Worldview Security Update – November 11, 2019
11-Nov-19

AMERICAS

Argentina (Security threat level – 3): On 11 November 2019, demonstrations are scheduled to take place in the capital Buenos Aires, along with the cities of Jujuy and Rosario, to protest against an alleged coup against former Bolivian President Evo Morales following his resignation the previous day. In Buenos Aires, demonstrators will gather at the Obelisco — located in the Plaza de la República — and march along Avenida Corrientes 545 to the Bolivian Embassy beginning at 1300 local time (1600 UTC). Meanwhile, at 1730 local time, demonstrators will gather at Jujuy’s Belgrano Square. In Rosario, demonstrators will march from Plaza San Martín to Plaza Pringles beginning at 1700 local time. Travelers and expatriates should avoid the vicinity of areas where demonstrations are taking place as a precaution.

Bolivia (Security threat level – 3): As of the morning of 11 November 2019, there have been no reports of significant clashes in Bolivia following the resignations of the president and his vice president the day before; however, some public transportation services, including cable car services in La Paz, are suspended and many schools across the country are closed. Clashes occurred in La Paz and Santa Cruz overnight on 10-11 November following the resignations of President Evo Morales and Vice President Álvaro García Linera from their respective offices earlier in the day. There were reports of looting, arson and vandalism targeting residences and local businesses. The resignations follow the publication of separate statements issued by the Bolivian armed forces and the Bolivian national police force calling for Morales’ resignation in order to reduce nationwide unrest as demonstrations over the outcome of the 20 October presidential elections continue across the country.

In a related development, on 8 November the U.S. Department of State upgraded its Travel Advisory for Bolivia from “Level 2: Exercise Increased Caution” to “Level 3: Reconsider Travel” due to civil unrest. Moreover, on 10 November the U.S. Embassy in La Paz issued a Security Alert in which it stated that U.S. diplomats and their family members had been instructed against traveling to El Alto or downtown areas of La Paz on personal travel due to the security situation, and noted that they “must obtain Chief of Mission approval for all in-country travel outside of the La Paz metropolitan area.” In addition, on 10 November, the U.K. Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) issued updated travel advice for Bolivia, advising against all but essential travel to the following departments: Oruru, Potosí (except Uyuni), Chuquisaca and Cochabamba. The U.S. and U.K. travel advisories can be found in the Government Warnings section below.

Analyst Comment: Ongoing disruptions to air and ground transportation are highly probable across the country, as demonstrations will likely continue following Morales’ departure. The situation remains unpredictable and further incidents of isolated violence, looting and vandalism may occur. There are no indications of leadership or organizational fractures within the command and control structures of Bolivia’s armed forces or national police; however, security and police forces may experience a reduced capacity to respond to emergencies, as personnel are likely to be spread thin in the near-term while the political transition takes shape. Moreover, a period of uncertainty will ensue during the current power vacuum, which follows the resignations of several other senior government officials in the line of succession for the presidency. Travelers and expatriates should keep abreast of local developments, follow the advice of local authorities and monitor the advice of their respective diplomatic missions for informational updates.

ASIA

Bangladesh / India (Security threat levels – 4 / 3): Tropical Cyclone Matmo, also known as Cyclone Bulbul, made landfall near the Sagar Islands in West Bengal, India, on 9 November 2019 before crossing into Bangladesh. The storm — which has since dissipated — damaged or destroyed approximately 6,000 residences in Bangladesh; however, there were no reports of damage to major infrastructure. Airports have reopened and ferry services that were temporarily suspended have now resumed. Bangladeshi officials evacuated more than 2 million people from the country’s 13 coastal districts ahead of the storm. However, at least 13 people — seven in India’s West Bengal state and six in Bangladesh — were killed, and at least 36 men aboard two fishing boats have not yet been located; officials warned that the death toll may rise. Additionally, approximately 1,200 tourists were temporarily stranded on Bangladesh’s St. Martin’s Island amid the storm.

China (Security threat level – 3): Anti-government protesters and police officers engaged in a series of clashes across Hong Kong on 11 November 2019. The clashes initially broke out in the morning hours and continued into the evening. In the Sai Wan Ho district, protesters blocked a main road, and a police officer shot a protester during an altercation. Later in the morning, protesters clashed with police officers on university campuses, including at Hong Kong University and the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Meanwhile in the Central business district, police officers fired tear gas and water cannons to disperse protesters in Mong Kok. Furthermore, a police officer drove a motorcycle into a group of protesters; officials stated that the officer has been suspended pending an investigation. A man was set on fire by unknown attackers following an argument with protesters, according to police officials. According to Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam, at least 60 people were injured during the violence on 11 November, while police officers stated that at least 120 locations had either been blocked or vandalized.

On 10 November anti-government protesters gathered in areas across Hong Kong. In Sha Tin, protesters vandalized the Sha Tin MTR station, prompting police officers to fire tear gas in an effort to disperse the protesters. Meanwhile, protesters also gathered in Tsuen Wan Town Hall, Tseung Kwan O and set up barricades at the junction of Heung Sze Wui Road and Ho Pong Road in Tuen Mun. Police officers also used tear gas to disperse protesters from the Tsuen Wan and Mong Kok areas. Police officers arrested at least one protester in Causeway Bay. Authorities suspended Light Rail routes 705, 706 and 716P in Tin Shui Wai as well as between Tin Shui Wai and Yuen Long, and temporarily closed the Ma On Shan and Sha Tin MTR stations. There were no reports of injuries.

On the previous day, thousands of demonstrators peacefully gathered in Tamar Park in Admiralty for an approved prayer rally following the death of a Hong Kong University student on 8 November. Mourners also held a vigil in Tseung Kwan O near the site where the student suffered injuries in a fall from a parking garage as a result of riot police activity early in the morning on 4 November. No notable disruptions occurred during these gatherings on 9 November. 

GOVERNMENT WARNINGS

Australia (Security threat level – 2): On 11 November 2019, the U.K. Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) issued updated travel advice regarding ongoing bushfires in New South Wales and Queensland, which reads in part as follows: “Several bushfires are currently burning across Northern New South Wales extending into the Sunshine Coast region in Queensland, with many residents advised to evacuate. The New South Wales Rural Fire Service have advised the Greater Sydney and Greater Hunter regions will experience catastrophic fire danger on Tuesday 12 November 2019. This is the highest possible level of risk. For more information on Fire Danger Ratings visit the New South Wales Rural Fire Service website. The New South Wales Rural Fire Service has advised people in areas at risk to move to larger towns, shopping centres or facilities and to keep away from bushland areas. If you’re in or near an affected area, stay safe and follow the advice of local authorities: New South Wales Rural Fire Service or Queensland Fire & Emergency Services . In the event of emergency, always dial Triple Zero (000). For more information including links to local authorities in your area, see Natural Disasters . ”

Bolivia (Security threat level – 3): On 8 November 2019, the U.S. Department of State issued an updated Travel Advisory for Bolivia, in which it upgraded its level of advice from “Level 2: Exercise Increased Caution” to “Level 3: Reconsider Travel” due to civil unrest. The updated Travel Advisory reads in part as follows:

“Reconsider travel to Bolivia due to civil unrest.

“There are recurring demonstrations, strikes, roadblocks, and marches in major cities in Bolivia. Demonstrations and marches are centered on city plazas and major thoroughfares. Roadblocks and strikes cut off traffic on main avenues, highways between cities, and airport access and egress. Protesters in major cities are intermittently occupying or blocking access to public institutions and infrastructure, denying access to transportation hubs, banks, and other services. Some opposing protests have resulted in violent confrontations, and local authorities have used crowd control measures to discourage protests.

“Domestic and international flights may be delayed or cancelled, and road travel around and between cities is regularly impeded.”

The full text of the Travel Advisory is available here .

Bolivia (Security threat level – 3): On 10 November 2019, the U.K. Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) issued updated travel advice for Bolivia, which reads in part as follows: "The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) advise against all but essential travel to:

  • Oruru department
  • Potosi department, except Uyuni
  • Chuquisaca department
  • Cochabamba department

"Road travel between cities is not advised, owing to several attacks that have occurred on inter-city buses and the limited capacity of emergency services to respond in these areas.

"The current political situation in Bolivia is highly unpredictable, with increased risk to traveller safety. Following presidential elections on 20 October 2019, there have been large and wide-scale political demonstrations across the country, many resulting in violence. In La Paz, most demonstrations take place in the city centre with violent confrontations. Further protests and strikes are planned and there is a risk that these will turn violent without warning. You should avoid large crowds or public demonstrations and don’t attempt to cross blockades."