Worldview Security Update – October 17, 2019
17-Oct-19

AMERICAS

Haiti (Security threat level – 4): A large anti-government demonstration is planned to take place in Port-au-Prince on 17 October 2019, following clashes between police officers and protesters on the previous day. On 16 October police officers clashed with protesters during funeral processions in six cities for 11 people killed during recent demonstrations across Haiti. In Port-au-Prince, law enforcement officers used live ammunition to disperse mourners after they set fire to a police vehicle. In response, protesters prevented a fire truck from extinguishing the flames. At least two people were injured during the event. Elsewhere in Port-au-Prince, police officers in the Delmas neighborhood used tear gas to disperse the crowd after the demonstrators burned tires while en route to a nearby cemetery.

Peru (Security threat level – 3): On 16 October 2019, the Peruvian government declared a 30-day state of emergency in an Andean area surrounding a section of the Apurimac-Cusco-Arequipa road corridor in the southern province of Chumbivilcas, Cuzco department. The state of emergency applies to roads that are adjacent to the corridor and within 500 m (0.3 mi) of the corridor in the districts of Capacmarca, Colquemarca, Chamaca and Velille. The measure suspends the right of assembly and authorizes security forces to remove blockades on roads leading to the Las Bambas copper mine, which Chinese company MMG Ltd. owns and operates. Authorities later removed the roadblocks without any violence. Communities had established roadblocks and disrupted operations at the copper mine since 22 September to demand compensation for the use of the road to transport goods to and from the mine.  

United States (Security threat level – 2): As of the morning of 17 October 2019, a powerful coastal storm is affecting the northeastern region of the United States. The storm brought strong winds and heavy rains overnight on 16-17 October, leaving more than 500,000 homes and businesses without electricity in the states of Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Rhode Island. Airports in the region, including New York’s La Guardia International Airport (KLGA/LGA) and New Jersey’s Newark Liberty International Airport (KEWR/EWR), are experiencing flight delays and cancellations, which are expected to continue through 18 October. In addition, ground transportation is disrupted due to flash flooding, downed trees and fallen power lines on roadways. The storm has also affected public transportation, with significant delays reported on the commuter rail in Boston, Massachusetts, and disruptions to Amtrak rail services in Portland, Maine.

ASIA

China (Security threat level – 3): Between 18 and 21 October 2019, multiple protests are planned throughout Hong Kong. On 18 October demonstrators plan to form human chains at Mass Transit Railway (MTR) stations along the Tsuen Wan, Kwun Tong, Island and East Rail lines from 1900-2100 local time (1100-1300 UTC).

Beginning at 1930 local time on 19 October a prayer rally is scheduled to begin at Chater Garden in Central. Additional details are currently unknown.

The Civil Human Rights Front (CHRF) is organizing a march for 20 October that will proceed from Salisbury Garden in Tsim Sha Tsui to the West Kowloon railway station, which is located approximately 2.4 km to the northwest, beginning at 1330 local time; the march is being held to protest against the mask ban and to demand an independent inquiry into allegations of police brutality. The CHRF has sought permission to stage this demonstration; authorities have previously rejected multiple protest applications by the CHRF, which led the group to cancel rallies. It remains unknown if the CHRF will cancel the event if authorities banned the march.

Lastly, beginning at 1900 local time on 21 October, protesters intend to stage a sit-in at Yuen Long MTR station to mark the three-month anniversary of an attack on protesters by suspected members of organized crime groups.

Philippines (Security threat level – 4): At approximately 1935 local time (1135 UTC) on 16 October 2019, a 6.4 magnitude earthquake struck the coastal Sultan Kudarat province, on Mindanao island. According to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), the quake was centered about 7 km (4 mi) east-northeast of Columbio and had a shallow depth of 14 km. Several aftershocks followed the initial earthquake. Following the quake, residents living in Malita — the capital town of Davao Occidental province — fled to higher ground as a precaution, although authorities did not issue a tsunami warning. A number of buildings in Magsaysay and Digo city (Davao del Sur province), M’lang municipality (North Cotabato province) and Datu Pagas (Maguindanao province) sustained damage. In addition, Kidapawan city (North Kotobato) lost power and a shopping mall in General Santos city — located approximately 60 km south of Columbio municipality — caught fire. At least four people were killed, including one in Datu Paglas and three in Magsaysay town. In addition, at least 50 others suffered quake-related injuries.

EUROPE

Spain (Security threat level – 3): As of 17 October 2019, a general strike is scheduled in Catalonia’s regional capital Barcelona and elsewhere in the region for 18 October. The Intersindical-CSC and Intersindical Alternativa de Catalunya (IAC) labor unions called for the strike to demand an increase in the minimum wage and to condemn labor legislative reforms they deem harmful to workers. The strike is expected to affect buses, the Barcelona Metro, trams and train services. Government officials established a minimum mandatory of 50% for services between 0630-0930 local time (0430-0930 UTC) and 1700-2000 local time. While there are no indications that the strike will notably affect the aviation sector, several airlines, including Iberia Airlines, American Airlines and United Airlines, are allowing customers to rebook without change fees due to the strike. Travelers to the city during this time frame should check with their airline for additional information.

Participants of the five independence marches — which began in the cities of Berga, Girona, Tarragona, Tàrrega and Vic on 16 October — should arrive in Barcelona on 18 October. These marches are likely to affect transportation services in and around Barcelona. Significant roadway disruptions are forecast as protesters block highways connecting these cities to Barcelona. In addition, union leaders have previously called for vehicles to block roadways and conduct “slow go” demonstrations.

Analyst Comment: The strike actions follow a series of pro-independence protests — in which tens of thousands of people have participated — throughout the region in response to the Supreme Court’s sentencing of nine Catalan political leaders. Thus far, more than 250 people have been injured during clashes between police officers and the protesters, while police officers have arrested at least 70 protesters.

Spain (Security threat level – 3): On the evening of 16 October 2019, tens of thousands of protesters gathered in Barcelona for the third consecutive night of protests related to the Supreme Court’s sentencing of nine Catalan political leaders. Police officers fired foam bullets and conducted baton charges as protesters threw Molotov cocktails and other projectiles and set fire to police barricades. Police officers warned residents to avoid the city center area overnight on 16-17 October, as emergency crews attempted to combat fires and disperse protesters. Separately, clashes also occurred in the other Catalan cities of Girona and Lleida. At least 96 people were injured during the demonstrations and police officers arrested more than 20 protesters.

United Kingdom (Security threat level – 3): On 17 October 2019, Extinction Rebellion protesters disrupted services at several London Underground stations — including Stratford, Canning Town and Shadwell — and caused the partial suspension of services along the Jubilee Line and Docklands Light Railway (DLR). The protesters climbed on trains during rush hour, which prompted the disruptions. The British Transport Police (BTP) increased patrols throughout the London Underground and at other rail hubs in the city due to the protests. The demonstrations occurred despite a ban on all climate change protests organized by Extinction Rebellion in the city. Police officers arrested at least nine protesters at various stations.

GOVERNMENT WARNINGS

Turkmenistan (Security threat level – 3): On 17 October 2019, the U.S. Embassy in Ashgabat issued a Security Alert regarding Turkmenistan Airlines that reads in part as follows:

“Location: Turkmenistan, countrywide

“Update to security alert dated February 7, 2019: Recently, the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) authorized Turkmenistan Airlines to resume flights to the European Union following a suspension. U.S. Embassy personnel have been authorized to resume using Turkmenistan Airlines for both domestic and international flights.

Background

“On February 7, 2019, the U.S. Embassy sent a security alert advising U.S. citizens that the European Safety Aviation Agency (EASA) suspended Turkmenistan Airlines flights to the European Union. As a result of the suspension, U.S. Embassy personnel were banned from flying on Turkmenistan Airlines on official travel and U.S. citizens were advised to take the suspension into consideration when booking flights.”