Widgets Magazine

Basque president visits the Farm

Currently on a larger tour of the Bay Area and Silicon Valley, Basque President Patxi López visited campus on Wednesday.

López, who was elected the leader of Spain’s autonomous northern community in May 2009, toured SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, the main campus and the Center for Automotive Research at Stanford (CARS), and also met with Stanford Provost John Etchemendy Ph.D. ’82.

The visitors particularly enjoyed seeing the solar car project and the autonomous vehicle at the CARS facility, according to Etchemendy. The Basque delegation was interested in discussing relations between Stanford and industry during the tour, and the group also spoke with former Provost William Miller and Luis Mejia from the Office of Technology Licensing.

Etchemendy’s heritage and previous statements on Basque politics added nuance to his meeting with López, who is the first president to openly oppose Basque independence in thirty years.

Etchemendy, of Basque heritage, has a history of promoting Basque culture and awareness. He sponsored the formation of an introductory Basque studies course in 2006. He also signed the March 2010 “Brussels Declaration,” which called for the terrorist and nationalist Euskadi Ta Askatasuna (ETA) group to cease violence permanently and also for reciprocation on the side of the Spanish government.

López’s party, the Spanish Socialist Party (PSOE) is against an independent Basque and has spoken out against the Brussels Declaration.

“The declaration endorses the initiation in the Basque country of a peaceful process patterned on that used to solve the conflict in Northern Ireland,” Etchemendy wrote in an e-mail to The Daily. He said his signature was a personal endorsement.

“The desired outcome is to bring to an end the use of violence as a means to promote independence of the Basque provinces from Spain,” he added.

— Marisa Landicho

  • Etchemendy’s ignorance

    “The declaration endorses the initiation in the Basque country of a peaceful process patterned on that used to solve the conflict in Northern Ireland,”

    Which shows how ignorant is Mr Etchemendy of the political situation of the contemporary Basque Country since there are two big differences between the Northern Ireland case and the Basque case.

    The first big difference is that in the Northern Ireland case there were two sides killing each other while in the Basque case one side puts the murderers on the table (ETA) while the other puts the bodies (those like the members of Mr Lopez’s Party who have been assassinated by the ETA). In the Nothern Ireland case ~ 60% of the victims were killed by republican activists while 30% of the victims were killed by unionist activists. In the Basque case, almost all of the victims bear the ETA mark (and counting). The last known anti ETA terrorist group, GAL, ceased all activity in 1987, more than 20 years ago. But even taking those anti ETA victims into account, the balance is very
    different: almost all victims were assassinated by the Basque pro-independence side, ETA, in que Basque case. If there something that Basques should be grateful for is that ETA’s victims, for the most part, didn’t take justice in their own hands. They’ve had an infinite patience and generosity with ETA and their political supporters. As a result the Basque Country is mostly a prosperous region, unlike Nothern Ireland in which violence from two sides resulted in limited economic development.

    Then there is a second difference that make both cases not comparable: in the case of Northern Ireland its regional government was suspended for decades while the violence existed; in the Basque case both the Basque Country and Navarra have enjoyed for many decades now a level of self-government well above what the Northern Irish settled for in the Good Friday agreements. Simply put, the Basques and Navarresse have had more than 30 years to express their will in the polls. Unequivocally the vast majority of Basques and Navarresse reject ETA’s violence. In addition the vast majority of Navarresse reject Basque Nationalism altogether (that Basque Nationalism that Mr Etchemendy has promoted on campus).

    A Northern Ireland like solution to be the Basque issue not only doesn’t acknowledge the differences between the two cases but would also be unfair to the memories of the hundreds of victims of ETA’s terror as well as their families.

  • What about Aralar?

    Here you have a political party that defends Basque independence through entirely peaceful means and that condemns ETA’s terrorism unequivocally. They decided to split from Batasuna, the political wing of ETA, 10 years ago due to Batasuna’s nonsensical position since they (Aralar) understood all too well that the Basque and Navarrese societies already have the political venues (their parliaments) in which they can defend their political project. It just so happens that ETA’s project is supported only by small minority of Basques and Navarrese, that’s the hard truth that ETA is unwilling to accept, and that apparently Etchemendy, and the other signatories of the Brussels Declaration, didn’t take into consideration.