This article was translated by John R. Bopp
We’ve said that our blog oftentimes serves as a way to discover new things, and learn much more about our nation and its peoples. Today, we present another case like that.
Yesterday, we shared an article we wrote back in 2014 on our Facebook page, in which we talked about a peak in the Andes, near Santiago de Chile, called Euzkadi.
A Basque from Chile, Alejandro Echeverría, has shared some parts of this story with us that we weren’t aware of, telling us new stories of our compatriots on the other side of the Atlantic.
The story can be found on a website we never tire of recommending, as it is an inexhaustible source of quality knowledge about everything Basque in the Basque Country and the world: Euskonews, brought to us by Eusko Ikaskuntza.
An article by Palmira Oyarguren was published on this site, and this article focuses on one of the protagonists of this story. Ms. Oyarguren, a Chilean Basque, has worked extensively in researching and sharing the Basque heritage in Chile.
The protagonist we’re referring to is Agapito Palacios Barbi. His family was originally from the Alavan Rioja region, and he grew up in San Sebastian, where he learned to be a tailor. In 1938, he emigrated to Chile, where be worked as a tailor on La Moneda Street, where he was well received (even working for President Allende). He also worked in the food industry, with notable success, as he opened several establishments that ended up hiring 60 people.
From his youth in San Sebastian, Agapito was a lover of the mountain. When he got to Santiago de Chile, with the Andes “right outside his front door”, this very Basque love for the mountain was nurtured to the point of his becoming a renowned mountain climber, even being elected the mountain rescue chief for 25 years.
At the age of 60, this Basque-Chilean climbed Aconcagua (22,831ft/6,959m), and in 1981, the Chilean Mountain Climbing Federation named him “Best Athlete”. Years before, in 1970, the Sports Journalists’ Group (CPD: Círculo de Periodistas Deportivos) had awarded him the “Best Mountain Climber of the Year”.
In 1951, a group of Basque mountaineers that Agapito was a part of decided to pay homage to their homeland and to Lehendakari Aguirre in an original way that would fit right in with their passion: give the name “Euzkadi” to an Andean peak. The rest is history, which you’ll find in the articles we reference in our blog, and which can be found at Eusko News.
We can’t help mentioning an article that appeared in La Rioja, a newspaper out of Logroño, where a relative in an obituary published three years after his death (Agapito Palacios died in 2005, and the article in the Logroño newspaper is from 2008) that remembered the life of this Basque, while forgetting that he was Basque, making it seem like he had lived in Chile his whole life.
It seems as though there is a will from certain sectors in this Autonomous Community to take over the name “La Rioja”, as if it were their exclusive property; and now, not only do they want to take over the name and the town, but the people and their lives, and everything that doesn’t line up with their views is eliminated. Moreover, this man’s memory is insulted, as he was very clear about what he felt he belonged to.
And he was very clear, as Ms. Oyarguren tells us:
“now older, he won several medals in the 10k, 5k, 1.5k, and 800m. He won these awards in Chile, in countless marathons, and abroad – Russia, South Africa, England, Finland, et al. – In each of these opportunities, Palacios, while indeed running for Chile, always wore the Euzkadi shirt.”
Eusko News – 5/12/2003 – Euskadi
Monte Euzkadi: En el fin del mundo…
Hace más de 40 años que existe en Chile un monte con el nombre de Euzkadi.
En medio de la cordillera que encierra a la capital se cierne este gran hito con más de 3.600 metros de altura. Su historia la relata, a continuación, uno de los andinistas que una vez, con más corazón que alma, escaló su inmaculada cumbre.
La Rioja – 19/1/2008 – España
Un sastre riojano en Chile
Animado por lazos familiares, hace 70 años don Agapito Palacios Barbi emigró a Santiago de Chile, iniciando sus actividades en su campo habitual, la sastrería, en la céntrica calle de La Moneda con excelente acogida femenina y masculina, destacando entre sus clientes el presidente Allende.