This article was translated by John R. Bopp

Today, March 13, 2017, our admired professor Mikel Ezkerro has reminded us that on this day 140 years ago, March 13, 1877, the Basque of Araba, Biscay, Gipuzkoa, and Navarre founded a Basque Center in the Argentine capital that became a role model for the entirety of our diaspora all over the world: the Laurak Bat Basque Center of Buenos Aires.

We asked professor Ezkerro to dedicate a bit of his valuable time to write an article for us telling us the history of this center.  In it, we’re sure, we’ll find the importance of the founding of this center and its value as a support for the cause of the Basque people.

But on this anniversary, we can’t help but copy some of the valuable information he shared with all his Facebook followers.

A deep connoisseur of Basque history in Argentina, he explains:

The sapling of the Tree of Guernica at the Laurak Bat Center of Buenos Aires (courtesy Gorka Berasain)
The sapling of the Tree of Guernica at the Laurak Bat Center of Buenos Aires (courtesy Gorka Berasain)

The main reason for founding the Laurak Bat Center of Buenos Aires, according to the testimony of one of its founders.

In 1927, on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Laurak Bat Basque Center in Buenos Aires, one of its founders, Dr. Daniel Lizarralde, gave a speech, a paragraph of which we reproduce below:

“Given the difficult situation the Basque Country was going through, and facing the imminent danger in which its institutions, which since time immemorial had been making the Basque happy, found themselves, we needed to leave behind the old party quarrels, and closely join together all us Basques who from these distant shores looked on in apprehension and interest at what was happening in our idolized country, despite not hiding the fact that our passive support from here would undoubtedly not influence the result that destiny held for them, and even so they believed that they would make our brethren happy, that beyond the seas, they would defend, with all righteousness and dignity, the rights that together with our homeland our glorious ancestors had bequeathed to us, in the idea that the noble children of that privileged land have not devalued any part of the nobility of their sentiments and that they were as Basque here as there; we did not abandon them on that painful via crucis that they found themselves in.”

The testimony of Founding Member Dr. Daniel Lizarralde

The Laurak Bat Basque Center of Buenos Aires was founded on March 13, 1877, a date specifically chosen by the founders as the first anniversary of the Proclamation of Somorrostro, given by Spanish king Alfonso XII, aimed at the Spanish army doing military operations in the Basque territory (the appropriately self-titled “Occupation Army” – Editor), which states:

“…Soldiers, in your heroism, the Constitutional Unity of Spain is founded…”

And that is a commitment to the Fatherland that has been unbreakable these past 140 years.  “Dana emon biar yako matte dan azkatasunari” (You have to give everything for such beloved freedom)

The ikurriña, the main symbol of the Basques
The ikurriña, the main symbol of the Basques

 

And this is seen in the presence of the President of the Laurak Bat Society, Jose M. de Larrea, in Sukarrieta on July 14, 1907.  He went there as a representative of this Center to a large crowd that was celebrating, at the tomb of Sabino Arana y Goiri, on the anniversary of the first raising of the ikurriña, on July 14, 1894, on the balcony of the Euskaldun Batzokija Association’s building.  As we discussed in this blog entry, he came as the leader of the Managing Committee of this Argentine Basque center “to place a crown on the tomb of our master”.

This and many other Basque centers around the world show just how important they were in helping the Basques who fled Fascism, and supported those who stayed behind in their resistance to the dictator.

Entrance of the Laurak Bat Basque Center (Gorka Berasain)
Entrance of the Laurak Bat Basque Center (Gorka Berasain)

Entrada del Centro Vasco Laurak Bat (foto Gorka Berasain)

We are definitely commemorating the 140th anniversary of a major Basque Center.  But we’re also commemorating things that are even more important:

  • The ability of a stateless nation to hold out
  • The ability of a people to preserve their spirit in the most difficult of circumstances
  • The commitment of the Basques to continue exiting, and to their extraordinary and efficient ability to hold out and disappear.

That’s why March 13 is an important day.

  • It’s the day we remember the King of Spain rallying the troop that made up the Occupation Army, reminding them that thanks to their weapons, the elimination of the freedoms of the Basques south of the Pyrenees was complete.  It was a process that had begun with the Constitution of Cadiz in 1812.
  • But it’s also the day we remember how, despite everything, the Basques were able to face the situation by organizing and joining forces, as the creation of this Basque Center shows.

Zorionak, eta eskerrik asko, Laurak Bat

So, on a day like today, we can’t help but remember our desire:

Health and a Basque Republic

 Mendigoxaliarena- Lauaxeta

Mendigoxaliarena**

Mendigoxaliarena*

Mendi eze, ikurrin eder,
azke nai zattut axian.
Amar gasteren lerdena
makilla luzez bidian!
The humid mountain, beautiful ikurriña,
I want you as free as the wind.
The song of ten young people
their walking sticks raised in the sky.
Mendi-bitxidor berdiok,
arin or duaz kantari:
«Dana emon biar yako
matte dan azkatasunari».
Beautiful green mountains,
there they go so agile, singing:
“You have to give everything
for such beloved freedom”.
Eta ixil dago arratsa
Euzkadi’ko lur-ganian.
Amar gasteren lerdena
makilla luzez bidian!
And the afternoon is in the silence
over the land of the Basques.
¡The song of ten young people
with their walking sticks on the path!
Gastedi orren didarra
bai-dala didar zolija!
Aberri baten samiñez
urduri dabil errija.
The cry of this youth
is really one of pain!
For the pain of a homeland
the people are nervous.
Azkatasun-goxalderuntz
sugarra dira basuak.
Sugarra basuak eta
zidar argija itxasuak.
For the sweetness of freedom
in flames in the mountains.
The mountains are in flames
and the silver sea shines.
Or duan ozte-aldrea
aberri-minez kantari:
«Dana emon biar yako
matte dan azkatasunari».
There go the ozte-aldrea
singing for the pain of a homeland:
“You have to give everything
for such beloved freedom”.
Gaste orreik goruntz duaz
abesti eta ikurriñez.
Lañuan baño tiro otsak:
bedartza dager odolez.
Those young people are climbing
singing and with the ikurriña.
But the sound of shots in the fog:
The grass is stained red.
Ikaraz duaz usuak,
mendija dago ixillean,
Amar gasteren lerdena
bixitza-barik lurrean!
The doves fly off, scared,
The mountain is silent.
¡The song of ten young peple
lifeless on the ground!
Eta illuntziko bakian
norbattek darrai kantari:
«Dana emon biar yako
matte dan azkatasunari».
And in the peace of the dusk
someone is still singing:
“You have to give everything
for such beloved freedom”!

*English translation from  John R. Bopp

 

 

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