Worldview Security Report – January 24, 2019
24-Jan-19

AMERICAS

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.

AUSTRALASIA

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.

EUROPE

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.




GOVERNMENT WARNINGS

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:

  • “Location: Announced gathering points include, but are not limited to, the following areas in Vienna:
  • Central Vienna
  • Hofburg Palace Complex
  • Heldenplatz
  • “Event: On Friday, January 25, at 5:00 pm, the annual Wiener Akademiker Ball will take place at the Hofburg Palace Complex in the First District. In past years organized demonstrations have taken place with very large crowds. Authorities are establishing temporary exclusion zones with other security measures to control crowds and protest activity in the area in and around the Hofburg. At this time police are anticipating a smaller demonstration. Disruptions to traffic (vehicles, pedestrian and public transit) are highly likely in the affected areas and along demonstration routes. In years past there have been some unruly groups, property damage, and arrests associated with this event.”

  • 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:

  • “Location: Expected gathering points in Athens are the U.S. Embassy, Eleftherias Park and Syntagma Square; in Thessaloniki, the White Tower, the Venizelos statue (78 Egnatia Street), and the Arch of Galerius – Kamara with a march to the U.S. Consulate General.
  • “Event: Demonstrations with up to 5,000 or more participants are expected to take place beginning at 6:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. on Thursday, January 24, 2019 to protest the upcoming parliamentary vote on the Prespes Agreement, an agreement developed between the two countries to recognize the country to the north of Greece as the Republic of North Macedonia. Road closures and transportation disruptions are expected. Spontaneous/unscheduled demonstrations are also possible.
  • “U.S. government personnel have been advised to avoid the downtown areas of Athens and Thessaloniki after 5:00 p.m. on Thursday, January 24. Some previous demonstrations turned violent and led to the destruction of property. There is a potential for tear-gas and anti-riot engagement between police and demonstrators.”

  • 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:

  • “Location: Alotau, Milne Bay Province
  • “Event: Violence has been reported in Alotau, involving the destruction and looting of properties, the theft of a hotel ATM and the shooting deaths of a number of people. Local police have locked down the city and have advised people to stay indoors. Most businesses are closed. There is no indication at this stage how long this security event is going to last. Police are sending reinforcements.
  • “Actions to Take:
  • Avoid government buildings or areas of possible protest.
  • Monitor local media for updates.
  • Avoid crowds.
  • Avoid demonstrations
  • Keep a low profile.
  • Notify friends and family of your safety.
  • Be aware of your surroundings.
  • Use caution when walking or driving at night.
  • Make contingency plans to leave.
  • Review your personal security plans.
  • Have travel documents up to date and easily accessible.
  • Have evacuation plans that do not rely on U.S. government assistance.”

  • 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.

  • “Exercise normal precautions in Togo. Some areas have increased risk. Read the entire Travel Advisory.
  • “Level 3 Areas – Reconsider Travel To:
    Northern border region adjacent to Burkina Faso due to terrorism.
  • “Level 2 Areas – Exercise Increased Caution In:

    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:

  • “Event: U.S. citizens are advised that protests may continue through the rest of the week. The U.S. Embassy will maintain normal business hours and will receive any U.S. citizens needing emergency services on January 24, 2019 from 8:00am to 3:00pm. However, all visa appointments for January 24, 2019 have been cancelled. In addition, the movement of U.S. government personnel will be restricted to the following neighborhoods in Caracas: Valle Arriba and Santa Fe, as well as the Escuela Campo Alegre (ECA). U.S. government personnel have been asked to keep their preschool and school aged children home from school on January 24.”
  • “Actions to Take:
    U.S. government personnel are advised to avoid the area of any demonstration and large gatherings. U.S. citizens should also avoid demonstrations and large gatherings.
    Monitor local news media for updates.”

  • 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.