Last week in Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean, targeted attacks against political figures were reported in Mexico, Honduras, and Guatemala. In Mexico, armed suspects killed two environmental activists and a political advisor in Oaxaca and Jalisco states, respectively, while gang violence increased in Zacatecas state. In Haiti, journalists were targeted in separate attacks in Sud department and Port-au-Prince. In Honduras and Guatemala, gunmen attacked women government officers. Meanwhile, in Jamaica and Puerto Rico, overall levels of violence against civilians increased.
In Mexico, multiple deadly attacks against environmental activists were recorded in Oaxaca state last week. In Santiago Pinotepa Nacional municipality, armed suspects shot and killed a communal leader of the Paso Reyna community who had advocated against hydroelectric projects in the area. Several representatives of Paso Reyna have been attacked for their advocacy since 2018, prompting members of the community to request the government to grant collective protective measures in 2021 (Bio Diversidad, 12 August 2022; EDUCA, 26 October 2022). Elsewhere, alleged armed members of the Santa Cruz Tagolaba community — who have been accused of violent land grabbing (La Jornada, 29 October 2022) — attacked two environmental activists in Santo Domingo Tehuantepec municipality. One of the activists was killed, while the other was injured. Both victims had spearheaded opposition to the federal construction of the Interoceanic Corridor of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, which aims to connect and develop industrial areas in Oaxaca and Veracruz states (El País, 27 July 2022). The planned expropriation of lands as part of Interoceanic Corridor projects has triggered disputes within communities, with activists claiming that industrialization of the area will cause negative effects on environmental resources (Desinformémonos, 21 March 2022).
In Jalisco state, armed men shot and killed a national advisor of the ruling National Regeneration Movement party, who had also been a candidate to run for governor of Jalisco in the 2024 elections. During the attack, a bodyguard and one of the perpetrators were also killed. While preliminary investigations suggest the attack was executed by members of an organized criminal group, investigations are ongoing regarding any possible links between the attackers and the victim (Expansión Política, 24 October 2022). Though the reason behind the attack remains unknown, the victim’s bodyguards claimed that he had received threats from the Jalisco New Generation Cartel (Infobae, 27 October 2022). ACLED records more than a hundred attacks against government officials and politicians thus far in 2022, including the recent attack against the mayor of San Miguel Totonicapán in Guerrero state in October.
Meanwhile, in Zacatecas state, gang attacks against civilians drove the 220% increase in violent events in this state last week relative to the weekly average for the preceding month flagged by ACLED’s Subnational Surge Tracker, which also warned of increased violence in Zacatecas during the preceding four weeks. Most attacks were recorded in Fresnillo, Zacatecas, and Guadalupe municipalities. According to authorities, criminal groups contest control of strategic roads that connect the center of the country via these municipalities with the northern border for drug and human trafficking (Expansión Política, 9 September 2022).
In Haiti, unidentified suspects carried out separate attacks against journalists last week, leaving one dead and another one injured. The first victim was a radio host whose body was found dismembered in Sud department. According to the director of the radio station, the victim had received threats from a government official and a police officer for his criticism of local and central authorities (Redzo Nòdwes, 25 October 2022). Meanwhile, in Port-au-Prince, unidentified gunmen shot and injured a well-known journalist who covered political and security issues. Although the motivation for his attack remains unknown, the Ministry of Culture and Communication claimed that the incident was an “assassination attempt” (CPJ, 26 October 2022). Thus far in 2022, ACLED records the killing of at least five journalists in Haiti, including the recent killing of two journalists by the G-9 gang in September.
Last week in Honduras, two armed individuals shot at the deputy director of the Honduran Institute of Social Security (IHSS), a Liberty and Refoundation (LIBRE) party appointee, in Tegucigalpa. Following the attack, the victim claimed that the attack was related to her IHSS position, though investigations are ongoing (Proceso Digital, 26 October 2022). The previous director of the institute, also a LIBRE appointee, had reported threats for attempting to expose corruption in the IHSS, before she was dismissed (El Pais, 7 May 2022). Billions of lempiras were reportedly looted from the national healthcare system under the former ruling National Party of Honduras (PNH) (Carnegie Endowment, 30 May 2017). While investigations against senior officers of the IHSS are still ongoing, individuals linked to the PNH remain in key IHSS positions, and reports of irregularities at the IHSS continue (Reporteros de Investigacion, 6 May 2022; Radio Progreso, 15 June 2022).
Elsewhere, in Cortés department, gang members shot and killed a former Liberal Party of Honduras candidate for vice mayor of La Lima municipality. Human rights organizations condemned her killing, claiming that it may have been motivated by gang-related extortion activities (El Heraldo, 26 October 2022). This violence contributed to the 30% increase in violent events in Honduras last week relative to the weekly average for the preceding month. ACLED’s Conflict Change Map also warned of increased violence in the country during the preceding four weeks
In Guatemala, armed men attacked a district attorney in Guatemala City last week. The district attorney was injured in the attack, while her bodyguard was reportedly killed. The incident comes after the district attorney reportedly received threats for her investigations that led to the dismantling of a group of lawyers involved in property scams, though authorities claim there is insufficient information to confirm such threats (Soy 502, 28 October 2022).
In Puerto Rico, increased attacks against civilians and clashes between rival criminal groups drove the 300% increase in violent events in Puerto Rico over the past week relative to the weekly average for the preceding month, as flagged by ACLED’s Conflict Change Map. In Anaco, two people were reportedly killed in a clash between drug dealers, while attacks on civilians by armed suspects left at least four reported fatalities. According to the authorities, drug shipments have recently been seized in police operations, triggering violent responses by criminal groups (El Nuevo Día, 29 October 2022).
In Jamaica, violence against civilians increased last week. The majority of incidents were reported in Kingston, including a drive-by shooting that reportedly left three people dead. This violence contributed to the 62% increase in violent events in Jamaica last week relative to the weekly average for the preceding month. ACLED’s Conflict Change Map also warned of increased violence in the country during the preceding four weeks.
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.