Haiti + 2 more

ACLED Regional Overview - Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean (17 - 23 September 2022)

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Last week in Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean, gang violence remained high in Mexico, Haiti, and Trinidad and Tobago. In Haiti, three people were killed amid riots calling for Prime Minister Ariel Henry's resignation, while gangs looted food warehouses and blocked the country's main oil terminal. In Mexico, deadly attacks targeting civilians drove worsening violence in Guanajuato and Oaxaca states. Similarly, in Panama, armed suspects killed a pre-candidate for deputy for the 2024 elections.

In Haiti, demonstrations continued across the country last week amid ongoing fuel price rises and calls for Prime Minister Henry's resignation, with some demonstrations turning deadly. During a demonstration in Petionville district, Ouest department, unidentified gunmen shot and killed two participants and injured another four. Elsewhere, in Les Cayes, Sud department, armed rioters clashed with police officers, resulting in one reported fatality. Meanwhile, in Nord department, outbreaks of rioting during four consecutive days of demonstrations contributed to the 220% increase in violent events in Nord over the past week relative to the weekly average for the preceding month, as flagged by ACLED's Subnational Surge Tracker.

Amid the demonstrations, Guepe Noire gang members looted the offices and a food warehouse of the humanitarian organization Caritas in Port-de-Paix, Nord-Ouest department. Following the incident, police arrested 12 gang members and, days later, killed the gang leader. This violence contributed to the 71% 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. The UN Special Representative for Haiti has demanded more support to face the current crisis and condemned attacks against humanitarian operations (UN, 26 September 2022).

Elsewhere, in Ouest department, members of the G-9 gang coalition barricaded roads in Cite-Soleil district on 19 September, blocking access to the Varreaux oil terminal. Days after this obstruction started, the G-9 gang leader, Jimmy Cherizier, claimed that the G-9 continues to fight against the country's current crisis and that the oil terminal would remain under their control (Haiti Libre, 22 September 2022). This is not the first time that the G-9 has seized control of the oil terminal; in November 2021, the gang blocked access to the terminal, demanding Henry's resignation. Human rights organizations accused the G-9 of colluding with the government, seeking to participate in demonstrations in order to discredit the popular demands of demonstrators (Gazette Haiti, 20 September 2022).

Last week in Mexico, gang violence continued to intensify in Guanajuato state, driven by several attacks that resulted in multiple deaths. In the neighboring municipalities of Romita and Silao, 10 people were killed in two separate attacks by armed suspects. Following these incidents, members of the Santa Rosa de Lima Cartel broke into a bar in Tarimoro, shooting and killing another 10 people. The Jalisco New Generation Cartel (CJNG) claimed that these attacks were part of an offensive by the Santa Rosa de Lima Cartel to secure control of drug markets and trafficking routes in municipalities contested by the two cartels (Infobae, 24 September 2022). Meanwhile, the state's governor has claimed the recent escalation in violence is due to conflict within the Santa Rosa de Lima Cartel caused by a dissident faction allegedly supporting CJNG operations (Informador, 22 September 2022). Violence in Guanajuato has become deadlier in September, during which ACLED records the highest monthly number of reported fatalities thus far in 2022.

Meanwhile, in Oaxaca state, unidentified perpetrators carried out targeted attacks that left a delegate of the Institutional Revolutionary Party and a lawyer dead in Soyaltepec and Santa Lucia del Camino municipalities, respectively. These trends contribute to the 115% increase in violent events in Oaxaca over the past week relative to the weekly average for the preceding month, as flagged by ACLED's Subnational Surge Tracker. Thus far in 2022, Oaxaca is among the states in Mexico recording the highest number of attacks targeting candidates, politicians, and current and former government officials.

In Panama, armed suspects shot and killed an independent politician on 17 September. The politician was attacked while accompanied by his political team in Chepo municipality, Panama province. A well-known rancher, the victim was killed days after he had collected the required number of signatures to run for parliament in the 2024 general elections (Panamá en Minutos, 19 September 2022). Preliminary investigations by authorities suggest that the attack was carried out by hired gunmen (Crítica, 21 September 2022). This is the first recorded attack against a politician in Panama in 2022.

In Trinidad and Tobago, attacks against civilians by armed suspects drove the 37% increase in weekly violent events in Trinidad and Tobago 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. Most attacks were recorded in the neighboring regions of San Juan-Laventille, Tunapuna Piarco, and Diego Martin in the northwest of the country. Security experts have attributed the increase in violence to gangs contesting control of drug sales and human and drug trafficking, among other criminal activities, particularly in Tunapuna district, which is allegedly under gang control (InSight Crime, 21 September 2022).