Last week in Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean, ongoing gang violence targeting civilians drove increases in violence in Trinidad and Tobago, Puerto Rico, Guatemala, and parts of Mexico. Meanwhile, nationwide demonstrations were recorded in Mexico and Guatemala against proposed electoral reforms and the increasing cost of living, respectively. In Haiti, members of the 400 Mawozo gang attacked police-protected United States embassy convoy. In Puerto Rico, federal US forces clashed with gang members, reportedly leaving an officer and a gang member dead.
In Mexico, gang attacks against civilians drove an increase in violence in Guerrero state last week, most of which occurred in the tourist city of Acapulco. At least seven people were reportedly killed in separate attacks in Acapulco, including three men whose bound bodies were found in Condesa and Icacos beaches with signs of torture. According to security experts, the Jalisco New Generation Cartel (CJNG), the Independent Cartel of Acapulco, and Los Rusos gang dispute for the control of extortions and drug markets in Acapulco (Infobae, 23 September 2022). Elsewhere in the state, unidentified gang members reportedly killed four people and abandoned their mutilated bodies on a road in Huamuxtitlán municipality, while a clash between rival groups reportedly left at least four people dead in Ayutla de los Libres municipality. Such violence contributed to the 132% increase in violent events in Guerrero over the past week relative to the weekly average for the preceding month, as flagged by ACLED’s Subnational Surge Tracker.
In Zacatecas state, gang attacks drove increased violence last week compared to the week prior. In Guadalupe municipality, unidentified gang members reportedly killed five people, while unidentified gang members conducted a drive-by shooting that reportedly killed the treasurer of the Mexican Social Security Insitute and injured another man. Amid increasing violence in the state, National Guard and military officers carried out security operations on 15 November in Jerez municipality, clashing with CJNG members and reportedly killing at least four men. During the clashes, CJNG members forced civilians to abandon their vehicles and set these on fire to block roads around the urban area of Jerez city. ACLED’s Subnational Surge Tracker warned of increased violence in Zacatecas during the preceding four weeks.
Meanwhile, civil society organizations and opposition parties demonstrated across the country on 13 November against the government’s proposed reform of the National Electoral Institute (INE). The proposal, presented to Congress in April, seeks to restructure the electoral authority and reduce the cost of elections. It includes measures reducing resources given to political parties and the number of local entities that organize elections, as well as requiring the popular election of electoral authorities, among other changes (Forbes, 14 November 2022). Demonstrators claim the reform threatens the autonomy of the INE and gives the government more influence over organizing the electoral processes.
In Haiti, members of the 400 Mawozo gang attacked a convoy of US embassy officials, police, and commercial vehicles in Croix-des-Bouquets district, Ouest department last week. The attack left one driver injured. Though the motivation behind the attack remains unknown, the incident comes after the US government filed charges against three gang leaders, including the leader of 400 Mawozo, for their involvement in the kidnapping of 17 US missionaries in October 2021 (Reuters, 7 November 2022). Violence continued at high levels in other areas of Ouest department as members of the rival Ti Bwa and Grand-Ravine gangs clashed in Martissant neighborhood in Port-au-Prince, leaving five people reportedly dead, including four civilians.
Meanwhile, people staged demonstrations in Ouest and Nord departments, calling for Prime Minister Ariel Henry’s resignation and denouncing the recent deportation of thousands of Haitians from the Dominican Republic. In Cap-Haitien, Nord, police officers intervened and dispersed demonstrators who attempted to attack the Dominican Republic consulate. On 11 November, the Dominican government issued a decree that allows the deportation of migrants who occupy private or public property, banning their re-entrance to the country (El Dinero, 13 November 2022).
In Puerto Rico, attacks against civilians by armed groups and gangs reportedly left at least four people dead last week, contributing to the 66% increase in average weekly violent events on the island in the past month relative to the weekly average for the preceding year. ACLED’s Conflict Change Map also warned of increased violence in Puerto Rico during the preceding four weeks. Amid the violence, federal US Customs and Border Protection officers intercepted a vessel near the coast of Cabo Rojo driven by drug traffickers, triggering a clash that resulted in the reported death of one officer and one gang member. The officers seized more than half a ton of cocaine and detained undocumented migrants onboard the vessel. This incident follows a request made in June by Puerto Rico Governor Pedro Pierluisi to the US federal government for support to fight against illegal drug and arms trafficking in the Caribbean (Swissinfo, 2 June 2022).
Attacks by gangs and armed suspects also drove an increase in violence in Trinidad and Tobago last week, particularly in the northwest of Trinidad Island. In San Juan-Laventille region, unidentified gang members reportedly killed a man who was a witness in a murder case. Meanwhile, in the neighboring Chaguana municipality, two men were reportedly killed in separate attacks by unidentified gunmen. While violence in Chaguanas 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 Guatemala, truck drivers blocked traffic on different roads in at least 12 departments over four non-consecutive days last week to demonstrate against the high prices of fuel and basic goods. In Quetzaltenango and Totonicapán departments, police deployed tear gas and clashed with rioters in an attempt to re-open the roads. Following the demonstrations, the Minister of Energy and Mines Alberto Pimentel presented a proposal to Congress for a two-month extension of gas subsidies (El Periódico, 17 November 2022).
Meanwhile, attacks by armed suspects and gang members against civilians drove a 75% increase in violent events in Guatemala 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. Most of the attacks were recorded in Guatemala department, including two separate attacks against public transport drivers, which left one taxi driver dead and a bus driver injured.
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.