Course: Current International Issues from a Spanish Perspective
May 17, 2012
The notion of nationalism plays a critical role in the development on domestic and international politics. There are cases around the globe of how ethnically related politics, or ethnopolitcs, have infiltrated the international political arena. One such case, and the focus of this essay, is the case of Basque nationalism in Spain. In order to tackle a subject of this complexity, this essay will review a brief history of the Basque people, including: historical ties to the land, language and literature. Furthermore, the political situation in both during the times of General Franco’s regime and post-Franco Spain are examined in order to analyze the politics of Basque Nationalism. Key Words:
Nation: a group of people unified by a common language, history, or culture; State: a political territory with a codified governing body; General Francisco Franco: Spanish dictator who held office from 1939 to 1975; PNV: Partido Nacionalist Vasco (Basque Political Party); ETA: Euskadi Ta Azkatasuna (Basque separatist group); Ideological extremism: harboring unconventional political beliefs in an effort to obtain a goal not commonly recognized by the state; Violent extremism: the use of violence or terror in order to obtain radical goals supported by a select portion of the population. Introduction:
While the history of the Basque people has been littered with political and social unrest, the Basque people have protected their culture and way of life to ensure its continued survival in the 21st century. With a collective sense of self-preservation, Basques today are not only surviving, they are growing politically, socially and economically. Tension exists, however, between the Basques and the Spanish government. This tension has led to complex and interrelated questions on a number of pressing issues, a few of which will be the focal point of this essay. What are some aspirations of Basque people in Spain? How is Basque Nationalism perceived in both Basque Country and in Spain; how do the perceptions vary within each group? Based on present relations, what, if any, possible solutions or negotiations may the Spanish government and the Basque country agree upon? And finally, what is the significance and relevance of the Basque case to the study of nationalism and ethnopolitics? Spain is a state comprised of various nations. While there is a sense of a unified Spanish identify, there are also sub-identities. The most notable are the nations of Galicia, Basque, and Catalan. While the focus over the following pages will be on Basque Nationalism, it is important to note that this is not an issue unique to the Basque Country—though the situations develop independently of one another. Each of these nations have their own language, history, cultural attributions and sense of identity that comes with being born and raised in their respective region of Spain. This sense gives an interesting twist on the overall politics of the Spanish Nation. History of the Basque Nation:
To begin, we must briefly explore the origins the Basque people. The Basque people can be traced back thousands of years to the same region of Europe. In “Basque nationalism’s changing discourse on the nation,” Julen Zabalo describes the connection between a region and its effect on nationalism. The historic Basque territory, located in both Spain and France (Fig. 1), and collective claim to that land acted as a catalyst for the nationalist movement. Territory and a peoples claim to that land has powerful force because it is in that geographic area where culture is born and grows, which fosters nationalist tendencies and, eventually, the desire of a state. However, the notion of nationalist movement did not take off until the late 19th century. Sobrina Arana Goira founded the Basque...