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

 

This alert began 17 Nov 2019 12:41 GMT and is scheduled to expire 22 Nov 2019 23:59 GMT.

  • Event: Protests
  • Location: Catalonia
  • Time Frame: Through Nov. 22
  • Impact: Increased security; business and transport disruptions; possible clashes

 

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Summary

Pro-independence activists and civil society groups will continue their campaign of protests and civil disobedience in Catalonia through at least Nov. 22. The Catalan National Assembly (ANC) is leading calls for protests outside the High Court of Justice of Catalonia in Barcelona from 0800 Nov. 18 against the trial of the President of the Government of Catalonia for disobedience. Participation is likely to be in the thousands.

Additional protests by pro-independence or pro-unionist groups are likely to continue daily in towns and cities regionwide through at least Nov. 22; likely locations include significant landmarks and state buildings in city centers, as well as along major roads and at major intersections. Activists may attempt to disrupt access to transport hubs, including Barcelona-El Prat Airport (BCN) and Barcelona Sants rail station. Increased security at BCN is likely to lengthen passenger processing procedures at the airport.

Security forces will continue to deploy to monitor protests and clear disruptive gatherings. Activists have regularly used social media to coordinate short-notice protest actions that often escalate to violence. While the number of violent incidents has declined at recent protests, further clashes between police and protesters are possible. Protests during evening hours are more likely to be confrontational.


 

Background and Analysis

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

The pro-independence President of the Government of Catalonia, Quim Torra, is being tried for disobedience Nov. 18 after refusing to take down Catalan separatist symbols from the regional government headquarters. Torra has been at odds with the Spanish government over his continued refusal to condemn the protests.

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 during the weekend of Oct. 24-27. Roadblock protests have been the main form of protest by pro-independence groups as of Nov. 11; this trend looks set to continue through Nov. 22.


 

Advice

Liaise with trusted contacts regarding protest locations. Maintain contact with your nation's diplomatic mission. 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. 22; confirm flights at BCN before driving to the airport; arrive early at the airport to allow extra time for check-in and to clear security.