This article was translated by John R. Bopp

The Mexican daily La Vanguardia on Saturday published an extensive and well-researched report by Jesús Peña dedicated to a Basque who, as we said in the title, built a monument to a Scotsman in northern Mexico.

Figure.  In his younger days Feliciano, with his strong character, was already standing out it what he would become: a successful businessman.
Figure.  In his younger days Feliciano, with his strong character, was already standing out it what he would become: a successful businessman.

Feliciano Iribarren Arrese was born in the final years of the 19th century in the Navarrese town of Abaurrea Baja.  At 20, in 1916, he and some of his brothers decided, like so many Basques of the period, to emigrate to the New World searching for fortune and a better life.

They decided to travel to California, where they were shepherds for many years, just like so many Basques who went to the US.  Years later, with some money saved up, they moved to Sabinas, in northern Mexico, where they set up shop in a business that in Mexico seemed especially reserved for Basques from Northern Navarre: a bakery.

A few years later, with even more saved up, they were able to buy ranches to raise sheep.  One of the ranches, the one that belonged to our protagonist, was named after his place of origin: “Pirineos (Pyrenees)

Up to now, this story has been just another one of those thousands who “did the Americas” reasonably successfully.  What makes the case of this Basque so special, though, is that there in northern Mexico, at the beginning of the 1960s, he decided to pay homage to a Scotsman who changed the course of history; a man who is a member of that group that’s done so much and yet to whom we don’t pay enough respect.

Feliciano Iribarren built a sculpture to honor Alexander Fleming, the Scottish scientist who discovered antibiotics and to whom so many millions of people owe their lives and their wellbeing.

We don’t remember much about this extraordinary man.  His discovery has become part of our everyday lives and even become “transparent,” to the point that its misuse might be causing this immense gift from science might have its days numbered.

But it’s harder to forget when we reach kilometer 78+180 on Highway 57.  In this stretch of road between Monclova and Sabinas, right at the point where the Los Pirineos Ranch is, in the municipality of Progreso, there is a monument to Alexander Fleming, which was ordered built by Feliciano Iribarren.  He did understand the magnitude of Fleming’s discovery of penicillin.

We’ll leave you with the article in the Vanguardia, as well as try to “make amends” for an article by Otto Schober published in 2012 in the Zócalo Saltillo which slipped through the cracks.

La Vanguardia – 8/10/2016 – México

El discreto homenaje de un vasco a un escocés

ué raro, pensé cuando alguien me lo platicó. Hacía algún tiempo que había escuchado de ese monumento a la orilla de la carretera 57, en el tramo que va de Monclova a Sabinas, Coahuila, y se me ocurrió que ciertamente las personas acostumbran, desde siempre, a levantarle estatuas a los políticos, a los deportistas, a los poetas, a los toreros, a los hombres ilustres, a los militares que murieron por la patria, ¿pero a los científicos…?
A los científicos no. Qué raro.

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Zócalo Saltullo – 31/12/2012  – México


Cuando uno viaja por la carretera 57 se puede ver en el tramo Monclova a Sabinas un monumento al lado de la carretera en el punto conocido como rancho Los Pirineos, en el municipio de Progreso, donde nace un ramal de terracería rumbo a San José de Aura, kilómetro 78+180, se ubica un monumento a Alexander Flemming, el científico escocés descubridor del mágico antibiótico conocido como penicilina, descubrimiento que abrió las puertas de la era llamada de los antibióticos, que curaron infinidad de enfermedades que se consideraban incurables o muy difíciles de sanar.

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