Worldview Security Update – November 20, 2019
20-Nov-19

AMERICAS

Barbados (Security threat level – 1): As of the latest reports on 20 November 2019, power outages continue to affect some parts of Barbados for the third consecutive day, disrupting water supply on the island. The island-wide blackout initially started on 18 November after the Barbados Light & Power Company (BL&P) suffered an engine failure; the BL&P has blamed the malfunction on the compound negative effects of using poorly filtered fuel in outdated generators. Although relevant crew restored power to most areas of the island by 0000 local time (0400 UTC) on 19 November, power outages occurred again later on the morning of 19 November and have since continued in some parts of the island.

The blackout affected Barbados Water Authority (BWA) pumping stations and notably disrupted water supply from 18-19 November. BWA officials stated that all pumping stations will resume operations after power is fully restored and urged customers to store water in the event that outages continue. Water tankers were also deployed to the affected areas. A number of schools and businesses closed due to the power outages, while other businesses — such as hotels and resorts — continued operations with power generators. Authorities are actively working to fully restore electricity on the island.

Chile (Security threat level – 2): As of the morning of 20 November 2019, small-scale anti-government demonstrations are ongoing in Chile. Taxi drivers have conducted a "go-slow" protest along Santiago’s Gran Avenida, causing traffic disruptions. Additionally, roadblocks have been reported on Route A-16 and Route 5 North in the Tarapacá Region.

On the previous day, demonstrations continued throughout the country, including in the capital Santiago. In the capital city, police officers used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse protesters, who threw Molotov cocktails at officers.

In another development on the same day, Chile’s police chief announced the suspension of the use of rubber bullets against protesters after a study showed that such projectiles could contain as little as 20% rubber. The study also revealed that rubber bullets could contain lead and other harmful substances. However, the police chief maintained that rubber bullets and live rounds could be used “as an extreme measure and exclusively for self-defense, when there is imminent danger of death.”

Colombia (Security threat level – 4): On 21 November 2019, at least 150 trade unions and civil society groups across Colombia will embark on a “paro nacional,” which will comprise a countrywide general labor strike accompanied by street demonstrations. These demonstrations are scheduled to occur in cities across Colombia, including in Bogotá, Cartagena, Cali, Medellín and Bucaramanga, to protest against President Iván Duque’s economic policies, among other grievances. In Bogotá, marches are expected to begin at 0900 local time (1400 UTC) on 21 November starting from National Park, the Cundinamarca Governorate, National University, Sevillana metro station, Hospital San Juan de Dios, and the Chicó neighborhood, and will end at Plaza de Bolívar in the afternoon hours. Elsewhere in the country, indigenous communities in Cauca will demonstrate from 21-22 November. A representative for Air Traffic Controllers in Colombia has stated that air traffic controllers ideologically support the strike; however, they provide an essential public service and therefore cannot legally participate in work stoppages. Meanwhile, a spokesperson for the Civil Aviation Workers Union stated that at least half of its 3,000 members at airports nationwide will participate in scheduled assemblies between 0600-1000 local time.

On the previous day, the Colombian government announced that it will close all land and river borders with Brazil, Ecuador, Peru and Venezuela in preparation for the countrywide strike. The border closure will be in effect from 0000 local time on 20 November through 0500 local time on 22 November. Authorities stated that the measure is intended to limit potential violence during demonstrations by preventing foreign provocateurs from entering the country. In a related development on 18 November, Colombian officials announced that they will authorize mayors and governors to adopt emergency measures — such as declaring curfews and imposing restrictions on carrying weapons and prohibitions on the sale of alcohol — as needed during the 21 November demonstrations to prevent probable violence. While organizers have called for the demonstrations to remain peaceful and have been attempting to coordinate with authorities to ensure this, disruptions are highly likely. Travelers and expatriates in Colombia should plan accordingly and avoid all demonstrations to lower the likelihood that they will be collaterally affected by any possible violence at protests.

MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA

Syria / Israel (Security threat levels – 5 / 3): On 20 November 2019, the Israeli military stated that it had successfully struck dozens of Syrian and allied Iranian forces in Syria during “wide-scale” retaliatory strikes in Syria. The strikes targeted locations in several suburbs of Damascus, including Kisweh and Qudsaya, as well as Mazzeh Military Airport (OS67) in the western part of the city. Syrian state news agency SANA claimed that Syrian air defenses intercepted most of the Israeli missiles; however, the Israeli military stated that its fighter aircraft hit multiple targets, including surface-to-air missiles, weapons warehouses, military bases and several Syrian aerial defense batteries. SANA also stated that two civilians were killed and a number of others were wounded after being hit by shrapnel in Saasaa, located southwest of Damascus. Meanwhile, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights claimed that at least 11 fighters were killed. Israel launched the strikes in retaliation for rockets fired toward the Israeli-controlled area of the Golan Heights on 19 November.

SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA

Zimbabwe (Security threat level – 4): On 20 November 2019, riot police officers in central Harare used tear gas and batons to disperse supporters of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party who had gathered outside the Richard Morgan Tsvangirai (MRT) House — the party’s headquarters — ahead of a speech by MDC leader Nelson Chamisa. Security personnel blocked Nelson Mandela Avenue from Angwa to First Streets and forcibly dispersed those gathered for Chamisa’s address. An unspecified number of people, including passersby and journalists in the vicinity of the MRT House, were injured in the violence.

GOVERNMENT WARNINGS

Cameroon (Security threat level – 4): On 20 November 2019, the U.S. Embassy in Yaoundé issued a Security Alert, which reads in part as follows:

“Location: North and Far North Regions

“Event: U.S. citizens in the North and Far North Regions of Cameroon should take all necessary precaution to prevent attacks, kidnappings, or other associated actions by terrorist groups seeking to retaliate for the death of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. The Embassy reminds U.S. citizens that our April 9, 2019, Travel Advisory for Cameroon advises no travel to these regions due to the threat of crime, kidnapping, and terrorism.”

Lesser Antilles (Security threat level – 1): On 19 November 2019, the U.S. Embassy in Bridgetown, Barbados issued a Demonstration Alert for Dominica, which reads in part as follows:

“Location: In the capital of Roseau and possibly near government buildings throughout Dominica.

“Event: Demonstrations and protests are expected in advance of presidential elections on December 6, 2019. Recent demonstrations have involved police use of tear gas.

“U.S. government personnel and others have been urged to exercise caution if planning to travel to Dominica over the next several weeks.”

Sri Lanka (Security threat level – 4): On 20 November 2019, the U.K. Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) updated its travel advice for Sri Lanka to include the following: “The Sri Lankan presidential elections took place on 16 November 2019. There were sporadic incidents of violence during the campaign and it is possible these will continue into the post – election period. You should take appropriate security precautions, follow local advice, comply with security instructions and avoid large gatherings, protests and rallies.”