Basque nationalism

Basque nationalism

Basque nationalism is a movement with roots in the Carlism and the loss, by the laws of 1839 and 1876, of the Ancien Régime relationship between the Basque provinces and the crown of Spain. The Spanish government revoked part of the "fueros" after the Third Carlist War. The fueros were charters granted by the successive kings of Castile and acted as part of the Basque legal system dealing with matters regarding the political ties of the Basque Provinces with the crown. The Fueros gave Basque subjects a privileged position in Spain with special tax and political status; basically, Basques were not subject to direct levee to the Castilian army, although many volunteered, especially in the Spanish navy, which was led, among others, by Basque sailors like Juan Sebastián Elcano.

During the 19th century, the reactionary "Fuerista" movement pleaded for the maintenance of the fueros system and territorial autonomy against the centralizing pressures from liberal governments in Madrid. The concept of Basque Nationalism was born from that disputes and the influence from the Romantic European view of nationalism in the nineteenth century.

The chief ideologist of early Basque nationalism was Sabino Arana, founder of the Basque Nationalist Party (PNV in its Spanish acronym). By the end of the 19th century Arana, coming from a Carlist background, created an ideology centered on the purity of the Basque race and its so-called moral supremacy over other Spaniards (a derivation of the system of "limpieza de sangre" of Modern-Age Spain), anti-Liberal Catholic integrism, and deep opposition to the migration of other Spaniards to the Basque Country which had started at the first stages of the industrial revolution.

In the early 20th century, Basque nationalism developed from a nucleus of petty bourgeois enthusiasts (non-native Basque speakers themselves) in Bilbao to incorporate the peasant basis of Carlism in Biscay and Guipuscoa. The movement survived without any problems the dictatorship of Miguel Primo de Rivera under the guise of cultural and athletic associations.

Basque nationalism managed to substitute Carlism in the favour of the Catholic church as a barrier against leftist anti-clericalism in most of the Basque provinces.

Several splits and reunifications were caused by clashes over different desires inside the early nationalism for the status of the Basque Country (autonomy versus independence). Soon also leftist approaches to nationalism were born, but the majority of the Basque working class (many of them immigrants) support was divided among the communist and socialist movements. The ELA-STV, a nationalist Catholic trade union, tried to bring nationalist ideas to the workers, but its influence was minor until the end of the twentieth century with Spanish transition to democracy.

In 1936, the main part of the Christian democrat PNV sided with the Second Spanish Republic in the Spanish Civil War. The promise of autonomy was valued over the ideological differences, especially on the religious matter, and PNV decided to support the republican legal government, including member of the Popular Front. Autonomy was granted in October 1936. A republican autonomous Basque government was created, with José Antonio Agirre (PNV) as Lehendakari (president) and ministers from the PNV and other republican parties (mainly leftist Spanish parties).

However, in 1937, roughly halfway through the war, Basque troops, then under control of the Autonomous Basque Government surrendered in an action brokered by the Basque church and the VaticanFact|date=February 2007 in Santoña to the Italian allies of General Franco on condition that the Basque heavy industry and economy was left untouched.

Thus began one of the most culturally difficult periods of Basque history in Spain, due to immigration of non-Basque from other parts of Spain to serve a fast-paced industrialising economy which followed, thriving chiefly during the 1960s. This immigration was enhanced by the protectionist measures of the Franco regime, requiring more workers from elsewhere to fill the gap in the labour force. Simultaneously, the public expression of Basque language was prohibited, only roughly tolerated at some folkloric or clerical activities; this was especially true in Navarre and Álava, areas which sided with Franco's uprising.

For many leftists in Spain the surrender of Basque troops in Santoña (Santander) is known as the "Treason of Santoña". Many of the nationalist Basque soldiers were pardoned if they joined the Francoist army in the rest of the Northern front. Basque nationalists submitted, went underground, or were sent to prison, and the movement's political leaders fled. Small groups escaped to the Americas, France and the Benelux, of which only a minority returned after the restoration of democracy in Spain in the late seventies, or before.

During World War 2 the exiled PNV government attempted to join the Allies and settled itself in New York to gain American recognition and support, but soon after the war finished, Franco became an American ally in the context of the Cold War, depriving the PNV any chance for power in the Basque country.

ETA, the only terrorist organization lasting in Spain, was created in the 50s by young nationalists. During the 60s, Marxists took over the organization. They turned it into a revolutionary organization inspired by movements like those of Castro in Cuba or Ho Chi Minh in Vietnam. Their goal was to establish a independent socialist Basque country through violence and extorsion.

Ever since Spain regained democracy in 1978, autonomy was restored for the Basques, achieving self-government without precedent in modern Basque history. Thus, based on the "fueros" and their Statute of Autonomy, Basques have their own police corps and manage their own public finances with virtually no intervention from the central government of Spain. The Basque Autonomous Community has been led by the nationalist Christian democratic PNV since it was reinstated in the early 1980s. In Navarre, Basque nationalism has failed to gain control of the Autonomous Community's government, but several Basque nationalist parties run races in certain municipalities.

Unlike Spain, France is a centralized State, but a Basque nationalist party has a presence in some municipalities through local elections.

Basque nationalist organizations

*Acción Nacionalista Vasca, leftist political party
*Aralar, leftist political party
*Askatasuna, support for ETA prisoners.
*Batasuna, leftist political party, illegal in the southern Basque Country because of relations with the terrorist organization ETA
*Comunión Nacionalista Vasca, former political party
*ELA-STV, trade union
*ETA, terrorist organization operating mainly in the southern Basque Country
*Etxerat, support for Basque political prisoners
*Euskadiko Ezkerra, former leftist political party
*Euskal Ezkerra, a splinter of Euskadiko Ezkerra.
*Eusko Alkartasuna, Social-Democratic political party
*ESAIT, support for the Basque National teams in different sports
*Gazte Abertzaleak, the youth group of the Spanish Basque political party Eusko Alkartasuna, left of the PNV but not aligned with ETA or Batasuna
*Gestoras pro-Amnistía, support for ETA prisoners.
*Herria 2000 Eliza, Catholic movement
*Ikasle Abertzaleak, Group of Basque nationalist students
*Iparretarrak, violently clandestine organization operating in the French part of the Basque Country
*Jagi-Jagi, former magazine
*LAB, leftist trade union
*Nafarroa Bai, Navarrese political party (coalition between some Basque nationalist political parties)
*Partido Nacionalista Vasco, Christian-Democrat political party
*Senideak, relatives of ETA prisoners.
*Segi, Batasuna's youth group
*Udalbiltza, assembly of city councillors
*Zutik, leftist party


* [ Brief review on Basque nationalism by Le Monde Diplomatique ]

See also

* Politics of France
* Politics of Spain
* Sabino Arana
* Carlism
* José Antonio Aguirre
* Ikurriña
* Eusko Abendaren Ereserkia

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