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A cold war has broken out in Washington DC between the diplomatic representatives of Spain, headed by its US ambassador Pedro Morenés, and the Catalan delegation, headed by the president Quim Torra, in the inaugural acts of the Smithsonian Institute's Folklife Festival.

After Wednesday's controversial speech by Morenés directed against Torra and the political prisoners issue, which prompted the Catalan president to walk out of the reception, the seating plan for the inaugural festival act had the Catalan delegation separated from the Spanish diplomats by no less than eleven seats and two aisles. In between the two Iberian peninsula groups were the representatives of Armenia, the other country especially invited to the festival along with Catalonia.

Earlier the festival management had decided to eliminate the planned speeches by the Catalan president and the Spanish ambassador at the beginning of the event, in an attempt to avoid a second diplomatic clash.

Protests on the issue of the Catalan political prisoners were visible around the venue for the opening event. The organization asked a group of Catalans to remove a banner calling for the release of the prisoners, on the grounds that political demonstrations are not allowed at the festival.

Translation: The organization of @SmithsonianFolk asks a group of Catalans to remove a banner calling for the liberation of the political prisoners, since political demonstrations are not allowed. — Geni Lozano

The festival inauguration featured a performance by Catalan instrumental group La Cobla Catalana dels Sons Essencials led by Marcel Casellas. After the event, president Torra was seen speaking with Marie Royce, US state department secretary for educational and cultural affairs.

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