A Draft Liberation Policy for the Basque People
THE REALITY OF THE BASQUE PEOPLE
The Basque people have inhabited and inhabit a region called Basque Country, between the countries of France and Spain in southwestern Europe.
Basque Country originally encompassed more territory than it does at present. Invasions throughout history, and more recently the occupation and oppression by France and Spain, have led to a reduction of its territory.
The Basque people are, and have always been, people of great heart, integrity, intelligence, and solidarity. They have a profound sense of community; a strong connection to the earth; a unique, rich culture; and a language that is tens of thousands of years old. All this is accompanied by a finely tuned sense of justice and determination.
The Basque people have contributed to the world in many interesting ways. They have sought to live in harmony and equality with other human beings. They desire to live on a just, plentiful, clean, and peaceful planet and have worked toward that goal from their place on the planet.
NATIVE BASQUE PEOPLE
The native inhabitants have occupied Basque Country for more than thirty thousand years. They, along with their descendants, are the original people of this land. They have possessed an ancient system of ancestral beliefs that highlight the deep, ancestral connection between people, the land, all living beings, and the universe. Expression of their beliefs can be found in their culture today. They have mostly lived off the land and its resources, while also finding their way into the modern world. They continue to work the land, to take care of it and its beings.
NON-NATIVE BASQUE PEOPLE
Throughout history many people with outside roots have settled in Basque Country and worked side by side with native Basque people. Some of them have come to fully respect and love the land and its people and culture, and consider themselves to be Basque. The Basque nativepeople welcome them, are proud of their decision to be Basque, and are thankful for their important support of the Basque people’s life and liberation.
Some Basque people combine both of the above ancestries. Basque native people invite them to adopt both identities and to feel proud of themselves in those identities.
THE OPPRESSION OF BASQUE COUNTRY
Spain and France now occupy Basque Country. They claim it as part of their own countries: France the northern part, and Spain the southern part. They see the Basque people as only Spanish or French. They also impose their culture over the Basque culture.
Their main objective is economic exploitation, accompanied by the annihilation of Basque identity and/or the disappearance of the Basque ethnic group. From one side, their strategy of occupation and assimilation has been the denial of Basque culture; on the other, it has been the punishment, persecution, and sometimes extermination of those seeking to defend it.
One of the effects of the oppression is the internal division among Basque people, both native Basques and those not native. Many Basque people have chosen not to identify with Basque culture. They have given up their Basque identity and adopted other identities—French in northern Basque Country, Spanish in southern Basque Country, and European. Others have adopted more than one identity—Basque-French or Basque-Spanish—which has allowed them to survive without suffering so much repression. Some of these people (mainly owning-class, some middle-class) have collaborated, because of their economic interests, with the oppressive policies.
A solid and broad group of Basque native people have never lost or denied their unique identity and continue to face severe problems for not taking on* the oppressive identities. They have been a major force for Basque liberation and the main target of repression. They have strong, committed allies among the Basque non-native people, who have also been directly targeted by the oppression.
There has been a long and hard fight for Basque liberation among social collectives in Basque country, an effort similar to the powerful women’s, anti-militarist, environmental, and youth movements.
Internal divisions, ongoing violence, and a tendency to abuse alcohol, negatively affect Basque people’s relationships. A sense of being troublemakers can haunt the minds of those who have not surrendered to the oppressive system. Broad sectors of the population in oppressor countries perceive the Basque people in this way.
Many people worldwide have shown sympathy with Basque liberation. In recent decades a large number of people from the Spanish state, the French state, and other countries have come to and stayed in Basque Country. Some of them have learned to respect and love the land and its people and their culture. We Basque people welcome them. We extend our hand and welcome them to be Basque along with us, if they so choose.
BASQUE PEOPLE IN THE WORLD
Finally, there is a broad and diverse group of native and other Basque people, along with their descendants, who have had to leave their country and have brought the Basque culture to the places where they’ve gone. To this day they retain their identity as Basque native, or simply Basque. We who live in Basque Country feel proud of them.
It is our goal to recover from all the damage done to our people and our beloved country, and to help each other achieve full re-emergence, and re-emergence for all the people who inhabit this beautiful planet.
Translated from Basque by Xabi Odriozola
* Taking on means adopting.