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Self-Determination in the Basque Country Essay

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Self-Determination in the Basque Country

The Basques, settled on the Franco-Spanish border, are a people who do not have a country that exists as an entity of its own. They are not recognized internationally. Their borders are not respected, and their culture is repressed. Thus the history of the Basque Country is one of contentious protest against imposed conditions, unremitting effort in defense of its identity and a relentless search for a means of democratizing public life. They have not been able to practice or pursue the right to self-determination as stated in the international covenants on human rights (above) and the Universal Declaration of the Rights of the Peoples from Algeria, July 4th, 1976, that, “Every people has the fundamental and inalienable right to self-determination. It defines its political status in all freedom, without any external foreign interference."

Spanning approximately 20,000 square kilometers, with three provinces in the “north” under French rule, and four provinces in the “south” under Spanish rule, the Basque people enjoy a strong sense of pride in their culture. This pride stems mainly from their unique language; the true essence of Basque identity. Its roots trace to before the invasion of the Indo-Europeans, around 4,000 years ago. Therefore, it is the oldest known language in all of Europe.

The Basques have struggled to keep language as the cornerstone of their culture. However, under Spanish rule this has been greatly challenged, especially in the 20th century. In the first decades of the last century, children caught speaking Basque in schools were beaten as a means to discourage the use and growth of the language. And while the majority of the...

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...on should achieve autonomy and independence, yet others, as is the case of the Basque Country, should not?

The Basque people are entitled to self-determination. They have been persecuted and discriminated against for long enough. Their language and their culture deserve to be respected and protected. If this does not occur, attacks will continue, their anger will fester, and all their passion and frustration will perpetuate more violence, completing the circle, only to start again.


Astrain, Luis Nunez. The Basques: Their Struggle For Independence. Welsh

Academic Press. Wales. 1997

Sullivan, John. ETA and Basque Nationalism. Routledge. London. 1988.

Zirakzadeh, Cyrus Ernesto. A Rebellious People: Basques, Protests, and

Politics. University of Nevada Press. Reno. 1991.

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