Worldview Weekly Security Update – 11 November – 14 November 2019
15-Nov-19
Monday 11 November 2019:

Argentina (Security threat level – 3): On 11 November 2019, demonstrations are scheduled to take place in the capital Buenos Aires, along with the cities of Jujuy and Rosario, to protest against an alleged coup against former Bolivian President Evo Morales following his resignation the previous day. In Buenos Aires, demonstrators will gather at the Obelisco — located in the Plaza de la República — and march along Avenida Corrientes 545 to the Bolivian Embassy beginning at 1300 local time (1600 UTC). Meanwhile, at 1730 local time, demonstrators will gather at Jujuy’s Belgrano Square. In Rosario, demonstrators will march from Plaza San Martín to Plaza Pringles beginning at 1700 local time. Travelers and expatriates should avoid the vicinity of areas where demonstrations are taking place as a precaution.

China (Security threat level – 3): Anti-government protesters and police officers engaged in a series of clashes across Hong Kong on 11 November 2019. The clashes initially broke out in the morning hours and continued into the evening. In the Sai Wan Ho district, protesters blocked a main road, and a police officer shot a protester during an altercation. Later in the morning, protesters clashed with police officers on university campuses, including at Hong Kong University and the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Meanwhile in the Central business district, police officers fired tear gas and water cannons to disperse protesters in Mong Kok. Furthermore, a police officer drove a motorcycle into a group of protesters; officials stated that the officer has been suspended pending an investigation. A man was set on fire by unknown attackers following an argument with protesters, according to police officials. According to Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam, at least 60 people were injured during the violence on 11 November, while police officers stated that at least 120 locations had either been blocked or vandalized.

On 10 November anti-government protesters gathered in areas across Hong Kong. In Sha Tin, protesters vandalized the Sha Tin MTR station, prompting police officers to fire tear gas in an effort to disperse the protesters. Meanwhile, protesters also gathered in Tsuen Wan Town Hall, Tseung Kwan O and set up barricades at the junction of Heung Sze Wui Road and Ho Pong Road in Tuen Mun. Police officers also used tear gas to disperse protesters from the Tsuen Wan and Mong Kok areas. Police officers arrested at least one protester in Causeway Bay. Authorities suspended Light Rail routes 705, 706 and 716P in Tin Shui Wai as well as between Tin Shui Wai and Yuen Long, and temporarily closed the Ma On Shan and Sha Tin MTR stations. There were no reports of injuries.

On the previous day, thousands of demonstrators peacefully gathered in Tamar Park in Admiralty for an approved prayer rally following the death of a Hong Kong University student on 8 November. Mourners also held a vigil in Tseung Kwan O near the site where the student suffered injuries in a fall from a parking garage as a result of riot police activity early in the morning on 4 November. No notable disruptions occurred during these gatherings on 9 November. 

Bolivia (Security threat level – 3): On 8 November 2019, the U.S. Department of State issued an updated Travel Advisory for Bolivia, in which it upgraded its level of advice from “Level 2: Exercise Increased Caution” to “Level 3: Reconsider Travel” due to civil unrest. The updated Travel Advisory reads in part as follows:

“Reconsider travel to Bolivia due to civil unrest.

“There are recurring demonstrations, strikes, roadblocks, and marches in major cities in Bolivia. Demonstrations and marches are centered on city plazas and major thoroughfares. Roadblocks and strikes cut off traffic on main avenues, highways between cities, and airport access and egress. Protesters in major cities are intermittently occupying or blocking access to public institutions and infrastructure, denying access to transportation hubs, banks, and other services. Some opposing protests have resulted in violent confrontations, and local authorities have used crowd control measures to discourage protests.

“Domestic and international flights may be delayed or cancelled, and road travel around and between cities is regularly impeded.”

Bolivia (Security threat level – 3): On 10 November 2019, the U.K. Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) issued updated travel advice for Bolivia, which reads in part as follows: "The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) advise against all but essential travel to:

  • Oruru department
  • Potosi department, except Uyuni
  • Chuquisaca department
  • Cochabamba department

"Road travel between cities is not advised, owing to several attacks that have occurred on inter-city buses and the limited capacity of emergency services to respond in these areas.

"The current political situation in Bolivia is highly unpredictable, with increased risk to traveller safety. Following presidential elections on 20 October 2019, there have been large and wide-scale political demonstrations across the country, many resulting in violence. In La Paz, most demonstrations take place in the city centre with violent confrontations. Further protests and strikes are planned and there is a risk that these will turn violent without warning. You should avoid large crowds or public demonstrations and don’t attempt to cross blockades."

Tuesday 12 November 2019:

Chile (Security threat level – 2): State workers launched a 24-hour nationwide general strike on the morning of 12 November 2019. Associated demonstrations are ongoing in the capital Santiago and elsewhere in the country and are expected to continue throughout the day. Protesters, including truck drivers, have established a number of burning roadblocks across the country, including on at least two major highways leading to and from Santiago. Although a number of workers at Santiago’s Arturo Merino Benítez International Airport (SCEL/SCL) have participated in the strike, there have been no reports of significant disruptions to airport operations. Businesses and schools in Santiago have largely closed due to the strike and anticipated demonstrations, and officials have restricted public transportation services. 

Isolated clashes broke out in several Chilean cities during the evening of 11 November. In Santiago, police officers clashed with protesters at Plaza Italia and fired tear gas and water cannons to disperse the crowds. In another incident, police officers entered the Catholic University of San Joaquín campus and fired tear gas at students after clashes broke out between protesters and security forces. Isolated incidents of looting also occurred in Santiago and Valparaíso. Meanwhile, the Valparaíso Metro announced that all operations would be suspended on 12 November due to damage caused by ongoing protests.

China (Security threat level – 3): On 12 November 2019, protesters clashed with police officers at several universities in Hong Kong. Police officers fired multiple rounds of tear gas at protesters near the City University of Hong Kong in Kowloon Tong. Protesters set up barricades along the roads surrounding the university before police officers deployed to the area. Separately, police officers fired tear gas at protesters at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University. Officials eventually positioned security forces at the main entrances of the campus to verify student and staff information.  Elsewhere, clashes broke out between protesters and police officers at The University of Hong Kong and at the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK). Police officers fired tear gas at protesters near both campuses. At CUHK, police officers fired tear gas at approximately 1930 local time (1130 UTC) and continued to engage in skirmishes with students — who were throwing projectiles and Molotov cocktails — along the Number 2 Bridge which leads to the campus. As of the latest reports, clashes are ongoing at CUHK, while university and police officials attempt to negotiate a de-escalation of violence.In addition, police officers fired tear gas in Central and on Tai Po Tai Wo Road after protesters gathered on the streets and attempted to enter Mass Transit Railway (MTR) stations. Protesters also vandalized several MTR stations as well as traffic lights. Protesters returned to Central during the evening and blocked traffic along Peddar Street, Des Voeux Road and Connaught Road for approximately one hour before dispersing.In response to the unrest, MTR officials closed Che Kung Temple, Sha Tin Wai, City One, Heng On, Tseung Kwan O, Hang Hau, Tsim Sha Tsui, Mong Kok, Kwai Fong, Sai Wan Ho and Ma On Shan stations early in the day.

Israel (Security threat level – 3): On 12 November 2019, Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip fired at least 160 rockets into central and southern Israel following an Israeli operation that killed Baha Abu Al-Atta, a senior leader of the Islamic Jihad Movement of Palestine militant group. Several cities near the Gaza border — including Rishon Lezion, Gedera and Ashdod — sounded warning sirens amid the rocket attacks. In addition to southern Israel, warning sirens were also set off as far north as Tel Aviv. Israeli Defense Forces intercepted approximately 60 missiles. According to reports, at least 29 people were injured. In response to the attacks, schools across Israel are closed and non-essential employees have been ordered to remain inside their homes throughout the country. Authorities also canceled rails services in the border area and closed main roads along the border.  Additionally, the U.S. Embassy Branch Office in Tel Aviv suspended non-essential services and sent non-essential personnel home earlier than usual. The embassy also cautioned U.S. nationals to remain vigilant, and monitor the Israel military Homefront Command website .

Saudi Arabia (Security threat level – 3): On 11 November 2019, a Yemeni expatriate stabbed three performers during the presentation of a play at King Abdullah Park in the capital Riyadh. Security forces arrested the suspect at the scene; the motive for the attack remains unclear. Although a theater group from the Netherlands was performing the show and unconfirmed reports indicate that the victims — two men and a woman — were foreign nationals, their nationalities are unknown.

Bolivia (Security threat level – 3): On 11 November 2019, the U.K. Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) upgraded its travel advisory for Bolivia to recommend against non-essential travel to the country. The updated travel advisory reads in part as follows: "The Foreign and Commonwealth Office advise against all but essential travel to Bolivia. If you’re in Bolivia, you should keep your departure options under review.

"If you need urgent consular assistance, contact the British Embassy La Paz on (591 2) 2433424. The British Embassy’s ability to travel to deliver consular services is very limited at this time.

"The political and security situation is very uncertain across Bolivia following the resignation of the President and senior public officials on 10 November, following an extended and ongoing period of wide-scale political demonstrations and civil unrest across the country since disputed elections in October 2019. Many demonstrations have resulted in violence, including in La Paz city centre and other major towns and cities. Further protests are likely to occur at short notice and may turn violent without warning. You should continue to avoid large crowds and public demonstrations, don’t attempt to cross blockades, and pay close attention to developments.

Cameroon (Security threat level – 4): On 12 November 2019, the U.S. Embassy in Yaoundé issued a Demonstration Alert, which reads in part as follows:

“Location: Yaoundé

“Event: The Embassy informs U.S. citizens of the potential for demonstrations and unrest related to a reported ban on motorcycle taxis in certain areas within Yaoundé. There is currently a heightened law enforcement presence at roundabouts and other intersections throughout the city.”

Haiti (Security threat level – 4): On 12 November 2019, the U.S. Embassy in Port-Au-Prince issued two Security Alerts regarding ongoing protest action. The first advisory reads in part as follows:

"Location: Boulevard 15 Octobre at multiple points.

"Events: Roadblocks at Torcel, barricades in front of Aristide residence to Carrefour Fleuriot, and rock throwing at Carrefour Fleurio.”

The second advisory counseled travelers to avoid Boulevard 15 Octobre near the Total Gas Station due to “reports of individuals throwing rocks on Boulevard 15 Octobre near Total Gas Station” and “reports of a chain blocking the road in the same area.”

Wednesday 13 November 2019:

Mexico / Italy (Security threat levels – 4 / 3): On 12 November 2019, the Mexican Navy stated that armed pirates attacked an Italy-flagged platform supply ship, located off Ciudad del Carmen, in the southern Gulf of Mexico the previous day. Approximately eight armed pirates arrived aboard two vessels, entered the ship and momentarily held the 35 crew members hostage as they stole valuables from the crew and ship. At least two crew members were injured during the robbery, one of whom suffered gunshot wounds. Following the attack, the supply ship anchored at the Ciudad del Carmen port, where the wounded crew members received treatment at a nearby hospital. The vessel belongs to the Italian offshore contractor Micoperi. Italian Embassy officials are collaborating with the Mexican government to investigate the attack.

Afghanistan (Security threat level – 5): On the morning of 13 November 2019, a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device (VBIED) detonated in the Qasaba area of Kabul’s Police District 15. Local reports indicate that the blast targeted a vehicle owned by GardaWorld, a Canadian security firm, and killed at least seven local employees. At least 10 others, including four foreign personnel, were also wounded. No group claimed responsibility for the attack; however, both the Taliban and the Islamic State actively target foreign entities in Kabul.

China (Security threat level – 3): As of late on 13 November 2019, clashes between police officers and anti-government protesters are ongoing during the third consecutive day of violent protests in Hong Kong. Police officers fired tear gas at protesters gathered along Tai Po Tai Wo Road in Tai Po. Protesters have also blocked roads in Mong Kok with bricks and umbrellas, and set fire to an electrical box. Along Castle Peak Road in Yuen Long, protesters were vandalizing light rail tracks. Reports indicate that security forces have fired tear gas in Yuen Long, Tai Shui Hang, Sheung Shui, Sai Wan Ho, Tuen Muen, Tin Shui Wai and Mong Kok. In Sai Wan Ho, police officers used an armored vehicle to clear a roadblock. Meanwhile, protesters set up roadblocks near Baptist University, the Chinese University of Hong Kong and along major roads in Central, where protesters damaged some traffic lights. Protesters also erected roadblocks along major thoroughfares in Kowloon Tong, Yuen Long and Tai Po at various times throughout the day. The Mass Transit Railway (MTR) suspended all services at 2200 local time (1400 UTC). However, some stations closed earlier due to unrest, which caused severe traffic delays and extensive wait times for travelers.

Protesters also threw Molotov cocktails from the Number 2 Bridge — which they have occupied since 11 November — near the Chinese University of Hong Kong. In view of the ongoing unrest, the Chinese University of Hong Kong announced the termination of classes for this semester; classes for the next semester are scheduled to begin in January 2020. In addition, Baptist University suspended all classes until the end of the term on 3 December. Meanwhile, most of the other universities, including the Hong Kong Polytechnic University and Hang Seng University, have canceled classes for the remainder of the week. The High Court dismissed a request to grant an injunction preventing police officers from entering university campuses without warrants. However, at this time, there are no indications that police officers will imminently attempt to clear campuses which students have occupied for multiple days. Other primary and secondary schools in Hong Kong will be closed on 14 November.In a related development, Chief Executive Carrie Lam has reportedly organized a meeting with senior government officials at her residence to discuss the ongoing unrest.

Bolivia (Security threat level – 3): On 12 November 2019, the U.S. Department of State issued an updated Travel Advisory for Bolivia, in which it upgraded its level of advice to “Level 4: Do Not Travel” from “Level 3: Reconsider Travel” due to civil unrest. The updated Travel Advisory reads in part as follows:

“Do not travel to Bolivia due to civil unrest.

“On November 12, 2019, the Department ordered the departure of family members and authorized the departure of non-emergency U.S. government employees due to ongoing political instability in Bolivia. The U.S. government has limited ability to provide emergency services to U.S. citizens in Bolivia.”

“There are recurring demonstrations, strikes, roadblocks, and marches in major cities in Bolivia. Roadblocks and strikes cut off traffic on main avenues, highways between cities, and airport access. Protesters in major cities are intermittently occupying or blocking access to public institutions and infrastructure, denying access to transportation hubs, banks, and other services. Some protests have resulted in violent confrontations, and local authorities have used crowd control measures to discourage protests.

“Domestic and international flights may be delayed or cancelled, and road travel around and between cities is regularly impeded.”

Indonesia (Security threat level – 4): On 13 November 2019, the U.K. Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) updated its travel advice for Indonesia regarding the likelihood of terrorist attacks, which reads in part as follows: “Terrorists are very likely to try to carry out attacks in Indonesia. Terrorist groups continue to plan attacks and have the capacity and intent to carry out these attacks at anytime and anywhere in the country. Types of attacks have included suicide bombing and small-arms fire, targeting public and crowded places. Be vigilant and take care at all times.”

Thursday 14 November 2019:

Bolivia (Security threat level – 3): On 14 November 2019, Bolivian security forces continued to patrol the streets of La Paz in anticipation of further anti-government demonstrations. In the morning hours, protesters from the neighboring cities of Viacha and El Alto have begun a march to La Paz, as they have for the last several days. 

On 13 November, protesters clashed with police officers across Bolivia, including in the center of La Paz, where police officers deployed tear gas at demonstrators who were marching toward the presidential palace.  In addition, a small explosive device detonated near a protest site in La Paz, but there were no reports of injuries. Elsewhere in the country, in the Yapacaní area of Santa Cruz, at least one person was fatally shot during earlier clashes between protesters and police officers. Demonstrations also occurred in the city of El Alto and in the region of El Chapare. Demonstrators were protesting against the country’s self-proclaimed interim President Jeanine Áñez. Lawmakers who support former President Evo Morales have boycotted Congress and plan to hold counter sessions of Congress to challenge Áñez’s legitimacy.

Chile (Security threat level – 2): At least 35 demonstrations are scheduled in cities across Chile on 14 November 2019 to commemorate the one-year anniversary of the killing of an indigenous Mapuche community member by police officers during a police operation. The demonstrations will initially begin at 0930 local time (1230 UTC), while additional demonstrations are scheduled to start later at 1900 local time. Most of these planned demonstrations, which will primarily be vigils, are set to occur in the Araucanía region. In Santiago, demonstrations are scheduled to begin at 1700, 1800 and 1900 local time in Plaza de Armas, Plaza Italia and Plaza S. Allende, respectively. Organizers have called for the gatherings to be peaceful. Nevertheless, violence could break out during these gatherings; as such, travelers and expatriates in Chile should avoid the vicinity of the demonstrations as a precaution.

Israel / Palestinian Territories (Security threat levels – 3 / 4): On 14 November 2019, militants in the Gaza Strip launched five rockets into Israel several hours after the Israeli government and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad militant group declared a temporary ceasefire in the Gaza Strip. Israeli air defenses intercepted two of the rockets, while the other three landed in open areas; there were no reports of casualties. No group claimed immediate responsibility for the rocket attacks; the truce appears to be holding despite the rocket attacks.  The ceasefire went into effect at 0530 local time (0330 UTC) and followed a two-day Israeli military operation in the Gaza Strip dubbed “Operation Gaza,” which led to fighting between Palestinian Islamic Jihad and Israeli forces for the duration of the operation. Reports from Israel indicate that conditions have returned to normal following the ceasefire. Namely, Israeli security forces opened roads and lifted movement restrictions in Israeli communities near the border with the Gaza Strip. Officials had closed roads and implemented movement restrictions following numerous rocket attacks into southern Israel on 12 November.

Guatemala (Security threat level – 4): On 13 November 2019, the U.S. Embassy in Guatemala City issued a Demonstration Alert, which reads in part as follows:

"Location: Guatemala

"Event: The Comité de Desarollo Campesino (CODECA) and Coordinadora Nacional de Organizaciones Campesinas (CNOC) are calling for demonstrations on November 14, 2019, from 9:00 am to 12:00 noon. There is an announced march that will start at the Obelisco in Zone 10 and move toward the U.S. Embassy. Demonstrators are expected to congregate at the Obelisk by 8:00AM and could potentially disrupt the morning commute. U.S. Embassy operations will be normal."

Sri Lanka (Security threat level – 4): On 14 November 2019, the U.S. Embassy in Colombo issued a Security Alert that reads in part as follows:

“Location: Nationwide, Sri Lanka.

“Event: The U.S. Embassy reminds American citizens of the potential for demonstrations before, during, and after the November 16, 2019, presidential election. There is no change to the current Level 2 Travel Advisory (“Exercise Increased Caution”).”