Jesus de Galindez Tribute in NYC 

Originally published here October 4, 2006 by John M. Ysursa. Neither NABO or the Basque Government is responsible for the following content. 

The Eusko Etxea Basque Club of New York City will be hosting a tribute to Jesus de Galindez, delegate of the Basque Government in exile who seemingly was a martyr for freedom, with performances by the Gaztelubide Basque choir and accordionist extraordinaire Kepa Junkera.

GalindezIn March 1956, Jesus de Galindez, the Spanish Republican exile and Basque government delegate in New York, mysteriously disappeared from the center of Manhattan and was never seen again.  To remember this man and his contributions, the "Eusko Etxea" Basque Club of New York (307 Eckford Street Brooklyn, NY) will be hosting a tribute with a collection of conferences (including one at Columbia University where Mr. Galindez taught International Law), concerts and other activities in his honor.  This celebration will include a delegation from the Basque Government of Euskadi headed by Josu Legarreta, Director of Relations with the Basque Diaspora Communities, and authors Inaki Bernardo and Inigo Camino of La Tumba Abierta, a biography of this Basque politician.  The celebration will also be animated by a performance of the Gaztelubide choir from the Basque Country and the accordionist extraordinaire Kepa Junkera. 

Today's Basque Autonomous Government of Euskadi under the leadership of Juan Jose Ibarretxe is actually the second incarnation of a Basque Government in modern times; the first one was formed back in the midst of the Spanish Civil War (1936-39) under the presidency of Jose Antonio Aguirre who presided over the wartime multiparty Basque Government of the unconquered parts of Bizkaia and Gipuzkoa.  For a brief time it issued its own passports and currency, and momentarily Euzkadi (later the spelling was returned to the letter 's' version) existed.  But with the formal surrender of the Basque army (1937) the government went into exile.

During these tumoultous years, Mr. Galindez had just finished earning his law degree and he was placed in the Basque Government delegation in Madrid.  In his book Los Vascos en el Madrid Sitiado (Basque in Madrid under Siege) he relates how in only four months 2,033 cases of prisoners or missing people passed through the Basque delegation's hands, and that 553 were released thanks to their efforts.  His tenure there was short-lived and like many others, Mr. Galindez suffered the pain of concentration camps and exile when Francisco Franco's forces prevailed in the Spanish Civil War.

In exile from BasqueLand, Galindez became the Delegate of the Basque Government in the Dominican Republic, that was under the dictatorship of General Trujillo.  His doctoral thesis research on Trujillo's regime (to put it lightly, tyrants do not appreciate objective students of their regimes) soon necessitated his departure from the Dominican Republic to New York where in 1949 he was named Delegate to the Basque Government.  While in New York he taught International Law at Columbia University. 

Galindez was a proponent of an inclusive form of nationalism that sought to reconcile two or more identifications.  He wrote that he believed this "because I'm Basque," a nation of people without a nation-state.  Because of this reality "and because we are Basque we can hold another citizenship; we can love the country we live in; we can have compassion for the problems of others even though some people think it strange that I should the problems of Puerto Ricans in New York; that I should attack the Latin American dictators; that I should take part in the International League of Human Rights; that I should be moved when I hear the patriotic hymn of a Mexican charro or the drumbeat of a black Caribbean."  Nevertheless, he never lost his affection for the land of his birth: "my darling, my Euzkalherria [sic], for whom I swore my love as a child."

Galindez worked assiduously to promote the rights of Basques as a people and a nation. He advocated the formation of an Argentinian-Basque federation to safeguard the rights of the Basque people.  Taking it even further, he proposed the creation of an international federation of sorts that would be recognized by the United Nations.  But he did not live to see his dreams of greater freedom realized.  It seems he was a martyr for freedom:  seems because we might never really know what happened to him.

There is text and then there is subtext.  Text refers to what is clear or on the surface, whereas subtext refers to that which is not necessarily apparent.  We have the text of Galindez from what he himself left us by way of his writings, as well as commentary by others around him.  The subtext of Galindez, however, will probably always revolve around his mysterious disappearance fifty years ago in the middle of the day in the middle of Manhattan.  This part of his story has been dramatized in the recent film The Galindez File (2005) starring Harvey Keitel.  Doctoral student Muriel Colber (Saffron Burrows) investigates the mysterious 1956 vanishing of Galindez in Gerardo Herrero's political drama. Muriel begins in Spain, where she learns of Galindez's opposition to certain Dominican Republic politicians. New information leads her to Miami, and all the while, an FBI agent (Harvey Keitel) tries to keep her from uncovering U.S. involvement in Galindez's disappearance.

Then there are alternative explanations that do not implicate a U.S. federal agency. Jonathan Holland wrote that "Galindez helped get anti-Francoists out of jail in Spain... and he was also an FBI informer and a writer.  An article he wrote, critical of Rafael Leonidas Trujillo, then dictator of the Dominican Republic, may have provoked Trujillo (perhaps with Franco's approval) to have him kidnapped."  Holland argues that the largely demonstrable theory to explain disappearance lays the blame with Trujillo's regime.  This theory "goes that J. Edgar Hoover and the FBI launched a costly enquiry into who was responsible for removing their most valuable political informant on Latin America, and that Trujillo, scared, set about wiping out all those connected with the kidnapping, starting with Galindez himself. The pilot who took Galindez to Santo Domingo also was killed, the first of a tangled web of assassinations in an episode in which few, apart from Galindez, emerge with any credit."

Like Martin Luther King, Jr. in his last public speech wherein he stated that he might not reach the promised land, Galindez might will have foreseen his death.  He wrote verses published in Mexico's Eusko Deya:

And I will return ... I will return; or they'll bring me back dead.

Hide me away in the earth, the earth of my grandparents;
Lay me down in Amurrio, as I am tired and cannot,
Stop along the way; I'll fall where I fall.

Take me, take me there, although I'm still walking; I'm dying
Take me to the steep hill, beneath the oak tree of my dreams.

Delegate for the Basque Government in the exile

We will enjoy the presence of Josu Legarreta, Benan Oregi and Ioseba Agirretxea, three representatives of the Basque Government, and authors of the book based in the life of Dr. Jesus De Galindez, professor of Law at the University of Columbia.

When: October 14, Saturday 2006
Where: 307 Eckford Street; Brooklyn,N.Y. 11222

4:30 pm 
The doors of EuskoEtxea will Open.

5:00 pm 
Presentation of Josu Legarreta
Representative for the Basque government of The Euskal Etxeak in the diaspora.
Following, the presentation of the book TIERRA,EXILIO Y FRUSTACION by one of its authors, Inaki Goiogana,and the director of the Fundacion Sabino Arana, Irune Zuluaga.

The Chorus GAZTELUBIDE from Donosti-San Sebastian will sing folk popular basque songs.

7:30-8:30 pm 
concert with Kepa Junkera and his band.A 2004 Latin Grammy Award
winner for Best Folk Album for ”K” at the 5th Annual Latin Grammy Awards.

9:00 pm 
Dinner by basque chef Inaki Lete and crew.
Due to the expenses for the development of this grate program we have seen the need to categorize the prize for the event as follows:

Concert Only, members $15.00,non members $20.00
Dinner Only,   members $50.00,non members $55.00. RESERVE SOON Sits are limited!!
Whole  Day,   members  $60.00,non members $65.00
For resevations call Itziar Albisu at 201-261-1691
Attendance for grownups only. Reserve ASAP sits are limited. ESKERRIK ASKO.  

Jonathan Holland, at
Josu Legarreta, "Jesus de Galindez: Martyr for Freedom" in Euskal Etxeak 72 (2006)
Joseba Etxarri in



Foku Musikala