BASQUE PEOPLE

 

BILBAO HAS RECENTLY WON THE EUROPEAN CITY OF THE YEAR AT 2018 URBANISM AWARD. BIZKAIA ARENA (BEC) IN BARACALDO HAS BEEN CHOSEN AS THE HOST CITY FOR THE 25TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE ANNUAL MTV EMAS. IT WILL TAKE PLACE ON NOVEMBER 4TH 2018 AT THE BILBAO EXHIBITION CENTRE, AND IT WILL BE BROADCASTED ALL OVER THE WORLD. WE CAN SAY THOSE TWO AWARDS FOR THE BASQUE COUNTRY ARE THE RESULT OF MANY YEARS OF HARD WORK, SOLIDARITY, GOOD RULING AND HONESTY.

G.L. STEER, RELEVANT ENGLISH JOURNALIST, LIVED IN SPAIN FOR SOME TIME AND WAS IN GERNIKA DURING THE 1937 BOMBINGS. G.L. STEER WROTE THE FOLLOWING SELF-EXPLANATORY QUOTES AS TO BASQUE PEOPLE IN EL ARBOL DE GUERNICA:

 1. “ THE OLD PAUL FRESSE, A WHITE-HAIRED GERMAN MAN WITH A NICE PERSONALITY, WHO LIVED IN ZARAUZ (GIPUZKOA) FOR MANY YEARS, AND HAVING RECEIVED THE “STÜTZPUNKTLEITER” DEGREE IN THE FOREIGN NAZISM ORGANIZATION, WITH THE IDI NUMBER 774, WAS NAMED INTERPRETER OF THE FIGHTER PLANE SQUADRON “1-J88“ AND OF HIS GERMAN CREW. THE OLD FREESSE, WITH HIS SILKY HAIR, DESCRIBED THEM THE TERRAINS, THE MAPS, PREPARING THEM FOR THE MORNING OF THE 31ST. HE TOLD THEM THAT AFTER MANY YEARS LIVING IN ZARAUZ HE HAD NOTICED BASQUE PEOPLE WERE THE BEST PEOPLE IN SPAIN, HARD-WORKING, HONEST, NATURAL AND FREE”.

2. “APRIL 20, 1937, I WAS IN BERMEO AND ENTERED THE BATZOKI (THE HOUSE OF THE BASQUE NATIONALISTIC PARTY), A WONDERFUL BUILDING WITH A LIBRARY, READING ROOMS, RESTING ROOMS AND DINING ROOMS. IT WAS A HOLIDAY. UP IN THE MAIN DINING ROOM WE SAW BATALLION SASETA, WHO LOST TWO THIRDS OF THEIR MEN IN OTXANDIANO, CELEBRATING THEIR RESURRECTION. NOW THEY WERE ON THE COAST DEFENSES. THE HOLES HAD BEEN REPLACED BY NEW RECRUITS. THEY WERE CELEBRATING A MEAL, ALREADY ORDERED BEFOREHAND. … PRIZES WERE GIVEN, BETWEEN SONGS, TO THE WINNERS OF THE DIFFERENT BASQUE COMPETITIONS… THEY SANG AND DANCED THE WHOLE EVENING IN THE  BATZOKI.   … MY FRIEND MENTIONED THIS:  “ BASQUE PEOPLE ARE VERY JOYFUL .”

3. “BASQUE PEOPLE, DEMOCRATS TO THE BONES, WERE ESSENTIALLY HUMANITARIAN AND COMPASSIONATE, AND THEREFORE FELT THE SUFFERING OF EVERY INDIVIDUAL… AS DEMOCRATS AS WELL THEY DETESTED PROPAGANDA AND MIND CONTROL.”

4. “THE 10 NEW “SCHNEIDER” BATTERIES CAME. BUT THE ONE WHO COVERED MOST PART OF THE OPENED GAPS IN OUR HOPES WAS THE NATURAL TENACITY OF THE BASQUE PEOPLE. AUTOMATICALLY ONCE THEY SETTLED DOWN THERE THEIR TRADITIONAL ORGANIZATION POWER ROSE AGAIN. IMMEDIATELY THEY REFORMED THEIR LINES.”

5. “FINALLY, URRIMENDI, SOUTH OF ZUGASTIETA, WAS THE SCENARIO OF A BLOODY BATTLE: THE MOORS, WHO POSSESSED MOUNT OIZ, ATTACKED IT THREE TIMES. BASQUE PEOPLE RESISTED TOUGHLY THE TERRIBLE PUNISHMENT OF THE FASCIST ARTILLERY, WHILE THE CONSCIOUS POLITICIANS FROM SANTANDER ABANDONED THEIR POSITIONS OF MICHAEL´S ERMIT. THAT CHANGE COULD HAVE BEEN THE CONSEQUENCE OF THE REORGANIZATION OF THE BASQUE ARMY IN DIVISIONS AND BRIGADES. THE SINKING OF THE ARMORED “ESPAÑA” BOOSTED THE TROOPS´ MORALE. BUT I THINK WHAT WAS KEY THERE WAS THE VERY SPIRIT OF THE BASQUE PEOPLE: AS SOON AS THEY BREATHED A LITTLE THEY BECAME STRONG ONCE AGAIN.” 

6. “AND AS WE AREN´T SPANISH BUT PEOPLE WHO HAVE AN EYE OPENED ON THE WORLD, THE WAR FUMES AND THE FALSE HEROISM OF SPAIN DO NOT INTOXICATE US. WE DON´T FIGHT EACH OTHER. WE REACH AGREEMENTS AND END UP LOWERING THE VOICE. THERE LIES THE DIFFERENCES BETWEEN US AND SPAIN, MY ENGLISH FRIEND, SAID LEIZAOLA.”

7. “AFTER ALL, THE BASQUE COUNTRY WAS A SMALL PLACE AND DIDN´T HAVE MANY CANNONS NOR ANY OTHER DEVICES. THEY DIDN´T RECEIVE HELP FROM ABROAD, AND BASQUE PEOPLE WERE REALLY NATURAL, SINCERE AND NOT VERY SKILLED ON THE ART OF WAR. DURING MOST OF THE TERRIBLE CIRCUNSTANCES THEY WENT THROUGH THEY KEPT THE TORCH OF HUMANITY AND CIVILIZATION.  THEY DID NOT KILL ANYONE, NEITHER DID THEY  TORTURE  NOR VENT THEIR ANGER ON THEIR PRISONERS. THEY RESPECTED THE FREEDOM OF SPEECH AND OF CREDO, CAREFULLY AND PASSIONATELY OBSERVING ALL THE WRITTEN AND NON-WRITTEN LAWS, WHICH PROTECT THE RESPECT OF MEN BETWEEN EQUALS. THEY NEVER HOLD ANYONE HOSTAGE. THEY ANSWERED INHUMANE METHODS OF THOSE WHO HATED THEM WITH PROTEST ONLY. THEY ALWAYS TOLD THE TRUTH, AS LONG AS WAR ALLOWED THEM TO AND THEY KEPT THEIR PROMISES.”

8. “THE MOMENT WE LEFT RETUERTO, COVERED IN DUST, LEAVING BEHIND TRAINS LOADED WITH ARTILLERY AND SMALL AND CREAKY TANKS WHICH SLIDED ON THE BURNING ASPHALT DURING MIDDAY IN BIZKAIA, TWO COMPANIES OF THE BASQUE BATTALION MADE THEIR ENTRANCE, COMMANDED BY THREE AWSOME YOUNG MEN WITH EXCELLENT FIGURES. THEY WERE SPECIALIZED TROOPS. WHAT JAUREGHY AND I MOST ADMIRED THEM FOR WAS THAT THEY MARCHED IN PERFECT ORDER, ACCORDING TO THE MILITARY DISCIPLINE CANONSTHOSE MEN ADVANCING IN ROWS, THEIR COMPOSURE, THEIR OBEDIENCE AND FIRMNESS MADE US FEEL SAD. ON THEIR FACES AND THEIR STEPS WE COULD READ A GREAT ENERGY WHICH DENOTED THEY WEREN´T SIMPLY CANNON FODDER. THEY WERE OVERWHELMED WITH A DEEP EMOTION. THEIR EYES WERE FLASHING IN ANGER AND INDOMITABLE HARMONY EVERY TIME THEY ANSWERED US. THEY SUMMED UP THE DESTINY OF BILBAO FOR US, THE LAST BASTION OF PURE DEMOCRACY IN SPAIN. WHAT A STAMINA THEY HAD! AND NOW HERE THEY WERE DEFEATED BY THE COMBINATION FORCES OF GERMANY, ITALY AND CASTILE, WHILE OTHERS, WHO HAD DECLARED THEMSELVES THEIR ALLIES, WERE SITTING ON THEIR HANDS IN ORDER TO OBSERVE. THEIR ARTILLERY DID NOT HAVE ANY GRANADES AND THEIR AIR FORCE DID NOT ARRIVE… THEY WERE THE LAST DEFENDERS OF BILBAO STILL IN ORDER, FURIOUS WITH THEIR BOSSES FOR NOT HAVING LET THEM KEEP IN TOUCH. WE ARRIVED IN SANTANDER. WHAT A DIFFERENCE BETWEEN IT AND BILBAO! DESPITE WHAT THE MEDIA SAID ABOUT IT AT THAT TIME SANTANDER WAS NEVER A BASQUE CITY. IT WAS THE CAPITAL OF THE NORTHEST PROVINCE IN THE OLD CASTILE. BASQUE TERRITORY ENDED IN CASTRO URDIALES. SANTANDER WAS SPAIN. SANTANDER AND ITS PROVINCE WERE RIGHT WING, NOT LEFT ONE. IN THE ELECTIONS OF FEBRUARY 1936 WHICH ESTABLISHED A LEFT WING GOVERNMENT IN SPAIN, IN SANTANDER AND ITS PROVINCE, 60% OF THE VOTES WERE RIGHT WING. AND YET, THE CIVIL WAR TRIGGERED BY THE UPRISE OF THE ARMY OFFICIALS AND THE RIGHT WING PARTIES FOUND SANTANDER BACKING UP THE  GOVERNMENT.   THAT´S WHY RIGHT WING ONES DIDN´T DARE MOVE, AND THE ACCUSTOMED DEFENSE BOARD OF ALL THE LEFT WING PARTIES TOOK CONTROL OF THE SITUATION LIKE THEY DID IN BILBAO. HOWEVER, THEY DIDN´T THINK OF THE MODERATE INFLUENCE OF SUCH AN ORGANIZATION AS THAT OF THE BASQUE NATIONALISTS.”

9. “JUAN DE AJURIAGUERRA, PRESIDENT OF THE EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE OF THE BASQUE NATIONALISTIC PARTY, DECIDED TO REACH PEACE AGREEMENTS SEPARATELY. WITH GENERAL MANCINI, CAPTAIN OF BLACK ARROWS ITALIAN DIVISION. AN ANCESTRAL BASQUE TRADITION, ONE OF THE KEY PRINCIPLES OF A DEMOCRATIC PACIFISM, STARTED TO TAKE CONTROL OF THE THOUGHTS OF THE BASQUE ARMIES. BASQUE PEOPLE ARE AMONG THE ONES WHO TRAVEL MORE AROUND THE WORLD. THEY BUILT SHIPS WHERE LATER ON THEY TRAVELLED IN ORDER TO DISCOVER THE EAST HEMISPHERE. MUCH OF THE TREASURE IN AMERICA WERE FORGED BY BASQUE PEOPLE. THE GREAT CITIES IN THE SOUTH AMERICA WERE BUILT WITH BASQUE MONEY. HOWEVER, TOGETHER WITH THEIR LOVE FOR ADVENTURE IS THEIR PASSIONATE LOVE FOR THEIR HOME. THEIR IDEAL IS COMING BACK TO BIZKAIA.”

10. “IN THE GREEN MOUNTAINS, BASQUE MEN WERE GREAT WARRIORS AGAINST MOORS, GOTHS AND CASTILIANS. THEY KEPT THEIR OLD CULTURE, AND THEIR FREEDOM FREE FROM FEUDALISM. THAT CULTURE AND THAT FREEDOM MADE BASQUE PEOPLE PACIFIST AT HEART. BASQUE MEN WERE READY TO FIGHT FOR THE FREEDOM OF THEIR SEAS AND FOR THE FREEDOM OF THEIR OWN COUNTRY, BUT IT WAS NOT POSSIBLE FOR THEM TO TURN INTO AGGRESSORS IN THE TWENTIETH CENTURY”.

11. “CENTURIES OF FIGHTS, ADVENTURES IN FIVE CONTINENTS HAVE MADE BASQUE PEOPLE REALLY RESILIENT AND QUIET. THEY CONTINUE TO BE FREE FROM ANY REGIMES. THEIR NON-CLASSIST MORALE STATE CAN´T BE FOUND ON WRITTEN CONSTITUTIONS, BUT IN THE HISTORY AND THE PREHISTORY, AND IT HAS NOT BEEN DEFENDED BY WEAPONS, BUT BY THE UNSHAKEABLE CONSCIENCE OF ITS ADVANTAGES OVER ANYTHING ELSE. BECAUSE BASQUE PEOPLE HAVE NEVER BEEN SLAVES NOR VILLAINS THEY ARE AHEAD OF THEIR NEIGHBOURS AND THEY KNOW IT. THEY ARE PROUD OF HAVING GOVERNED THEMSELVES, OF KEEPING THE ORDER, AND THE TRUE PEACE OF THE CHURCH. THEY GAVE FREEDOM TO ALL CONSCIENCES, FED THE HUNGRY ONES, HEALED THE SICK ONES, THEY RULED ALL THE SERVICES OF THE GOVERNMENT WITHOUT HAVING ANY DISPUTES BETWEEN THE EXECUTIVE  POWER AND THE PEOPLE, NOR EVEN BETWEEN THE THEORETICAL DIVERGENTS ON THEIR EXECUTIVE CHAMBER. IN THE WHOLE OF SPAIN THEY WERE THE ONLY ONES WHO PROVED TO BE READY TO RULE. WHILE OTHERS KILLED, MASSACRED, TERRORIZED THE WORKING CLASSES AND SOLD THEIR HOME COUNTRY TO THE ENEMY, BASQUE PEOPLE JOINED THEIR LITTLE NATION WITH THE STRONG BONDS OF THE HUMAN SOLIDARITY. THEIR ROOTS ARE VERY DEEP AND THEIR LINAGE VERY OLD, BUT THEIR PROGRESS IS FULL OF FRESHNESS AND VIRTUE AND THEY GET RENEWED EVERY YEAR. THEY ACCUMULATE CONTINUAL  ENERGY AND HEALTH, WHICH EMANATES FROM A SOCIETY WITHOUT CLASSES, AND THEY REMAIN STILL UNDER FIRE AND EXPLOSIONS, TO PROVIDE SHELTER TO FUTURE LEGISLATORS WHOM THEIR BASQUE PEOPLE CHOOSE. THEIR SYMBOL AND HISTORY IS THE TREE OF GERNIKA.”

IN TERMS OF SYMBOLS THE KEY ONE OF THE BASQUE COUNTRY AUTONOMOUS COMMUNITY IS THE IKURRIÑA. IT CONSISTS OF A RED GROUND SYMBOLIZING “ THE BISCAYAN PEOPLE (THE RACE), A GREEN SALTIRE REPRESENTING THE OAK OF GUERNICA, A SYMBOL OF THE OLD LAWS OF BIZCAY OR FUEROS; AND OVER THEM, THE  WHITE  CROSS OF GOD´S SYMBOL OF BASQUE CATHOLIC DEVOTION. IT WAS DESIGNED IN 1894 BY SABINO ARANA, AND ADOPTED AS THE FLAG OF THE BASQUE COUNTRY IN 1936. IN 1938, AFTER THE MILITARY DEFEAT OF THE BASQUE GOVERNMENT THE REGIME OF THE GENERAL FRANCO PROHIBITED THIS FLAG – ALTHOUGH IT CONTINUED TO BE USED IN THE BASQUE DEPARTMENTS OF FRANCE. IN THE FOLLOWING DECADES IT BECAME A SYMBOL OF DEFIANCE AND THE FIRST ACTIONS OF THE CLANDESTINE GROUP OF ETA INVOLVED PLACING FLAGS IN PUBLIC PLACES. THE BASQUE FLAG WAS LEGALISED AGAIN IN 1977 DURING THE SPANISH TRANSITION TO DEMOCRACY. TWO YEARS LATER, THE BASQUE GOVERNMENT ADOPTED IT AS THE FLAG OF THE BASQUE AUTONOMOUS COMMUNITY” (IKURRIÑA – WIKIPEDIA).

KEEPING IN MIND THE WHITE CROSS OF THE IKURRIÑA REPRESENTS GOD WE CAN SAY IN THE PAST BASQUE PEOPLE USED TO HAVE A STRONG FAITH IN GOD. THAT STRONG FAITH COULD BE SEEN IN 1937 IN THE NURSING HOME OF LA CARIDAD IN GERNIKA. BACK THEM 33 PEOPLE DIED THERE DUE TO THE BOMB DROPPED IN. AMONG THOSE 33 PEOPLE TWO NUNS. THERE WAS A RED CROSS FLAG HANGING FROM THE CEILING AND OTHER TWO IN THE WINDOWS.

IF WE THINK THOSE RED FLAGS COULD BE CLEARLY SEEN BY ANYONE, AND IF WE ADD TO THIS THE BOMBS FALLING DOWN NEAR THE CONVENT OF THE MERCENARY MOTHERS OF RENTERIA (APRIL 26, 1937), AND THE INTENSE BOMBARDMENT IN THREE CHURCHES WHILE MANY PEOPLE WERE CELEBRATING MASS, KILLING 14 NUNS AND 2 PRIESTS IT CAN BE SAID THAT STRONG BASQUE FAITH WAS SOMETHING CMTGS BACK THEM DID NOT LIKE ABOUT BASQUE PEOPLE, AND THEY WERE WILLING TO DO ANYTHING TO COUNTERATTACK IT. NOWADAYS THE BASQUE COUNTRY IS STILL SUFFERING THE CONSEQUENCES OF THOSE ACTIONS AGAINST ITS STRONG FAITH AND THEIR FREEDOM FOR JUSTICE AND TRUTH.

 

 

 

 

Published by

Julia Martinez

Julia Martínez was born in The Basque Country, Spain in 1965. She went to Las Carmelitas School in Santurtzi, where she completed her elementary and secondary education, except her senior year. She decided to go to the United States as an exchange student for her senior year. She lived with an American family in California for that school year. After coming back from the US she started her undergraduate studies at Deusto University. By this time she had already lived in Santurtzi for seventeen years. It was 1983 when she and her family moved to Getxo. At Deusto University she studied English Linguistics for five years. She was twenty three years old when she got her undergraduate degree. She spent about three months during three different summers in England. During two of those summers she was an exchange student, and another summer she was working as an au pair, living with an English family. She also spent about two months during two different summers in Dublin. She was an exchange student living with an Irish family for a month, and another summer she was living in a student residence. In 1988 she was granted a scholarship to do her graduate studies at Indiana University, in the U.S..She completed a double master on English and Spanish Applied Linguistics in 1990. During that year and a half that she was studying over there she was also working as an Associate Professor giving Spanish classes at Indiana University. After working on the double master, She decided to go back to Spain and work as an English teacher at an English school in Galdakao for a year. At the same time that she was working, she was studying in order to sit a competitive exam. She went to Madrid to take it, and got the job she wanted. She became a civil servant, and she started working as an English teacher at a high school in 1991. By the year 2004 she had already been teaching for thirteen years in four different high schools, giving lessons to secondary students. In 2004 she decided to quit teaching and start painting as a self-made painter. She has got thirty six original oil paintings on canvas, and all of them share bright, lively, warm colors which invite you to smile and chill out. You see them all together and you see a real celebration of life, of what life should be, of happiness and love. Apart from painting, she is very keen on music and photography. About music, it must be said that she was very much into it during some years in the past, specially when she was taking Classical and electric guitar lessons and writing her own songs. She has got four demos with songs sung, both in English and Spanish. She performed as a singer in some places in the year 2000 after recording all her original songs. She is a hard-working person and a very good listener. She is one of those really positive people that finds solutions to almost anything you can think of. She enjoys creative work, either in painting, photography, dancing, singing, writing or cooking. She also enjoys herself with those little things in life like going out for a stroll in the country, listening to all kinds of music, good company, a good book, helping people in need, taking a nap, or just watching a funny movie. At present she is working as a freelance writer. Let us add that she is really interested in the protection of animals.

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