Oct. 30 8:48 a.m. EST | Critical Alert
Protests by civil society groups and activists to continue in Catalonia, Spain, through Nov. 3. Clashes possible.

 

 

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This alert began 30 Oct 2019 12:46 GMT and is scheduled to expire 03 Nov 2019 23:59 GMT.

  • Event: Protests
  • Location: Catalonia 
  • Time Frame: Through Nov. 3
  • Impact: Increased security, business and transport disruptions; possible clashes

 

Summary

Pro-independence activists and civil society groups continue to call for protests and civil disobedience in Catalonia. The Committee for the Defence of the Republic (CDR) has called for the following demonstrations the evening of Oct. 30:

  • Barcelona: Jardinets de Gracia, 1900
  • Lleida: Placa Paeria, 1830
  • Girona: Placa Pompeu Fabra, 1900
  • Tarragona: Placa Imperial Tarraco, 1900

Additional protests are likely in other towns and cities Oct. 30. Further disruptive protests by pro-independence activists and rival Spanish unionists will likely persist daily in Catalonian urban centers through at least Nov. 3.

Security forces will almost certainly continue to deploy to monitor protests and clear disruptive gatherings. Protesters will likely continue to demonstrate near significant landmarks and state buildings in city centers, as well as along major roads and at major intersections. Access to transport hubs, including Barcelona El Prat Airport (BCN) and Barcelona Sants rail station, may be disrupted at times. Increased security at BCN is likely to lengthen passenger processing procedures at the airport.

Activists have regularly used social media and messaging apps to coordinate short-notice protest actions that often escalate to violence, reducing the ability of security forces to implement measures to minimize the possible impact. While the number of violent incidents have declined at recent protests, further clashes between police and protesters are likely, particularly if demonstrators are blocking major routes. Protests in the evening hours are more likely to be confrontational.


 

Background and Analysis

The latest round of protests follows the Supreme Court's Oct. 14 ruling, sentencing nine Catalan separatist leaders to at least nine years' imprisonment each. Sporadic protests over Catalonian independence have been ongoing since an unofficial referendum on the issue in October 2017. Gatherings in the week immediately following the announcement often escalated to violence with security forces, possibly marking a trend shift from the largely peaceful protests of the last two years; however, incidents of violence were greatly reduced for the weekend Oct. 24-27 when compared to the previous week.

 

Advice

Liaise with trusted contacts regarding protest locations. Maintain contact with your diplomatic representation. Exercise caution in Catalonian cities and strictly avoid all protests and security force deployments. Consider offering telecommuting options for staff based near likely protest sites. Heed instructions from security services and leave the area at the first sign of a confrontation. Check public transport schedules and local traffic conditions for disruptions and allow extra time to reach destinations. Be alert for residual debris and sharp objects if driving on routes that have been affected by protester roadblocks. Confirm appointments and allow extra time for essential travel in Catalonia through at least Nov. 3; confirm flights at BCN before setting out and arrive early at the airport to allow extra time for security.