A week on Monday, the US will celebrate Martin Luther King Jr Day in honour of the civil rights leader. This coming Monday, meanwhile, Catalan president Quim Torra will start his official visit to the USA, during which he'll speak to the Martin Luther King Jr Research and Education Institute at Stanford University. During the trip, days before the start of the trial of pro-independence leaders, he'll visit San Francisco, Washington DC and Idaho.
The speech will take place at the university's Humanities Centre. It will follow a joint class held by Torra and the institute's director, Clayborne Carson, who extended the invitation to the Catalan president.
Carson and Torra started talking following the controversy sparked by a report in Spanish newspaper El Confidencial that the former had expressed disgust at the president evoking the figure of the civil rights leader and saying that he believed he would have opposed the Catalan independence movement. Carson later clarified his remarks, saying that he was "shocked and disturbed" to have been misquoted and said he is "pleased when any movement chooses to use the kind of nonviolent tactics and strategies that King advocated".
On Tuesday, Torra will visit Silicon Valley alongside Catalan business and skills minister, Àngels Chacon. He will then head to Idaho and Washington for what the government describe as a private visit, during which he will however hold a number of political meetings.
It won't be the first time Torra has travelled to the United States as president. Last June, he went to Washington for the Smithsonian Institute's Folklife Festival, which had Catalan culture as one of its focuses. After Torra used his speech to denounce the existence of political prisoners and exiles in Spain, then Spanish ambassador Morenés described him as a liar. That provoked the Catalan delegation to leave the reception.