Basque Info 2/12/08
-First national public interview with Arnaldo Otegi.
The former spokesperson of the pro-independence movement, Arnaldo Otegi, was imprisoned by the Spanish state just weeks after the 2007 negotiation process collapsed. He was released in August of this year. For the last three months he’s been holding different meetings with a wide range of people to be able to draw an analysis of the political situation.
Last Sunday in an interview in the pro-independence daily Gara, he said that he has come to the conclusion that there is a feeling of political stalemate, especially with the ongoing terrible repressive situation. He has found frustration and scepticism also, but at the same time he has seen that many sectors are looking to the political nationalist left because they believe that this movement is the only one who can move the political scenario forward. These sectors hope the pro-independence movement will be able to take the initiative again and build an attractive broad movement for them to join.
According to Otegi, despite having made some mistakes from which they can learn, it’s now very clear that the Spanish state has failed with its last 30 years strategy to assimilate the Basque Country and to destroy the pro-independence movement.
There is also a majority of people, political majority and trade unionist majority which could create a new alternative. Otegi believes it is the work of the pro-independence movement to articulate that majority and to build an effective strategy to reach a democratic situation in the Basque Country and to continue working after towards independence and socialism.
-Largest Basque trade union celebrates national congress.
Hundreds of delegates attended last weekend the 12th national congress of largest Basque trade union ELA. Different motions were passed and among them one denouncing torture and the situation Basque political prisoners suffer in jail. ELA, who has the 35% of the votes in workers elections, reaffirmed its position in favour of the building of a broad pro-self determination movement in the Basque Country.
-Successful night in favour of the Basque Country in Belfast.
Over 120 people attended last Saturday’s ‘Songs of Struggle’ Night in Belfast organised by the local branch of the Irish Basque Solidarity Committees. Singers and musicians from Belfast, Dublin and the Basque Country created a great night of quality music, sentiments and solidarity. A new initiative, the Friends of the Basque Country network was launched and people were encouraged to join. In this way, they would be able to help raise awareness and defend the self-determination right for the Basque people.
-Basque political prisoner Axun Gorrotxategi is on hunger strike since last Thursday. She is demanding medical assistance after months of negligence.
-Last Friday 68 towns and villages across the Basque Country saw the usual weekly vigils in favour of the 762 Basque political prisoners scattered in 82 jails around France and Spain. Only 15 are imprisoned in the Basque Country. 29 of them have already served their time but are still being kept in prison as political hostages.
The largest of the vigils took place in Gasteiz/Vitoria where 450 people attended and welcomed local former prisoner Gorka Perea recently released.
-20 young people on a black list.
A massive press conference was held last Saturday in Irunea/Pamplona to denounce that the Spanish police has a black list with the names of 20 local pro-independence youth. These young people have offered themselves to appear before the judge but he has refused receiving them. Another 20 people have been arrested in the city in the last three months and 15 of them have claimed they were tortured.
The young people reaffirmed their intention to continue with their public work in their neighbourhoods to bring positive change to their community.
Basque greatest revolutionary singer and songwriter Mikel Laboa dies.
Mikel Laboa, born in Pasaia (Basque Country) in 1934, is also one of the most respected figures in contemporary Basque song due to his eagerness to revitalize and modernize Basque oral tradition. He inspired generations of Basques and put music and lyrics to their feelings about their country and freedom. He connected with the new punk and rock Basque movement in the 80’s and continued supporting young bands until he died.
Laboa had been recently honored with the Gipuzkoa Gold Medal, greatest award given by the regional Council, planned for December 23rd and which he was going to attend. He was just awarded with a prestigious music prize in Catalonia over the weekend.
His death has shocked the Basque Country and he will be very sadly missed. His music will live forever.
You can enjoy one of his most famous songs performances along the worldwide acclaimed Orfeon Donostiarra/Donostia-San Sebastian’s Choir: