Worldview Security Update – October 8, 2019
8-Oct-19

AMERICAS

Ecuador (Security threat level – 3): Protests against the elimination of fuel subsidies are expected to continue across Ecuador on 8 October 2019. Indigenous groups, labor unions, social organizations and several transport groups plan to embark on a nationwide strike on 9 October, while indigenous groups from across the country plan to march in Quito as well.

During an address to the nation on 7 October, President Lenín Moreno announced the temporary transfer of the seat of government to Guayaquil from Quito as a result of the protests. Shortly thereafter, Quito Mayor Jorge Yunda Machado declared a state of emergency in the city. Throughout the day, clashes occurred between protesters and riot police officers as road blockades and demonstrations continued in major cities, including in Quito and Guayaquil. In Quito, a group of protesters set fire to an armored vehicle and attacked a firefighters’ vehicle. Demonstrators also vandalized and attempted to storm the National Assembly and the State Comptroller’s Office.

Meanwhile, officials in Guayaquil closed the Bridge of National Unity to traffic in both directions as protesters blocked roads. Police officers used tear gas to disperse protesters in downtown Guayaquil. Elsewhere, hundreds of indigenous demonstrators clashed with riot police officers in the town of Machachi as they marched toward Quito, where security officers deployed tear gas to disperse the crowds. Additionally, demonstrators in the Amazon region occupied Sacha oilfield facilities, which caused authorities to shut down production. There were no reports of injuries during the day’s protests, although the demonstrations caused widespread transportation disruptions. Since protests began on 3 October, one person has been killed, 77 people have been injured, and more than 450 others have been detained.

Analyst Comment: It remains uncertain what exactly is entailed in the temporary transfer of the seat of government from Quito to Guayaquil. Additionally, authorities have not stated how Quito’s state of emergency differs from the national state of emergency declared by President Moreno on 3 October. Currently, there are no reports of additional deployments of military or security forces to the affected areas. Protests are likely to continue for the foreseeable future, as Moreno stated that the elimination of gasoline subsidies — which sparked the protests — will not be reversed; the umbrella indigenous organization CONAIE had previously stated that demonstrations will continue until the government withdraws the measure.

Haiti (Security threat level – 4): On 7 October 2019, security personnel clashed with protesters in Port-au-Prince as anti-government demonstrations entered their fourth week. Protesters burned vehicles and threw stones and other projectiles at security personnel, who fired tear gas and live ammunition in response. Violence also occurred in the Champ Mars area near the National Palace and throughout other areas in downtown Port-au-Prince. At least two people were killed during the day’s clashes, while at least 10 others were injured. So far, at least 17 people in total have been killed and approximately 200 others injured in the ongoing protests. While demonstrations have not been announced for 8 October, sporadic protests in Port-au-Prince are likely.

Mexico (Security threat level – 4): On 7 October 2019, protesting taxi drivers severely disrupted ground transport throughout Mexico City, including at Benito Juárez International Airport (MMMX/MEX). Protesters blocked traffic in both directions at Terminal 1 and also at Terminal 2’s roundabout. Disruptions occurred throughout Mexico City’s main thoroughfares, including near the Angel of Independence. While taxi drivers originally scheduled the demonstration to end at 1400 local time (1900 UTC) on 7 October, the protests continued into the late afternoon. Protest organizers stated that the demonstrations would continue for an indefinite period of time; however, there are no indications that related protests are ongoing in Mexico City on 8 October. The taxi drivers are protesting to demand that the government regulate rideshare drivers affiliated with services such as Uber and Cabify.

AUSTRALASIA

Guam / Japan / South Pacific Islands (Security threat levels – 1 / 1 / 1): According to the Joint Typhoon Warning Center, as of 0900 UTC on 8 October 2019, Super Typhoon Hagibis was located approximately 510 km (315 mi) north-northwest of Andersen Air Force Base on Guam, and was moving west-northwest at 24 kph (15 mph). At that time, Hagibis was generating maximum sustained winds of 250 kph with gusts of up to 305 kph. On its current track, Hagibis is forecast to make landfall on the Izu Peninsula in Shizuoka prefecture by 12 October. The storm is projected to produce high waves in Okinawa and the Ogasawara Islands, located south of Tokyo, through 9 and 10 October. Currently, Hagibis is expected to weaken as it approaches Japan.

EUROPE

Germany (Security threat level – 3): On 7 October 2019, a man stole a truck and drove it into a line of vehicles waiting at a traffic light near the central railway station in Limburg, located in the central state of Hesse. According to police reports, the truck crashed into eight vehicles, leaving at least eight people injured. Police officers detained the driver and are investigating the crash as a possible act of terror.

Italy (Security threat level – 3): Pilots and flight attendants for the Italian airline Alitalia announced a general strike for 9 October 2019 in response to delayed negotiations on a plan to purchase the bankrupt airline. Approximately 200 international and domestic flights were canceled in response to the strike; Alitalia officials stated that 70% of travelers would still be accommodated. Flights between 0700-1000 local time (0500-0800 UTC) and 1800-2100 local time are expected to operate as scheduled, although Alitalia has warned passengers to continue to check their flight status for the most updated information.

MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA

Israel (Security threat level – 3): On 8 October 2019, officials announced the closure of Israel’s Ben Gurion Airport (LLBG/TLV), along with all of Israeli airspace, for the duration of the Yom Kippur holiday. The facility and airspace will be closed until 9 October in keeping with the observation of the Jewish holiday. Travelers should check the status of their flights and make alternative travel plans if necessary.

GOVERNMENT WARNINGS

Ecuador (Security threat level – 3): On 7 October 2019, the French government issued updated travel advice for Ecuador, which reads in part as follows: 

"Following a general public transport strike and road blocks in response to the increase in fuel tariffs, the state of emergency was declared on 3 October in Ecuador for 60 days. This measure is accompanied by a strengthening of the security system, the suspension of the right of association and assembly and a restriction of the freedom of movement.

"Following calls for demonstrations by several civil society organizations, a national mobilization day is scheduled for 9 October. Public services and transport are likely to be severely disrupted.

"Quito airport is accessible and air traffic is guaranteed, as well as Guayaquil. Many roads remain blocked throughout the country. A strong mobilization of the indigenous populations is in progress in the provinces of Sierra (Carchi, Imbabura, Pichincha, Cotopaxi, Bolivar, Chimborazo, Tungurahua, Cañar, Azuay) as well as, to a lesser extent, in the Amazonian provinces.

"It is recommended to postpone travel until further notice in the relevant provinces. In case of travel by air, you should inquire as to the maintenance of its flight from the airline or contact directly the tour operator with whom you have contracted your stay."

Haiti (Security threat level – 4): On 8 October 2019, the French government issued updated travel advice for Haiti, and warned travelers to postpone travel to Haiti until further notice due to the country’s tense environment. The advisory further notes that elevated tensions are manifested in frequent demonstrations, roadblocks and violence.

The updated notice also reported areas in Haiti that have seen an uptick in gang activity. These locations include the Port-au-Prince neighborhood of Martissant, the area between Ganthier and Croix des Bouquets and the area from Saint Marc to Gonaïves via the RN1. The French government advises against travel in and through these areas.

Haiti (Security threat level – 4): On 7 October 2019, Global Affairs Canada (GAC) updated its travel advisory for Haiti, which reads in part as follows:

"Violent protests and widespread civil unrest have been taking place in Haiti since September 2, 2019 due to ongoing political instability. In addition, the country is experiencing water, food and fuel shortages. Many businesses and banks are closed, making it difficult to access cash and commodities of all kinds.

"Burning barricades are disrupting traffic in the main streets of Port-au-Prince. Clashes between protesters and security forces have occurred. Police have used tear gas and live ammunition to disperse crowds.

"Additional protests are expected over the next few days. Acts of violence could happen without notice."