This article was translated by John R. Bopp
This isn’t the first time we’ve spoken about books on the presence, and influence, of Basques in Cuba. In 2012, we cited the book El roble y la ceiba. Historia de los vascos en Cuba, and in 2014 we talked about the launch of the book La Asociación Vasco-Navarra de Beneficencia y otras entidades Vasco-Cubanas.
The book we’re looking at, today, however, is written by American professor William A. Douglass, one of the pioneers of Basque studies of the diaspora, who has coordinated the publication of this book that includes speeches given in the 11th Euskal Herria Mugaz Gaindi International Seminar, held in January 2015 in the Cuban capital (an event we talked about back then, too!).
Whenever we think about the Basques in Cuba, the story we wrote about the inauguration of the first jai alai court in Havana in 1901, and how they played the song “Gernikako Arbola”, always comes to mind, alongside the adventures that were had by Basque handball players and their relationships with Hemingway.
This book’s launch was covered by Cuban website Cuba Ahora, in an article penned by Edel Lima Sarmiento, who interviewed professor Douglass, director of the Center for Basque Studies at the University of Nevada, Reno.
As we read the article, we couldn’t help but feel a chill down our spine when we found one of the quotes about Basques by Jorge Luis Borges, which we talked about here, and which show that a great writer need not be a great person, or be smart enough to not talk about what he doesn’t know.
Specifically, the Argentine’s quote, “The Basque people have lived in the margins of history,” is a clear example of his ignorance, or a vile ill will towards the Basques, which made him say drivel that had nothing to do with truth or reality.
The cover of the book is a Cuban seal which shows the “Templete de la Habana,” which is a reproduction of the one in Guernica, right next to the Tree of Guernica, one of the symbols of Basque freedom. In the case of the monument in Cuba, the tree in front of the building is a ceiba tree.
Cuba Ahora – 26/6/2016 – Cuba
Al rescate de la cultura vasca en Cuba
La presencia vasca es innegable en Cuba. Desde el descubrimiento de la isla por Cristóbal Colón en 1492, cuando algunos de los marineros que lo acompañaban eran de esa región del norte de España, hasta nuestros días, en que no son pocos los descendientes de aquellos inmigrantes peninsulares tan particulares que transitan por nuestras calles, la huella de los vascos, pese a no haber sido ellos numéricamente significativos dentro de la emigración española a estas tierras, es apreciable en la historia y la cultura cubanas.