It's not the first time the international agenda of former Catalan president Carles Puigdemont has caused a fuss. The latest controversy is over his invitation to speak to the Oxford Union, the University of Oxford's prestigious debating society. The Foro de Profesores (Forum of Academics), an "informal association of 240 university professors and other professionals committed to the defence of liberal democracy in Spain", has sent an open letter to the Union's Standing Committe complaining about their presentation of the former president and offering "[them]selves, and [their] expertise, for any presentations or debates that you may wish to hold on these issues". The Union holds two main formats of event: debates and addresses by notable individuals followed by a Q&A; the Puigdemont event is of the latter type.
The Forum, which has some 240 members, says it "deeply regret[s] that the Oxford Union seems to invite only nationalist Catalan leaders". They note that former president Artur Mas spoke in the main chamber in 2017; now, his successor Puigdemont, who they characterise as a "fugitive from justice", has been invited.
The letter's hundred signatories criticise the description of Puigdemont as "Head of the Catalonian Resistance". The current president of the Union, Genevieve Athis, speaking to The Oxford Student, said they had changed this "in the interests of clarity" to describe him as "Former President of the Government of Catalonia", but noted that all adverts had included a fuller description of the positions he has held and his current status. She added that they plan no changes to the format of the event.
The Forum says Puigdemont's "unilateral strategy has created deep divisions within Catalan society and has greatly damaged the Catalan social fabric and economy, while also increasing deep structural inequalities in Catalonia".
The lawyer representing Puigdemont's former education minister Clara Ponsatí, Aamer Anwar, who is also rector of Glasgow University, criticised repeated attempts to prevent events with independence movement figures from being held at different universities in the UK.
1st they tried to stop @ClaraPonsati & I speaking at @LSEpublicevents then they tried to stop me @Cambridge_Uni, then @QuimTorraiPla speaking & now desperate to stop President Puigdemont @KRLS speaking @OxfordUnion - Free speech?🎗https://t.co/8eyFyRddmC— Aamer Anwar🎗🌹 (@AamerAnwar) 13 de maig de 2019