Worldview Security Update – October 14, 2019
14-Oct-19

AMERICAS

Ecuador (Security threat level – 3): As of the latest reports on 14 October 2019, the Ecuadorian military officially annulled a curfew order that was in effect in the Quito Metropolitan Area since 12 October. The curfew went into effect at 1500 local time (2000 UTC) on 12 October, although it was temporarily suspended in parts of the city from 1130 to 2000 local time on 13 October ahead of talks between authorities and indigenous leaders. In addition to declaring a curfew on 12 October, President Lenín Moreno placed the area under military control.

Meanwhile, on the evening of 13 October, Moreno announced that the Ecuadoran government would repeal and replace an October 3 decree that eliminated fuel subsidies. The decision followed dialogue between the government and indigenous leaders arranged by the U.N. and the Roman Catholic Church. Indigenous groups agreed to immediately halt the demonstrations, while Moreno agreed to pass new legislation that does more to help impoverished citizens. It remains unknown when officials will repeal the 3 October legislation.

Earlier on 13 October, hundreds of protesters gathered in Quito in defiance of the curfew and heavy military presence in the city; despite tensions, there were no clashes between protesters and security personnel. Meanwhile in Guayaquil, no protest actions occurred on 13 October. While Quito’s Mariscal Sucre International Airport (SEQM/UIO) and Guayaquil’s José Joaquín de Olmedo International Airport (SEGU/GYE) remained open, most flights were canceled through 13 October. In addition, airport officials advised travelers to monitor the status of scheduled flights and avoid traveling to the facilities if their flights were canceled or significantly delayed.

Previously, on 12 October, approximately 5,000 indigenous protesters gathered on 12 of October Avenue in the area of Quito’s El Arbolito Park before they marched toward the National Assembly in the city’s historic center. Demonstrators threw stones at riot police officers, who deployed tear gas to repel the demonstrators. A number of protesters and police officers were injured in the clashes. Meanwhile, there were no reports of anti-government protest actions in Guayaquil, where security forces restricted traffic on the National Unity Bridge connecting Guayaquil to the town of Durán. Metro services in the city also resumed normal operations.

On the same day, the U.S. Mission in Ecuador issued an alert concerning road blockades and demonstrations throughout the country, and stated that “all Embassy Quito personnel are being instructed to shelter in place. U.S. government personnel not already in-country are being advised not to return to Quito at this time.” It likewise advised that any U.S. citizens in Quito shelter in place; the same procedures were not in effect for personnel at the U.S. Consulate in Guayaquil.

In the afternoon hours of 11 October, riot police officers clashed with protesters near the National Assembly building in Quito. Police officers deployed tear gas to disperse demonstrators, who threw Molotov cocktails and other projectiles at security personnel. At least seven people were injured in the clashes.

Haiti (Security threat level – 4): At approximately 1500 local time (1900 UTC) on 11 October 2019, police officers fired shots in the air and deployed tear gas and water cannons toward anti-government protesters at Place Saint-Pierre in the Petion-Ville area of Port-au-Prince. The protesters had gathered to march to the presidential palace in Pélerin 5, located in the southern part of the city, to demand the resignation of President Jovenel Moïse. Several people, including a reporter, were injured in the clashes. Protesters also clashed with police officers elsewhere in the city earlier in the day after a journalist who had previously covered the anti-government protests was found dead in his vehicle on 10 October. Demonstrators also spilled oil on the streets and burned tires in protest; however, there were no reports of significant damage or injuries during these clashes.

ASIA

China (Security threat level – 3): On the evening of 14 October 2019, thousands of pro-democracy activists rallied at Chater Garden in Hong Kong’s Admiralty district to protest against the mask ban that went into effect on 5 October. All MTR services — except the Airport Express line — closed at 2200 local time (1400 UTC); the Airport Express line is only operating between Airport and Hong Kong stations at 10-minute intervals.

On 13 October riot police officers clashed with small groups of masked protesters who held flash mobs throughout Hong Kong, including in the Mong Kok, Yuen Long and Tai Po districts. Riot police officers deployed tear gas in the Sha Tin, Tuen Mun and Tsuen Wan areas after demonstrators damaged pro-China commercial establishments. Protesters also blocked roads, vandalized metro stations and several pro-China businesses, and threw at least 20 Molotov cocktails at Mong Kok police station. At approximately 1930 local time, protesters attacked two plainclothes police officers in Tseung Kwan O. Separately, outside of the Kwun Tong MTR station, an assailant slashed a uniformed police officer in the neck with a sharp object; the officer suffered non-life-threatening injuries. Police officers arrested two suspects at the scene. Meanwhile, at approximately 2000 local time, a small remotely-detonated improvised explosive device (IED) detonated near the intersection of Fife street and Nathan road in Mong Kok while police vehicles were present. The blast did not cause injuries or damage.

Previously, on 12 October, protesters threw Molotov cocktails into Kowloon Tong MTR station. While no one was injured in the attack; the station sustained serious damage. Demonstrators also gathered outside the Hong Kong Cultural Center in Tsim Sha Tsui. In addition, protesters blocked traffic along Salisbury, Haiphong and Nathan roads. Meanwhile, in Yau Ma Tei, protesters damaged several businesses and parts of the Kowloon Government Offices.

Japan (Security threat level – 1): As of 14 October 2019, evacuation orders remain in effect for at least 30,000 people in Japan following the passage of Typhoon Hagibis, which made landfall in Shizuouka’s Izu Peninsula on 12 October. Hagibis triggered flooding and landslides and prompted over a dozen rivers to overflow, causing levees along 21 waterways to collapse. Approximately 77,000 households in central and eastern parts of the country are without power and about 136,000 homes are without running water due to the storm. In addition, one third of East Japan Railway Company high-speed trains used for the Hokuriku Shinkansen line in Nagano Prefecture sustained flood-related damage; an estimated timeline for the full resumption of services on the Hokuriku line is not available. Authorities have deployed at least 100,000 police officers, firefighters, soldiers, coastguard personnel and other rescue workers, as well as approximately 100 helicopters, to conduct rescue operations. Thus far, there have been at least 56 storm-related fatalities and 204 injuries; 15 others remain missing.

Authorities advised more than 3 million people to evacuate in anticipation of Hagibis due to the forecast effects of the storm, including record-breaking rainfall, powerful winds, widespread floods, landslides and waves. Thousands of flights — both domestic and international — were canceled at Tokyo’s Narita International Airport (RJAA/NRT) and Haneda Airport (RJTT/HND). Additionally, thousands of businesses, stores, factories and public transportation systems were shut down as a precaution.

Although the storm has dissipated, heavy rainfall is in the forecast for some areas of central and eastern Japan, many of which remain flooded and have loose soil due to the typhoon. Officials have warned of the risk of additional landslides and flooding in these areas.

SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA

Guinea (Security threat level – 4): On 14 October 2019, a heavy security presence deployed throughout the capital Conakry and elsewhere in Guinea ahead of planned protests organized by the opposition National Front for the Defense of the Constitution (FNDC) coalition. As of the afternoon hours, security forces were working to disperse disruptive protests in several cities, including in Conakry. Clashes and gunfire were reported in several areas of Conakry, including the upper Wanindara and Cosa areas, according to local media. In addition, reports indicate that at least one person was killed and two others suffered non-fatal gunshot wounds in the city. Elsewhere in Guinea, schools and businesses are closed amid disruptive protests in the cities of Mamou, Labé and Nzérékoré.

Analyst Comment: The FNDC had previously announced plans to hold nationwide demonstrations to protest against proposed constitutional changes that would allow President Alpha Condé to seek a third term. Presidential elections are scheduled to take place in Guinea in October 2020; under the current constitution, Condé would be ineligible to seek a third term. The government has not publicly announced that a referendum on the issue will take place.

GOVERNMENT WARNINGS

Guinea (Security threat level – 4): On 13 October 2019, the U.S. Embassy in Conakry issued a Demonstration Alert, which reads in part as follows: "Due to reports of multiple protests planned in Conakry and throughout Guinea on Monday, October 14, and the potential for violence associated with these protests, Embassy Conakry has advised Embassy personnel against all but emergency movement beginning after dark tonight, Sunday Oct 13th and continuing until the morning of Tuesday, Oct 15, 2019, and is providing the same advice to U.S. citizens in Guinea. The Embassy urges U.S. citizens to remain in their residences and hotels during this period. Please also note that the U.S. Embassy is closed for a U.S. holiday on Monday, October 14."

Mozambique (Security threat level – 3): On 11 October 2019, the U.S. Embassy in Maputo issued a Security Alert regarding upcoming general elections in Mozambique, which reads in part as follows:

“Location: Areas North of Pemba in Cabo Delgado Province, Xai Xai in Gaza Province, and Nampula City in Nampula Province

“Event: National elections will take place in Mozambique on Tuesday, October 15, 2019. The campaign season has been marked by a recent increase in tensions, including some political violence. While the U.S. Embassy expects the elections to be relatively calm throughout most of the country and recognizes the Government of the Republic of Mozambique is working diligently to ensure elections are safe and orderly, we remind U.S. citizens to remain vigilant and aware of your surroundings. Due to ongoing extremist violence in districts north of Pemba, Cabo Delgado Province, recent violence against civil society groups in Xai Xai, Gaza Province, and credible threats in Nampula City, Nampula Province, the embassy encourages U.S. citizens to reconsider travel to these areas."