Tag Archives: Bizkaia

Etxea

En memoria de Gonzalo Melendo Quesada e Iñaki Beti

“Geográficamente, el hogar es determinado lugar de la superficie terrestre. El lugar en que me encuentro es mi “morada”; el lugar donde pienso permanecer es mi “residencia”; el lugar de donde provengo y quiero ir es mi “hogar”. Pero no es sólo el lugar mi casa, mi habitación, mi jardín, mi ciudad. Sino todo lo que representa”

(Alfred Schutz, La Vuelta al Hogar, 1974)

Todo proceso migratorio conlleva una “ganancia” pero también una “pérdida” que afectan a la propia identidad del emigrante tanto en su capacidad de adaptación al nuevo país de acogida como en su capacidad por sobrellevar la separación tanto de los familiares y amigos como de la cultura, lengua y país. ¿Qué representa el hogar tanto para los cientos de miles de emigrantes y exiliados vascos, como para aquellos que retornaron o aquellos otros que permanecieron en el país?

No es de extrañar los intentos por parte de emigrantes, exiliados y sus descendientes por querer construir un nuevo espacio donde recrear un nuevo hogar, ya sea temporal o permanente, en el que revivir lo dejado atrás y lo heredado de generación en generación. Un espacio que articula el pasado y el presente, y que se encuentra a caballo entre el país de sus antepasados y el país donde han crecido sus hijos e hijas. En sí este nuevo hogar aúna ambos mundos temporales entrelazando emocionalmente la casa abandonada por el padre y la creada para los hijos. Hogares que se multiplican en cada una de las vivencias de aquellos vascos que salieron de Euskal Herria en búsqueda de un mayor grado de felicidad, libertad o de un deseo de prosperar, formando nuevas geografías emocionales que a día de hoy vertebran las diferentes diásporas vascas.

De esta manera, no es ninguna casualidad encontrarse múltiples referencias al hogar, a la casa o etxea, a la familia, o a la amistad en las propias denominaciones de muchas asociaciones vascas del exterior como por ejemplo Hogar Vasco (Madrid), Danak Anaiak (Todos Hermanos), Euskal Anaitasuna (Fraternidad Vasca), Gure Etxe Maitea (Nuestra Amada Casa), Gure Etxea (Nuestro Hogar; General Belgrano, Buenos Aires), Euzko (Eusko) Etxea (La Casa Vasca; Santiago de Chile), Gure Eusko Tokia (Nuestro Sitio Vasco), Etxe Alai (Hogar Feliz), Txoko Alai (Rincón Feliz; Miami), Eusko Aterpea (El Refugio Vasco), Gure Baserria (Nuestro Caserío); Lagun Onak (Buenos Amigos; Las Vegas), Gure Txoko (Nuestro Rincón; Sídney), Euskal Lagunak (Amigos Vascos), o Txoko Lagunartea (El Rincón del Grupo de Amigos).

DSC05268“Gure Euskal Etxea”. Basque Cultural Center, San Francisco (Fotografía: Pedro J. Oiarzabal).

Y el transcurso del tiempo hace que el sentimiento de pertenencia con respecto al país de adopción pueda extenderse y arraigarse entre aquellos emigrantes que optaron por no marcar en el calendario una fecha definitiva de regreso. Una permanencia que da lugar a diversas formas de sentirse y de entender una identidad entre dos culturas y dos hogares siempre cambiantes, y que a la vez se hacen cercanos y lejanos, y que a la vez son conocidos y extraños. Este es el caso de Gonzalo Melendo, andaluz de Córdoba y vasco de adopción. Fue fundador de la Casa Andaluza de Sestao (1984) y su presidente durante 23 años. Falleció el pasado mes de febrero en Madrid a la edad de 75 años. Su última voluntad fue la de ser enterrado en Sestao, en la tierra en la que vivió felizmente durante décadas.

¿Y cuál fue el hogar para aquellos vascos que regresaron a Euskal Herria?

Por ejemplo, según cuenta Koldo San Sebastián, José Hipólito Amias Foruria, nacido en Ispaster (Bizkaia) en 1876, emigró con la edad de 20 años a Estados Unidos, donde fue pastor en el Condado de Malheur del Estado de Oregón. Tras años de estancia en América decidió regresar. En Ispaster construyó un nuevo hogar, una casa solariega a la que llamó “Oregon”. En  la misma localidad de la comarca de Lea Artibai se alza una casa que lleva por nombre “Nevada”, gemela a la de la familia Amias. En la actualidad, en el Condado de Washoe del Estado de Nevada hay una pequeña carretera que lleva por nombre “Ispaster”…a su lado las calles “Navarra”, “Lesaka”, “Pyrenees”, “Euskera”…nos recuerdan la presencia de aquellos vascos que dejaron de transitar esas tierras tiempo atrás, poniendo fin, quizás, a su aventura en América.

Y para vosotros ¿qué es el hogar? ¿Dónde se encuentra vuestro hogar?

Creative_Commons

No place for children

“A child associated with an armed force or armed group refers to any person below 18 years of age who is, or who has been, recruited or used by an armed force or armed group in any capacity, including but not limited to children, boys and girls, used as fighters, cooks, porters, spies or for sexual purposes. It does not only refer to a child who is taking, or has taken, a direct part in hostilities.”

(Paris Principles and guidelines on children associated with armed forces or armed groups, United Nations, 2007)

The Declaration of the Rights of the Child was adopted by United Nations General Assembly on December 10, 1959. This international norm was followed, three decades later, by the Convention on the Rights of the Child (November 20, 1989)—the first legally binding instrument “to incorporate the full range of human rights—civil, cultural, economic, political and social rights”—and by the Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict (May 25, 2000). This protocol “establishes 18 as the minimum age for compulsory recruitment and requires States to do everything they can to prevent individuals under the age of 18 from taking a direct part in hostilities.” It entered into force on February 12, 2002, marking the International Day against the Use of Child Soldiers. Since then, more than 140 countries have ratified the protocol.

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As of February 2012, 27 United Nation Member States have not signed or ratified the Optional Protocol, while another 22 have signed but not ratified it. According to the Heidelberg Institute for International Conflict Research 2011 has been the most violent year since World War II, with twenty more wars than in 2010. Currently, it is estimated that tens of thousands of boys and girls under the age of 18 take active part in armed conflicts in at least 15 countries. The children, once again, are powerless to escape from such violence. They are forced to fight or participate somehow “voluntarily” in popular insurrections that have taken place within the context of the Arab Spring, for instance. However, the military use of children is not a new phenomenon and goes hand by hand, almost inevitably, with our tragic history of human self-destruction. This was the case of some of the children caught at the outbreak of the war between Adolf Hitler’s Germany and Joseph Stalin’s Russia in June 1941. The children had previously been evacuated from Spain—immersed in a fratricide war—to Russia.

It is estimated that 30,000 Spanish children were evacuated during the Spanish Civil War, and 70,000 more left after the end of the war in 1939. Among them 25,000 Basque children went also into exile. Most of the children were temporarily sent to France, Belgium, the United Kingdom, the former Union of Soviet Socialist Republics as well as Switzerland, Mexico, and Denmark. They became, and are still, known as “los niños de la guerra” (“the war children”) and the “Gernika Generation,” in the specific Basque case.

Between March 1937 and October 1938 nearly 3,000 children, between 5 and 12 years old, were evacuated from Spain to then the Soviet Union in four expeditions. Most of the children were from the Basque Country (between 1,500 and over 1,700), and Asturias and Cantabria (between 800 and 1,100). In the majority of the cases their parents were sympathetic to the anarchist, socialist, and communist ideals. On June 12, 1937 over 1,500 children and 75 tutors (teachers, doctors, and nurses) left the Port of Santurtzi in the Basque province of Bizkaia on board of the ship “Habana.”

From the moment of the children’s arrival to the German invasion of Russia they lived in good care in the so-called “Infant Homes for the Spanish Children.” There were 11 homes located in the current Russian Federation—including 1 in Moscow and 2 nearby Leningrad—and 5 in Ukraine—including 1 in Odessa and another in Kiev. Soon, their lives were, once more, dramatically turned upside-down. The homes had to be evacuated.

ChildrenRussia“The war children” from Spain and tutors, August 1940, Russia (Image source: Sasinka Astarloa Ruano)

During the Siege of Leningrad, the children Celestino Fernández-Miranda Tuñón and Ramón Moreira, both from Asturias, were 16 and 17 years old respectively at the time of enlisting as volunteers to defend the city, while Carmen Marón Fernández, from Bizkaia, worked as a nurse and dug trenches at the age of 16. Over 40 children were killed before they could be evacuated in 1943. It is considered the longest and most destructive city blockade in history. It resulted in the deaths of 1.5 million people and in the evacuation of 1.4 million civilians.

The survivors of Leningrad together with the rest of the children were taken to remote areas such as today’s republics of Georgia and Uzbekistan, and Saratov Oblast in southern Russia. It is during this time when it is reported that some children were victims of sexual assaults and exploitation, and a few of them ended up in delinquent gangs in order to survive.

ChildrenClassParamilitary training in one of the children’s colony. Shooting practices were a norm in many of the homes (Image source: Spanish Citizenship Abroad Portal)

According to the Spanish Center of Moscow, over 100 “niños de la guerra” voluntarily enlisted in the Red Army, while many others had to carry out some type of work to support the war efforts alongside their schooling time. For instance, Begoña Lavilla and Antonio Herranz, both from Santurtzi, worked at an arms factory in Saratov at the age of 13 and 14, respectively. Eight of the Basque niños—six of them from the “Kiev home”—entered in combat after receiving flight training courses in a military academy. It has been said that some of the children were able to pass themselves off as older men such as Luis Lavín Lavín who was just 15 years old at the time. The eight young Basques were Ignacio Aguirregoicoa Benito (born in Soraluce in 1923), Ramón Cianca Ibarra, José Luis Larrañaga Muniategui (born in Eibar in 1923), the aforementioned Luis Lavín Lavín (born in Bilbao in 1925), Antonio Lecumberri Goikoetxea (born in 1924), Eugenio Prieto Arana (born in Eibar in 1922), Tomás Suárez, and Antonio Uribe Galdeano (born in Barakaldo in 1920). Larrañaga, Uribe, and Aguirregoicoa died in 1942 (Ukraine), 1943 (Dnieper), and 1944 (Estonia), respectively. Aguirregoicoa took his own life in order to avoid being captured by the enemy.

Between 207 and 215 Spaniards were killed as active combatants at the Eastern Front of World War II (also known as the Great Patriotic War; June 22, 1941-May 9, 1945), while another 211 people died of extreme starvation, disease, and the intensive bombardments. According to Lavín, 50 of the enlisted “children” out of a total of 130 were killed during the war.

After two long decades of exile, the first convoy of “children” was allowed to return to Francisco Franco’s Spain in 1957. As of 2012, it is estimated that 170 “niños de la guerra,” all of them over 80 years old, live in the former Soviet Union. This year marks the 75th anniversary of the bombings of Basque cities and villages and the evacuation of their children—fatidic preamble to World War II.

For more information see the interview (in Spanish) to Mateo Aguirre S.J., on the Democratic Republic of Congo child soldiers’ situation at Alboan’s EiTB Blog; and the Child Soldiers International organization; and Luis Lavín Lavín’s conference of 2007 (in Spanish).

Creative_Commons


The Irízar Island

“Many hundred dreams have been dreamed in our island but I do not know if they helped to brighten our existence. They grouped themselves around two objects—food and rescue”

(Carl Skottsberg at Paulet Island, 1903)

In the Antarctic Argentine Islands of the Wilhelm Archipelago lies a pretty tiny island called Irízar (65° 13′ 0″ S, 64° 12′ 0″ W). The Argentine Islands are a group of sixteen islands, which were named as such by Jean-Baptiste Charcot—scientific leader of the first French Expedition to Antarctica that took place between 1903 and 1905—in gratitude to the Republic of Argentina. One of the islands was named in honor of Basque-Argentinian Lieutenant Commander Julián Irízar who had previously led the rescue of the failed Swedish Antarctic Expedition in 1903.

map_3031_64_303_400_400The Antarctic Irízar Island (Map source: Australian Antarctic Data Center)

It was the era of the international scientific and geographical exploration of Antarctica, which, in turn, also favored private commercial pursuits (e.g., the whaling industry) and fuelled the feeling of personal adventure by becoming, for example, the first person to reach the geographical South Pole. This era was initiated by the Belgian Antarctic Expedition, sponsored by the Belgian Geographical Society and led by navy officer Adrien de Gerlache in 1897, and it concluded in 1922 with the British Shackleton–Rowett Expedition. This was considered the last significant scientific voyage before the introduction of the aerial exploration in the late 1920s, which opened up a modern era for Antarctic discovery. It also meant the slow end of the maritime voyages of scientific exploration that began in the late 17th century.

During more than two decades sixteen major polar expeditions were launched by Belgium, the United Kingdom, Germany, Sweden, France, Japan, Norway, and Australia. It was some time before the revolution in transport and telecommunications technologies, and all pioneers’ efforts were confronted with the crude hostility of an unknown continent. Many crew members suffered severe injuries and others died under extreme weather conditions, lack of supplies, illnesses, and accidents.

The 1901 expedition led by Swedish scientist Otto Nordenskjöld and Norwegian explorer Carl Anton Larsen soon was about to face the hardships of Antarctica. As part of an agreement with the government of Argentina, military geologist José María Sobral Iturrioz joined the crew of Antartic, the expedition’s steamship. He became the first known Argentinian (and first Argentinian of Basque origin) to live in the southernmost continent of the planet. Nordenskjöld and five of his men were dropped off at Snow Hill Island in 1902 to establish a campsite from where to carry their work for one winter, while Captain Larsen sailed back to Malvinas. In November 1902 Larsen returned for Nordenskjöld and his group, but the ship was crushed by ice and finally sank 25 miles from Paulet Island. Both parties had to spend another isolated winter while ignoring each other’s fate. Their nightmare just began. A young sailor, Ole Christian Wennersgaard died in June 1903.

Concerned about the members of the expedition, Sweden, Argentina and France began to make arrangements for their rescue. Meanwhile, Carlsen’s party managed to reunite with Nordenskjöld’s group at Snow Hill where were successfully rescued by Lieutenant Commander Julián Irízar and its corvette Uruguay in November 1903. On December 2, 1903, the steam relief ship safely arrived at Buenos Aires after dealing with a huge storm that destroyed the mainmast and the foremast. It was greeted by tens of thousands of people. The rescue was considered one of the most triumphant and heroic episodes in the history of Antarctica as echoed by the international press of the day. It was also the first official voyage of Argentina to the frozen continent. Upon return Irízar was promoted to Captain.

Uruguayx10The corvette Uruguay (Photo source: Fundación Histarmar)

Among the 22 members of the Uruguay, the surgeon, José Gorrochategui, was also of Basque ancestry. Irízar and Gorrochategui were the first known Basques or Argentinians of Basque origin who set foot on the Antarctic continent (in addition to Sobral). Sobral Iturrioz was born in Gualeguaychú and Gorrochategui in Concepción del Uruguay, both in the province of Entre Ríos. Irízar was born in Capilla del Señor, in the province of Buenos Aires, in 1869 and died in Buenos Aires in 1935. Gorrochategui’s parents were from the Basque province of Bizkaia—his father was from Bilbao and his mother from Bermeo. Irízar’s parents were also Basque migrants, but this time they were from the province of Gipuzkoa; his father, Juan José Irízar was from Oñati and his mother, Ana Bautista Echeverría from Zumarraga.

On December 10, 1903, the Basque association Laurak-Bat of Buenos Aires organized a banquet to honor Irízar and his crew for the rescue of the Swedish Antarctic Expedition as well as for Sobral Iturrioz. During the ceremony, Irízar and his officers were given a silver-plated copper medal, while the sailors might have received a copper medal. The Basque-language inscription in the silver medal read: “Guidontzi “Uruguay”-ko adintari Julian Irizar Jaunari. Biltoki “Laurak-Bat”-ek” (Obverse); “Joair Doaitea “Antartic”-ari laguntzeko * Buenos Aires 1903 * (Reverse). (“The Center “Laurak-Bat” to Mr. Julian Irizar, captain of the ship “Uruguay” that leaves to help out the “Antarctic” * Buenos Aires 1903 *”).

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The banquet at the Laurak-Bat clubhouse (Photo source: La Baskonia, Number 368: 1903).

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The Laurak-Bat Irízar Medal (Images source: La Baskonia, Number 368: 1903). According to Glenn M. Stein, FRGS, polar and maritime historian, “this may very well be the only polar-related medal ever created in the Basque language.

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Irízar became Admiral of the Argentine Navy and retired after 50 years of military service. Through his career Irízar received many distinguished awards including the insignia of Chevalier (Knight) of the Legion of Honor of France. On the 50th anniversary of the rescue, the Argentinian government built a monolith at the Buenos Aires port to commemorate “la hazaña de Irízar” (Irízar’s heroic deed). In 1979, the icebreaker of the Argentina Navy was named Almirante Irízar in his honor. The corvette Uruguay became a naval museum in 1967, and nowadays it is moored to the dock of Puerto Madero, Buenos Aires. The Argentine Antarctic summer base, built in 1965, was named after Lieutenant Sobral, considered the father of Argentinian explorations in Antarctica.

For more information (in Spanish) see: “1903 – Hazaña de la corbeta Uruguay y la colectividad baskongada” (Luis Héctor Carranza, 2003) and “Julian Irizar y la ‘Uruguay’” (Martha González Zaldua, 2003).

Many thanks to Shannon Sisco at the Basque Library, University of Nevada, Reno

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The Crossing

“You shall leave everything you love most dearly: this is the arrow that the bow of exile shoots first. You are to know the bitter taste of others´ bread, how salty it is, and know how hard a path it is for one who goes descending and ascending others´ stairs”

(Dante Alighieri, The Divine Comedy)

On July 16, 1950, a group of nine Basque men sailed from the Port of Santurtzi (Bizkaia) to the Port of Veracruz (Mexico) on a small hand-made ship named “Montserrat” in order to escape General Francisco Franco´s brutal dictatorship and post-war socio-economic depression. Only one of the men was a professional sailor. This thrilling first-hand account story (La Travesía del Montserrat—The Crossing of the Montserrat) as narrated by one of the men, Félix San Mamés Loizaga, has been recently published in Mexico. Félix´s on board diary captures the ninety-one long days it took them to cross the Atlantic Ocean. The Basques had to cope with the failure of the boat´s engine, shortage of food and water, hurricanes, and tropical storms. This was a 7,000 mile trip whose storyline rivals some of Hollywood´s best cinematographic adventures.

The nine men were Félix San Mamés Loizaga (24 years old at the time), brothers José Luis and Manuel Algorri Villanueva (40 and 39 years old, respectively), brothers José Luis and José Ramón Bilbatúa Madariaga (30 and 28 years old, respectively), José Martín Barinagarrementeria Eguzkiaguirre (19 years old), Ismael Martin del Rio (30 years old), Agustín Palacios Lopategui (25 years old), and Gregorio Solano Ahedo (41 years old). Different generations, ages, socio-economic backgrounds and political traditions but one same goal: to improve their lives for themselves and their loved ones.

On July 16, 1949, on the feast of Our Lady of Carmen, Patron Saint of Santurtzi, Manuel suggested to Ismael, Félix and the Bilbatúa brothers to escape Franco´s Spain: “If we leave Spain, where will we go?” Manuel asked. That same night they all decided to go to Mexico as its government was sympathetic to the Spanish Republican cause and the government-in-exile. It is estimated that between 1939 and 1942 25,000 refugees from Spain went to Mexico. All four men worked for the Algorris on their shipyard, Astilleros Alsa, in Erandio (Bizkaia). Later on, they were joined by José Martín, Agustín, and Gregorio. On the following day, they secretly began to build the wooden sloop “Montserrat.” A year later the men set sail to North America.

On their way to the Canary Islands, the “Montserrat´s” engine failed. On July 28th, Gregorio wrote in his diary: “There are nine men on board the ‘Montserrat,’ with courage, strong will…our decision is to continue.” Plans had to be rearranged. From then on they depended on the trade winds, which obviously delayed the original goal of reaching Mexico within a month. Soon, they began to run out of supplies, and even more important, fresh water. After weeks of wind sailing, the “Montserrat” reached Barbados where they obtained supplies and fixed the engine. In Martinique the Basques were able to send the first letters to their families. They set course to Puerto Progreso Yucatán, Mexico. Upon arrival, the local authorities placed them under arrest, while allowing Manuel to leave the boat to contact representatives of the Spanish Republican government-in-exile. Soon, they were allowed to sail to Veracruz.

After three months and thousands of miles, the “Montserrat” finally reached its destination, where, once again, they were arrested. On October 15th Félix wrote: “At 12:30 we entered the port of Veracruz, the end of our troubled trip. Here our journey that will always stay in our memory concluded.” With the help of the Spanish Republican government-in-exile all men obtained permission to legally stay in the country under the political refugee status. The men were naturalized Mexican and remained in the country until the end of their lives. Ismael was able to bring his wife and daughters to Mexico after two long years of separation. In 1974, after twenty-four years, Félix returned to the Basque Country for first time and reunited with his family. His mother had already passed away.

The story of the “Montserrat’s” crew is the story of hundreds of thousands of ordinary people who risked, and are still risking, their own lives in pursuit of freedom and socio-economic prosperity. Between 1948 and 1951, sixty-two sailing boats, the so-called ghost ships, departured, in dramatic conditions, from the Canary Islands to Venezuela carrying a total of 4,000 Canarian passengers who escaped from Franco’s political repression and hunger. Some ships took over eighty days to reach shore.

It is estimated that 150,000 Basques, including 25,000 children, went into exile, while an estimated 100,000 were imprisoned and 50,000 died as a result of the Spanish Civil War.

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Zazpiak Bat Dance Group de San Francisco: Paso a paso desde hace 50 años

Fundado en Junio de 1960 en San Francisco, California, el Basque Club of California (Club Vasco de California) se convirtió rápidamente en un referente cultural tanto a nivel de las comunidades vascas del estado como a nivel nacional, contribuyendo, por ejemplo, a la creación de la federación de organizaciones vascas de Norte América (NABO) a principios de la década de 1970. En sus orígenes, el Club Vasco de San Francisco estuvo compuesto, en su gran mayoría, por vascos de Nafarroa Beherea y Nafarroa que habían emigrado a Estados Unidos en la década de 1940. Muchos de ellos tras la depresión económica de la Segunda Guerra Mundial decidieron trasladarse de las zonas rurales de California a San Francisco en busca de nuevas oportunidades, rejuveneciendo, de esta manera, a la comunidad vasca de la ciudad.

A día de hoy, varios clubes vascos continúan en activo en California. El decano de las asociaciones es el Kern County Basque Club, establecido en Bakersfield en 1944. A este le sigue el Southern California Basque Club, creado un año después en la localidad de Chino. Habrá que esperar a la década de 1960 para encontrarnos con una nueva hornada de asociaciones: El Club Vasco de California (San Francisco, 1960), Los Banos Basque Club (Los Banos, 1964), y Chino Basque Club (Chino, 1967).

Entre las actividades que tuvieron un mayor y temprano arraigo entre los socios del recién fundado club vasco de San Francisco se encuentra el grupo de danzas Zazpiak Bat Dance Group. Este primer fin de semana de Junio ha marcado el cincuenta aniversario de su primea actuación en público, siendo el grupo de danzas más antiguo de la Bahía de San Francisco. Al grupo de adultos se unió un grupo de danzas para niños llamado Gazteak, la primera banda de klika en el país, Zazpiak Bat Klika (1964), y el primer coro vasco del país, Elgarrekin (1979).

Zazpiak Bat Dance Group 1961

El grupo original de baile Zazpiak Bat en 1961. Sentados en primera fila (de izquierda a derecha): Mayie Camino y Bernadette Iribarren. Sentados segunda fila (de izquierda a derecha): Mayie Oçafrain, Anita Arduain, Christine Uharriet, Denise Ourtiague, Catherine Dunat y Louise Saparart. De pies (de izquierda a derecha): Juan Tellechea, Jeannot Laxague, Michel Duhalde, Michel Arduain, Michel Antoine, Michel Oyharçabal, Pierre Labat, Gratien Oçafrain, Frederic Fuldain y Paul Castech (Cortesía de la Colección Urazandi de San Francisco).

Frederic Fuldain fue el creador tanto del grupo de danzas de adultos—junto al instructor Juan Tellechea, de Lesaka—como de la banda de klika, a la vez que el organizador de los primeros torneos de mus y de pelota del club vasco. Nacido en Bidarrai en 1929, Fuldain emigró a Bakersfield en 1951 donde trabajo como pastor de ovejas durante tres años. De ahí se trasladó a San Francisco donde abrió su propio negocio de jardinería. Fuldain fue el Presidente de Honor del club durante treinta años. Falleció en Belmont, California a la edad de setenta y seis años. La idea original de Fuldain era incluir bailes de las provincias de Bizkaia y Gipuzkoa como complemento a los bailes de la provincia de Nafarroa Beherea—origen de la mayoría de los socios de aquel entonces. Su mano derecha en esta labor fue Tellechea. En los inicios los dantzaris fueron acompañados por el acordeonista Jim Etchepare y los txistularis Juan José y Carmelo San Mames y Abel Bolumburu.

Frederic Fuldain

Ceremonia de homenaje a Frederic Fuldain en el Centro Cultural Vasco de San Francisco el 2 de Abril de 1995 (Cortesía de la Colección Urazandi de San Francisco).

El grupo Gazteak fue creado por Michel Oyharçabal y Christine Maysonnave. En 1962, Pierre Etcharren, de Uharte-Garazi, se convirtió en el instructor del grupo de niños. Dos años después, tras el retorno de Tellechea a Euskal Herria, Etcharren se hizo también cargo del grupo de adultos. Cargo que ocupó durante veinticinco años. Desde entonces su hija, Valerie Etcharren, ha instruido a ambos grupos.

Desde Junio de 1961 hasta hoy, el Zazpiak Bat Dance Group ha actuado por todo el Oeste Americano y se ha consolidado como uno de los grupos de danza vasca más interesantes del país. En 1993 participaron en el Baztandarren Biltzarra de Elizondo bajo la atenta mirada del que fuera su primer instructor Juan Tellechea. Habían transcurrido veintinueve años.

“Euskaldunak Californian”

Dantzaris del Zazpiak Bat en Elizondo, Nafarroa en 1993. Primera fila (de izquierda a derecha): Martin Lasa, Xavier Oçafrain y Xavier Salaburu. Segunda fila (de izquierda a derecha): Idoya Salaburu, Isabelle Oillarburu, Maitexa Cuburu, Jeanette Etchamendy, Evelyne Etcharren, Elise Martinon, Rose Marie Etchamendy y Valerie Etcharren. Fila del fondo (de izquierda a derecha): Elisa Lasa, Isabelle Oçafrain, Valerie Gorostiague, Nicole Oçafrain y Stephanie Duhart (Cortesía de la Colección Urazandi de San Francisco).

Para conmemorar el quincuagésimo aniversario del Zazpiak Bat diferentes generaciones de bailarines van a actuar en el Centro Cultural Vasco de San Francisco durante el fin de semana del 27 y 28 de Agosto de este año. Emigrantes vascos llevaron consigo experiencias, valores, prácticas y tradiciones culturales, religiosas y lingüísticas a Estados Unidos, produciendo su propia interpretación de cultura e identidad vascas. Recrearon una cultura en un nuevo país contra todo pronóstico, siendo capaces de trasmitirla exitosamente a las nuevas generaciones de vascos nacidos en tierra americana. Hoy como hace cincuenta años, la comunidad vasca de San Francisco sigue demostrando la vitalidad y la capacidad de soñar y amar que les llevo a construir una nueva Euskal Herria a miles de kilómetros de distancia de Europa.

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The Basque Global Time

Time present and time past

are both perhaps present in time future,

and time future contained in time past”

(T.S. Eliot, Burnt Norton, Four Quartets, 1945)

Some Basque diaspora communities and some groups in the Basque Country share, depending on the type of celebrations, some highly symbolic temporal commemorations. According to Michel Laguerre, “diasporic new years, holy days, and holidays incubate the memory of the homeland, heighten the temporal dissimilarity between the mainstream and the ethnic enclave, intensify transnational relations, maximize revenues in the diasporic economy…raise the public consciousness about the presence of the group in their midst, induce changes of the diasporic community, and help the group reproduce itself as a transglobal entity” (In Urban Multiculturalism and Globalization in New York City, 2003: 5). That is to say, different temporal commemorations such as religious, cultural, political, and hybrid are currently celebrated by Basques worldwide. However, the boundaries between religious, political, or cultural temporalities are not so clear-cut. For example, religious celebrations, such as Saint Ignatius of Loyola can be understood as strong Basque nationalist events while nationalist events, such as the Aberri Eguna are imbued with religious symbolism; and cultural events such as Korrika, the bi-annual pro-Basque language race are seen as highly political.

Following the Roman Catholic calendar Basque diaspora communities celebrate different religious festivities, such as Christmas, Easter Week, and Basque Patron Saints days (e.g., Saint Sebastian, January 20th—e.g., Madrid—Saint Fermín, July 7th, Saint Ignatius of Loyola, July 31st—e.g., Miami—Our Lady of Arantzazu, September 9th, or Saint Francis Xavier, December 3rd). Despite the obvious religious content of those festivities, for example, Saint Francis Xavier, the Patron Saint of Nafarroa, and Saint Ignatius of Loyola, the Patron Saint of the provinces of Bizkaia and Gipuzkoa, were not only considered religious symbols but also political symbols, particularly during the time of the Basque government-in-exile.

Similarly, Aberri Eguna (the Day of the Homeland) coincides, intentionally, with the Catholic festivity of Easter Sunday, as a metaphor for the resurrection of the Basque nation. It has been, and still is, commemorated in the Basque diaspora (e.g., London and Havana) since the Basque Nationalist Party (PNV in its Spanish acronym) established it in 1932. From 1936 to 1976, the Spanish Workers Socialist Party also commemorated the date, which was legalized in Spain in 1978. Since then, only the Basque nationalist parties, separately, celebrate it. However, since 2005 the annual Aberri Eguna celebration in Argentina were jointly celebrated by representatives from the nationalist youth group JO TA KE of Rosario, the extraterritorial assembly of the PNV in Argentina, and Eusko Alkartasuna-Argentina. In addition, the aerial bombardment of Gernika by Nazi Germany on April 26, 1937, is another highly commemorated date by Basque diaspora institutions and communities (e.g., Argentina and San Francisco, United States).

The main common cultural celebrations refer to the Basque language or Euskara. Euskararen Eguna, the International Basque Language Day, was instituted by Eusko Ikaskuntza, the Society of Basque Studies, in 1948, and it is celebrated on December 3rd, the day of St. Francis Xavier. It has been, and still is, celebrated in the diaspora. The bi-annual and very popular pro-Basque language event Korrika—a run and walk-a-thon to raise money for Basque language schools—is also celebrated abroad (e.g., Barcelona and Shanghai).

In the 2003 World Congress of Basque Collectivities, the institutional representatives of the Basque diaspora recommended the establishment of a “Day of the Diaspora” to be celebrated in both the Basque Country and the diaspora as a way to achieve an official social recognition in the homeland. (Unfortunately, as of April 2011, the “Day of the Diaspora” has not been established yet). Despite the fact that Basque migrants are physically removed from their home country, they are able to be united with their co-nationals by sharing cyclical common events throughout time. The aforementioned celebrations unite Basques from all provinces, including diaspora Basques. These specific temporalities for communal gathering, fraternity, and for renewing pledges of identity, help diaspora and homeland Basques to imagine themselves as a Basque united global community regardless of their geographical location.

Are we ready to build a Basque global community?

For a version of the post in Spanish please visit: http://www.euskonews.com/0578zbk/kosmo57801es.html

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Encounters

For the past few years we have witnessed an increase of documentary productions on Basques of the American West through truly nostalgic stories of some remarkable lives. For example, Tim and Ken Kahn and Scott Carroll directed “The Last Link” (2004), while Javi Zubizarreta and Jacob Griswold produced “Artzainak: Sheperds and Sheep” (2010) and Nacho Reig and Gorka Bilbao filmed “Amerikanuak” (2010). “The Last Link” addresses the transformation of a Basque sheepherding community in the State of Wyoming through the story of Pete Camino who planned to travel to his home village of Arnegi in the Basque province of Behe Nafarroa. “Artzainak” looks into the hard life of former Basque sheepherders in the State of Idaho, while “Amerikanuak” focuses on another prominent Basque immigrant area, Elko, in the State of Nevada.

“Amerikanuak” falls in love with Nevada’s winter landscape of big and blue skies and with its main character, Juan Juaristi “Parrillas,” an 83 year old boarder at the centennial Basque boardinghouse, the Star Hotel of Elko. Juan becomes the link between the different colorful stories that the film narrates through its ninety minutes of majestic photography. Juan was born in Guizaburuaga in the Basque province of Bizkaia in 1926 and immigrated into the United States at the age of 29. He first settled in Pocatello, Idaho and then moved to Elko, Nevada and worked as a sheepherder for many years. I hear from Scott “Patxi” Igoa, current owner of the Star Hotel, that Juan got sick in May and has been moved to a nursing home. Juan still manages to go to the Star Hotel every Saturday to play mus, a Basque card game, and have lunch with his old friends. I would say that Juan was the last Basque sheepherder that lived in a traditional Basque boardinghouse in America. Most of them, nowadays, have closed down or refurbished as public restaurants and do not offer rooms.

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amerikanuak (teaser english)

This media has become a new cultural interface between two worlds—the world of the emigrants and their descendants, the Basque-America, and the world of their ancestors in the European homeland. For many in the Basque Country this is the first encounter with Basques abroad. The three documentaries are interlinked brief journeys through various Basque communities in America that reflect their rise and fall within the context of a migrant culture portrayed as endangered. The short documentaries explore Basque heritage in America, which is clearly and painfully fading away with the vanishing of the immigrant generation. Their homes in the Old Country are figments of their childhood and youth memories, while their present lifestyle and sheepherding culture in America cannot keep from disappearing. The image of Juan looking through the window of his room at the Star Hotel is a powerful metaphor of the life of many migrants that left the Basque Country to live the American dream in the hills of the American West and encounter many hardships, loneliness and despair…

If you have watched any of the documentaries, particularly if this is the first time that you have learned about Basques in America, please share your thoughts with us.

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The Basque Global Block

Algunos expertos en temas de migración consideran que los símbolos son los últimos vestigios de la identidad de aquellos emigrantes completamente asimilados a sus países de acogida. Es lo que se entiende por “identidad simbólica”, la cual es definida como una forma de expresar la identidad heredada de padres y abuelos, y que es instrumentalizada con el objetivo de evitar cualquier conflicto con las formas de vida de la sociedad en la que hijos y nietos han crecido. Una identidad simbólica que se manifiesta de forma concreta en festivales, desfiles, deportes, juegos, bailes, o en muestras culinarias.

Sin ninguna duda, los símbolos ayudan a muchos individuos de la diáspora vasca a externalizar públicamente tanto su identidad colectiva vasca como las manifestaciones culturales de dicha identidad. En sí, macro-festivales vascos como el Jaialdi de la ciudad de Boise del Estado norteamericano de Idaho, y que se está celebrando estos días, son una expresión tangible de identidad y de reafirmación cultural en un ámbito público ajeno a lo vasco. De hecho, en toda la diáspora vasca que abarca más de una veintena de países son muy pocas las comunidades que a día de hoy han podido articular y gestionar un espacio público propio. La falta de nuevas oleadas de emigrantes, el envejecimiento progresivo de la generación emigrante, su dispersión geográfica, y la regeneración urbana que han experimentado muchas ciudades han evitado que perdurasen en el tiempo algunos espacios que en su día fueron verdaderos barrios vascos, como el de Broadway de San Francisco o el de Ezeiza en Buenos Aires.

Si existe algún lugar en los Estados Unidos donde los vascos como comunidad han construido  su propio espacio público es sin ninguna duda el llamado “Basque Block” de Boise. Un lugar conformado por un museo (Basque Museum and Cultural Center), dos antiguas pensiones—hoy en día ambas destinadas a relatar la historia de las comunidades emigrantes vascas y su posterior asentamiento—dos restaurantes (el Leku Ona y el Gernika Bar), una tienda (The Basque Market), un frontón, y el edificio de la asociación vasca (Euzkaldunak). Es un paisaje urbano ampliamente saturado por símbolos vascos y del cual el visitante puede difícilmente abstraerse.

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(Basque Block Mural, Julio 2004. Foto de Pedro J. Oiarzabal)

En el propio “Basque Block” un mural aúna la historia de la comunidad vasca en el Estado de Idaho y su devenir en el tiempo. El mural, diseñado por Bill Hueg en el año 2000 a petición del Museo Vasco de Boise, es un extraordinario ejemplo del poder de los símbolos como aglutinadores de la identidad colectiva y del sentir de una comunidad. De izquierda a derecha, el mural hace referencia a los viajes de Cristóbal Colón y a la participación de generaciones de vascos en el “descubrimiento”, conquista y colonización de las Américas; aparece un baserri en lo alto de una colina verde; un fragmento del Guernica de Pablo Picasso—un alto porcentaje de la comunidad vasca de Idaho procede de Bizkaia-; el Árbol de Gernika; la pensión de Uberuaga/Aguirre, establecida en 1903 en Boise; el retrato de Juanita Uberuaga Hormaechea, una de las pioneras en la enseñanza de bailes vascos en la década de 1940; el grupo de danza vasca Oinkari y que este año cumple su 50 aniversario; la Catedral Católica de St. John de Boise; un retrato de Jim Jausoro, acordeonista del grupo Oinkari desde 1947 hasta su fallecimiento en 2005; un hombre levantado una piedra cuadrangular en referencia a los deportes rurales vascos; y finalmente, como no podría ser de otra manera, se hace referencia a un campamento de pastores de ovejas, la principal ocupación de los emigrantes vascos en el Oeste Americano durante más de un siglo.

Tanto el “Basque Block” como el Jaialdi de Boise son considerados verdaderos éxitos a emular por comunidades vascas tanto de dentro como de fuera de Estados Unidos. En un contexto en el que la emigración vasca tuvo su punto final hace más de tres o cuatro décadas, ¿cuáles serían las estrategias más adecuadas que las instituciones de la diáspora vasca deberían de llevar a cabo para hacer frente al futuro más inmediato? Y en cuanto a lo que se denomina “identidad simbólica”, ¿hasta qué punto las propias comunidades de la diáspora se aferran a los símbolos como recursos para impulsar y promocionar sus propias identidades colectivas?

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El Aberri Eguna de Félix Bilbao Dañobeitia (1917-2010)

Félix Bilbao Dañobeitia, nacido en Zamudio (Bizkaia) en 1917, compartió su vida con Begoña Laita durante más de seis décadas y fueron padres de María Amada, Luis Mari, José Félix, y David, habiendo llegado a disfrutar no sólo de nietos sino también de biznietos.

Félix, gudari en los batallones “Guernica”, “Leandro Carro” y “Amayur” durante la Guerra Civil Española fue hecho prisionero en 1937 y condenado a realizar trabajos forzados durante dos años. Una vez terminada su sentencia regresó a su pueblo natal, pero su particular infierno no había hecho más que comenzar. Félix fue obligado a hacer el servicio militar durante tres años en La Legión del recién instaurado régimen del Generalísimo Francisco Franco, y fue destinado al Norte de África y al sur de la península. En 1944, tras ocho largos años pudo volver definitivamente a Zamudio. Félix continuó apoyando la resistencia nacionalista contra la dictadura franquista hasta 1948, fecha en que toda posibilidad de victoria se desvaneció.

En 1950 la Guerra de Corea había comenzado lo que provocó una demanda creciente de carne para abastecer a la tropa estadounidense que se había involucrado en la defensa de Corea del Sur. Consecuentemente se facilitó la entrada de vascos en Estados Unidos, hasta la fecha muy limitada, para cubrir las necesidades de la industria ovina. Las reformas migratorias impulsadas por el Senador por Nevada Patrick McCarran permitieron un límite de 250 pastores al año, entre ellos la mayoría eran de Bizkaia y Nafarroa. En 1951 Félix decidió emprender una nueva vida y emigró como pastor a Estados Unidos. En 1952, la cuota oficial de inmigrantes se incremento a 750. Pasados cinco años la familia pudo reunirse con Félix en California. Regentaron la famosa pensión vasca Hotel Du Midi durante una década y el restaurante Bilbao’s Basque Corner durante cinco años, ambos situados en el corazón de San Francisco.

Félix Bilbao en el Basque Cultural Center, Marzo 2007 (Pedro J. Oiarzabal)

Félix Bilbao en el Basque Cultural Center, Marzo 2007 (Pedro J. Oiarzabal)

Félix nos dejaba el pasado Sábado Santo, un día de reflexión y oración que prepara a los creyentes cristianos para la celebración de la Vigilia Pascual. La inesperada noticia de su trágico fallecimiento en un accidente de coche me llevó a recordar la última vez que nos vimos en el Basque Cultural Center de la californiana ciudad de South San Francisco unos días antes de mi regreso definitivo a casa. Muy consciente de que en tres años se cumpliría el 80 aniversario del primer Aberri Eguna se encontraba ilusionado por la posibilidad de que tan señalada fecha pudiese ser de nuevo celebrada por todos conjuntamente, nacionalistas y no nacionalistas, dentro y fuera de Euskal Herria. “Nos vemos pronto. Recuerda que el 2012 va a ser una fecha especial y cumpliré 95 años. Hay que celebrarlo”, me dijo. “Aquí hay Republicanos y Demócratas, pero el 4 de Julio, ante todo, son americanos. En Euskadi, debemos anteponer nuestro país a nuestras siglas partidistas, particularmente los nacionalistas. Somos vascos, esto es lo que nos une, aquí y allí. Hay que seguir trabajando…Gora Euskadi Askatuta”.

Félix, Goian Bego!

[Artículos sobre Félix Bilbao en Español y Euskera]

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