We just came across an article in the Argentine daily La Nación about an Alava-born missionary, Juan Ramón Etxebarria, has been working hard in Ecuador, where he is a missionary, to open the first museum dedicated to the Montubia culture, a regional identity that arose in modern-day Ecuador during the colonial period at the height of the cocoa exploitation period and that was a mix of Africans, colonists, and indigenous people.
This people made up a very small part of Ecuador’s population, about 10%. Nowadays, they are about a million people, more than 40,000 families that are spread out across 1,200 Montubip communities along the coast, mainly in the provinces of Manabí and Los Ríos. And it is in these provinces where the Basque missionary works, and wants to help preserve the roots of this community.
This individual identity has been disappearing in official institutions and in the population itself, because it is closely linked to hicks. The situation was so bad that in the 1980s, the culture almost completely disappeared, without a trace.
Basque missionary Juan Ramón Etxebarria arrived at the end of the ’70s to that area, where the Basque diocesian missions have been located for seven decades. Once there, he started collaborating in the process of recovering the roots of the Montubio people, giving them a “strong and determined push.”
He undoubtedly saw great similarities between what was happening in that culture and what had been happening for a long time to the culture of his homeland, the Basque culture. He surely understood quite clearly that there is no such thing as “first” or “second-degree” languages or cultures, and that each culture is a treasure that should be protected and preserved, to survive and thrive.
This museum and cultural center is located on 12 ha (30 acres) in the town of San Isidro, in the province of Manabí, next to the Cangrejo River. Its goal is to become a cultural and anthropological space to share and study this culture, open to locals and visitors. The Diocese of Vitoria via the Office of the Missions, is economically supporting this project to help get it underway throughout 2022, and to strengthen this 17th-century culture, with the help of the missionary Etxebarria.
We’ve spoken a great deal about Basque missionaries in the Americas, and in other parts of the world. We’ve paid special attention to the Basque Passionists who have been working the Peruvian Amazon for over 100 years, “near” the Basque diocese mission of Los Ríos, in Ecuador. And as we always say, they are an example and a reflection of the best virtues that we Basques are so proud of: solidarity, empathy, commitment to the weakest, and a will to transform unjust realities. This can be seen in the interview we’re including with this entry.
In addition to the Argentine news article, we’ll also leave you with a link to Juan Ramón Etxebarria’s blog, and an interview Ecuador’s RVT Satelital 91.5 FM had with him, and the Basque diocese missions’ website.
La Nación – 11/10/2021 – Argentina
Un misionero vasco impulsa en Ecuador un museo de la cultura montubia, que empezó a surgir tras la conquista de América
El sacerdote y misionero alavés Juan Ramón Etxebarria ha impulsado en Ecuador, donde lleva más de cuatro décadas, el primer museo de la cultura montubia, una identidad regional que empezó a surgir tras la llegada de los españoles a América.
Nacido en 1950 en Urbina y pastoralmente crecido en Kuartango, Etxebarria ingresó como seminarista en 1971. Fue ordenado sacerdote en 1976 y un año después dio forma a su vocación de misionero trasladándose a Ecuador para trabajar en favor de las personas más empobrecidas.
El blog de Juarra Etxebarria