Worldview Weekly Security Update – 14 October – 17 October 2019
18-Oct-19
Monday 14 October:

Ecuador (Security threat level – 3): As of the latest reports on 14 October 2019, the Ecuadorian military officially annulled a curfew order that was in effect in the Quito Metropolitan Area since 12 October. The curfew went into effect at 1500 local time (2000 UTC) on 12 October, although it was temporarily suspended in parts of the city from 1130 to 2000 local time on 13 October ahead of talks between authorities and indigenous leaders. In addition to declaring a curfew on 12 October, President Lenín Moreno placed the area under military control.

Meanwhile, on the evening of 13 October, Moreno announced that the Ecuadoran government would repeal and replace an October 3 decree that eliminated fuel subsidies. The decision followed dialogue between the government and indigenous leaders arranged by the U.N. and the Roman Catholic Church. Indigenous groups agreed to immediately halt the demonstrations, while Moreno agreed to pass new legislation that does more to help impoverished citizens. It remains unknown when officials will repeal the 3 October legislation.

Earlier on 13 October, hundreds of protesters gathered in Quito in defiance of the curfew and heavy military presence in the city; despite tensions, there were no clashes between protesters and security personnel. Meanwhile in Guayaquil, no protest actions occurred on 13 October. While Quito’s Mariscal Sucre International Airport (SEQM/UIO) and Guayaquil’s José Joaquín de Olmedo International Airport (SEGU/GYE) remained open, most flights were canceled through 13 October. In addition, airport officials advised travelers to monitor the status of scheduled flights and avoid traveling to the facilities if their flights were canceled or significantly delayed.

Previously, on 12 October, approximately 5,000 indigenous protesters gathered on 12 of October Avenue in the area of Quito’s El Arbolito Park before they marched toward the National Assembly in the city’s historic center. Demonstrators threw stones at riot police officers, who deployed tear gas to repel the demonstrators. A number of protesters and police officers were injured in the clashes. Meanwhile, there were no reports of anti-government protest actions in Guayaquil, where security forces restricted traffic on the National Unity Bridge connecting Guayaquil to the town of Durán. Metro services in the city also resumed normal operations.

On the same day, the U.S. Mission in Ecuador issued an alert concerning road blockades and demonstrations throughout the country, and stated that “all Embassy Quito personnel are being instructed to shelter in place. U.S. government personnel not already in-country are being advised not to return to Quito at this time.” It likewise advised that any U.S. citizens in Quito shelter in place; the same procedures were not in effect for personnel at the U.S. Consulate in Guayaquil.

In the afternoon hours of 11 October, riot police officers clashed with protesters near the National Assembly building in Quito. Police officers deployed tear gas to disperse demonstrators, who threw Molotov cocktails and other projectiles at security personnel. At least seven people were injured in the clashes.

Haiti (Security threat level – 4): At approximately 1500 local time (1900 UTC) on 11 October 2019, police officers fired shots in the air and deployed tear gas and water cannons toward anti-government protesters at Place Saint-Pierre in the Petion-Ville area of Port-au-Prince. The protesters had gathered to march to the presidential palace in Pélerin 5, located in the southern part of the city, to demand the resignation of President Jovenel Moïse. Several people, including a reporter, were injured in the clashes. Protesters also clashed with police officers elsewhere in the city earlier in the day after a journalist who had previously covered the anti-government protests was found dead in his vehicle on 10 October. Demonstrators also spilled oil on the streets and burned tires in protest; however, there were no reports of significant damage or injuries during these clashes.

China (Security threat level – 3): On the evening of 14 October 2019, thousands of pro-democracy activists rallied at Chater Garden in Hong Kong’s Admiralty district to protest against the mask ban that went into effect on 5 October. All MTR services — except the Airport Express line — closed at 2200 local time (1400 UTC); the Airport Express line is only operating between Airport and Hong Kong stations at 10-minute intervals.

On 13 October riot police officers clashed with small groups of masked protesters who held flash mobs throughout Hong Kong, including in the Mong Kok, Yuen Long and Tai Po districts. Riot police officers deployed tear gas in the Sha Tin, Tuen Mun and Tsuen Wan areas after demonstrators damaged pro-China commercial establishments. Protesters also blocked roads, vandalized metro stations and several pro-China businesses, and threw at least 20 Molotov cocktails at Mong Kok police station. At approximately 1930 local time, protesters attacked two plainclothes police officers in Tseung Kwan O. Separately, outside of the Kwun Tong MTR station, an assailant slashed a uniformed police officer in the neck with a sharp object; the officer suffered non-life-threatening injuries. Police officers arrested two suspects at the scene. Meanwhile, at approximately 2000 local time, a small remotely-detonated improvised explosive device (IED) detonated near the intersection of Fife street and Nathan road in Mong Kok while police vehicles were present. The blast did not cause injuries or damage.

Previously, on 12 October, protesters threw Molotov cocktails into Kowloon Tong MTR station. While no one was injured in the attack; the station sustained serious damage. Demonstrators also gathered outside the Hong Kong Cultural Center in Tsim Sha Tsui. In addition, protesters blocked traffic along Salisbury, Haiphong and Nathan roads. Meanwhile, in Yau Ma Tei, protesters damaged several businesses and parts of the Kowloon Government Offices.

Guinea (Security threat level – 4): On 14 October 2019, a heavy security presence deployed throughout the capital Conakry and elsewhere in Guinea ahead of planned protests organized by the opposition National Front for the Defense of the Constitution (FNDC) coalition. As of the afternoon hours, security forces were working to disperse disruptive protests in several cities, including in Conakry. Clashes and gunfire were reported in several areas of Conakry, including the upper Wanindara and Cosa areas, according to local media. In addition, reports indicate that at least one person was killed and two others suffered non-fatal gunshot wounds in the city. Elsewhere in Guinea, schools and businesses are closed amid disruptive protests in the cities of Mamou, Labé and Nzérékoré.

Analyst Comment: The FNDC had previously announced plans to hold nationwide demonstrations to protest against proposed constitutional changes that would allow President Alpha Condé to seek a third term. Presidential elections are scheduled to take place in Guinea in October 2020; under the current constitution, Condé would be ineligible to seek a third term. The government has not publicly announced that a referendum on the issue will take place.

Tuesday 15 October 2019:

Mexico (Security threat level – 4): On 14 October 2019, suspected members of the Jalisco Nueva Generación Cartel (CJNG) ambushed a police convoy in the township of Aguililla in Michoacán state. At least 30 gunmen armed with military-style assault and sniper rifles opened fire on five police trucks en route to the town of El Aguaje with 42 police officers aboard to serve an arrest warrant. The gunmen killed 13 police officers and wounded nine others. The event has been noted as the worst attack on law enforcement in Mexico in recent years. Authorities increased security personnel presence and established checkpoints in the state in the wake of the attack as a search for the perpetrators is ongoing. Michoacán has witnessed a recent uptick in gang-related violence.

Germany (Security threat level – 3): On 15 October 2019, pro-Kurdish protesters clashed with police officers during a demonstration in Herne. Approximately 350 protesters marched through the city and began vandalizing a kiosk after a customer provoked members of the crowd. Two patrons inside the booth were injured during the violence. In another incident, protesters destroyed the windows and furniture at a Turkish-owned café, injuring a police officer and a bystander. The protest organizer was also injured during the violence after attempting to resolve ongoing disputes. Several pro-Kurdish demonstrations have recently occurred in Germany — in opposition to Turkey’s ongoing military intervention in northeastern Syria — and are expected to continue.

Spain (Security threat level – 3): Protesters are expected to gather in Barcelona on 15 October 2019 for a second consecutive day to protest against the Supreme Court’s decision to sentence nine Catalan political leaders to prison over their involvement in the 2017 Catalonian independence referendum. On the previous day, thousands of protesters gathered in the vicinity of Barcelona-El Prat Josep Tarradellas Airport (LEBL/BCN), effectively blocking all access routes to the facility and causing significant traffic disruptions. Riot police officers fired rubber bullets and used batons to disperse the protesters, who remained near the airport until the late evening hours. More than 50 people were injured during clashes outside and near the airport, and more than 110 scheduled flights were canceled due to the protest action.

During the evening of 14 October, thousands of demonstrators gathered in central Barcelona on the Via Laietana and marched toward the headquarters of the national police, causing additional traffic disruptions. Riot police established a security perimeter and charged protesters as clashes continued into the nighttime hours. Separately, associated demonstrations also occurred in front of government buildings in the cities of Lleida, Girona and Tarragona. Rail and road transportation disruptions occurred in all protest areas. Renfe — Spain’s national rail carrier – shut down multiple lines and suspended various services; rail services have been largely restored on 15 October.

While Democratic Tsunami — the protest organizers — stated that additional demonstrations would take place on 15 October, details regarding anticipated protest locations have not been announced and there have been no reports of significant protester turnout in Barcelona. Although several domestic and international flights scheduled at LEBL on 15 October were canceled as a precaution in anticipation of further disruptive protests, the facility is open and operational.

United Kingdom (Security threat level – 3): On 15 October 2019, police officers in London forcibly dispersed protesters affiliated with the Extinction Rebellion movement outside the MI5 headquarters in Millbank and the Department for Transport building in Westminster. In addition, police officers arrested at least three participants of the unauthorized protests, including one of the co-founders of the group.

Meanwhile, on the previous day, officials in London announced a ban on all climate change protests organized by Extinction Rebellion in the city. Authorities stated that police officers would arrest all protesters demonstrating after 2200 local time (2100 UTC) as a result of the ban, which officials deemed necessary due to the serious disruptions caused by climate change protests organized by the group. Police officers began removing protesters from Trafalgar Square and Vauxhill Pleasure Gardens after the announcement despite prior agreements to allow demonstrations at the sites. Previous protests — which began on 7 October — were scheduled to last two weeks; however, ongoing traffic disruptions and damage caused by protesters have led to more than 1,400 arrests. Protesters have announced plans to disrupt London Underground services on 17 October if the government does not meet with group leaders by that date.

Guinea (Security threat level – 4): On 15 October 2019, protesters gathered throughout the capital Conakry, as well as in the central city of Labé, for a second consecutive day to protest against proposed constitutional changes that would allow President Alpha Condé to seek a third term. Several hundred youths have gathered in Conakry’s upper suburbs — including Cosa, Koloma and Bambéto — where they blocked roads, burned tires and debris, and threw stones at police officers and gendarmes. Security personnel have deployed tear gas and are working to disperse the protesters, several of whom have been arrested.

The opposition National Front for the Defense of the Constitution (FNDC) coalition organized nationwide demonstrations on 14 October to protest against Condé’s attempt to seek a third term. At least five protesters were shot dead during violent clashes throughout the day. The FNDC has indicated its members will continue protests until the Guinean government rules out a possible third term for Condé in the October 2020 presidential election.

Haiti (Security threat level – 4): On 15 October 2019, the U.K. Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) issued updated travel advice for Haiti, which reads in part as follows:

"There have been sporadic, unpredictable and sometimes violent demonstrations, protests and roadblocks in Port au Prince and throughout Haiti since July 2018, with a notable increase in civil unrest in the weeks since 2 September 2019. The movement of goods and people into and within the country is often disrupted due to blocked roads and security incidents. As a consequence, there are sometimes fuel and food shortages.

"If you’re in Haiti or due to undertake essential travel, you should remain vigilant at all times, keep movements to a minimum and regularly review your departure options. Avoid all demonstrations and large public gatherings, monitor local media, follow the advice of local authorities and keep up to date with this travel advice. The following local FM radio stations broadcast in French and Kreyol: Radio Metropole 100.1; RFM 104.9; Radio Kiskeya 88.5; Radio IBO 98.5; Radio ONE 90.5; Radio Nationale d’Haiti 105.3; and Radio Pacific 101.5."

Wednesday 16 October 2019:

France (Security threat level – 3): On 15 October 2019, police officers deployed tear gas and water cannons to disperse thousands of professional firefighters who were demonstrating on the Boulevard Périphérique (known as the Paris ring road) near Porte de Vicennes, located in the Bel Air neighborhood of Paris, and at the Place de la Nation. Riot police officers also charged at the demonstrators and struck them with batons, resulting in several clashes that injured at least three officers. Protesters briefly disrupted traffic in the immediate area of the march. The firefighters staged this march to demand higher wages and better working conditions.

Spain (Security threat level – 3): On 16 October 2019, pro-independence protesters across Spain’s northeastern Catalonia region began strikes and marches in preparation for a large planned rally in the regional capital Barcelona on 18 October over the Supreme Court’s sentencing of nine Catalan political leaders. Planned marches to the regional capital began in the cities of Berga, Girona, Tarragona, Tàrrega and Vic. Significant roadway disruptions are expected as protesters block highways connecting these cities to Barcelona. In addition, the Spanish government claimed that rail lines between Barcelona and Girona have been disrupted due to sabotage by protesters.

Meanwhile, on the evening of 15 October, police officers and protesters clashed across Catalonia for the second day in a row. Riot police officers fired rubber bullets and tear gas and conducted baton charges to disperse groups of protesters who attempted to access government buildings, erected makeshift barricades, lit fires and threw projectiles at police officers in Barcelona. In total, the protesters lit at least 157 fires in the city overnight on 15-16 October. Similar protests occurred in Tarragona, Girona and Lleida. Dozens of people were injured in the violence, including at least 72 police officers. Moreover, police officers arrested at least 51 protesters.

Mozambique (Security threat level – 3): On 16 October 2019, the U.K. Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) issued an update to its travel advisory for Mozambique regarding the post-election environment, which reads in part as follows: "Presidential, legislative and provincial elections took place in Mozambique on 15 October. In the past, the electoral period has resulted in civil unrest and intermittent outbreaks of violence. You should continue to exercise caution whilst traveling around the country and avoid traveling to unfamiliar places after elections. Avoid large gatherings, demonstrations and political rallies, as there is a risk they could turn violent."

Thursday 17 October 2019: NSTR