(Updated June 2017)
In his memory, we again wish all our readers the same thing he dreamed of: Health and a Basque Republic.
Today, June 25, we commemorate the murder at the hands of the fascists of Estepan Urkiaga Basaraz, also known as Lauaxeta. This Basque poet, patriot, author, journalist, and gudari commander was killed by the same insurgents who, years later, would decided that the person who would succeed as the Head of State of Spain would be a Bourbon.
These time coincidences are especially significant given the decision by Felipe VI to, as his first act as king, meet with the (majority) associations of the victims of terrorism.
Lauxeta, as well as, for example, Fortunato Aguirre or Luis Álava, were murdered by the insurgent troops. Just like thousands of other Basques, and many thousands and thousands of Spaniards, their only crime was being democratic and defending legality and liberty. Both those who were shot as well as those who were persecuted, jailed, robbed, plundered, repressed, or retaliated against by those guilty of the coup and their heirs throughout the duration of the dictatorship watched as their suffering was forgotten, or indeed celebrated, permanently and viciously. Obviously, the fascist regime that killed and persecuted them never recognized them as victims. But even after the restoration of the monarchy and the starting-up of a democratic government, their sacrifice and suffering have still not been remembered.
On the other hand, the victims of para-police and police forces have had to jump through hoops in order to even get any consideration for themselves as victims. It’s been a long road full of obstacles put in place by the State and the police and judicial systems. After all, there was never a clear “continuity solution” in many structures of the State between the dictatorship and democracy, and you can tell.
Earlier, we used the word significant, and it is so, watching the international media talk about the first act of the newly crowned king coincide on the date of the assassination of Lauaxeta, or with the challenge the Spanish Government has placed against the decree of the Basque Government to recognize the victims of the police.
We do not believe that Felipe VI will ever meet with the survivors of those injustices, nor their families. It’s hard to meet with the heirs of those killed and buried in common graves in forgotten fields, and with those who, for decades, watched their rights, their lives, and their well-being be violated by law enforcement officers who served a dictatorship and not the citizens.
In Spain, the structures that have lasted since the coup d’état refuse to recognize other victims; that is, they refuse to recognize those victims who aren’t in their same group of victims. Because “victims” are the victims of all those who defend freedom and justice; but they are all victims.
Spaniards and Basques south of the Pyrenees still live in a State that distinguishes between winners and losers. There are those victims that the Spanish Minister of the Interior had the gall to call “collateral damage“. Yes, there are definitely “first-class” and “second-class” victims. Even a torturer and Gestapo collaborator police officer who was assassinated by the ETA is more of a victim than a father who was beaten to death by plainclothes policemen in retaliation for having reported earlier abuse (listen to the recording below, starting at 7:50).
That’s why, this week, as we wait and see what we can expect from the current political situation in Spain, we can’t help but remember the words found in the will of Estepan Urkiaga Basaraz:
Muero por nacionalista vasco, porque amo con pasión a este desgraciado pueblo. Espero en la bondad de Dios que algún día se logrará lo que este pobre hijo ansió ver en sus días. Vascos, carne de mi carne, sangre de mi sangre; Euzkadi tiene que ser eterna; pero nosotros para ella y la patria para Dios. ¡Cristo, tened piedad de mí!”
I die for being a Basque nationalist, because I passionately love this unfortunate people. I hope that the goodness of God will some day manage to achieve what this poor son so desired to see in his day. Basques, flesh of my flesh, blood of my blood; Euzkadi needs to be eternal; but we for her and the homeland for God. Christ, have mercy on me!
One year more, we remember him as a Basque, a patriot, an author, a journalist, and a gudari commander. But, more than anything, we remember him as a good man who was committed to the cause of freedom.
Lauxeta. Agur eta Ohore.
One day prior to the murder of Lauaxeta, Alfredo Espinosa was killed by the insurgents in Vitoria. He had been the Secretary of Health for the Basque Government in the Republic. His farewell letter to Lehendakari Aguirre ended so:
“Termino, pues no tengo tiempo para más. Falta muy poco tiempo para la ejecución. Háblales a todos de la virtud del deber cumplido y diles que es preferible la muerte a traicionar las virtudes y el alma de una raza.
Nada más querido amigo y siempre Presidente. Un abrazo muy fuerte y Gora Euzkadi y Viva la República. Cuando la historia nos juzgue a todos sabrán que nosotros hicimos lo indecible por evitar la muerte a los presos y conservar el respeto absoluto a toda idea por opuesta que fuere a la nuestra.
Te abraza hasta siempre.
I’ll end here, as I don’t have time for more. There’s very little time left before my execution. Tell everyone about the virtue of the duty fulfilled and tell them that death is preferable to betraying the virtues and the soul of a race.
Nothing more, my dear friend and eternal President. A warm embrace and ‘Gora Euzkadi’ and Viva la República. When history judges us all, they will know that we did the unmentionable to keep the prisoners from getting killed and to preserve the absolute respect for all ideas, regardless of how far they differed from ours.
I embrace you forever,
Alfredo Espinosa. Agur eta Ohore.
We’ll leave you with an example of how the international media have talked about this first public act of Felipe VI. Also, we’ll leave you with some information about the challenged the Spanish Government has placed on the decree by the Basque Government to create grants for the victims of the police, and a link to the “Ganbara” program on Radio Euskadi, where you can hear some of the tales of these victims of the police, which, for the Spanish Interior Minister, were nothing more than “collateral damage”. Apparently, their suffering can’t be compared to that of the victims of the ETA, GRAPO, or the Islamists.
June 2017 Addendum
At the end of May 2017, the Spanish Constitutional Court accepted the challenge the Spanish Government has placed against the “Law to Remember and Compensate the Victims of Violated Civil Rights in the Context of Violence of Political Motivation (1978 and 1999)” which had been passed by the Basque Parliament. This law added to the one approved in 2014, also challenged, “Law to Recognize and Compensate the Victims of Civil Rights Violations in the Context of Violence of Political Motivation (1978 and 1999)”.
It goes without saying that, since we wrote this article four years ago, the King of Spain still has not met with “the other victims”.
Ámbito – 21/7/2014 -Argentina
Felipe VI met with the victims of attacks
Como primer acto oficial, los nuevos reyes de España, Felipe VI y Letizia, consagraron a las “víctimas de la violencia terrorista”, por la organización independentista vasca ETA. En el evento, se reunieron con los representantes de una veintena de asociaciones de víctimas en el madrileño Palacio de Zurbano, ante decenas de periodistas.
El Pais – 17/6/2014 – Spain
El Gobierno vasco pide a Rajoy que retire el recurso contra el decreto de víctimas
El Gobierno vasco ha pedido al presidente Mariano Rajoy que retire el recurso interpuesto contra la reforma del decreto que regula el reconocimiento y la reparación a las víctimas de abusos policiales aprobada el pasado mes de octubre. El Gabinete de Urkullu sostiene que el recurso “victimiza doblemente” a estas personas.
Radio Euskadi – 20/6/2014 – Euskadi
Tales of some victims of the police