In his memory, we again with all our readers that which he dreamed of: Health and a Basque Republic
For several years now, on every June 25, we’ve remembered the murder of Estepan Urkiaga Basaraz, also known as “Lauaxeta”. This Basque patriot, writer, journalist, and gudari commander was shot dead by the same insurgents who, years later, would decide that, when dictator Francisco Franco died, he would be followed as Head of State by the Bourbons.
In 2014, we wrote an article in which we recalled how in this country, our country, there are many victims who have still not had any Justice or Reparations, and many times not even known the Truth that seems to be the most fundamental of the compensations to be paid to the victims of such terrible crimes.
We’ve re-run it year after year, updating it as events unfold which offend the memory of the martyrs who fell defending Freedom and Democracy from the Francoist insurgents from the start of the military coup right up to even after Franco’s death.
Today, June 24, 2020, we can’t simply “rerun” the article. We have to rewrite it, because the shame that we are living through has grown so great as to be come a stain determined to cover it all up.
When we write this new article, we recall, as we have for years, Alfredo Espinosa, the Minister of Health for the Basque Government for the Republican Union. We include this because it’s a debt we ow. Lauaxeta and Espinosa represent two ways of imagining Euzkadi. Two men with two different ideologies, of two different sensibilities, who became brothers forever because of their defense of Democracy and Freedom, their commitment to the Basque People, and their loyalty to the Government of Euzkadi. We’ve always said over these past ten years that we’ve had the fortune to learn so much, and one of the things we’ve learned is that you can’t remember one without remembering the other.
In 2014, we highlighted the significant time coincidences of the date of commemorating those murders and the decision the newly-anointed Felipe VI to choose, as his first act as the monarch of the Spaniards, a meeting with the (majority) associations of the victims of terrorism.
Lauxeta, and Espinosa, just like, for example, Fortunato Aguirre and Luis Álava, were murdered by the insurgent troops. Just like thousands of Basques, and many, many thousands of Spaniards. They all have one thing in common: being Democrats who defended Legality and Liberty.
Both those who were all shot, just like all those who were persecuted, jailed, exiled, or who suffered repression, expropriations, and reprisals at the hands of those responsible for the coup and their heirs throughout the dictatorship, have all seen how their suffering was forgotten, if not celebrated, permanently and maliciously. It is obvious that the fascist régime that killed or persecuted them never recognized them as victims. But the restoration of the monarchy and the starting-up of the democratic superstructure has not served to get their sacrifice or suffering recognized, either.
On the other hand, the victims of the para-police or actual police have had to jump through terrible hoops to even get their status as victims even partially recognized. It’s a road that has been filled with obstacles by the State, and especially the police and judicial systems. After all, there has never been a clear continuity solution in many areas of the structures of the State between the dictatorship and the democracy, and it’s easy to tell.
In that article, we highlighted how it was quite significant to see who the international media spoke of the first institutional act of the newly-crowned Felipe VI and its coincidence with the commemoration of the terrible murders of Espinosa and Lauaxeta, and the appeal the Government of Spain made against the Basque Government’s decree to get the victims of the police recognized.
At the time, we didn’t believe that Felipe VI would meet with the survivors of these injustices, or their families. We believe it would be hard to meet with the heirs of those who were killed and buried in mass graves in unknown locations, or with those who, for decades, have seen their rights, their lives, and their physical integrity violated by security forces that served a dictatorship and not citizens. We were right.
In Spain, the structures that have endured since the coup d’état refuse to recognize any other victims than their own, that it to say, they refuse to admit any other victims than those they consider their own. Because the victims are are the victims of all those who defended Freedom and Justice. But the are all victims.
The Spaniards and the Basques south of the Pyrenees still live in a State that distinguishes, at least de facto, the winners and the losers. Their own victims first, as the Minister of the Interior of Spain at that time, under the government of the People’s Party, so shamelessly claimed were “collateral damage”. It’s quite clear that for some, there are first- and second-class victims. A policeman who was a torturer and Gestapo collaborator and later killed by the ETA is even more a victim than a father who was beaten to death by some plainclothes policemen who were taking revenge for his having reported them for their physical abuse (to be found in the Ganbara recording below, starting at 7:50).
In 2017, we went further on that article, reporting how in May of that year, the Constitutional Court of Spain accepted the appeal of the Government of Spain against the “Law of Recognition and Reparation of the Victims of Human Rights Violations in the Context of Politically Motivated Violence between 1978 and 1999” that had been passed by the Basque Parliament. That law complemented another which had been passed in 2014, and also appealed, called “Decee of Recognition and Reparation of the Victims of Human Rights Violations in the Context of Politically Motivated Violence between 1960 and 1978”.
Today, in 2020, we have to rewrite it after discovering documents from the CIA which point to the President of the Government of Spain, Socialist Felipe González, was Señor X, responsible for starting up the GAL.
And we have to rewrite it because the Spanish Parliamentary Chairs have refused to create an investigative committee about the documentation found in those CIA documents and their claims about the link between ex-Spanish Prime Minister Felipe González and the creation and operation of paramilitary commandos financed by the State to torture, kidnap, and kill members of the armed organization ETA.
In order to reject it, the votes of the far-right Vox Party, the People’s Party (founded by an ex-Franco minister), and the Spanish Socialist Worker’s Party (PSOE, currently in power) were needed. United We Can, part of the government coalition with the PSOE, ended up voting for the Committee, despite its spokesperson earlier announcing that such a committee was unnecessary. This change in stance seems due to the wave of incredulity that this posture had created among that party’s voters.
We also saw this week how, for the fourth time, the Basque Nationalist Party presented a bill in Parliament to reform the Official Secrets law. This law was passed in 1968, at the height of the dictatorship, and it allows the Government to arbitrarily decide whether or not to disclose official documents, which can remain indefinitely hidden under the current law. Finally, the debate about this law has been opened. But time will tell how and when this journey that’s just begun will end. Maybe if there were legislation about this in Spain like there is in other democratic countries around us, we wouldn’t have to depend on declassified CIA documents to understand fundamental aspects of the history that we’ve lived through, that we’ve had to live through.
That’s why, during this long week when we have yet again seen what to expect from the current Spanish political system, we can’t help but remember the words found in the last will and testament of Estepan Urkiaga Basaraz:
Muero por nacionalista vasco, porque amo con pasión a este desgraciado pueblo. Espero en la bondad de Dios que algún día se logrará lo que este pobre hijo ansió ver en sus días. Vascos, carne de mi carne, sangre de mi sangre; Euzkadi tiene que ser eterna; pero nosotros para ella y la patria para Dios. ¡Cristo, tened piedad de mí!”
I’m dying because I’m a Basque nationalist, because I passionately love this unfortunately people. I hope by the grace of God that someday it will achieve what this poor son so desired to see in his time. Basques, flesh of my flesh, blood of my blood; Euzkadi must be eternal; but we for her and the motherland for God. Christ, have mercy on me!
One more year, we remember him for the Basque, patriot, author, journalist, and gudari commander he was. But we remember him most as a Good Man who was committed to the cause of Freedom.
Lauxeta. Agur eta Ohore.
As we stated at the beginning, one day before Lauaxeta’s murder, Alfredo Espinosa, Minister of Health for the Basque Government for the Republican Union, was killed by the insurgents. His farewell letter to Lehendakari Aguirre ended as follows:
“Termino, pues no tengo tiempo para más. Falta muy poco tiempo para la ejecución. Háblales a todos de la virtud del deber cumplido y diles que es preferible la muerte a traicionar las virtudes y el alma de una raza.
Nada más querido amigo y siempre Presidente. Un abrazo muy fuerte y Gora Euzkadi y Viva la República. Cuando la historia nos juzgue a todos sabrán que nosotros hicimos lo indecible por evitar la muerte a los presos y conservar el respeto absoluto a toda idea por opuesta que fuere a la nuestra.
Te abraza hasta siempre.
I come to a close, as I have no time for more. There is very little time until the execution. Tell them all of the virtue of duty fulfilled and tell them it is preferable to die than to betray the virtues and the soul of a race.
With nothing more, dear friend and President forever. A warm embrace and Gora Euzkadi and Long Live the Republic. When history judges us, all will know that we did the unspeakable to keep prisoners from dying and to preserve the absolute respect to all ideas, regardless of how much against ours they were.
I embrace you forever,
Alfredo Espinosa. Agur eta Ohore.
We’re sharing the report from the Mexican daily La Jornada about the refusal to create an Investigative Committee, and the CIA documents that seem to point out Felipe González as the man in charge of creating the GAL.
Jornada – 24/6/2020 – Mexico
Descarta el Congreso de los Diputados investigar a Felipe González
Madrid. La supuesta vinculación del ex presidente del gobierno español Felipe González a la creación y operación de los comandos paramilitares financiados por el Estado para la tortura, secuestro y ejecución de militantes de la organización armada ETA no será investigada en el Congreso de los Diputados.
We’ll leave you with an example of how the international media have told this first public event held by Felipe VI. Plus, we’ll leave you with a report about the Spanish Government’s appeal to the Basque Government decree to create grants for the victims of the police, and the link to the Radio Euskadi program “Ganbara”, where you can hear some of the tales of those victims of the police that the Spanish Interior Minister considers “collateral damage”, and it seems their suffering cannot be compared to that of the victims of the ETA, GRAPO, or Muslim terrorists.
Ámbito – 21/7/2014 -Argentina
Felipe VI se reunió con víctimas de atentados
Como primer acto oficial, los nuevos reyes de España, Felipe VI y Letizia, consagraron a las “víctimas de la violencia terrorista”, por la organización independentista vasca ETA. En el evento, se reunieron con los representantes de una veintena de asociaciones de víctimas en el madrileño Palacio de Zurbano, ante decenas de periodistas.
El Pais – 17/6/2014 – España
El Gobierno vasco pide a Rajoy que retire el recurso contra el decreto de víctimas
El Gobierno vasco ha pedido al presidente Mariano Rajoy que retire el recurso interpuesto contra la reforma del decreto que regula el reconocimiento y la reparación a las víctimas de abusos policiales aprobada el pasado mes de octubre. El Gabinete de Urkullu sostiene que el recurso “victimiza doblemente” a estas personas.
Radio Euskadi – 20/6/2014 – Euskadi
Relatos de algunas víctimas policiales