On Tuesday, December 11, the Spanish central government threatened to deploy the National Police Corps to Catalonia following protests on Saturday and Sunday, December 8-9. Protesters blocked the AP-7 highway near Tarragona for 15 hours on Saturday, disrupting traffic in all directions. The following day, protesters commandeered toll plazas for three hours, allowing cars to pass without paying tolls. Further protests are likely in the coming days and weeks and pro-Catalonian secessionist groups have called for regionwide strike and protest in Barcelona on December 21 during a visit by the prime minister. Violent clashes between demonstrators and security forces cannot be ruled out, particularly if the National Police Corps is deployed to the region.
Tensions in Catalonia have been high since a controversial and unsanctioned independence referendum held on October 1, 2017, in which 90 percent of votes cast were in support of independence. Polling was interrupted by the National Police Corps, who reportedly raided several polling stations. Violent clashes between pro-secessionist protesters and national police resulted in 893 civilians and 431 security personnel being injured.
The results were ruled unconstitutional and annulled by the central government in Madrid.
Individuals in Catalonia are advised to monitor the situation, avoid any public gatherings as a precaution, and anticipate further protests and associated disruptions in the coming weeks.
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