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Worldview Security Update – October 21, 2019
21-Oct-19

AMERICAS

Chile (Security threat level – 2): As of 21 October 2019, states of emergency are in effect in a number of Chilean regions and provinces amid violent protests over the cost of living that occurred across the country from 18-20 October. All areas of the Santiago, Antofagasta, Bio-Bio, Coquimbo, O’Higgins and Valparaíso regions are under states of emergency. The measure is also in effect in the provinces of Chacabuco, Concepción, Talca and Valdivia, in addition to the cities of Chillán, Chillán Viejo, La Serena, Padre Las Casas, Punta Arenas, Rancagua, Temuco and Viña del Mar. Additionally, on 20 October the government renewed curfews in the cities of Concepción, Santiago and Valparaíso. The curfews — some of which the government imposed on 19 October — took effect at the following times on 20 October and extended to 0600 local time on 21 October: Concepción from 2200 local (0100 UTC on 21 October); Santiago from 1900 local, and Valparaíso from 2000 local.


Locations under a state of emergency are under military control; consequently, military personnel are deployed in several cities. Moreover, the state of emergency allows authorities to restrict assembly and movement. Despite the curfew, individuals in Santiago are able to apply for a “salvoconducto” (safe conduct pass) in order to travel during curfew hours. Travelers to Santiago’s Arturo Merino Benítez International Airport (SCEL/SCL) can present their boarding pass to authorities as a letter of safe passage. Meanwhile, travelers who land at the airport will be given a “salvoconducto.” Airline staff, pilots and cabin crew may also use their airport pass cards as a safe conduct pass.

As of the latest reports, transportation services remain disrupted in multiple cities across the country due to the unrest. For example, public bus services in Santiago have been suspended until 23 October and metro operations are suspended. Meanwhile, in Arica, buses are not operating. In Valparaíso, metro services are only partly operational. A large number of passengers were stranded at Santiago’s Arturo Merino Benítez International Airport on 20 October following the cancellation and reprogramming of flights operating to and from the facility; over 100 flights were either canceled or delayed. Meanwhile, in a statement posted on the carrier’s website, LATAM Chile announced that it is allowing passengers with flights scheduled through the airport between 20-22 October to rebook flights free of charge.

Violence broke out during protests across the country from 18-20 October. While the protests initially began in response to a now-annulled metro fare price hike, these demonstrations quickly turned into protests against the rising cost of living. Incidents of looting, rioting and vandalism — and clashes between security personnel and protesters — occurred amid the protest actions. Violence, looting, arson and vandalism occurred in numerous cities, including in Santiago, Valparaíso, Concepción, La Serena, Rancagua, Antofagasta, Coquimbo and Arica, among others. The criminal acts caused significant damage to public facilities. On 20 October protesters in several cities — including Santiago, La Serena and Rancagua — defied the curfew. Security personnel deployed tear gas and water cannons at protesters in these cities, where acts of looting and arson also occurred.

On 19 October demonstrations across the country also escalated into violence. In Santiago, demonstrators gathered at Plaza Baquedano (also called Plaza Italia), prompting authorities to deploy additional military units to the city to discourage further protest activity. Moreover, protesters looted stores and set public property on fire, which prompted security personnel to deploy tear gas and water cannons in response. Similar to the following day, protests in the city continued after the beginning of curfew hours. Violent protests also occurred elsewhere in the country, with acts of arson that targeted public transportation stations occurring in Valparaíso and La Serena.

Meanwhile, on 18 October police officers and protesters clashed after thousands of people vandalized and set fire to metro stations in Santiago, causing widespread damage throughout the city. Violence broke out after students began jumping barriers at metro stations to protest against the increase in metro fares.

Thus far, at least 11 people have been killed during the riots in Santiago, including five people who died in a fire that broke out at a winery in the city’s Renca neighborhood. In addition, three people died on 19 October following a fire that broke out at a supermarket. Security personnel have arrested at least 1,400 people thus far, including 614 in Santiago and 848 elsewhere in the country.

ASIA

Bangladesh (Security threat level – 4): On 20 October 2019, police officers opened fire on thousands of protesters in Borhanuddin — located on the island of Bhola — after they gathered to protest against Facebook messages that defamed the Prophet Muhammad, and to demand the execution of a Hindu man who allegedly posted the messages. Authorities had previously charged the suspect with inciting religious tension through online messages. Police officers claimed that they fired in self-defense after protesters began throwing rocks. Additional police officers and border guards were deployed to the area to mitigate the tense situation. At least four people were killed and 50 others, including police officers, were injured during the violence.

China (Security threat level – 3): Protests continued in Hong Kong over the weekend of 19-20 October 2019. Although protests on 19 October were largely peaceful, protesters and police officers clashed during unauthorized protests on 20 October. Protesters threw Molotov cocktails and other projectiles at a number of police stations — including at Tsim Sha Tsui MTR station — and at riot police officers, who fired tear gas, rubber bullets and water cannons containing an irritant solution in response. Sporadic clashes and demonstrations continued until late in the evening. Protesters vandalized a number of structures throughout the city, including multiple train stations and businesses owned or operated by pro-Beijing entities, during the unrest. In Tsim Sha Tsui, protesters damaged public utilities and shops. In addition, protesters in Yau Ma Tei erected roadblocks along Nathan Road and set a number of fires at roadway intersections in the area. Meanwhile, at 1700 local time (0900 UTC), MTR officials announced the suspension of all MTR, light rail, and MTR bus services beginning at 2200 local; at least 13 stations were closed ahead of the announcement. The Airport Express line remained open, with limited services between Airport and Hong Kong stations from 1300 local. The Civil Human Rights Front (CHRF) originally planned the protest march, but authorities banned the event. However, protest organizers decided to go ahead and hold the march, which was originally scheduled to conclude at the West Kowloon station; the CHRF claimed that approximately 350,000 people attended.

On the evening of 21 October, a small group of demonstrators gathered at Yuen Long MTR station to protest against police inaction three months prior when suspected members of organized crime groups attacked protesters and commuters at the station. The station suspended operations at 1400 local time, and the adjacent Yoho Mall closed early due to the planned demonstrations. There is a large police presence patrolling the streets and the most recent reports indicate that protesters attempted to erect barricades on Castle Peak road outside the station. Police officers arrested at least one protester.

AUSTRALASIA

South Pacific Islands (Security threat level – 1): On 20 October 2019, Typhoon Bualoi formed in the South Pacific Ocean. According to the Joint Typhoon Warning Center, as of 0900 UTC on 21 October, Bualoi was located approximately 310 km (193 mi) east-northeast of Guam. At that time, the storm was moving northwest at 15 kph (9 mph), and was generating maximum sustained winds of 176 kph with gusts of up to 213 kph. On its current track, Bualoi is expected to pass within 97 km of Saipan during the early hours of 22 October. Authorities in the Northern Mariana Islands have declared a state of emergency. Meanwhile, a Typhoon Warning is in effect for Tinian and Saipan islands, while a Typhoon Watch is in place for Rota island. Bualoi is expected to continue on its current track through 24 October before shifting northeast.

EUROPE

Italy (Security threat level – 3): Trade union leaders have called for nationwide strikes in Italy beginning on the evening of 24 October through 25 October 2019 to demand an increase in wages and a reduction of working hours. The strike is expected to affect airports, air traffic controllers, buses, trams, metros and trains throughout the country. Eurocontrol has warned that disruptions to air navigation services are expected across the country. The strikes are expected to last 24 hours across all sectors, and the government has not announced minimum guaranteed services. Travelers should contact their airlines for more information on possible flight disruptions. Moreover, travelers and expatriates in the country should prepare for transportation disruptions.

Spain (Security threat level – 3): On 21 October 2019, more than 1,000 protesters gathered near Spain’s government delegation offices in Barcelona, Catalonia’s regional capital, to ask Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez to begin dialogue with pro-independence supporters. The visiting prime minister has previously dismissed calls for dialogue with Catalonia’s President Quim Torra, calling for Torra to condemn the ongoing unrest. Approximately 600 people have been injured during clashes between police officers and protesters since the pro-independence protests began on 14 October and police officers have arrested over 200 protesters. While the intensity of the violence has declined, further demonstrations are planned through 26 October.

On 20 October hundreds of protesters gathered in front of the national government headquarters in Barcelona during the seventh consecutive day of protests. Protesters threw trash at police vans while other groups blocked off roadways. Additionally, pro-union supporters organized a rally outside the regional government headquarters in Barcelona. This gathering concluded peacefully. However, on the night of 19 October riot police officers fired rubber bullets to disperse protesters who had gathered in Barcelona’s Urquinaona square, as demonstrators set a number of fires and threw projectiles at the officers. Earlier in the day, thousands of demonstrators gathered in the square and along the Via Laietana as the protests continued in the city. Renfe — Spain’s state rail transport carrier — temporarily closed a number of metro stops near Urquinaona ahead of the protest.

Separately, in Madrid — the national capital — demonstrations occurred at the Plaza del Callao and near the Puerta del Sol on 19 October. Riot police carried out a number of baton charges to disperse demonstrators. At least 26 protesters and police officers were injured and 10 were arrested over the course of the day in Madrid.

MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA

Lebanon (Security threat level – 4): As of 21 October 2019, anti-government protests are ongoing in Beirut and other urban centers across Lebanon for the fifth consecutive day to protest against economic inequality and government corruption. Hundreds of thousands of anti-government protesters demonstrated across the country, including in Beirut and Tripoli, over the weekend of 19-20 October. While the protests were relatively peaceful, sporadic clashes between pro- and anti-government activists occurred, including one incident in Sidon in which at least one protester was shot by members of the pro-government Amal Movement. Protesters temporarily blocked major highways and city streets in Beirut, Tripoli and elsewhere in the country, causing significant traffic disruptions and delays to some flights at Beirut-Rafic Hariri International Airport (OLBA/BEY). Despite the traffic disruptions, the airport was fully open and flight operations continued as normal.

Meanwhile, on 20 October the Saudi ambassador to Beirut announced that at least 132 Saudi nationals had been evacuated from Lebanon due to the unrest; the Saudi and Emirati governments previously issued travel warnings for Lebanon on 18 October, while Bahrain called on its citizens to evacuate the country.

On 18 October police officers fired tear gas and rubber bullets at protesters in Beirut’s commercial district. At least 52 police officers and 23 protesters were injured during the clashes and 70 protesters were arrested. Protesters burned tires and blocked major highways throughout the country.

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