Catalan president Quim Torra has this Sunday started a trip to the United States which will take him to San Francisco, Washington DC and Idaho, and during which he'll hold political, economical and cultural meetings. The aim of the trip is none other than to raise awareness among international public opinion from the United States of the loss of civil rights in Spain and the repression of the independence movement. Especially the fact that part of Catalonia's legitimate government has had to go into exile and the other part is in pretrial detention and just weeks away from a trial in the Supreme Court lacking the minimum in legal guarantees, since the narrative the indictment is based on is false and, as has been shown, there was neither rebellion nor misuse of public funds. Despite this, and the verdicts of the courts of various countries, the Supreme Court is going ahead. Torra wants to play the international card and supplement the work president Puigdemont is doing from Brussels, and that of Jordi Cuixart and Òmnium Cultural through a very select network of international contacts.
It will be his second trip to the US and, unlike the first last June which was markedly cultural in nature, this time the main focus will be on his speech at Stanford University, invited by the influential Martin Luther King Jr Research & Education Institute, with whose director, Clayborne Carson, he'll also take part in a joint class. With this gesture, the institute is settling the fake media controversy unleashed in Madrid last year saying which claimed there was great unease in the institute over references made to the human rights activist and comparing the independence movement's peaceful fight for its objectives with him.
Even though Carson himself ended that debate at the time, this event aims to make it clear that he finds any movement which uses the non-violent techniques King promoted to be admirable. In any case, president Torra's presence at this forum can only but confirm the growing interest in the worlds of academia and journalism in Catalan demands for an independence referendum to be agreed upon with the Spanish government. News agency Associated Press has also held an interview with Torra.
The new Spanish ambassador, Santiago Cabanas, took over in July from former PP defence minister Pedro Morenés, who had arrived in Washington months earlier with the aim of reducing the interest among US public opinion in the Catalan conflict. In his short time as ambassador he had time to star in an incident in June with the Catalan government during the official reception organised by the Smithsonian Folklife Festival which president Torra was invited to. Morenés called the Catalan leader a liar for saying that there are political prisoners in Catalonia. The ambassador's inappropriate behaviour led to the entire Catalan delegation leaving the event. We'll see if Cabanas, a much more technical character, has received instructions from minister Borrell or not and comes to fight, like Morenés, or dedicates himself to diplomacy.