This article was translated by John R. Bopp
Few Basque institutions have survived and thrived over four centuries. In February of 2018, we wrote an article we love about the history of the Brotherhood of Our Lady of Arantzazu in Lima, which was founded in 1612 by the “children of the Basque nation” who were living in that city.
We’ve spoken about this organization of Basques in the Americas on many occasions (because, over time, the descendants of those Basques have spread out throughout the continent).
Today, we’re doing so again because of this Brotherhood, a new Euzko Etxea has been born, and it’s joining the ranks of those Basques have created all over the world since the end of the 19th century, but given the special characteristics of the “mother institution”, we believe it deserves a few lines in our blog.
This Euzko Etxea’s origins lie in a brotherhood that finds itself among those extraordinary cases that directly connect us to our own history.
They’ve managed to endure despite having been “officially” dissolved by the Peruvian government; despite wars, crises, natural disasters, dispersion, and the erosive effects of time.
It’s hard to explain how these families, this group of Basque-descendants, kept the flame of their forebears alive over the generations. It’s hard, unless we keep in mind their commitment, their will to stay, which have stayed strong to this day, and which allow us to understand how, despite the hardships, the Brotherhood is today alive and active. And not only in Lima, because it has members and activities going on in New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Boston, etc.
Now, this brotherhood, which celebrated its 400th anniversary of activity, is creating a new branch. Like the sacred tree of the Basques, like the Tree of Gernika, a new sapling is being planted to help spread the work of close to a half millennium of life in a way that is more open and appropriate for modern times.
The Brotherhood is a group that has endured, and therefore wishes to continue onwards, always maintaining its essence. Its members are aware that today, now, there is so much work to be done in order to spread word of who the Basques have been and are in the world, and to help broadcast a better image of our nation, our people, and our culture. And they wish to create a tool that will allow them to collaborate in that labor effectively.
How are they doing it? By starting up the Limako Arantzazu Euzko Etxea. It’s a Basque center that will work in Peru and in other places in the Americas and the world. Because, as the Brotherhood understood so long ago, in this day and age, geographic limits should be not an impediment but rather an opportunity.
So again, how? Well, in an extraordinary way. Not that an institution with this much history could do it any other way.
In its founding meeting, when the articles of its statutes were approved, a “foundational declaration” was also approved, which stated the spirit that shall guide this Basque center, and which coincide with the commitments Lehendakari Aguirre asked of all Basques in the world:
- In their country, to be the best of all citizens.
- To be the most dignified representatives of the Basque people.
- To collaborate in the defense of the Cause of the Basque people.
- To defend Freedom, Democracy, and Social Justice in the world
They explain how this is the message Aguirre left in Peru, and this is the commitment many Basque in this country took on at that time. It’s a commitment that they renew when creating this Euzko Etxea, and which they defend as the very foundation of this new organization, even to the point that they consider that the day they renounce any of them, it will have no reason to be.
It’s extraordinary to see how the Brotherhood has been able to turn to its own country’s history so as to explain its own evolution. It all started with Basque Carlism, whose very special characteristics were projected onto Tomás Zumalacárregui, who was so enthusiastically embraced in the 19th century, when many profound problems in his homeland, which they lived through as an institution, coincided. They eagerly received Sabino Arana’s message, which, starting from within Carlism, evolved into the idea of the creation of a nation-state of their own for the Basques, thereby getting back their original freedom for their Homeland. And that’s what they were doing until Aguirre arrived on his “tour of the Americas” in 1942, when, on fertile soil, he “sowed” the message of a Basque nationalism that looked to the future and accepted the need for the Basque to commit both to the freedom of the Basque homeland as well as the defense of the rights of all men.
In its “foundational declaration“, to reflect that path, the transformation the Basques have undergone over the century, from the middle of the 19th to the middle of the 20th, they turn to those three heroes of the Homeland, who definitively redirected the history of our Nation and who, in some way, showed the evolution the members of the Brotherhood had undergone.
The new Basque Center is born steeped in that history and focused on the future, as a new, shiny, modern, open tool, deeply rooted in the history of this Brotherhood which is, after all, a summary of the history of our whole Country. The new center is, as soon as it is registered, going to request incorporation into the Euskoetxeak network run by the Basque Government.
It’s not easy to explain everything this declaration contains in all its depth, so we’re going to share it here, so that all may know.
A similar text to this one was included in an “update” in the original article we wrote in February 2018.