Category Archives: Emigración

Decide

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a:  to make a final choice or judgment about

b:  to select as a course of action

c:  to infer on the basis of evidence:  conclude

d:  to bring to a definitive end

e:  to induce to come to a choice

f:  to make a choice or judgment

Within the context of the swell and unparalleled power that we individuals are able to exercise in the so-called Western society regarding the ability to choose from an unborn baby’s sex to religion, citizenship and even physical aspect, it is incomprehensible how difficult it becomes when addressing the issue of exercising the rights of political national groups and their capability to decide on a collective basis.

From the 28th to the 30th of May, international experts debated the meaning of Basque nationhood in a globalizing world in Bilbao. Organized by the International Catalan Institute for Peace, the Peace Research Institute of Oslo, and the University of the Basque Country, the meeting explored the meaning of sovereignty from many different angles as it is everyday practiced. On the last day of the conference, local social groups shared their experiences on practicing “sovereignty” by acting upon it on their daily decisions, for instance, about promoting the use of the Basque language, Euskera, the respect for our environment, and defending the workers’ rights. Among those groups, Gure Esku Dago (It’s in our hands) embodies this theoretical concept of “sovereignty” as an initiative in favor of the right to decide. On the 8th of June, this popular initiative will organize a human chain of 123 kilometers uniting the cities of Durango (Bizkaia) and Iruña (Navarre). As of today, more than 100,000 people are supporting the event, in the homeland as well as in the diaspora.

Gure-Esku-Dago-Argentina“Gure Esku Dago” in Argentina. Supported by the Federation of Basque-Argentinean Entities (FEVA).

Coincidentally, on the 29th the Basque Autonomous Community Parliament (Basque Parliament, hereafter) adopted, by a majority vote, a resolution on the right of self-determination of the Basque People as a basic democratic right as it previously did in 1990, 2002 and 2006. Two days and 20 years earlier, the Public Law 8/1994, passed by the Basque Parliament, became the current legal framework of institutional relationship between the Basque Autonomous Community and the diaspora, which was established in order to “preserve and reinforce links between Basque Communities and Centers on the one hand, and the Basque Country on the other hand,” and to “facilitate the establishment of channels of communication between Basque residents outside the Basque Autonomous Community, and the public authorities of the latter.” Indeed, the passing of the law itself became a clear act of sovereignty, which legally recognized the existence of a large population of Basque people outside its administrative borders—a true transnational  community of citizens—and provided a formal framework for collaboration. Looking back there is a need to acknowledge the visionary work done by Karmelo Sáinz de la Maza—the main person behind the law—or the late Jokin Intxausti—the first government delegate in charge of re-establishing contacts with the various Basque diaspora associations and communities—among many others.

Carmelo_Urza_Jokin_Intxausti_and_William_A_DouglassCarmelo Urza, Jokin Intxausti, and William Douglass, at the then Basque Studies Program, University of Nevada, Reno (UNR), 1986. Photo Source: Basque Library, UNR.

Also, the anniversary of the Law 8/1994, which surprisingly has passed unnoticed, offers us an opportunity to rethink our identity in terms of a borderless citizenship within the context of the current Basque presence in the world. The fact is that the reality of today’s mobility and return to the Basque Country is quite different from past emigration waves. It is necessary, in my opinion, to adequate the law to the new flows of migration and return, while enhancing and strengthening the programs towards the needs and demands of individuals and associations with the goal of intertwining a solid global network based on common interests.

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Recap: Volume III, 2013

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Similar to the imminent art of improvising verses in the Basque language, or bertsolaritza, our life, especially in the digital world, is ephemeral. This oral tradition reaffirms and expresses an identity rooted in a specific area but with a global projection thanks to the emergent technologies of information and communication. Since its inception Basque Identity 2.0 has assumed the challenge of its own fugacity by exploring different expressions of Basque identity, understood in transnational terms, through a global medium. Perhaps, this comes down to accepting that our ephemeral condition is what really helps to shape our collective memory and identity, and which are constantly revisited and reconstructed.

Bertsolaritza-2013Maialen Lujanbio, bertsolari or Basque verse improviser, sings about the Basque diaspora. Basque Country Championship, Barakaldo (Bizkaia), December 15, 2013. Source: Bertsoa.

In June, we celebrated the 4th anniversary of Basque Identity 2.0. I would like to acknowledge our colleagues and friends from A Basque in Boise, About the Basque Country, EITB.com and Hella Basque for their continuous support and encouragement (“Sucede que a veces”—“It happens sometimes,” May post).

We began the year reflecting on our historical memory, which has increasingly become a recurrent topic in the blog for the past two years. Through the stories of Pedro Junkera Zarate—a Basque child refugee in Belgium from the Spanish Civil war—Jules Caillaux—his foster dad while in Belgium, and one of the “Righteous among the Nations”—and Facundo Sáez Izaguirre—a Basque militiaman who fought against Franco and flew into exile—I attempted to bring some light into a dark period of our history. Their life stories are similar to some extent to many others whose testimonies are critical to understand our most recent history of self-destruction and trauma (“Algunas personas buenas”—“Some good people,” February post). Some of these stories are part of an ongoing oral history project on Basque migration and return. As part of the research I was able go back to the United States to conduct further interviews and to initiate a new community-based project called “Memoria Bizia” (“#EuskalWest2013,” November post).

In addition, May 22 marked the 75th anniversary of the massive escape from Fort Alfonso XII, also known as Fort San Cristóbal, in Navarre, which became one of the largest and most tragic prison breaks, during wartime, in contemporary Europe. This was the most visited post in 2013 (“The fourth man of California,” March post).

On the politics of memory, I also explored the meaning of “not-forgetting” in relation to the different commemorations regarding the siege of Barcelona 299 years ago, the coup d’état against the government of Salvador Allende 40 years ago, and the 12th anniversary of the terrorist attacks against the United States. Coincidentally, September 11th was the date of these three historical tragic events (“El no-olvido”—“Not-to-forget,” September post).

The Spanish right-wing newspaper ABC led the destruction of the persona of the late Basque-American Pete Cenarrusa, former Secretary of the State of Idaho (United States), by publishing an unspeakable obituary. Nine blogs from both sides of the Atlantic (A Basque in Boise, About Basque CountryBasque Identity 2.0Bieter Blog, 8 Probintziak, Nafar Herria, EuskoSare, Blog do Tsavkko – The Angry Brazilian, and Buber’s Basque Page) signed a common post, written in four different languages, to defend Cenarrusa (“Pete Cenarrusaren defentsan. In Memorian (1917-2013)”—“In defense of Pete Cenarrusa. In Memorian (1917-2013),” October post). It was a good example of digital networking and collaboration for a common cause. However, this was not an isolated event regarding the Basque diaspora. Sadly, nearly at the same time, ABC’s sister tabloid El Correo published a series of defamatory reports against the former president of the Basque Club of New York. Once again, ignorance and hatred laid beneath the personal attacks against public figures, for the only reason of being of Basque origin.

Basque literature, in the Spanish and English languages, was quite present in the blog throughout the year. Mikel Varas, Santi Pérez Isasi, and Iván Repila are among the most prolific and original Basque artists of Bilbao, conforming a true generation in the Basque literature landscape of the 21st century (“Nosotros, Bilbao”—“We, Bilbao,” April post). The year 2013 also marked the 10th anniversary of “Flammis Acribus Addictis,” one of most acclaimed poetry books of the late Sergio Oiarzabal, who left us three years ago (“Flammis Acribus Addictis,” June post). The blog also featured the late Basque-American author Mary Jean Etcheberry-Morton’s book, “Oui Oui Oui of the Pyrenees”, which is a welcoming breath of fresh air for the younger readers (“Yes!July post).

This has been a year filled with opportunities and challenges. Personally, I have been inspired by the greatness of those who keep moving forward in spite of tragedy and unforeseen setbacks, and by those who are at the frontline of volunteering (“Aurrera”—“Forward,” December post).

Thank you all for being there. Now, you can also find us on Facebook. I would love to hear from you. Happy New Year!

Eskerrik asko eta Urte berri on!

(NOTE: Remember to use Google Translate. No more excuses about not fully understanding the language of the post).

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#EuskalWest2013

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In memory of Lydia (Sillonis Chacartegui) Jausoro (1920-2013)

“When he first came to the mountains his life was far away… He climbed cathedral mountains. Saw silver clouds below. Saw everything as far as you can see. And they say that he got crazy once. And he tried to touch the sun…”

John Denver (Rocky Mountain High, 1972)

By the time “Rocky Mountain High” became one of the most popular folk songs in America, the North American Basque Organizations (NABO) was an incipient reality. During a visit to Argentina, Basque-Puerto Rican bibliographer Jon Bilbao Azkarate learnt about the Federation of Basque Argentinean Entities (FEVA in its Spanish acronym), which was established in 1955. Bilbao, through the Center for Basque Studies (the then Basque Studies Program) at the University of Nevada, Reno, was the promoter of a series of encounters among Basque associations and individuals, which led to the establishment of NABO in 1973. Its founding members were the clubs of Bakersfield and San Francisco (California); Ontario (Oregon); Boise (Idaho); Grand Junction (Colorado); and Elko, Ely, and Reno (Nevada).

Following last year’s field trip into the Basque-American memory landscape of migration and settlement throughout the American West, I arrived on time for the celebration of the 40th anniversary of NABO that took place in Elko, Nevada, during the first weekend of July. NABO’s 2013 convention was hosted by the Euzkaldunak Basque club, which coincidentally celebrated the 50th anniversary of its National Basque Festival.

NABO-Convention-2013-ElkoNorth American Basque Organizations’ officers, delegates and guests. (Elko, Nevada. July 5th.) (For further information please read Argitxu Camus’ book on the history of NABO.)

On the last day of the festival, NABO president, Valerie Arrechea, presented NABO’s “Bizi Emankorra” or lifetime achievement award to Jim Ithurralde (Eureka, Nevada) and Bob Goicoechea (Elko) for their significant contribution to NABO. Both men were instrumental in the creation of an embryonic Basque federation back in 1973.

Goicoechea-Arrechea-IthurraldeBob Goicoechea (on the right), Valerie Arrechea, and Jim Ithurralde. (Elko, Nevada, July 7th.)

The main goal of my latest summer trip was to initiate a community-based project, called “Memoria Bizia” (The Living Memory), with the goals of collecting, preserving and disseminating the personal oral recollections and testimonies of those who left their country of birth as well as their descendants born in the United States and Canada. Indeed, we are witnessing how rapidly the last Basque migrant and exile generation is unfortunately vanishing. Consequently, I was thrilled to learn that NABO will lead the initiative. The collaboration and active involvement of the Basque communities in the project is paramount for its success. Can we afford to lose our past as told by the people who went through the actual process of migrating and resettlement? Please watch the following video so that you may get a better idea of what the NABO Memoria Bizia project may look like.

This video “Gure Bizitzen Pasarteak—Fragments of our lives” was recorded in 2012, and it shows a selection of interviews conducted with Basque refugees, exiles and emigrants that returned to the Basque Country. The video is part of a larger oral history research project at the University of Deusto.

While being at the Center for Basque Studies in Reno, the road took me to different Basque gatherings in Elko, San Francisco, and Boise.

Basque-Library-RenoBasque Studies Library sign outside the Knowledge Center, University of Nevada, Reno. Established in the late 1960s, the Basque library is the largest repository of its kind outside Europe.

Jordan-Valley-Basque-SignOn the US-95 North going through Jordan Valley, Oregon.

During my stay I was lucky to conduct a couple of interviews with two elder Basque-American women. One of them was Lydia Victoria Jausoro, “Amuma Lil,” who sadly passed away on November 14th at the age of 93. Lydia was born in 1920 in Mountain Home (Idaho) to Pablo Sillonis and Julia Chacartegui. Her dad was born in Ispaster in 1881 and her mother in the nearby town of Lekeitio in 1888. Both Pablo and Julia left the Basque province of Bizkaia in 1900 and 1905 respectively. They met in Boise, where they married. Soon after, Lydia’s parents moved to Mountain Home, where she grew up. She had five brothers. Lydia went to the Boise Business University and later on, in 1946, married Louie Jausoro Mallea in Nampa. Lydia and Louie had two daughters, Juliana and Robbie Lou. (Louie was born in 1919 in Silver City (Idaho) and died in 2005 in Boise. His father, Tomás, was from Eskoriatza (Gipuzkoa) and his mother, Tomasa, from Ereño, Bizkaia.) When I asked about her intentions for the summer, Lydia was really excited to share with me her plans of going to the different Basque festivals. She felt extremely optimist about the future of the Basques in America. Goian bego.

Lydia-Victoria-Jausoro“Amuma Lil” at the San Inazio Festival. (Boise, Idaho. July 28th.)

On July 19th I travelled to San Francisco, where I met my very good friends of the Basque Cultural Center and the Basque Educational Organization. On this occasion, I participated at their Basque Film Series Night, by presenting “Basque Hotel” (directed by Josu Venero, 2011). 2014 will mark the 10th anniversary of Basque movie night, one of the most popular initiatives in the Basque calendar of the San Francisco Bay Area.

Bidaurreta-Anchustegui-Oiarzabal-EspinalBEOWith Basque Educational Organization directors Franxoa Bidaurreta, Esther Anchustegui Bidaurreta, and Marisa Espinal. (Basque Cultural Center, South San Francisco. July 19th. Photo courtesy of Philippe Acheritogaray.)

This summer marked my first time in the United States, twelve years ago. I have been very fortunate to experience, at first hand, the different ways that Basques and Basque-Americans enjoy and celebrate their heritage. From an institutional level, the cultural, recreational and educational organizations (NABO and its member clubs) display a wide array of initiatives that enrich the American society at large, while private ventures flourish around Basque culture: art designs (Ahizpak), photography (Argazki Lana), genealogy (The Basque Branch), imports (Etcheverry Basque Imports, The Basque Market), music (Noka, Amuma Says No), books (Center for Basque Studies), news (EuskalKazeta)… A new Basque America is born.

Eskerrik asko bihotz bihotzez eta ikusi arte.

On a personal note, our Basque blogosphere keeps growing…

Chico-Oiarzabal-ChiramberroWith Basque fellow bloggers “Hella Basque” (Anne Marie Chiramberro) and “A Basque in Boise” (Henar Chico). (Boise, Idaho. July 28th.)

[Except where otherwise noted, all photographs by Pedro J. Oiarzabal]

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Pete Cenarrusaren defentsan. In Memorian (1917-2013)

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Pete-Cenarrusa-Fish-Creek-homesteadPete Cenarrusa, 2009. Argazkia: Glenn Oakley©.

Pete Cenarrusa duela astebete hil zen, 95 urte zituela. Arraroa da, hasteko, Pete ezerengandik “defendatzeaz” mintzatzea. Bere gurasoak inguruko euskal herrietan hazitako etorkinak izan ziren, baina milaka miliatara ezagutu ziren, Idaho erdian. Pete-en lehen hizkuntza euskara izan zen, eta bizitza osoan zehar jarraitu zuen euskaraz hitzegiten, batzuetan ingelesezko hitzak sartuz erdian.

Pete Idahoko Unibertsitatera joan zen, boxeo taldean aritu zen eta nekazaritza eta abeltzantza graduak gainditu zituen (92 urte zituela, ikastaro gogokoenak elikadura, kimika organikoa eta bakteriologia zituela idatzi zuen blogean, “mundu guztiari gomendatuko nizkioke ikastaro hauek unibertsitatean”. Marineetan sartu zen 1942an eta abiazio begirale bilakatu zen haiekin. 59 urtez egin zuen hegan, 15.000 hegaldi-ordu baino gehiagorekin, istripu bakarra ere izan gabe.

Errepublikar bezala hautatua izan zen Pete Idahoko Ordezkarien Etxean 1950ean, eta bederatzi legegintzaldi bete zituen, hirutan Bozeramaile bezala. 1967an, Idahoko estatu idazkaria hiltzean, gobernadoreak postua betetzeko izendatu zuen, eta han zerbitzatu zuen 2003ra arte. Ez zen ohiko moldeko politikaria izan. Bere lagun eta oinordekoak hiletan jaso bezala, Pete ez zen hizlari ona; baina politikari gehienek ez bezala, Pete-ek bazekien hori. Hala ere, gaitza da haren arrakasta ezbaian jartzea: Pete-ek ez zuen sekula hauteskunde bat galdu, eta 52 urtez egon zen administrazioan, Idahoko historiako hautetsi batek inoiz egin duen denbora luzeena.

ABC Espainiar egunkari nazionalak “hil-mezu” bat argitaratu zuen, Javier Rupérez Estatu Batuetako espainiar enbaxadore ohiak idatzita. Rupérezek Pete “euskal separatista” deitzen du, Espainiaren aurkako “itsukeriaz” betetakoa, “bere heriotze egunera arte”. Duela hamarkada bat baino gertatutako gertakari batetatik gordetako pozoiz idatzitako artikulua da, Pete hil eta egun gutxira idatzitakoa. Pete-ek ez du bere burua defendatzerik orain. Horregatik sentitzen dugu hori bere ordez egiteko betebeharra.

ABC-Pete-Cenarrusa

Testuingurua marraztearren, Rupérez, egilea, ETAk bahitu zuen 1979an. Hilabetez egon zen bahituta. Askatu ostean, 26 euskal preso askatu zituzten espetxetik, eta espainiar legebiltzarrak euskal presoen tortura kasuak aztertzeko batzorde berezi bat sortzea adostu zuen. Ezin dugu jakin zer bizi izan zuen Rupérezek, eta nahiago genuke hala gertatu izan ez balitz. Zalantzarik gabe norberaren mundu ikuskera formatzen du halako gertaera batek. Baina Pete-ek ez zuen zerikusirik izan gertaera lazgarri harekin, eta jakin badakigu hark gaitzetsi egingo zukeela. Eta hor sartzen du hanka Rupérezek, Pete-ekin eta euskaldunekin orokorrean.

Bere Karreraren amaiera aldera, Pete-ek Idahoko legegintzaldian Euskal Herrian eta Espainiako gertakari kritiko batzuei zuzendutako adierazpen baten sarrera iragarri zuen. Ofizialki “memorial” bezala ezagutu zenak AEBetako eta Espainiako liderrak bake prozesuari heltzeko dei egin zien . 2002an, Rupérezek memorialaren berri izan eta berehala Idahora hegaz egin eta Espainiar presidentea, Estatu Saila eta Etxe Zuria erne jarri zituen. Bat-batean, Mendebaldeko estatu txiki baten legegilearen adierazpena lehertu eta nazioarteko albiste bilakatu zen.

Memorialaren inguruko bozketa hurbiltzen zihoan heinean, tartean azaldu ziren alderdi ezberdinen arteko joan-etorriak ugaritzen joan ziren. Baina Pete-en erantzuna biribila izan zen – bera parafraseauz: noiztik hasi dira Amerikako Estatu Batuak kanpo-politika atzerriko gobernuen bidez egiten? Amaieran, Idahoko legebiltzarrak aho batez onartu zuen memoriala. Bertan, Idahoko euskaldunen historia eta Idahoko legebiltzarraren aurretiazko jarduerak deskribatu zien hala nola Frankoren diktaduraren errepresioa gaitzezpena, euskaldunek haien kultura mantentzeko ahalegina eta “bazterreko frakzio batzuk ezik” euskaldunen agertzen zuten bortxaren gaitzezpena jasoz.

Perfektua izan ala ez, demokratikoki hautatutako estatu legebiltzar autonomo batek aho-batez egindako adierazpena izan zen. Baina dirudienez atzetik ibili zaio Rupérezi urte guzti hauetan. Pete hil eta apenas 72 ordu igaro zirela, Rupérezek bortxaren aurrean begiak itxi dituen ahalegin baten “inspiratzaile eta buru ikusgarri” bezala salatu zuen Pete. Ahalegina, Idahoko senatuko buruak esan omen zuenaren arabera Espainiako aferei buruzko “tokiko ordezkarien muturreko ezjakintasunaren” eta “erretiratu aurretik hartutako azken ekimenarekin Cenarrusari atsegin emateko nahi orokorraren” ondorio izan zen, haren ustez. Rupérezen aburuz Pete ez zen Idahoko euskal komunitatearen adierazgarri tipikoa, eta baziren beste batzuk merezimendu handiagokoak.

Ez dugu Rupérez ezagutzen. Baina hark ere ez ditu euskaldunak ezagutzen, eta ziur dakigu ez zuela Pete ezagutu.  Pertsona txikia behar du oso, hil berri denaren bizkarrean labana sartzen duenak. Gutako batzuk euskaldun amerikar hau pertsonalki ezagutzeko ohorea izan genuen. Edozelan ere, euskal nortasuna Euskal Herrian eta Euskal Herritik kanpo babesteko Pete-ek egindako ekarpen izugarria islatu nahi izan dugu (ikus hausnarketa pertsonalak About the Basque Country eta The Bieter Blog helbideetan). Mezu hau sinatzen duten lau blogek ezinezkoa dute geldi egotea Pete Cenarrusaren izenaren belzte publiko honen aurrean. Post hau libreki zabaldu eta zure egitera gonbidatzen zaitugu, zure blog, webgune edo sare sozialetan.

Rupérezek Mark Twaini hartu omen dion aipu batekin ixten du bere artikulua “Heriotza guztiak ez dira berdin hartzen”. Again egia da. Edonola ere, Rupérez jaunari ziurtatzeko moduan gaude Pete-en heriotza bizitzan zehar gauza handiak egin dituenak merezi dituen tristezia eta errespetu osoz hartua izan dela. Javier Rupérez bezalako pertsonentzat bereziki egokia den Mark Twainen beste aipu batekin amaitu nahi genuke: “Hobe da ahoa itxi eta ergela iruditzea, ahoa zabaldu eta zalantza oro uxatzea baino”.

Agur eta ohore, Pete

Sinatuta:

A Basque in Boise (ingelesez)

About the Basque Country (gastelaniaz)

Basque Identity 2.0 (euskaraz)

The Bieter Blog (ingelesez)

The Angry Brazilian (portuguesez)

8 Probintziak (frantsesez)

EuskoSare (ingelesez)

Buber’s Basque Page (ingelesez)

———————————————————–

PETE CENARRUSA (1917-2013)
Idahoko abeltzaina, euskal separatista.

96 urterekin zendua, Cenarrusak, hala laburtu baitzuen aitaren Zenarruzabeitia abizena, Idahoko estatuaren bizitza politiko eta sozialaren protagonismoa izan zuen ia hiru hamarkadatan zehar, behin baino gehiagotan hautatua izan zen tokiko legegintzaldian eta urteetan zehar bete zuen Estatu idazkari papera laborarien lurraldean. Haren gurasoek XX. mende hasieran egin zuten alde Euskal Herritik Estatu Batuetara, aberrikide askok legez, Amerikar Mendebaldeko abeltzaintzaren artzain eskaerari erantzunez.

Laster, euskal jatorriaz jakitun, lurraldekideen oroitzapen indibidual eta kolektiboak suspertzen saiatu zen eta hirurogeita hamargarren hamarkadan jarduera honek joera nazionalista indartsuak hartu zituen. Ez zuen alferrik nabarmendu EAJ-k “euskaldun unibertsalaren” “Sabino Arana” sariarekin.

2002an joera abertzale hauek ETAren jarduera terroristari ezikusia egiten zioten, Espainia eta Frantziaren “gatazkaren amaiera” negoziatzearen aldeko jarrera eskatzen zuen eta Euskal Herriaren autodeterminazioa eskatzen zuen Idahoko ganbera legegileen memorandumaren saiakeraren forma hartu zuten. Cenarrusa saiakeraren inspiratzaile eta buru ikusgarria izan zen, zeinentzako Ibarrecheren Eusko Jaurlaritzaren eta “Gara” eta “Egunkaria” kazetarietan gorpuztutako Batasunaren terminalen laguntza izan zuen. Lurraldean bisitari ohikoak hauek, orduko tokiko legegile eta oraingo Idahoko hiriburu Boiseko alkate David Bieterren abegikotasuna izan zuten.

José María Aznarren gobernuak George W. Bushen Etxe Zuria maniobraz ohartarazi zuen, eta honek Idahoko legegileei Espainia bezalako herrialde lagun eta aliatu batentzat iraingarri izan litezkeen testuak onartzearen desegokitasuna ikusarazi zien. Estatu Saileko bozeramaileak adierazpen irmoa egin zuen, tartean “Espainiar herriak erregularki ETA deituriko erakunde terroristaren biolentzia” jasaten zuela baieztatuz. Justuki Cenarrusa/Bieter/Ibarreche/Gara/Egunkaria memorialak jaso nahi izan ez zuena. Izan ere, babesle hauen ahaleginak ahalegin, testu zuzendua izan zen azkenean Idahoko legebiltzarkideek onartu zutena.

2003ko urtarrilean izan zuen Idahoko Senatuko presidenteak espainiar Gobernuari gertatutakoaren inguruko atsekabea adierazteko aukera, tokiko ordezkariek espainiar aferei buruz zuten ezezagutza sakonari eta Cenarrusari honek Estatu Idazkari izateari utzi aurretik atsegin eman nahiari egotzi ziolarik gertakari osoa. Robert I. Geddes senatariak euskal jatorriko abeltzain eta politikariari erregutu zion “hurrengoan Espainiari gerra deklaratu nahi izanez gero, aurretiaz ohartarazteko, gaizkiulerturik eman ez zedin”. Orduantxe bertan izendatu zuen Idahoko Senatuak Espainiak Washingtonen zuen enbaxadorea Estatuko ohorezko hiritar. Eta Espainiak ofizialki izendatu zuen Adelia Garro Simplot, euskal ondorengoa hau ere, demarkazioko ohorezko kontsul. Garro Garroguerricoechevarriaren laburdura da. Cenarrussak, zeinek ez dion hil arte Espainia konstituzional eta demokratikoaren aurkako itsukeriari utzi, ezin zen izan euskal komunitatearen ordezkari bakarra Idahon. Mark Twainek liokeen bezala, heriotza guztiak ez baitira berdin hartzen.

Javier Rupérez. Espainiako enbaxadorea Ameriketako Estatu Batuetan (2000-2004)

[* Itzultzailearen oharra: Izen eta abizen guztiak jatorrizko testuan bezala jaso dira, aldaketarik gabe.]

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Yes!

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“To learn to read is to light a fire; every syllable that is spelled out is a spark”

Victor Hugo (Les Misérables, 1862)

Against the backdrop of the secular Basque immigration history to the United States of America, a five-year-old girl, Maite Echeto, awaits the return of her father to the Old Country with her mother. In a visit to her cousins’ farm Maite meets a new-born goslin, by the name of “Oui Oui Oui,” that she ends up adopting. As one could imagine this is the beginning of their numerous and unexpected adventures throughout the colorful countryside of the Basque Country in France (Iparralde). Maite and the goslin are the main characters of the children’s book Oui Oui Oui of the Pyrenees.

Oui Oui Oui of the Pyrenees is the posthumous and first short story of Mary Jean Etcheberry-Morton. As a well-known local artist she also illustrated the book with original drawings. Mary Jean was born in 1921 in Reno, Nevada, and passed away in 2008 in Verdi, Nevada. She lived in Iparralde for a number of years in the 1950s. According to her family, “Mary Jean had a vehicle and was popular with the family because the roads then were in bad shape. She lived most of the time in a little house named Bakea, in Laxia of Itxassou [Itsasu], Lapurdi.

Mary Jean’s parents were Jean Pierre Etcheberry and María Simona “Louisa” Larralde. Jean Pierre was born in 1891 in the small town of Saint-Just-Ibarre (Donaixti-Ibarre), in the Basque province of Lower Navarre, Nafarroa Beherea. He arrived in New York City at the age of 18. He worked as a sheepherder in Flagstaff, Arizona, and later on in the Winnemucca area. Jean Pierre arrived in Reno around 1914 and worked for the Jeroux family, a successful rancher at that time. María Simona “Louisa” was born in 1896 in Erratzu in the province of Nafarroa. She was the seventh of ten children, of whom six migrated to Nevada and California. Louisa arrived in New York City in 1914. Upon arrival in Reno, she worked as a maid in the mansion of the Jeroux family. “No doubt this is where she met her future husband Jean Pierre Etcheberry,” Paul Etxeberri, a nephew of Mary Jean, states. They married in 1917 in Reno and had three children: St. John, Paul John and Mary Jean. A decade later, Jean Pierre and Louisa bought a sheep ranch in southwest Reno and managed the Santa Fe Hotel, a successful Basque boardinghouse in downtown Reno, for over thirty years. Jean Pierre passed away in 1943, and Louisa in 1989 at the age of 93.

Mary Jean has now become part of Basque-America’s literary legacy, alongside Frank Bergon (Jesse’s Ghost), Martin Etchart (The Good Oak, The Last Shepherd), Robert Laxalt (Sweet Promised Land, The Basque Hotel…), Gregory Martin (Mountain City), and Monique Urza (The Deep Blue Memory), among others.

Before passing away Mary Jean entrusted her great-nieces, Marylou and Jennifer Etcheberry, with her precious manuscript, although it was just recently published.

Oui-Original-ManuscriptBook cover of Oui Oui Oui of the Pyrenees alongside the original type-written manuscript. Photo by Pedro J. Oiarzabal, July 2013, Reno Nevada.

Oui Oui Oui of the Pyrenees was published by the Center for Basque Studies at the University of Nevada, Reno in 2012, the second book of its Juvenile Literature collection. It follows Mark Kurlansky’s The Girl Who Swam to Euskadi, published in 2005 in English and Basque. With more than eighty titles ranging from diaspora and migration books to graphic novels it is by far the largest publishing house in the world on Basque topics for the English-speaking audience. Not shy to admit that academic presses should welcome other types of non-academic quality literary works, the Center for Basque Studies has issued a call for the first annual Basque Literary Writing Contest. (Please note: Entries closed on September 15, 2013.)

Marylou-EtcheberryMarylou Etcheberry, proud great-niece of Mary Jean Etcheberry-Morton, poses with a copy of Oui Oui Oui. Photo by Pedro J. Oiarzabal, July 2013, Elko, Nevada.

Oui Oui Oui of the Pyrenees is a welcoming breath of fresh air for the English-speaking reader, and especially for its younger members, regardless of their ethnic and cultural background. I hope that many more titles would follow the adventures of Maite and her goslin.

My dearest darlings,” Jacque, Maite’s father, writes. “This is the letter I’ve dreamed of writing for four long years…Our future in America looks bright, and I can look forward to having my darlings with me…” This might well echo the wishes of many families that became strangled due to the physical separation upon leaving their homes and their loved ones behind. It very much resembles the family histories of our recent past. For Maite and her mother, it marks the beginning of a new quest.

Many thanks to Paul Etxeberri for gathering information on the Etcheberry family.

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Sucede que a veces

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 “Pero sucede también que, sin saber cómo ni cuándo, algo te eriza la piel y te rescata del naufragio

Ismael Serrano (Sucede que a veces, 2005)

— ¿Sabes a qué día estamos?

— Estamos a 30. Me lo preguntas por el blog ¿verdad?

— Pues, sí. ¿Y? ¿Tienes preparado algo? No me digas que este mes no vas a escribir nada.

— No sé qué decirte. Me siento mal porque va a ser la primera vez que no escribo en los cuatro años de vida de Basque Identity 2.0. ¡Cómo pasa el tiempo! Cuando empezó todo esto me decía, “Qué menos que escribir al menos una vez al mes”. Pues ya ves, estamos a 24 horas de terminar mayo, y…nada de nada. No sé me ocurre nada. Quizás es hora de pensar que todo lo que tiene un inicio también tiene un final…

— ¡¡Cuatro años!! Y además estáis de enhorabuena, acabáis de renovar el diseño de todos los blogs…Si es que ya no nos da la vida. Cuánta razón tienes. Nos pasa a todos. No te preocupes. En fin…¿Y en que andas metido?

— Estoy preparando un trabajo que voy a presentar en una conferencia sobre “Testimonios Digitales de Guerra y Trauma” en Róterdam, entre el 12 y el 14 de junio. Ah, y lo mejor es que ya tenemos preparado la nueva edición de Euskal Herria Mugaz Gaindi, y ya va por la novena. Y esta vez lo hacemos en Bilbao.

— ¿Y de qué va?

— Vamos a hablar sobre las diversas migraciones y exilios vascos que han ocurrido a lo largo de la historia, pero haciéndolo desde la perspectiva de aquellos que regresaron a Euskal Herria. La verdad es que estoy muy ilusionado con el seminario por la buena aceptación que ha tenido: una veintena de ponentes, de once instituciones, de seis países…Y pensar que tan solo hace nueve años Mugaz Gaindi era una pequeña reunión de amigos interesados en el devenir de los estudios vascos y de aquellos que en su día abandonaron el país. Es increíble cómo cambia todo. Y sucede que a veces cambia a mejor.

— ¿Y cómo se llama? ¿Cuándo es?

— El título del seminario es “Reflexiones sobre los Retornos en las Migraciones y los Exilios Vascos”, y tendrá lugar en la Universidad de Deusto los días 18 y 19 de junio.

IX EHMG Deusto 2013

— Vaya mes que te espera.

— Pues, a finales de junio me voy a Estados Unidos con un nuevo proyecto de investigación.

— ¡Qué suerte! Ya me contarás. Dime, ¿y cómo vais a celebrar el décimo aniversario del Mugaz Gaindi?

— Y si te digo…Nueva York, Nueva York…pero bueno esa es otra historia.

— No me extraña que no tengas tiempo para el blog.

— Podría decirse que es así, el trabajo, ya sabes, pero…solo en parte…al principio del mes me volvió a escribir…

— ¿Ha vuelto de América?

— No. Sigue allí, tan lejos y tan cerca como siempre.

— ¿Qué te decía?

— Recordaba su última carta: “Anoche soñaba que despertaba jugando con tu pelo, que paseábamos por la arena y que tus dedos de brisa acariciaban mis sentidos, y que recorría toda tu espalda muy despacio, sin prisa pero sin detener el tiempo. Anoche creíamos que la lluvia no pararía, y hoy el sol nos indica que el tiempo continúa. Echaré en falta todo lo que pudo ser…

— Creo que es la mejor excusa que jamás he oído en mi vida para no actualizar un blog. Pero volverá, ¿verdad?

— Sucede que a veces la vida no es solo trabajo…“Y siempre es viernes, siestas de verano…abrazos que incendian la aurora en las playas del sur…”

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The fourth man of California

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Comrades, the doors opened, and slavery ended, breaking the heavy chains that oppressed youth. Be rebellious and never daunt before the enemy oppressor”

(The 1938 Fort San Cristóbal escape anthem written by Rogelio Diz Fuentes, Prisoner #1104, and Daniel Robado, Prisoner #1133)

Next May 22 marks the 75th anniversary of the massive escape from Fort Alfonso XII, also known as Fort San Cristóbal, which became one of the largest and most tragic prison breaks, during wartime, in contemporary Europe. However, History has not been too keen on recording this episode compared with similar events. Paul Brickhill’s autobiographical book “The Great Escape” (1950) narrates the heroic prison break of 76 allied prisoners of war from the German Stalag Luft III camp (Żagán, Poland) in March 1944. Fifty escapees were caught and murdered by the Gestapo, and only 3 succeeded by reaching Sweden and Spain, which were neutral territories during World War II. The story was immortalized by the memorable film “The Great Escape” (1963). On the other hand, in the case of the escape from Fort San Cristóbal, 795 people broke free, 206 were murdered, and, coincidentally, only 3 succeeded by crossing the French border. Contrarily, only silence, fear, and brutal repression resulted from this prison break.

Fuerte San Cristóbal / EzkabaAerial view of Fort San Cristóbal-Ezkaba. Image source: Iñaki Sagredo ©.

Located at the top of San Cristóbal or Ezkaba Mountain, a few miles away from Iruña (Nafarroa), the fort was built as a military compound between the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century. Obsolete for its original purpose, the fort was turned into an improvised political prison from the very beginning of the Spanish Civil War until 1945.

Although it is difficult to know the exact number of inmates at the time of the escape, it is estimated that there were approximately 2,487 prisoners from different areas of Spain. Many of them were affiliated to or sympathizers of leftist and nationalist political parties and trade unions as well as soldiers and militiamen, loyal to the Republic and the Basque government. The harsh living conditions within the fort walls, hunger, sickness and the sadistic behavior of some wardens fuelled the prison break with the clear political goal of continuing the fight against the rebel troops. A planned mutiny led by Leopoldo Picó Pérez (Prisoner #319) and Baltasar Rabanillo Rodríguez (Prisoner #1012)—communist militants from Bilbao and Valladolid, respectively—resulted in freeing one-third of the total prison population. Many were ill-prepared for the escape, without provisions and proper clothing.

During the following days, nearly 28% of the escapees were brutally murdered by Francisco Franco’s army in the nearby fields and mountains, while the rest of the men were soon captured enduring forty days of isolation and inhuman treatment. Thirteen so-called leaders, including Baltasar, were sentenced to death. Leopoldo was also intercepted and brought to prison. He was shot without trial. Another 46 captured fugitives died in the fort between 1938 and 1943 due to sickness and sordid cruelty.

Only 3 men—Valentín Lorenzo Bajo, José Marinero Sanz, and Jovino Fernández González—as it was documented later on, succeeded in getting to the French border, 30 miles away from the fort.

However, the story did not end here. In 1998, a man visiting from California had a series of casual encounters with six different people in an area from where he recalled escaping to France after fleeing away from Fort San Cristóbal sixty years earlier. The man told them that he was born in Azagra (Nafarroa) in 1918, being imprisoned in the Ezkaba fort from where he broke free in 1938. He finally managed to cross the border, finding refuge in Martin Urrels’ farmhouse in Banka. There, he learnt about Martin’s two brothers, Michel and Jean, who lived in the Cedarville area, California, working as sheepherders. Michel and Jean had immigrated into the United States in 1910 and in 1914, respectively. From France he left to Mexico, crossing the border to California, where he worked for the Urrels brothers for a few years. The man went to explained how he enlisted in the United States Army during World War II, being deployed to Europe as part of a tank battalion. After the war, he got involved in the trucking business that his sons inherited.

This was the story as remembered by some of the people who met the strange visitor. In his 80s the man from California decided to reencounter the past through revisiting his memories. Though his identity is still a mystery, the story should corroborate the existence of a fourth escapee. This could mean that the Ezkaba escape was the most successful prison break in contemporary Europe.

Back in 1938, Diario de Navarra, a local newspaper, published a distorting note on the tragic event, while describing the escapees as “murderers, robbers, and thieves who had abused the human regime of Franco’s Spain.” The escape was another clear example of the official amnesia imposed by Franco during his four-decade dictatorial regime. However, it became part of the collective memory of many who never forgot May 22, 1938. In 2000, the Association Txinparta was set up to recover the historical memory of the Fort of San Cristóbal prisoners between 1934 and 1945. Similarly, in November 2002, the Association of the Family Members of the Executed, Murdered and Missing People in Navarre in 1936 was also established to honor the memory of more than 3,300 people who were murdered in Nafarroa during the Spanish Civil War. In 2006, Iñaki Alforja directed the documentary “Ezkaba, the great escape from Franco’s jails”.

If you have any information on the Fort San Cristóbal escape and, particularly, on the identity of the fourth man please contact us by sending a message. We would love to hear from you!

Many thanks to Fermín Ezkieta for sharing his excellent and extensive work on the history of the escapees from Ezkaba.

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Algunas personas buenas

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“El olvido lleva al exilio, mientras que la memoria es el secreto de la redención”

(Baal Shem Tov, 1698-1760)

En memoria de Julio Aróstegui

Estas breves palabras, profundamente reflexivas, custodian la salida del museo de historia en Yad Vashem—la Autoridad para el Recuerdo de los Mártires y Héroes del Holocausto—en Jerusalén. Tan solo hace unos días, el 27 de enero, se celebró el “Día Internacional de Conmemoración Anual en Memoria de las Víctimas del Holocausto”, cuya fecha, rememora aquel 27 de enero de 1945, cuando el Ejército Soviético entró en Auschwitz-Birkenau (Polonia), liberando lo que posteriormente fue definido como el mayor campo de exterminio del nazismo, y una de las mayores atrocidades en la historia contemporánea de la humanidad.

Pedro Junkera Zarate nació el 22 de noviembre de 1930 en Bilbao donde transcurrió su infancia hasta que con seis años fue evacuado junto a su hermana Ángeles, de ocho años, y cientos de otros niños vascos a Bélgica. Tras unos días en una colonia, los llevaron a Bruselas donde dos matrimonios decidieron hacerse cargo de ellos. Un matrimonio joven, formado por Jules Caillaux y Éva Samain, acogió a Pedro al que trataron como a un hijo, y a los que él cariñosamente siempre se ha referido como “papá” y “mamá”. Sus padres de acogida se desvivieron por él durante los tres años que vivió con ellos. Ángeles fue repatriada en 1939, y un año más tarde, también lo sería el propio Pedro. Bélgica ya no era un lugar seguro. A los pocos meses de la repatriación, el país fue invadido por Alemania. A lo largo de los años mantuvo el contacto con sus padres de acogida, y pudo visitarles, por primera vez, con veinte y tantos años, en un reencuentro que define como muy emocionante.  Poco conocía de los hechos de su padre Jules durante la Segunda Guerra Mundial y que fueron desvelándose a lo largo de los años.

Jules Caillaux nació el 31 de octubre de 1900 en Péronnes-lez-Binche, en la provincia valona de Hainaut. Fue voluntario en el Ejército Belga en 1918 durante la ocupación alemana del país en la Primera Guerra Mundial, y combatiente entre 1940 y 1945 durante la Segunda Guerra Mundial, y por cuya participación recibió un gran número de medallas honorificas. El 20 de noviembre de 1980, Yad Vashem reconoció a Jules Caillaux, de oficio electricista, como uno de los “Justos de las Naciones” por la protección otorgada a dos familias de origen judío—la familia de Roman Wachtel, refugiados de Austria, y el belga Oscar Fischer—quienes residían en su pueblo, Ohain, al sur de Bruselas. Jules impidió que las familias fueran arrestadas por los alemanes que les buscaban, cobijó a Fischer, y les consiguió tarjetas de racionamiento. Este reconocimiento es una de las mayores distinciones que se otorga a aquellas personas altruistas que salvaron a judíos durante el Holocausto. Jules falleció en Tournai el 29 de diciembre de 1985. Pedro asistió a su funeral el 3 de enero de 1986.

Junkera_1Pedro Junkera y Jules Caillaux, el 6 de junio de 1938, en Ohain, Bélgica. Imagen: Cortesía de Pedro Junkera.

Facundo Sáez Izaguirre nació el 27 de octubre 1917 en Donostia-San Sebastián. Afiliado al sindicato anarquista, Confederación Nacional del Trabajo, luchó a favor de la Republica y del recién constituido Gobierno de Euzkadi, con tan solo 18 años. Fue hecho prisionero en 1939, y le dieron a elegir entre trabajos forzados o unirse a la Legión. Decidió alistarse, escapándose al de poco tiempo. Atravesó la frontera siendo recluido en los campamentos de internamiento construidos para albergar a los refugiados que huyeron tras la Guerra Civil. Facundo estuvo en los campamentos de Saint-Cyprien y Gurs. En Gurs se le sitúa junto a su hermano Francisco, al que se le supone afiliado a la Unión General de Trabajadores. Tras la invasión alemana de Polonia en septiembre de 1939, se inicia la Segunda Guerra Mundial. En un corto periodo de tiempo, durante mayo de 1940, Alemania invade Francia, Bélgica, Los Países Bajos y Luxemburgo. En julio de 1940, el gobierno francés inicia su colaboración con Alemania, lo que provocó un amplio movimiento de resistencia interna en el que destacan los grupos de guerrilla, —popularmente conocidos como Maquis—, y en el que Facundo participó activamente. Hecho preso, fue enviado a Lorient (Bretaña) como mano de obra extranjera para construir la base de submarinos de Keroman entre 1941 y 1942 y 1944, formando parte de lo que se denominaría el “Muro del Atlántico”: una serie de fortificaciones militares alemanas en la costa atlántica cuyo objetivo era evitar una invasión marítima del Reino Unido. Una vez más consiguió escaparse. Tras viajar más de 730 kilómetros hacia territorio vasco, fue nuevamente detenido en febrero de 1944 en Hendaia. Trasladado en un tren de mercancías con miles de presos, fue deportado al Campo de Concentración de Neuengamme (Alemania). En mayo de 1945 tropas británicas liberaron Neuengamme.

A su regreso a Iparralde, Facundo pudo reunirse con su familia en Ciboure a finales de la década de 1940, conociendo por primera vez a su hijo José, quién había nacido en septiembre de 1936 durante la evacuación de Donostia-San Sebastián, de camino hacia Bilbao, en plena Guerra Civil. A través de la Organización Internacional para los Refugiados, Facundo junto a su mujer Cándida Sagarna, José y sus otros hijos pequeños (Mari Luz y Javier), tomaron rumbo hacia Santiago de Chile. Décadas después, Facundo y Cándida decidieron regresar a Euskal Herria. Facundo falleció en Donibane Lohizune, el 29 de agosto de 2008, a los 90 años de edad.

Facundo2Facundo Sáez Izaguirre en el centro, con ropa más oscura, con los Maquis. Imagen aportada por Pedro Oyanguren. Según comenta Oyanguren, el Gobierno Alemán envió a Facundo el reloj de pulsera que le fue requisado en el momento de su detención en 1944, treinta o cuarenta años después.

Me gustaría realizar un llamamiento para localizar a los milicianos y gudaris que participaron en la Guerra Civil y que a día de hoy puedan encontrarse residiendo fuera de Euskal Herria. Personas corrientes con historias extraordinarias que han vivido momentos históricos de indudable transcendencia. De la misma manera que es importante recordar, lo es el hecho de poder preservar esa memoria para evitar que todas estas historias caigan en el olvido.

[Mi más sincero agradecimiento a Pedro Oyanguren, José Sáez Sagarna, y a Yad Vashem y Pedro Junkera Zarate por la información aportada sobre Facundo Sáez Izaguirre, y Jules Caillaux y Éva Samain, respectivamente. Las entrevistas realizadas a José Sáez y a Pedro Junkera forman parte del proyecto de investigación sobre emigración, exilio y retorno vasco (e-Etorkinak, Bizkailab) de la Universidad de Deusto.]

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Recap: Volume II, 2012

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The year 2012 marked the 75th anniversary of the evacuation of thousands of Basque children as a result of one of the darkest periods in European contemporary history—i.e., the Spanish Civil War. Its consequences in Basque soil were shattering, particularly for the civil society and its children. In 1937, over thirty small towns and villages in Bizkaia were intentionally bombarded by Generalissimo Francisco Franco´s Nazi allies to demoralize the Basque resistance. This provoked a massive organized departure of its youngest population. Some of the children were exiled to the former Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, having to endure, also, the outbreak of World War II. Many of them even enlisted in the Red Army (“No place for children,” March post).

Some of the children´s testimonies were collected in an oral history video—“Gure Bizitzen Pasarteak—Fragments of our Lives”—as part of an ongoing project that also took me to the land of the Basques in the United Sates (“#EuskalWest2012,” September post). The research attempts to uncover the lives of Basque migrants and exiles who had returned to the Basque Country as a way to make sense of the “injured” collective memory of an entire generation, which, undoubtedly, needs to be healed by acknowledging their sacrifice and suffering (“Mundos invisibles”—“Invisible worlds,” November post).

America was quite present in the blog throughout the year. It is well known the historical significance of this continent for the Basques as it has become a second home for hundreds of years, weaving a tight web of emotional geographies (“Etxea”—“Home,” April post). It is also known, to a certain extent, the relevance of some of the Basque migrants and descendants in the history of their countries of residence as in the cases of Julián Irízar (Argentina) and Jean Esponda (United States). Basque-Argentinian Lieutenant Commander Irízar led a successful rescued expedition in 1903 to the Antarctica, which also became the first official voyage of Argentina to the continent. One of the islands in the Antarctic Argentine Islands was named in his honor (“The Irízar Island,” February post). On the other hand, Johnson County, Wyoming, designed a flag to commemorate the State Fair´s 100th anniversary, which depicts the Ikurriña or Basque flag in order to honor the county´s Basque origins. This goes back to the arrival of Jean Esponda in 1902 from the Old Country. The Johnson County´s flag is the first official Basque flag outside the European homeland (“The Flag,” August post).

Also, we commemorated the 100th anniversary of the Basque Fellowship Society “Euskal Erria” (Sociedad de Confraternidad Vasca) from Montevideo (Uruguay), the Basque Center Zazpirak-Bat from Rosario (Argentina), and the Basque Home (Euzko Etxea) from Santiago de Chile (Chile). These diaspora associations as many others worldwide are good examples of tenacity and steadiness (“ehun”—“100,”May post; “En nuestro propio mundo”—“In our own world”, June post, respectively).

Similar to last year, the most visited post also happened to refer to politics (“Tiempo de promesas”—“Time for promises,” October post). In the occasion of the elections to the Parliament of the Basque Autonomous Community, I attempted to explain the reasons behind the traditional low participation of diaspora Basques, and the importance, in my opinion, for the diaspora to be involved in homeland politics. It is there where diaspora politics are designed and shaped. It is there where the voices of the Basques abroad need to be heard.

Confronted with one of the most acute crisis that recent generations have witnessed, let´s remember Viktor Frankl´s— a Holocaust survivor—words, “When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.” Indeed, new but difficult times are ahead of us (“Tiempos nuevos”—“New times,” December post).

In June, Basque Identity 2.0, celebrated its 3rd anniversary. Special thanks to our colleagues from eitb.com, A Basque in Boise, and About the Basque Country for their continuous support.

Thank you all for being there. I would love to hear from you. Happy New Year!

Eskerrik asko eta Urte berri on!

(NOTE: Please feel free to use Google automatic translation service…it seems to have improved, just a little bit).

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Mundos invisibles

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“Somos la memoria que tenemos y la responsabilidad que asumimos, sin memoria no existimos y sin responsabilidad quizá no merezcamos existir”

José Saramago (Cuadernos de Lanzarote, 1997)

Ante el relativo grado de desconocimiento de la sociedad actual—particularmente de las generaciones más jóvenes—sobre el hecho de la emigración vasca, y ante la inevitable desaparición de la última generación histórica de emigrantes y exiliados y de aquellos que en su día retornaron, desde la iniciativa Bizkailab de la Universidad de Deusto nos propusimos realizar un estudio urgente sobre la memoria e historia del país, empezando por el Territorio Histórico de Bizkaia. La finalidad era, y sigue siendo, la de entender y difundir la identidad y cultura de un colectivo, a través del testimonio oral de sus protagonistas—tanto de aquellos que en su día emigraron como de los que regresaron—que hasta cierto punto, a día de hoy, permanece relegado al olvido.

oletaAustraliar-haCelebración del tradicional encuentro anual vasco-australiano en su vigesimocuarto aniversario, Oleta (Bizkaia). Fila superior: Mario Satika, Begoña Barrutia, Koldo Goitia, Maribi San Antonio, José Badiola, Iñaki Etxabe y Anne Etxabe. Fila inferior: Mila Aboitiz, Mila Aberasturi, José Ignacio Etxabe y Angelita Fundazuri (Fotografía de Pedro J. Oiarzabal).

Durante meses, hemos tenido la oportunidad de conocer “mundos invisibles”, hilvanados por memorias de otros tiempos, que se entrelazan con las de miles y miles de vascos que por una razón u otra tuvieron que abandonar Euskal Herria, y que en algunos casos, tras décadas en el extranjero, decidieron regresar a su hogar. ¿Qué es lo que quedaba del hogar? ¿Cómo fueron recibidos a su regreso? ¿Qué fue de aquellos vascos que regresaron tras la larga noche del franquismo, tras las interminables jornadas cortando caña de azúcar en Australia o en la soledad más absoluta pastoreando en las colinas del Oeste Americano? ¿Qué ha sido de su historia, de nuestra historia colectiva, del patrimonio cultural inmaterial que conforman los miles de fotogramas que compone la historia más gráfica de la emigración y del retorno a Euskal Herria?

¿Quién no conoce a algún familiar, lejano o no, o ha oído hablar de un vecino o un amigo que probó fortuna como cesta-puntista en el Oriente o en las Américas; de un exiliado; de un pastor; de un cortador de caña; de un hijo o hija de aquellos que se fueron para no volver más? Amerikanuak, Australianuak, Venezolanos, Argentinos, Uruguayos…vascos y vascas con acentos e historias sin contar que conviven entre nosotros y que comparten culturas, lenguas, vivencias de emigración y experiencias de retorno—unas más felices que otras, no carentes de incomprensiones mutuas, y a veces incluso de rechazo. Conforman mundos que nos transportan a otros tiempos y espacios, mundos invisibles, virtualmente desconocidos, pero reales. Sus historias son indispensables para comprender nuestro pasado y nuestro presente como un pueblo abierto al mundo.

ArrosaAmerikanuak20122-haEncuentro anual de los Amerikanuak, Arrosa (Nafarroa Beherea). De izquierda a derecha Jean Luis Oçafrain, Gratien Oçafrain y Michel Duhalde; emigrantes retornados de Estados Unidos (Fotografía de Pedro J. Oiarzabal).

El estudio nos llevó a recorrer numerosas localidades del país y nos acercó a paisajes del Oeste Vasco-Americano, pudiendo realizar más de 46 horas de grabación a personas cuyas vidas les condujo a más de 12 países en América, Asia, Europa y Oceanía. Hoy en día, la historia de Euskal Herria se enriquecería aun más si cabe incorporando las páginas sueltas escritas por vascos y vascas en lugares tan dispares como North Queensland, Idaho, Nevada, Buenos Aires, Caracas, Montevideo, México D.F., Filipinas, Cuba, Yakarta y un largo etcétera. Añadamos esas páginas al libro de nuestra historia y démoslas a conocer. Apenas hemos empezado a vislumbrar las raíces profundas del fenómeno de la emigración, y sobre todo del retorno, que existen en nuestra sociedad, y de su significado histórico en relación al progreso y al bienestar que a día de hoy disfrutamos, y que es en cierta medida, también gracias a los sacrificios y esfuerzos de aquellos que tuvieron que abandonar su tierra.

El vídeo “Gure Bizitzen Pasarteak: Erbeste, Emigrazio eta Itzulera Bizkaira—Fragmentos de Nuestras Vidas: Exilio, Emigración y Retorno a Bizkaia” muestra una selección de entrevistas realizadas en 2012 a vascos que en su momento fueron refugiados, exiliados, emigrantes y que a día de hoy han regresado al país. Nos relatan con sus propias palabras sus historias de vida, entremezclándose los discursos y testimonios más racionales con los más profundos y emotivos.

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Es ahora más que nunca necesaria la implicación de la sociedad, sus instituciones y agentes sociales, y de modo especial la de la población emigrante, la retornada y sus familiares para que se constituyan en agentes activos y participes en la propia reconstrucción del fenómeno histórico emigratorio vasco. Tal y como dijo, en su día, el Premio Nobel de Literatura José Saramago “hay que recuperar, mantener y transmitir la memoria histórica, porque se empieza por el olvido y se termina en la indiferencia”.

[Si nació en Bizkaia y por cualquier motivo decidió emigrar a cualquier parte del mundo, y ha regresado a Euskadi, escribanos a bizkaia.retorno@gmail.com Por el contrario si conoce a alguien que emigró y ha regresado hágale llegar este mensaje. Eskerrik asko!]

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