BBC Mundo in Spanish has collaborated with the Mexican edition of Hay Festival, held in Querétaro, via the publication of a series of articles covering different cultural, scientific, or social topics of the day.
Among those, one stands out for its rather different subject matter. It was written by Marcos González Díaz, and it explores the huge, profound mark that the Basques have left, and leave, on the Americas.
Our regular readers will find many of the subjects covered in the article have also appeared on the blog. They’ll also find references to places that we’ve mentioned, or to people who have even collaborated on articles with us, such as historian Óscar Álvarez Gila.
This is, without a doubt, an excellent, and very interesting, overview of Basque contributions, though we did miss any reference to Lope de Aguirre, the first person in the New World colonies to declare independence from the Spanish Empire.
One other piece of information sat poorly with us, when they discuss the causes of emigration. Of course, until the end of the 18th century, most emigration was due to the search for better opportunities. After all, the Basque Country, up until the Industrial Revolution, was a poor country with few resources, where agriculture and ranching could not maintain a large population.
But by the beginning of the 19th century, the scene changes in the Northern Basque Country. The French Revolution finished off the traditional economic and social structures that had maintained a certain balance in the country. That increased the population’s poverty. What’s more, the Northern Basques also found that they had to leave not only for better opportunities, but also to avoid being drafted into an army they did not feel was their own.
Something similar happened at the end of the First Carlist War in the Southern Basque Country. The imposition of the liberal system impoverished the lower classes and small landowners due to seizures and expropriations. In the Basque Country, this measure affected basic communal municipal properties that maintained the rural economic system. Moreover, after the last Carlist War, obligatory military service was imposed on the Southern Basque Country (right at the start of the Cuban and Philippine wars of independence). Lest we forget, this military service affected only families without resources, as those with resrouces were able to pay their way out of said service.
But this really is just nitpicking. The article is amazing and will really help readers better understand the immense, perennial importance that Basque community has had in the New World.
BBC Mundo – 26/8/2022 – Mexico/Great Britain
El legado que los vascos dejaron en América (además de los apellidos)
Amerikara noa ere nere borondatez / hemen baino hobeto izateko ustez… (“Me voy a América por mi propia voluntad / con la esperanza de vivir mejor que aquí”…). Así comienza una popular canción en euskera —el idioma de los vascos— que describe el largo viaje que millones de ellos hicieron para migrar a países de América en diferentes etapas de los últimos cinco siglos en busca de nuevas oportunidades.