AMERICAS Argentina / Jamaica / Panama (Security threat levels –...
United States (Security threat level – 2): At approximately 1230 local time (1730 UTC) on 23 January 2019, a 21-year-old local man opened fire inside a bank located along U.S. Highway 27 in Sebring, Florida, approximately 90 mi (145 km) southeast of the city of Tampa. The assailant then called the emergency number and stated that he had fired shots inside the bank. Police officers stormed the facility and arrested the assailant after a brief standoff. Five people were killed in the shooting. The perpetrator’s motive is under investigation.
Venezuela (Security threat level – 4): On 23 January 2019, tens of thousands of anti-government protesters took to the streets across Venezuela to demand that President Nicolas Maduro resign, in what appeared to be the country’s largest anti-government demonstration since 2017. In the capital Caracas, protesters attended a symbolic ceremony in which the president of Venezuela’s opposition-controlled National Assembly, Juan Guaidó, declared himself Venezuela’s interim president. There were no reports of violence at that rally. Later in the day, after the main demonstration was over, National Guardsmen fired tear gas at hundreds of youths who were protesting in a plaza in the upscale Altamira area of Caracas; there were no reports of significant injuries. Meanwhile, thousands of pro-government supporters held a counterprotest outside the Miraflores presidential palace, where they showed their support for Maduro and protested against U.S. intervention in Venezuelan affairs. Elsewhere in Venezuela, both pro- and anti-government marches were held in dozens of cities across the country. There were reports that security forces shot and killed seven opposition demonstrators, including four in the city of Barinas and three in the city of San Cristobal. Several Venezuelan NGOs claim that 14 people have been shot and killed during opposition protests on 22 and 23 January.
Following Guaidó’s swearing-in ceremony, the U.S. immediately declared its support for Guaidó, prompting Maduro to accuse the U.S. and Guaidó of staging a coup and to announce that Venezuela was breaking diplomatic ties with the United States. He then ordered all U.S. diplomatic personnel to leave the country within 72 hours. In a statement, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo declared that the United States no longer recognized Maduro’s authority to sever diplomatic ties and that its embassy in Caracas would ignore the order. Meanwhile, at least seven other countries in the Western Hemisphere — including Canada, Brazil, Colombia, Peru, Ecuador, Argentina and Paraguay — have recognized Guaidó as the legitimate president. Other countries, including Mexico, Bolivia, Cuba, Mexico, Russia and Turkey, have expressed support for Maduro. The European Union (EU) has called on Venezuela to hold new elections.
Analyst Comment: The Venezuelan military is often viewed as the arbiter of political disputes and has yet to comment on the situation, although reports indicate that it will do so on 24 January. At this time, there are few signs that the military high command intends to abandon Maduro and support the opposition. While two dozen low-ranking National Guard officers carried out an attack on a military outpost on 21 January, giving the opposition some hope that it would support a coup attempt, the revolt was quickly put down and there are no indications at this time that a large-scale military uprising is imminent.
Australia (Security threat level – 2): According to the Joint Typhoon Warning Center, as of 0900 UTC on 24 January 2019, Tropical Cyclone Riley was located off the northwestern coast of the state of Western Australia, approximately 855 km (530 mi) northeast of Learmonth. At that time, it was tracking west at a speed of 13 kph (8 mph), while generating maximum sustained winds of 74 kph with gusts up to 93 kph. Current forecasts indicate that Riley will intensify and bring heavy rains to coastal communities before it then moves toward the Indian Ocean.
Spain (Security threat level – 3): On 24 January 2019, taxi drivers in Madrid continued to strike for a fourth consecutive day to call for tighter regulations on ride-hailing services. Drivers have blocked several roads throughout the day, including the M-40 beltway near Ifema, the city’s main convention center, where a high-profile international tourism fair is underway. Meanwhile, cab drivers in Barcelona, who began striking on 18 January, suspended their strike late on 23 January after a majority voted to accept a deal proposed by the Catalan government, which requires users of ride-hailing services to book vehicles at least 15 minutes in advance.
Austria (Security threat level – 2): On 23 January 2019, the U.S. Embassy in Vienna issued a Demonstration Alert, which reads in part as follows:
Greece (Security threat level – 3): On 24 January 2019, the U.S. Embassy in Athens issued a Demonstration Alert, which reads in part as follows:
Papua New Guinea (Security threat level – 4): On 24 January 2019, the U.S. Embassy in Port Moresby issued a Security Alert for Alotau that reads in part as follows:
Togo (Security threat level – 4): On 23 January 2019, the U.S. Department of State issued an updated travel advisory for Togo, which reads in part as follows:
“Last Update: Reissued with updates to the Travel Advisory Level, Level 2 and 3 areas, U.S. government restrictions on personnel, and information on Risk Indicators.
The cities of Sokodé, Bafilo, and Mango due to civil unrest.”
The full text of the travel advisory is available here.
Venezuela (Security threat level – 4): On 23 January 2019, the U.S. Embassy in Caracas issued the following Security Alert, which reads in part as follows:
Security threat levels range from 1 (Very Low) to 5 (Very High) and are determined using a comprehensive system that utilizes both qualitative and quantitative analysis. The primary factors used to determine a location’s security threat level are Armed Conflict, Crime, Demonstrations/Strikes, Ethnic/Sectarian Tensions, Graft/Corruption, Kidnapping, Political Instability, Government Restriction and Terrorism.