Last week in Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean, political violence remained high amid targeted attacks by armed suspects against activists, including a Peasant Development Committee (CODECA) land defender in Guatemala and an LGBT+ activist in Honduras.
Meanwhile, gang violence remained at heightened levels in Mexico, Jamaica, and Puerto Rico. In Mexico, violence increased last week in Colima state, while members of the Operativa Bélica gang tortured and killed seven men in San Luis Potosí state.
Elsewhere, election-related violence was recorded during gubernatorial elections in Oaxaca and Tamaulipas states on 5 June.
Gang violence intensified in Colima state last week with attacks against civilians, including attacks against low-rank government officials and off-duty police officers. In Villa de Álvarez, armed suspects shot and killed an off-duty police officer, while armed men attacked an officer of the judicial system in Manzanillo. The majority of attacks last week occurred in the neighboring cities of Colima and Villa de Álvarez, resulting in at least 14 fatalities. Following last week’s violence, the mayor of Villa de Álvarez claimed that she would seek to approve new regulations to allow police officers to carry their service guns while they are off-duty as a measure to guarantee their security (El Universal, 7 June 2022).
Off-duty police officers have faced heightened targeting by gangs in Mexico (AP, 30 May 2021). These incidents contributed to the 137% increase in violence in Colima over the past week relative to the past month, as flagged by ACLED’s Subnational Surge Tracker. Violence in Colima has intensified following the breakdown in February of an alliance between the Los Mezcales gang and the Jalisco New Generation Cartel (CJNG).
Elsewhere, in San Luis Potosí state, gang violence continued last week, although to a lesser extent than the week prior. The Operativa Bélica gang, a local ally of the CJNG, tortured and killed seven men before dumping their bodies in Aquismón municipality with threatening messages. ACLED’s Subnational Surge Tracker first warned of increased violence to come in San Luis Potosí in the past month. The Gulf Cartel and the CJNG currently dispute control of drug trafficking in San Luis Potosí, which is the gateway to northern states bordering the United States (La Opinion, 28 April 2022).
Meanwhile, election-related violence was reported in Oaxaca and Tamaulipas states as gubernatorial elections were held in six states on 5 June. In Oaxaca, the polling day was met with social unrest in Ciudad Ixtepec, Miahuatlan de Porfirio Diaz, Salina Cruz, San Juan Guichicovi, and San Miguel del Puerto municipalities, where residents set fire to electoral urns and ballots. This was done as part of demonstrations against the lack of rapid response and support from authorities to Hurricane Agatha and a lack of solutions to land conflicts. Similarly, in Reynosa, Tamaulipas, two men locked several people inside a polling place in an attempt to prevent them from casting votes while a group of armed men stole ballot boxes with votes. Representatives of the ruling National Regeneration Movement (MORENA) won the governorships in Quintana Roo, Oaxaca, Hidalgo, and Tamaulipas, and now hold power in 22 of the 32 states of Mexico (Infobae, 6 June 2022).