meanwhile, in Mexico and El Salvador, women took to the streets to demand the right to legal and safe abortions on 28 September to coincide with International Safe Abortion Day. In El Salvador, women held demonstrations in San Salvador and Suchitoto, while women took the streets in at least 23 of Mexico’s 31 states and the capital territory. In Mexico, demonstrating women threw firecrackers and broke windows of public buildings in Ciudad de Mexico and the capital cities of five other states. While the Mexican Supreme Court ordered the decriminalization of abortion in September 2021, only 10 states have implemented this modification to their local criminal codes (El País, 29 September 2022). In El Salvador, abortions are banned under all circumstances (DW, 11 February 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.