Worldview Weekly Security Update – 21 October – 24 October 2019
25-Oct-19
Monday 21 October:

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.

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.

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.

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.

Tuesday 22 October 2019:

Bolivia (Security threat level – 3) : On 21 October 2019, violent protests broke out in Bolivia following the announcement of preliminary results of the presidential election that took place the previous day. In La Paz, thousands of people gathered outside a hotel where officials of the country’s Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE) had gathered to tally votes. Police officers deployed tear gas in an attempt to disperse the crowd. In the southern cities of Sucre and Potosi, protesters set electoral tribunal offices on fire. Meanwhile, in Tarija, protesters vandalized electoral tribunal offices and set ablaze ballot boxes. The TSE had initially stopped reporting the results on 20 October when current President Evo Morales had a 6% lead against former President Carlos Mesa, with approximately 84% of the ballots counted. At that time, the Organization of American States (OAS) observer mission reported that Morales had won 45.3% of vote, while Mesa had 38.2%. The abrupt halting of the vote count caused unrest that spiraled into violent protests on 21 October, when the OAS updated its count to show that Morales had won 46.85% of the vote compared with Mesa’s 36.73%, with nearly 95% of the votes counted. Bolivian law requires a 10-percentage point advantage in order to avoid a runoff election.

As of the latest count, Morales has 46.4% of the vote and Mesa has 37.07%, with approximately 95% of the votes counted. Mesa has stated that he will not accept the results if Morales secures outright victory and his supporters are likely to organize protests against the alleged vote fraud. Therefore, the probability of post-election unrest in Bolivia currently remains high. Individuals and entities operating in the country should closely monitor related developments.

Lebanon (Security threat level – 4): As of 22 October 2019, a smaller number of anti-government protesters remain in the capital Beirut, as well as in the northern city of Tripoli, than in previous days of demonstrations. Security forces were working to disperse protesters who continued to block several roads across Beirut, including portions of Ghazir Highway; however, there have been no reports of significant clashes between protesters and security personnel on 22 October. Although some daily routine activities are resuming, many schools, banks and other businesses in Beirut remain closed.

In a related development, on 21 October Prime Minister Saad Hariri held an emergency Cabinet meeting and passed a series of economic reforms aimed at addressing corruption and curbing the ongoing nationwide protests that began on 17 October.

Albania (Security threat level – 3): On 21 October 2019, the U.S. Embassy in Tirana issued a Demonstration Alert, which reads in part as follows:

“Location: Tirana, Albania along the Tirana Ring Road (Unaza e Madhe).

“Event: Demonstrations continue along the Ring Road (Unaza e Madhe) and other areas of the city related to the planned Ring Road expansion. The demonstration times have changed and are scheduled to take place daily from 6:30 p.m. until 7:30 p.m.

“U.S. Embassy personnel and family members are urged to monitor local media and to avoid the Tirana Ring Road and other areas around the city if there is information that a demonstration is imminent or ongoing in the area.”

Guinea (Security threat level – 4): On 22 October 2019, the U.K. Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) issued an update to its travel advisory for Guinea, which reads in part as follows: "Further demonstrations have been announced by the National Front for the Defence of the Constitution (FNDC) for Wednesday 23 October and Thursday 24 October in Conakry and countrywide. Recent demonstrations across Conakry and in other towns throughout Guinea have led to significant travel disruption and a number of violent incidents, including deaths. You should remain vigilant, stay clear of areas where demonstrators are gathering and monitor local media."

Rwanda (Security threat level – 3): On 21 October 2019, the U.S. Embassy in Kigali issued a Security Alert, which reads in part as follows:

“Event: The Rwanda National Police informed the public of an October 19 grenade attack near the southwestern city of Kamembe along Rwanda’s border with the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Four people suffered injuries following the attack.

“While there has been no claim of responsibility, armed groups operate in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) close to the Rwandan border. There is a risk of cross-border incursions and security incidents such as this one.”

Wednesday 23 October 2019:

Ethiopia (Security threat level – 4): As of 23 October 2019, protests are ongoing in several cities in Oromia regional state, including in the national capital Addis Ababa, following reports that the Ethiopian government ordered the departure of a prominent local activist’s security detail on the previous evening. In Addis Ababa, several hundred protesters gathered near the activist’s residence, located along Bole Road, as well as in the Kara Qore area, blocking multiple roads in the outskirts of the city. The protesters set fires and chanted anti-government slogans. Although there have been no reports of significant clashes in the capital, unconfirmed reports indicate that at least two youth protesters were shot and killed in the city of Adama, located approximately 90 km (56 mi) southeast of Addis Ababa.

Bangladesh (Security threat level – 4): On 22 October 2019, the U.S. Embassy in Dhaka issued a Demonstration Alert that reads in part as follows:

“Location: Dhaka, other major cities across Bangladesh.

“Event: The Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) is calling for demonstrations Wednesday, October 23, 2019.

“Local authorities expect gatherings of BNP supporters nationwide. Further demonstrations are expected until Friday, October 25, 2019. There is a possibility of some disruption and delays in vehicle and pedestrian traffic throughout Dhaka.

“Demonstrations may have the potential to become violent. Security forces are known to use tear gas and other crowd control measures against demonstrators, including batons and rubber bullets.

“The U.S. Embassy’s Consular section will remain open for normal business.”

Ecuador (Security threat level – 3): On 23 October 2019, the U.K. Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) issued updated travel advice for Ecuador, which reads in part as follows: "The FCO no longer advise against travel to Ecuador (except for areas specified in the vicinity of the border with Colombia)…

"There were nationwide protests across Ecuador between 3 and 13 October 2019 which caused extensive disruption. Some of these protests became violent, especially in Quito, and led to a number of fatalities. A state of emergency was declared on 3 October, which will remain in place until 3 November.

"The Ecuadorean government has announced that a dialogue process is underway to review the economic measures that triggered the protests. However, tensions remain heightened and there is a risk of further protests. If you’re travelling in Ecuador, you should remain vigilant, avoid any protests or demonstrations and keep up to date with developments via official local sources and this travel advice."

Thursday 24 October 2019:

Chile (Security threat level – 2): Demonstrations are ongoing across Chile on 24 October 2019 to mark the second day of a general strike by the Workers’ United Center of Chile (CUT) and other social organizations. Roadblocks have been reported in the southern Araucanía region, including in Boroa, Freire, Pelales and Boyeco, amid demonstrations. Meanwhile, in Santiago, authorities confirmed that Lines 1, 3 and 6 of the Santiago Metro will only be partially operational for the second day in a row. There have been no reports of disruptions to operations at Santiago’s Arturo Merino Benítez International Airport (SCEL/SCL).

Over the night of 23-24 October, protests continued across the country in defiance of extended states of emergencies and city curfews. In Valdivia, protesters blocked the Puente Pedro de Valdivia, and set fire to a number of barricades in the Las Ánimas sector of the city. Meanwhile in Santiago, a number of fires — including burning barricades — were reported; however, there were no widespread clashes. Elsewhere in the Greater Santiago Conurbation, incidents of looting were reported at shopping establishments in Maipú and San Ramón; in both instances, the targeted establishments were set on fire after the event. Meanwhile in San Bernardo, which is also part of the Greater Santiago Conurbation, an assailant allegedly attempted to rob an ATM located inside a supermarket during curfew hours; police officers intervened and shot the perpetrator.

Earlier in the day on 23 October, thousands of demonstrators peacefully marched along Avenida Libertador General Bernardo O’Higgins and rallied at Plaza Italia in Santiago. Clashes broke out when a group of protesters threw rocks at buildings near a metro station in the city; however, there were no notable violent clashes in the city during the day. Meanwhile, in Valparaíso, special forces used tear gas to disperse demonstrators near the city municipal building. In the city of Chiguayante, a local cameraman was shot in the eye during clashes between demonstrators and security forces. Separately, one person was injured during a demonstration in the city of Puerto Montt. Elsewhere in the country, approximately 8,000 people participated in a march in downtown Temuco. Large-scale demonstrations also occurred in Arica, Antofagasta and Concepción.

The Chilean government has renewed curfews for the cities of La Serena and Coquimbo, the province of Concepción and the region of Valparaíso. In La Serena and Coquimbo, the curfew will last from 2200 local time on 24 October (0100 UTC on 25 October) through 0400 local time on 25 October. In Concepción, the curfew will last from 2300 local time on 24 October through 0400 local time on 25 October. In Valparaíso, the curfew will last from 2200 local time on 24 October through 0500 local time on 25 October. Authorities will release information regarding additional nighttime curfews from 24-25 October later on 24 October. Border crossings between Chile and Argentina, Bolivia and Peru were closed overnight on 23-24 October. It is unknown if the borders will be open overnight on 24-25 October. Separately, curfew orders were in effect for the following areas from 23-24 October: Arica, Antofagasta, Calama, Mejillones, Tocopilla, Concepción province, Iquique province, Alto Hospicio, Pozo Almonte, La Serena, Coquimbo, Osorno, Puerto Montt, Rancagua, Santiago Metropolitan Region, Talca, Valparaíso region and Valdivia.

China (Security threat level – 3): Protests are expected to continue throughout Hong Kong between 25 and 27 October 2019. Currently, multiple demonstrations are planned, primarily on Hong Kong Island and Kowloon.

Protest marches are planned during the morning rush hour on Hong Kong Island and Kowloon beginning at 0700 local time on 25 October (2300 UTC on 24 October). In Kowloon, protesters plan to march from Exit A of the Kowloon Bay MTR station and along Kwun Tong Road to the Kwun Tong District. An additional march in Kowloon is scheduled to begin at the Tsim Sha Tsui Pier, and travel along Nathan Road to Mong Kok. On Hong Kong Island, protesters plan to gather at Chater Garden before marching along Des Voeux Road to Sheung Wan. Elsewhere on Hong Kong Island, protesters plan to march along King’s Road from the Fortress Hill MTR station to Taikoo Place. Organizers have not applied for a Letter of No Objection and have instructed attendees to wear face masks in defiance of a recent ban on facial coverings at public gatherings. On 26 October, protesters plan to rally against totalitarianism beginning at 1300 local time in Admiralty’s Tamar Park. It is unknown if organizers applied for a Letter of No Objection. Additionally, medical workers are expected to hold a rally beginning at 1800 local time at Chater Garden. However, it remains unknown if organizers applied for a Letter of No Objection.

Beginning at 1500 local time on 27 October, a rally is expected to begin at Salisbury Garden in Tsim Sha Tsui to protest against allegations of police brutality during recent demonstrations. Meanwhile, at 1600 local time demonstrators plan to gather at the Kwun Tong Promenade. Organizers did not apply for a Letter of No Objection for the latter protest, and it remains unknown if organizers of the former applied for a Letter of No Objection.

Italy (Security threat level – 3): Nationwide strikes are expected to disrupt transportation across Italy beginning at 2100 local time (1900 UTC) on 24 October 2019, and continuing through 25 October. Union leaders have called for 24-hour strikes across most transportation sectors, including aviation, buses, trains, ferries and motorways, to demand higher wages and better working conditions. The most significant disruptions are expected in the cities of Catania, Florence, Milan, Naples, Palermo, Rome and Turin. Additionally, airline travel is expected to be disrupted, as air traffic controllers have called for a four-hour work stoppage from 1300-1700 local time. Alitalia canceled over 200 flights and easyJet canceled an additional 32 flights across the country in preparation for the strike. Transportation officials have warned travelers to contact their airline or transportation operators to confirm services are operational.

Ethiopia (Security threat level – 4): As of 24 October 2019, several hundred anti-government protesters remain outside the residence of prominent local activist Jawar Mohammed in the national capital Addis Ababa for the second consecutive day. Protesters have also gathered in other areas of the city, including Bole Bulbulla, Kotebe and Kara Qore, and are blocking multiple roads in the outskirts of the city. Although there have been no reports of significant clashes on 24 October, a heavy security presence remains in place across the capital. Elsewhere in Oromia regional state, protesters and security personnel clashed on the previous day in several cities, including Adama, Dodola, Harar and Jimma. At least 16 protesters were killed and dozens more were injured in the clashes throughout the day. The protests were prompted by reports that the Ethiopian government ordered the departure of Mohammed’s security detail on the evening of 22 October; officials have denied these reports.

Zimbabwe (Security threat level – 4): On 24 October 2019, the U.K. Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) issued updated travel advice for Zimbabwe, which reads in part as follows: “There is a planned anti-sanctions march in Harare on 25 October. The government has declared the day a public holiday and large crowds are expected around the Central Business District and National Sports Stadium. You should avoid any political gatherings or demonstrations. These can be unpredictable, can turn violent without notice, and the response from the security forces may be disproportionate. You should exercise a high degree of caution and monitor local media and this travel advice for updates.”