American Citizen Services Unit
U.S. Embassy Santiago
Message for U.S. Citizens
To: U.S. Citizens in Chile
From: Mark Leoni, Consul General
Date: August 22, 2011
Subject: Security Notice
The U.S. Embassy in Santiago alerts U.S. citizens traveling to and residing in Chile of the likelihood of continuing disturbances in Santiago and other urban centers in connection with the student protest movement. A planned national strike and the anniversary of the 1973 military coup also present opportunities for unrest. The U.S. Embassy urges American Citizens to avoid the areas of demonstrations and to exercise caution if within the vicinity of any protests.
Since June, there have been mass demonstrations in Santiago and regional capitals calling for improvements in Chile’s educational system. While the majority of the protests have been peaceful, in some cases masked protesters have destroyed property and clashed with authorities. Several demonstrations have drawn over 100,000 supporters to the streets of central Santiago. The protests have closed a number of Chile’s universities and high schools, but to date have had minimal impact on travel and business. The protests have been well publicized and announced several days in advance.
Nationwide Strike Planned for August 24 and 25
A leading umbrella labor organization, the Unitary Central for Workers (CUT) has called for a “Paro Nacional” (national strike) to take place Aug. 24 and 25, and a number of other unions, including those representing public sector employees, have announced that they will join the strike. According to proponents, the strike is to push for changes to advance democracy and social justice. One union official has stated “this will be the biggest national strike of the last decade;” others have threatened to block roads (including those to the airport). Given the experience of past strikes, large-scale marches are likely on these days. U.S. citizens are urged to avoid public transportation and city centers/known demonstration areas.
On August 14 and 16, noise bombs were detonated near the U.S. Embassy — though there are no indications that the embassy was the target. The noise bombs were similar to those seen in Santiago in the past; a fire extinguisher filled with black powder. These explosions caused little damage and no injuries. Local authorities believe this is likely the work of anarchist groups demonstrating their capabilities to the Government of Chile. Use common sense and avoid untended fire extinguishers and suspicious canisters in public places.
Allende’s Funeral and the Anniversary of Chile’s 1973 Military Coup
September 11 marks the anniversary of Chile’s 1973 military coup against the government of Salvador Allende. Each year the anniversary is marked by demonstrations and marches, especially in urban areas near government buildings. As these demonstrations can turn violent, American citizens should monitor the media for the latest information and avoid those areas. Disturbances could affect transportation services in some areas. In addition, September 4 has been chosen as the date for the public funeral of Salvador Allende, which could possibly lead to additional demonstrations and marches.
There are no indications that foreigners or Americans are being threatened or targeted, but U.S. citizens are urged to remain alert to local security developments and to be vigilant regarding their personal security by monitoring media, knowing the locations of police stations, hospitals, and the U.S. Embassy. The Department of State strongly urges U.S. citizens to avoid all demonstrations, as even peaceful ones can quickly become unruly and a foreigner could become a target of harassment or worse. If you are in immediate danger, call the police at 133.
U.S. citizens in Chile should regularly monitor the U.S. Embassy’s website http://chile.usembassy.gov and the U.S. Department of State travel website http://travel.state.gov, where current Country Specific Information (CSI), Worldwide Caution, Travel Warnings, and Travel Alerts can be found. The U.S. Embassy encourages U.S. citizens to review “A Safe Trip Abroad,” found at http://travel.state.gov/travel/tips/safety/safety_1747.html, which includes valuable security information for those both residing and traveling abroad. In addition to information on the Internet, travelers may obtain up-to-date information on security conditions by calling +1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the U.S. and Canada, or outside the U.S. and Canada on a regular toll line at +1-202-501-4444. You can also stay up to date by bookmarking our Bureau of Consular Affairs website, which contains current Travel Warnings and Travel Alerts. Follow us on Twitter and the Bureau of Consular Affairs page on Facebook as well.
Citizens traveling and residing in Chile are advised to register their presence in the country through the U.S. Department of State’s automated online registration system found at https://travelregistration.state.gov. U.S. citizens may contact the Consular Section at the U.S. Embassy via e-mail at SantiagoAmcit@state.gov or by calling +56-2-330-3000.