Protests have broken out in Catalonia, a region in north-east Spain, after nine Catalan independence leaders were convicted of treason on Monday 14th October for their part in the illegal independence referendum back in 2017. A charge they all denied.
Catalonia has been fighting for independence for many years and believes it should not be sending financial resources to other parts of Spain. Back in September, more than 600,000 participated in an annual march through Barcelona in support of Catalonia’s independence.
After the conviction was announced, thousands of people in Catalonia have been protesting and rioting in support of the independence leaders. So far the protesters have clashed with Spanish police, started fires and attempted to storm government buildings in Barcelona.
Roads leading to Barcelona’s El Prat airport were also blocked earlier this week and more than 100 flights were cancelled. Riot police were deployed to the airport but protesters didn’t back down easily.
Spanish forces have reportedly used tear gas and force in an attempt to stop protesters.
Authorities are currently investigating the person or persons who are organising the protests. It has been reported an app is being used to direct protesters to sites across Catalonia.
In light of recent events, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has issued a warning to travellers. “There have been large gatherings of people in Barcelona and other areas of the Catalonia region in relation to pollical developments there”, anyone visiting the country “should exercise caution in the vicinity of demonstrations as they may occur with little or no warning”.
The FCO has also provided a helpline for people who have missed their flight or unable to make it to their hotel due to the protests. Further details can be found on their website.
Those due to travel to the region may be concerned and should check their travel insurance for cancellation for any cause. This cover, however, will only be valid if the travel insurance policy was brought before the protests began. Travellers will need to speak to their travel insurance company directly to discuss further options.
Travellers currently in the region should check their policies for force majeure cover. If the area they are staying in is unsafe or their accommodation has been damaged they may be covered to move to a more suitable area for the remainder of their holiday.
The FCO recommends travellers keep an eye on latest updates by following @emergenciescat on Twitter.