Thursday, April 25, 2013

Spain vetoes Georgetown professor because of her pro-Catalan independence views

Georgetown University Economics professor Clara Ponsatí says the Spanish government is standing in the way of the renewal of her contract as Príncipe d'Asturias Chair because of her views in favor of Catalan independence from Spain. Specifically, she says the Ministry of Education has vetoed her renewal because she participated in a program on Al Jazeera which analyzed the sovereignty process as well as a video called “Stop Espoli” [Stop the plunder”] created by the CatDem Foundation.

Ponsatí asked the university to renew her contract last November for an additional year. Generally, the professors who hold her chair position sign on for one year, and then extend it for an additional year. Late last year, however, Ponsatí was called to a meeting in Madrid in which the sponsors at the Endesa Foundation told her that "government level" unease had been expressed, according to a report on 3/24.

The head of Ponsatí's department, Georgetown Professor Jeff Anderson, recalled a conversation with the Spanish Ambassador in Washington, DC: “He certainly made it clear that he did not agree with her position. I made it clear that she was free to have that position. We were very disappointed that she was not reappointed. This is the first time that a Príncipe de Asturias professor has requested reappointment and not received reappointment. She's a model colleague and a model researcher and a model teacher and so that's the kind of people we like to have here at Georgetown.

[You can listen to Jeffrey Anderson's statement in this video, in English at 1:00m:

A few weeks later, the Ministry told the university that it wanted the professors of the Asturias chair to stay for just one year. A spokesperson for the Ministry of Education told El Mundo "Without getting into the details of this particular case, the normal procedures have been followed." They assured that renewals are only made in exceptional cases. "Usually there is an application process for the second year, in which the chair holder can also participate," he added.

But Ponsatí says that three of her predecessors were renewed without opposition, and at least one of them only had to express their interest to have the position renewed automatically. "I am sure that my participation [in those two videos] have precipitated this result," Ponsatí told Rac1 this morning.

Here is one of the videos that Ponsatí participated in:

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