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Worldview Security Update – October 29, 2019


Chile (Security threat level – 2) : Disruptive protests are ongoing across Chile on 29 October 2019. In the Valparaíso region, protesters erected barricades along Route 68 — the main highway that connects the capital Santiago and Valparaíso — near Casablanca, disrupting traffic. Meanwhile, security personnel on the island of Chiloé clashed with demonstrators, who blocked a road in the city of Castro. Additional protests are planned across the country later in the day.

Limited metro services have resumed in the capital Santiago following the overnight suspension of services due to violence that broke out during protest actions the previous evening. However, there are long lines at metro stations throughout the city. In addition, heavy traffic is being reported along Avenida La Alameda in the Las Rejas sector, where several stoplights are not operational.

Violence escalated during anti-government protests in major urban centers across the country in the late afternoon and evening hours on 28 October. In Santiago, a peaceful march along Avenida Alameda Bernardo O’Higgins to the Palacio de la Moneda turned violent after security personnel deployed tear gas and water cannons to disperse the demonstrators, who had gathered approximately 200 m (656 ft) from the presidential palace. Security personnel subsequently clashed with protesters, who set up barricades throughout the capital; the clashes lasted approximately 4-5 hours. In addition, a group of looters pilfered and set fire to a shopping center at the corner of Santa Rosa and la Alameda avenues; the fire spread subsequently to two adjacent office buildings. In another incident, looters targeted a pharmacy. Elsewhere in the city, groups of protesters set fire to metro stations, prompting authorities to suspend all metro services until 0700 local time (1000 UTC) on 29 October.

Elsewhere in the country, unrest — including looting — occurred in several cities, including in Antofagasta, Copiapó, Osorno and Valdivia. In addition, unknown individuals allegedly looted trucks on the Autopista Central, which is Chile’s primary north-south route, according to social media reports. Security personnel and protesters also clashed in Valparaíso, Rancagua and Concepción.

Analyst Comment: These events illustrate the ongoing potential for violence to break out as demonstrations continue in major urban centers across Chile, despite the reshuffling of Chile’s Cabinet on 28 October. While protest-related violence has lessened compared with that of the previous week, the situation remains volatile.

Mexico (Security threat level – 4): As of 29 October 2019, states of emergency are in effect for the cities of Ensenada, Playas de Rosarito and Tecate due to ongoing wildfires in Baja California state that have consumed more than 14,165 hectares (35,000 acres) of land since 24 October. Authorities have evacuated at least 1,645 people from affected or threatened areas. At least three people have died and two others suffered injuries as a result of the fires, which have also destroyed more than 150 structures. Authorities temporarily closed a number of roadways, as well as schools and universities, in the affected towns. As of the latest report from the National Civil Protection Office, more than 80% of the fires are currently contained; the three remaining fires are burning near the cities of Ensenada and Tecate.

United States (Security threat level – 2): As of 29 October 2019, a state of emergency remains active in the state of California due to wildfires burning in Northern and Southern California. In Southern California, authorities in Los Angeles County issued mandatory evacuation orders after the Getty Fire broke out at approximately 0130 local time (0830 UTC) on 28 October. Thus far, the fire has consumed 618 acres (250 hectares) of land and destroyed 14 structures; the blaze is 5% contained. Live updates on the fire and evacuation information are available here . The nearby Tick Fire, which is burning northeast of Santa Clarita, is 82% contained; the blaze has destroyed 24 homes and damaged 40 others thus far. Meanwhile, firefighters extinguished the Oak Fire in Calabasas during the evening of 28 October; the blaze consumed 10 acres. 

Meanwhile, in Northern California, evacuation orders remain in effect for approximately 180,000 people in Sonoma County due to the Kincade Fire. At this time, the fire has consumed at least 73,000 acres of land and is 15% contained. The blaze has destroyed at least 123 structures. A map displaying real-time fire and evacuation information for Sonoma County is available here . The Burris and Rawson Fires — which broke out over the weekend of 26-27 October — have slowly dissipated and are now 20% and 15% contained, respectively. Additional information regarding fires burning across the state of California can be found here .

In a related development, as of 29 October, the Pacific Gas & Electric Co. (PG & E) has announced that mandatory power outages will come into effect in several counties in Northern California in an attempt to prevent additional wildfires from spreading. The power outages are expected to affect approximately 1.8 million people in parts of the San Francisco Bay Area, Napa Valley and areas surrounding Sacramento. Meanwhile, as of last report, power has been restored to approximately 375,000 residences that were affected by a previous outage. The decision comes after PG & E was previously blamed for creating large wildfires in 2017 and 2018. Since then, the company has worked to protect against the spread of wildfires by decreasing electricity consumption and fixing broken electrical lines.


Philippines (Security threat level – 4): On the morning of 29 October 2019, a 6.6 magnitude earthquake that struck approximately 15 km (9 mi) east of Bual — located in Sultan Kudarat province on the southern island of Mindanao — resulted in damage and casualties across Mindanao Island. According to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), the quake struck at a shallow depth of 15.3 km. Tremors were felt throughout Mindanao and as far north as Cebu City, which is located on Cebu Island, approximately 415 km north of the epicenter. The towns of Tulunan and Makilala — located approximately 15 km and 20 km east and northeast of Bual, respectively — experienced the worst damage. The earthquake also caused several buildings to collapse, including an event center in Kidapawan City, the capital of Cotabato province. At least six people died and approximately 50 more suffered injuries. Casualties occurred in several towns near the epicenter, including in Magsaysay (approximately 30 km east of Bual); the casualties were the result of falling debris. The earthquake also downed electricity posts and cut power supply in several provinces. Elsewhere on Mindanao Island, the quake caused minor structural damage in Cagayan de Oro City, located about 115 km north of Bual. At least four aftershocks measuring between 5.0 and 5.8 magnitude followed the initial quake.


Iraq (Security threat level – 5): On 29 October 2019, anti-government protests continued across Iraq, with protesters in Baghdad continuing to camp out in Baghdad’s Tahrir Square in defiance of a 0000-0600 local time (2100-0300 UTC) curfew. Violence resumed during the day, when security forces deployed tear gas against protesters, but there were no reports of casualties.

Meanwhile, in the southern city of Karbala, unidentified gunmen opened fire on anti-government protesters and drove motor vehicles through crowds. Unconfirmed reports claim that the gunmen were members of Iraqi security forces. At least 13 people were killed and another 143 were injured. Iraqi officials dispute the reporting, claiming that no protesters were killed in the event. Earlier on 28 October, the Iraqi government declared a curfew from 1800 local time on 28 October until the morning of 29 October in Karbala; however, similar to Baghdad, protesters defied the curfew.

Lebanon (Security threat level – 4): As of the afternoon of 29 October 2019, street clashes between supporters of militant group Hizballah and protesters are ongoing in downtown Beirut. The clashes broke out after Hizballah members and supporters of political party al-Amal attacked protesters on Beirut’s Ring Bridge, as well as journalists who were reporting on the protest. Conflicting reports indicate that the attackers may have been armed with sticks. The Lebanese military and security forces have intervened.


Guinea (Security threat level – 4): On 29 October 2019, the U.K. Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) issued updated travel advice for Guinea, which reads in part as follows: “It is anticipated that there will be further disruption in Conakry this week as The National Front for the Defense of the Constitution (FNDC) has announced a funeral procession for Wednesday 30 October to commemorate those who died during recent demonstrations. Also supporters of the President will gather on 31 October to greet him at the airport on his return to Conakry.”