The following alerts are based on ISA's direct observation, U.S. Department of State recommendations, Overseas Security Advisory Council, WHO reports, and expert consultation.
A small bomb went off today at the Chilean-American Cultural Institute in Viña del Mar, Chile. There were no injuries and only very minor damage was inflicted where the bomb was detonated. Although no group as of yet has claimed responsibility for the bombing, there is speculation that it is tied to President Barack Obama's arrival in Chile this afternoon. ISA on-site staff has informed ISA management in Austin that all students are safe and accounted for. No ISA students live in close proximity to the Cultural Institute and no courses offered through ISA partner universities are held at or near this center. There are no plans at this time to cancel any ISA courses or to make any changes to the ISA itinerary as a result of this incident. Our staff will be keeping us informed of any further news regarding the incident.
An 8.9 magnitude earthquake struck Honshu, Japan at approximately 2:46 PM Friday local time (approximately 12:46 AM US Central Standard Time). Tsunami alerts have been issued for several countries along the Pacific coast from Canada to South America.
All ISA students in Chile, Costa Rica, Panama and Peru have been accounted for as of 1:15 PM Central Standard Time. As a precautionary measure, we have advised students to avoid travel to any coastal regions on the Western side (Pacific side) of the country for the next several days. Both our ISA Austin staff and the local ISA staff abroad will continue to closely monitor in-country government communications, local media outlets and other sources for updates or changes in the situation. Students have also been instructed to standby for more information.
Despite demonstrations in several Moroccan cities, there have been no reports of violence in Meknès, the host city of ISA's Morocco programs. Meknès is peaceful and daily life in Meknès is progressing normally. It should be noted that by and large, demonstration are not calling for an overthrow of the Moroccan monarchy but rather constitutional, democratic and economic reforms. In a magnanimous move on Thursday, March 10, King Mohammed VI of Morocco granted those desired reforms. He has vowed to establish a legitimate system of parliamentary democracy in Morocco. However, several demonstrations have occurred since then calling for further reforms.
We continue to monitor the situation in Morocco very closely, via our three dedicated staff members (two of whom are locals of Meknès) and our network of contacts throughout Morocco, as well as via the international media and the State Department Overseas Security Advisory Council. Additionally, our resident staff has been in frequent communication with our students to keep them abreast of the situation as well as strongly discouraging any participation in such events.
For the past couple months on Fridays in Amman there have been peaceful demonstrations calling for constitutional and economic reforms. In response to these peaceful demonstrations, King Abdullah II has appointed a new prime minister and cabinet, and indicated plans for electoral and economic reforms. However, on Friday, March 25 a relatively small group of government supporters clashed with demonstrators, who have set up camp in an area of Amman . We continue to monitor events in Amman and the rest of Jordan with the aid of our Jordanian staff, contacts, and security consultant, as well as the State Department Overseas Security Advisory Council and the international media. Additionally we continue to advise our students in Amman with logistical information so that they may avoid these peaceful protests. Our programs and daily life in Amman continue as normal.
On February 18, 2011, the US Embassy in Mexico City released a Warden Message to US citizens residing in and traveling to various cities throughout Mexico, including Guanajuato. We have been in contact with our on-site staff in Guanajuato and the US Embassy in San Miguel de Allende, and our Resident Director in Guanajuato will be meeting with all ISA students to remind them to maintain a heightened sense of alert and awareness. Our on-site staff report that conditions in the city remain calm without noticeable changes. We do not have reason to believe that our students are in danger, but rather are meeting with the students as a precautionary measure.