Last week in South America, Indigenous people in Chile and Argentina staged demonstrations to demand the release of Mapuche political prisoners on 11 October, coinciding with the anniversary of the arrival of European colonizers to the American continent. In Brazil, clashes were recorded between military police and a drug trafficking group in Espírito Santo state, while several civilians were reportedly killed by organized criminal groups in the state of Mato Grosso. In Colombia, clashes were recorded between military soldiers and dissidents of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), as well as among different armed and organized criminal groups.
In Chile, Indigenous people took to the streets in Santiago city to demand their rights and recognition on the ‘Day of the Meeting of Two Worlds’ on 11 October, which marks the arrival of European colonizers to the Americas. Protesters also condemned the ongoing military presence in the Biobío and Araucanía regions. Demonstrators built barricades and threw flammable objects and Molotov cocktails at police, who responded with tear gas and water cannons. At least 10 rioters were arrested, and one police officer was reportedly injured. ACLED’s Subnational Threat Tracker warned of increased violence in Metropolitana during the preceding four weeks.
Meanwhile, multiple acts of property destruction were also recorded in the Biobío and Araucanía regions last week. In Biobío, four unidentified hooded individuals beat a forestry worker and set his vehicle on fire in Santa Barbara municipality. Likewise, an unknown group set an uninhabited house on fire in Quidico municipality. The group left behind a pamphlet alluding to the Mapuche cause and demanding freedom for Mapuche prisoners (Biobio Chile, 14 October 2022). Similarly, in the Araucanía region, at least eight hooded individuals broke into an agricultural establishment in Perquenco commune and set fire to buildings, sheds, vehicles, and agricultural machinery. The group left a pamphlet from the Mapuche National Liberation at the scene demanding freedom for Mapuche prisoners. ACLED’s Conflict Change Map previously warned of increased violence in Chile during the past month. Indigenous activists who fight for Mapuche rights claim that their lands are being threatened by agriculture and forestry industries. They hold the state accountable for not ensuring their right to their ancestral territory (La Tercera, 4 November 2021) (for more, see ACLED’s report on Understanding Indigenous Conflict in Chile).
Indigenous groups were also active in Argentina last week, with a second consecutive week of nationwide demonstrations demanding the release of the Mapuche Indigenous women detained during the federal police eviction of Villa Mascardi village the week prior. Indigenous groups also marched in Rosario municipality to mark the ‘Last Day of Freedom of the Original Peoples’ on 11 October, marking the anniversary of the arrival of European colonizers to the Americas. Furthermore, in the Neuquén province, the Mapuche Ancestral Resistance group set four construction machines on fire, leaving behind a pamphlet calling for the release of Mapuche political prisoners and the Mapuche women detained after their eviction. The Patagonian provinces of Neuquén and Río Negro border Chile and are often the backdrops of conflict involving Mapuche community claims of ancestral land rights.
In Brazil, military police clashed with members of the Vitória First Command (PCV, Primeiro Comando de Vitória) in Vitória municipality, Espírito Santo state, last week during raids targeting the group’s leader, Fernando Moraes Pereira Pimenta (alias: Marujo) (ES Hoje, 11 October 2022). During the clash, military forces reportedly killed Marujo’s bodyguard (Folha Vitória, 11 October 2022), leading to a series of acts of violence by the PCV. At least six buses were shot or set on fire in different parts of the city, and the vehicle of a newspaper crew was set on fire. Some schools, universities, and health units suspended activities due to the shootings (A Gazeta, 11 October 2022).
Elsewhere, in Mato Grosso state, several civilians were reportedly killed by organized criminal groups or drug trafficking groups last week. At the scene of a killing in Primavera do Leste city, the letters ‘PCC’ (initials of the First Capital Command) were written on a wall using the victim’s blood (Rede da Noticia, 10 October 2022). Drug trafficking territorial disputes, especially between the PCC and the Red Command, have driven an increase in violent deaths in several regions of the state over the last year. These trends contribute to the 161% increase in violent events in Mato Grosso over the past week relative to the weekly average for the preceding month, as flagged by ACLED’s Subnational Surge Tracker.
In Colombia, two soldiers reportedly died in a clash last week with members of the Carlos Patino Front FARC Dissident Faction in Balboa municipality, Cauca department. Moreover, the group reportedly shot dead three civilians in Rosas municipality. The perpetrators arrived at a commercial establishment looking for the three victims and declared that they were carrying out an act of “social cleansing” (El Tiempo, 10 October 2022). Armed groups operating in the region have been carrying out similar attacks targeting members of certain groups, including drug addicts and thieves, in recent months.
Elsewhere, in the Antioquia department, the Gulf Clan clashed with the National Liberation Army and a FARC dissident group in the area surrounding the Puerto López village, forcibly confining approximately 10,000 civilians (El Espectador, 10 October 2022). Members of the community reported at least one member of the armed groups was killed in the confrontations (El Colombiano, 10 October 2022). Days after the confrontations, the Ombudsman’s Office reported that armed groups forcibly recruited 12 minors from a rural school in the municipality (Caracol Radio, 12 October 2022). It is increasingly common for armed groups in Colombia to recruit children and adolescents, forcing them to fight on the front lines or work as cooks, messengers, and sex slaves (Save The Children, 3 March 2022).
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