Worldview Security Update – November 15, 2019
15-Nov-19

AMERICAS

Chile (Security threat level – 2): In the early hours of 15 November 2019, ruling party and opposition lawmakers reached an agreement that paves the way to establish a new constitution, which is a key demand of anti-government demonstrators. Under the terms of the agreement, the government will organize a referendum in April 2020. Contingent on the outcome of the first vote, two additional referendums will be held in October 2020 and at a yet to be determined date. In the first referendum, citizens will vote on whether or not to replace the constitution; voters will also be asked to choose between a body of elected representatives, political appointees, or an equal mix of both to draft the new constitution. In the October referendum, voters will select those who will serve in the new constitutional convention, and then a third vote will be held to approve — or reject — the new constitution.

Meanwhile, on the previous day police officers fired tear gas to disperse protesters from Plaza Baquedano, located in central Santiago. Following the incident, most demonstrators left the area and police officers maintained a heavy presence in the plaza to prevent further protests. Demonstrators instead began to peacefully gather on the south side of Santiago, triggering street closures. There were no reports of injuries during the protests in Santiago. Elsewhere in Chile, at least 17 people were injured during clashes between protesters and police officers in the Dagoberto Godoy area of Temuco. In addition, several businesses in the Barrancas area of San Antonio were vandalized.

Analyst Comment: The agreement between the ruling and opposition parties to start the process of drafting a new constitution may have a positive impact on the overall security environment in Chile, as the scale and intensity of demonstrations could decline. However, unrest is unlikely to fully subside in the near-term.

ASIA

China (Security threat level – 3): As of 15 November 2019, anti-government protests are ongoing in Hong Kong and schools throughout the territory remain closed. Intermittent clashes between police officers and protesters are currently taking place along Shan Tung Street and Nathan Road, located in Mong Kok. The clashes follow an earlier incident in which police officers deployed tear gas at protesters who had erected barricades along Nathan Road in Mong Kok district, prompting the demonstrators to retreat to Shan Tung Street. The protesters then returned to Nathan Road after police officers left the area.

Earlier in the day, hundreds of people, including office workers, gathered to protest in the Central business district at approximately 1230 local time (0430 UTC) and blocked several roads, including Peddar Street and Connaught Road. Meanwhile, several hundred demonstrators gathered in eastern Tai Koo district and marched from Westlands Road to King’s Road. Elsewhere, protesters erected a roadblock along Wong Chuk Hang Road in Wong Chuk Hang. In Kwun Tong, demonstrators marched along Kwun Tong Road. Additionally, in Causeway Bay, protesters gathered along East Point Road and Hennessy Road near the Sogo department store. All the aforementioned early afternoon demonstrations were largely peaceful, and most protesters dispersed by 1400 local time, when police officers arrived to remove barricades and clean up debris. Nevertheless, authorities temporarily closed Tolo Highway and Cross-Harbour Tunnel due to roadblocks and damaged facilities. Officials cleared one lane in each direction along the Tolo Highway by 1215 local time, allowing for some traffic to pass through. However, protesters re-blocked the lane by the evening hours, halting traffic once more. Train services at all Mass Transit Railway (MTR) stations ceased to operate by 2200 local time.

Philippines (Security threat level – 4): According to the Joint Typhoon Warning Center, as of 0900 UTC on 15 November 2019, Tropical Depression Kalmaegi — locally known as Ramon — was located approximately 600 km (373 mi) east-northeast of Manila and was moving northwest at 15 kph (9 mph). At that time, Kalmaegi was generating maximum sustained winds of 56 kph, with gusts of up to 74 kph. Kalmaegi is currently forecast to make landfall in northern Cagayan province, the northernmost province of Luzon Island, by 17 or 18 November. It is then expected to leave the island by 19 November. Authorities warned of light to moderate rainfall in the eastern areas of Cagayan and Isabela provinces, with the risk of moderate to intermittent heavy rains throughout Apayao, northern areas of Auroro and the remaining areas of Cagayan and Isabela provinces. Authorities have also warned of potential flash floods and landslides in the aforementioned areas.

EUROPE

Italy (Security threat level – 3): On 15 November 2019, high tides and associated flooding in Venice have resulted in disruptions in the city for a third consecutive day. Tourist sites, such as St. Mark’s Square, and schools remain closed due to the new tide, which was measured to be 160 cm (5.3 ft) high. The U.S. Consulate General in Milan has warned that public services, hotels and restaurants in Venice may be closed, and that boat services to Venice Marco Polo Airport (LIPZ/VCE) may be disrupted due to the high tides. The previous high tide, which occurred on 12 November, flooded 80% of the city. A Red Alert is in effect for the Veneto region, which includes Venice, due to flooding as a result of high tides, strong winds and rain. Additional information regarding the Red Alert is available on the Italian Civil Protection Department’s website . Authorities have warned that very high tides are expected to continue over the next several days.

SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA

South Africa (Security threat level – 4): South African Airways (SAA) staff members embarked on an indefinite strike action on 15 November 2019 to demand increased pay and job security. SAA had previously announced the cancellation of all domestic and international flights on 15-16 November. International flights operated by the carrier from Johannesburg’s OR Tambo International Airport (FAOR/JNB) will reportedly resume on 17 November; however, all domestic and regional flights at airports nationwide have been canceled through at least 18 November. SAA staff members — including cabin crew, check-in, ticketing and ground staff members — launched the strike amid SAA’s recent financial difficulties and proposal to cut more than 900 jobs. Travelers affected by the strike must contact the airline to rebook their arrangements by 30 November.

GOVERNMENT WARNINGS

Colombia (Security threat level – 4): On 14 November 2019, the U.K. Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) issued updated travel advice for Colombia, which reads in part as follows: “A national strike has been called for Thursday 21 November. There may be significant disruption, especially in Bogotá. Airports may close and major highways may be blocked at short notice. Public demonstrations can be confrontational and turn violent. You should remain vigilant, avoid all demonstrations and monitor local media for the latest information.”

Georgia (Security threat level – 3): On 15 November 2019, the U.S. Embassy in Tbilisi issued a Demonstration Alert, which reads in part as follows:

“Location: Outside the Parliament building in downtown Tbilisi and in various locations around Georgia, November 15-17

“Event: Potential for Ongoing Demonstration Activities

“Protest activity to continue today and throughout the weekend, especially around the Parliament building and Rustaveli Avenue in downtown Tbilisi. In particular, multiple large demonstrations are anticipated on Sunday afternoon and evening (November 17).

“U.S. government personnel have been advised to avoid large crowds and demonstrations and prepare for anticipated traffic delays and sporadic disruptions in that area due to crowds and an additional police presence.”

Nigeria (Security threat level – 5): On 14 November 2019, the U.K. Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) issued updated travel advice for Nigeria, which reads in part as follows: “Local elections for Governor will take place on 16 November in Bayelsa and Kogi states. Travel into and movement within the states will be restricted on election day. There have been reports of politically-related violence and deaths in recent days. The FCO continue to advise against travel to both states. If you’re in these areas or decide to travel, you should continue to avoid large gatherings, follow the advice of local authorities and use local radio and TV to stay updated on the current security situation.”