The Ambassador to the United Kingdom points out his displeasure at the invitation to the former president of the Catalan government.
The Spanish Ambassador to the United Kingdom, Carlos Bastarreche, has written to Oxford Union, one of the most prestigious debate clubs in the country, to clarify that Carles Puigdemont, whom they have invited to give a speech, “is a fugitive from the justice of Spain” and that the act should be canceled.
The ambassador assures that “with all due respect to the presumption of innocence”, the students should know that Puigdemont, former president of the Catalan Government, is accused of “serious offenses” in Spain and that, consequently, he must answer before the judicial authorities. “The fact that you are giving him a platform to present his case is extremely inappropriate,” says Bastarreche, who emphasizes that the event will not be a debate but simply a speech by the Catalan politician.
The invitation of Oxford Union – an independent but based in Oxford society that feeds mainly on students of the famous university – has provoked a strong polemic in Spain. Especially after knowing that the former Catalan leader has been defined as “leader of the Catalan resistance”, something that the Ambassador considers “morally unacceptable.” The conference is scheduled for May 28.
Another institution, Foro de Profesores, has also written an open letter to Oxford Union to clarify some of the information that this club was transmitting about Puigdemont. A total of 111 professors signed this letter, which has the full support of the Spanish Ambassador.
“We appreciate your society’s interest in Spanish affairs, although we deeply regret that it seems only an invitation to the Catalan nationalist leaders,” says the letter, in clear reference to Artur Mas, who was invited in 2017 by this same society.
Oxford Union Society was founded in 1823 and is one of the oldest and most famous clubs in the world. Other prominent members of the Catalan independence movement have found support in British universities. Clara Ponsatí, a former counselor and also a fugitive from Spain, is a professor at the University of St Andrews and was invited to give a lecture at the University of Cambridge.
Bastarreche ends his brief letter reiterating his respect for “freedom of expression”, but saying explicitly that the act should be canceled. “I reiterate my firm disagreement with the fact that this event goes ahead.”
The event is still scheduled for next May 28 at eight in the afternoon, although the profile of Puigdemont has been slightly modified.