Sporadic protests over Catalonian independence have been ongoing since the unofficial referendum on the issue in October 2017. On Oct. 14, Spain's Supreme Court's sentenced several Catalan separatist leaders to at least 9 years' imprisonment. Protests have typically been peaceful, however, pro-independence activists and civil society groups called for civil disobedience on Oct. 24. Since then, pro-independence groups continue to hold demonstrations in several Catalonia urban areas.

The following intelligence alerts provide insight into the situation as it evolves.


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Nov. 17: 7:46 a.m. EST | Warning AlertProtests to continue in Catalonia, Spain, through Nov. 22; large protest in Barcelona from 0800 Nov. 18. Clashes possible.

Nov. 15: 7:49 a.m. EST | Warning AlertProtests to continue in Catalonia, Spain, through Nov. 22; regionwide roadblock protests planned Nov. 16. Clashes possible.

Nov. 12: 8:06 a.m. EST | Warning AlertPro-independence activists call for roadblock protest on AP-8 highway at Irun, Spain, Nov. 12. Disruptions ongoing on AP-7.

Nov. 11: 6:14 a.m. EST | Warning AlertPro-independence activists blocking AP-7 highway in La Jonquera, Spain, at border with France, Nov. 11. Disruptions and clashes likely.

Nov. 4: 6:51 a.m. EST | Critical AlertProtests planned in Catalonia, Spain, against royal visit Nov. 4; further protests through at least Nov. 11. Clashes possible.

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

Oct. 28: 8:50 a.m. EST | Critical Alert | Protests by civil society groups and activists to continue in Catalonia, Spain, through Nov. 3. Clashes possible.

Oct. 24: 9:06 a.m. EST | Critical AlertRival pro-independence and unionist protests to continue in urban centers in Catalonia, Spain, through Oct. 27. Clashes possible.


Nov. 4: 6:51 a.m. ESDT | Critical Alert
Protests planned in Catalonia, Spain, against royal visit Nov. 4; further protests through at least Nov. 11. Clashes possible.

 

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This alert began 04 Nov 2019 11:45 GMT and is scheduled to expire 11 Nov 2019 23:59 GMT.

  • Event: Protests
  • Location: Catalonia 
  • Time Frame: Through Nov. 11
  • 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) is leading calls for protests throughout the region against a planned visit by the King of Spain Nov. 4, though the visit is unrelated to the ongoing protests. The largest of these will take place in Barcelona, where activists will march in two columns from Placa de Sants and Maria Cristina metro station from 1530, to converge at the Palace of the Congress of Catalonia at 1600, where the King is expected to be for an awards ceremony. Additional protests against the king's visit are confirmed in the following locations Nov. 4:

  • Lleida: Placa de la Paeria, 1930
  • Girona: Placa 1 d'Octubre, 1930
  • Tarragona: Placa Imperial Tarraco, 2000

Additional protests will take place in other towns and cities against the King's visit Nov. 4. Further disruptive protests by pro-independence activists and rival Spanish unionists will likely persist daily in Catalonian urban centers through at least Nov. 11. Major demonstrations are planned regionwide for Nov. 9, the day before the Spanish general elections. The largest of these will be in Barcelona in Placa Catalunya from 1600. Precise locations in other Catalonian cities will be announced nearer the date.

Security forces will continue to monitor all protests and clear disruptive gatherings. Authorities have implemented particularly stringent security measures around the Palace of Congress in Barcelona for the King's visit Nov. 4, including road closures and a heavily increased police presence. Any unruly behaviour at this protest is likely to elicit a forceful police response, possibly including riot control measures such as tear gas, rubber bullets, and baton charges.

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 has declined at recent protests, further clashes between police and protesters are likely, particularly if demonstrators are blocking major routes. Protests during evening hours are more likely to be confrontational.


 

Background and Analysis

The protests follow the Supreme Court's Oct. 14 ruling, sentencing nine Catalan separatist leaders to at least nine years' imprisonment each. Demonstrators continue to call for the leaders' release and for Catalonian independence. Sporadic unrest related to the demand for independence has been ongoing since an unofficial referendum on the issue in October 2017.

Gatherings in the week immediately following the court ruling often escalated to violence with security forces; however, incidents of violence have reduced from their peak reached during the weekend of Oct. 24-27. Protest activity is likely to increase in the run up to and immediately following the Spanish general elections, currently scheduled for Nov. 10, which could also act as a catalyst for incidents of violent escalation and forceful police responses.


 

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. 11; confirm flights at BCN before setting out and arrive early at the airport to allow extra time for security.


Oct. 28 8:50 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 28 Oct 2019 12:47 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, Oct. 28. The Committees for the Defense of the Republic (CDR) has called for a protest at Barcelona Sants Rail Station from 1900 Oct. 28; participants will attempt to entirely encircle the station, likely leading to limited station access, disrupted rail services, and heightened security at the station.

A separate action the same day calls for protesters to block the Avinguda Meridiana at the intersection with Passeig de Fabra I Puig from 1930. Additionally, the CDR has called for protests in Tarragona at Placa Imperial Tarraco from 2000. This follows coordinated actions outside the courts in Barcelona, Lleida, Girona, and Tarragona from 0830 earlier in the day, though these were calm and involved only dozens of protests in each case. 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), 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. 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, particularly if traveling via Barcelona Sants the evening of Oct. 28. 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 procedures.

 

Resource

Barcelona-El Prat Airport: aena.es

 


Oct. 23 9:06 a.m. EST | Critical Alert
Rival pro-independence and unionist protests to continue in urban centers in Catalonia, Spain, through Oct. 27.

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This alert began 24 Oct 2019 13:01 GMT and is scheduled to expire 27 Oct 2019 23:59 GMT.

  • Event: Protests
  • Location: Catalonia 
  • Time Frame: Through Oct. 27
  • 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, Oct. 24. A pro-independence demonstration is ongoing in Girona's Placa de l'1 d'Octubre de 2017. Several additional pro-independence demonstrations are scheduled in Catalonia the evening Oct. 24, including:

  • Barcelona: March from Placa Universitat to Placa de Sant Jaume at 1830
  • Girona: Rally in Placa Calvet i Rubalcaba at 1800
  • Tarragona: Rally in Placa de la Font at 1830
  • Reus: Rally in Placa del Mercadal at 1930

Additionally, around 100 activists are currently gathered outside the Chinese Consulate General in Barcelona in solidarity with protesters in Hong Kong; further such actions may take place while anti-government demonstrations persist in the respective cities. Disruptive protests by pro-independence activists and rival Spanish unionists will continue through at least Oct. 27; the following actions have been confirmed:

Barcelona

  • Oct. 25: Pro-independence rally in Placa Universitat at 1900
  • Oct. 26: Pro-independence rally in Placa de Sant Jaume at 1200
  • Oct. 26: Pro-independence rally on Carrer de la Marina at 1700
  • Oct. 27: Unionist rally on Passeig de Gracia at 1200

Girona

  • Oct. 25: Pro-independence rally in Placa de l'1 d'Octubre de 2017 at 1200

Security forces will almost certainly continue to deploy to monitor protests and clear particularly disruptive gatherings. Additional protests are likely in major Catalonian urban centers, including Barcelona, Girona, Lleida, and Tarragona. 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), may be disrupted at times. Increased security at BCN is likely to lengthen passenger processing procedures at the airport.

Activists have largely used social media and messaging apps to coordinate short-notice protest actions, reducing the ability of security forces to implement measures to minimize the possible impact. Disruptive demonstrations can take place with little warning. 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; related gatherings have typically been peaceful, though violence in recent days may mark a shift in this trend.


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. 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 Oct. 27; confirm flights at BCN before setting out and arrive early at the airport to allow extra time for security procedures.


Resources: