Left-wing separatist groups have promised to "sow chaos" in Catalonia later this month when the Spanish government swaps Madrid for Barcelona for one of its weekly Cabinet meetings.
The Grups Autònoms d'Accions Ràpides -GAAR, (autonomous rapid action groups), the most extreme version of the radical Comités de Defensa de la República- CDR (Republic defence committees), which were only set up last week, have begun briefing their followers with an instruction manual. In it they explain how to carry out their planned sabotage and attacks against "transport, the energy sector, IT and communications and the security services". The groups have insisted that the protests will be "non violent".
The news that protests are being prepared for the Spanish Cabinet meeting near Barcelona's port on 21 December came in a week of renewed militant action in the region and an escalation in political tension between the central and regional governments.
Last weekend members of the CDR blocked the main AP-7 motorway through Catalonia for much of Saturday and the following day they raised toll barriers without any intervention by the Mossos d'Esquadra, the Catalan regional police force.
Ministers in Madrid were quick to criticise the lack of police intervention, threatening to send officers from the National Police to Catalonia if regional ministers didn't carry out their constitutional duties. Madrid has already announced that is sending an extra 400 National Police for the planned Cabinet meeting next week .
The tension has been added to by Catalan president, Quim Torra, last weekend calling for the region to break away in the same way that Slovenia broke away from Yugoslavia, which involved violence and loss of life.
"That's the kind of talk that sounds like it's calling for an insurrection," said Spanish foreign minister Josep Borrell on Monday from Brussels. Later in the week, Torra had toned down his rhetoric as opposition parties in Madrid called for the ruling PSOE to suspend regional autonomous powers again.