This article was translated by John R. Bopp
On March 22, 1960, at the headquarters of the Basque Government in Exile in Paris, the first Lehendakari, and not just on the list of Basque Presidents, passed away. Jose Antonio Aguirre, who had been born on March 6, 1904, had just turned 56. His remains were buried in Basque soil after a funeral that the website Basque Kulture (which we’re citing here) defined thus: “Ses obsèques, impressionnantes, eurent lieu le 28 mars après une messe en l’église paroissiale de Saint-Jean-de-Luz.” (His funeral, impressive, took place on March 28 after a mass in the parish church of Saint-Jean-de-Luz.)
A few months prior, an event had occurred that confirmed the abandonment by Western democracies of the cause of Democracy and Freedom in the Spanish Republic and the Lower Basque Country. It was a gesture with deep political meaning: when Eisenhower and Franco embraced on December 23, 1959 during the US president’s official visit to the Spanish dictatorship, sponsoring his régime before the whole Western world.
Lehendakari Aguirre had always trusted that countries with long, deep democratic traditions, like Great Britain, France, and the US would remain strong in defending the principles they’d always said they did. The reality is that Republican and Democratic Basques, whom the Lehendakari defended, were pawns, while Franco became an ally in the fight against “Marxism”. That’s Realpolitik. And that betrayal and abandonment, we’re sure, played a part in causing his heart to stop.
Aguirre was an extraordinary leather who made up part of a generation of extraordinary Basques—extraordinary for their defense of the Cause of the Basque People; extraordinary for their commitment to Freedom and Democracy; extraordinary for the commitment to Social Justice…
Aguirre, primus inter pares of all those heroes and martyrs, has left us a human, ideological, and moral legacy of incalculable value, which we collect and concentrate in an idea of a modern, progressive, and democractic Basque Country that is committed to the cause of defending Freedom and Social Justice.
His is a legacy that all us Basques should know and value.
Basque Kulture – 21/3/2019 – Euskadi
Le premier lehendakari José Antonio Aguirre ou la modernité d’Euzkadi
L’anniversaire de la disparition en exil, le 22 mars 1960, de José Antonio Aguirre, premier lehendakari ou président du gouvernement d’Euskadi pendant la guerre d’Espagne, donnera lieu à la célébration d’une messe anniversaire en sa mémoire ce dimanche 24 mars à 11 heures à la chapelle Notre-Dame-de-la-Paix au quartier du Lac à Saint-Jean-de-Luz.
Website telling the life and work of Lehendakari Aguirre