On Sunday, the Catalonian metropolis Barcelona was again struck by violence. About 50,000 people frustrated over the arrest of former Catalonian President Carles Puigdemont gathered in a spontaneous and heated rally. The ensuing violent escalations between protesters and security forces resulted in over 100 injured.

New Momentum in Catalonian Crisis

Returning from a trip to Finland and on his way to Belgium, Puigdemont was detained in Germany shortly after crossing the Danish border. This has been the temporary climax of the Spanish Supreme Court’s new efforts against figures of the Catalan Independence movement. Last Friday, the court reissued the international warrant for Puigdemont and arrested other Catalonian leaders, among them Puigdemont’s potential successor, Jordí Turull. While the Catalonian Crisis had calmed to some extent in the wake of the imposed snap regional elections on 21 December, these most recent measures of the highest Spanish court, which in Catalonia are widely perceived to be politically motivated, are threatening to increase the tensions between Madrid and Barcelona anew and give a boost to the recently waning support for Catalonian independence.

German Involvement a Potential Source of Risk

Catalonia, and Barcelona in particular, have frequently witnessed large-scale rallies in favour of secession that generally have been peaceful. However, the referendum in October and the recent clashes have demonstrated the potential for violence in this matter. Madrid’s continued and aggressive prosecution of Catalonian officials could bring in a new wave of demonstrations and potentially violent incidents that may impact negatively on the mobility and security of business travellers and on the flow of business activities. Furthermore, the involvement of German authorities in Puigdemont’s arrest could pose additional risks to German interests. Although unlikely, open antagonism of more radical proponents of Catalonian Independence towards representatives of German institutions and companies, as well as German citizens in general, cannot be excluded entirely.


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Photo credit: Medol | License: Creative Commons