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Rebuttal of ABC Reports
Recently, the Spanish newspaper ABC has written two articles that discuss the Basque presence on the Internet. Specifically, in articles written on January 28 and February 13, they talk about Euskadi Information, a site based in Switzerland, trying to link them with the terrorist group ETA. At the same time, they try to link my site with Euskadi Information and thus, indirectly, with ETA as well. Below are my translations of portions of the two articles appearing in ABC. I have only translated the parts dealing specifically with my page:
January 28, 1996
Among the Web pages to which CSE refers [CSE=Solidarity Committee of Euskadi, refers to those at Euskadi Information], the so-called "Buber's Basque" also distinguishes itself, in which appears, at the top of it's presentation, a saying that goes: "The vigor and energy that the Basques put in all that they do is almost impossible to equal." In the same page there also appears a section called "The Basque Country", in which it is affirmed that "studies of genetics and of the blood show that the Basques are a distinct people from any other in Europe." In addition, pleasure is taken in the explanation of the oppression to which the Basques were subjected under the Arab, Roman, Visigoth and French empires and a territorial description is offered of the Basque Country similar to that of the CSE. There is also talk of a supposed "diaspora" of the Basque people.
On the other hand, Blas Pedro Uberuaga, maintainer of the "Buber's Basque Page", another of the servers in the Internet that, next to others such like those called "Marxism" and "Chomsky", are recommended by the CSE, has accused ABC from Washington of "attacking" his project. As will be recalled, ABC informed the past 28 of January that, together with various information about the society and culture of the Basques, "Buber's Page" presents an interested and partial vision of the history and territorial demarcation of the Basque Country, while offering a direct connection with the CSE and provides information similar to that of the pro-ETA committee.
This rebuttal is meant to be a response to the allegations ABC has made in these articles.
First, I want to start by saying that I created my page as a source on the Web for all things that dealt in some way with Basque culture and the Basque people. I myself am a first generation Basque-American. My dad emigrated to the US when he was 18 to work in this country as a sheepherder. That is the origin of my interests and ties to the Basque people.
I set out in the beginning to make my site politically neutral and have made an effort to keep it that way. I personally believe that I don't have much of a right to say anything about the political situation in the Basque Country. The political course of Euskadi should be determined by the people living there and those people alone. For this reason, I have tried to keep my page free of political thoughts from any side. I have endeavored to make it a cultural site only.
As regards the people at Euskadi Information and their site, I want to state that I do not agree with the methods of Euskadi ta Askatasuna (ETA). I do not believe that violence should ever be used as a means, even for noble goals. At the same time, I believe that people have the right to express their ideas and opinions. For this reason, I believe that the people at Euskadi Information have a right to express what they believe.
Now, I would like to address the various points ABC makes in their article. First, they state twice that, in my page, I define the Basque Country territorially in the same way as CSE does. That is, I define it as the three provinces that make up the Autonomous Community of Euskadi, the three provinces on the French side of the border (Lapurdi, Behe Nafarroa, and Zuberoa) and the Autonomous Community of Navarra. I want to point out that the document where they saw this definition on my page, the General Introduction, was taken directly from Grolier's Encyclopedia, which is available online here at the University of Washington. I did not invent this description: it is the one found in the encyclopedias.
They also point out the mention of genetic and blood studies that are mentioned in that same document, implying, as they do so, that I am trying to segregate the Basques in some way, trying to emphasize their differences and also that these differences are some how fictitious. Again, I point out that the source was an encyclopedia. Also, I'd like to quote an article from January 16, 1995 issue of Time: "The most distinctive members of the European branch of the human tree are the Basques of France and Spain. They show unusual patterns for several genes, including the highest rate of the Rh-negative blood type." Geneticist Luca Cavalli-Sforza is quoted in the article as saying "The Basques are extremely likely to be the most direct descendants of the Cro-Magnon people, among the first modern humans in Europe." These genetic studies of the Basques and their conclusions are not invented or fictitious.
The information that ABC claims that both sites share is the news that both sites obtain from a member of the Basque-L discussion list. This news, this member has stated several times, is taken from the newspapers, magazines, and television of Euskadi and Spain.
Lastly, ABC tries to belittle the description of the history of the Basque Country that appears on my page. The histories that I have on my page are consistent with the other histories I have seen about the Basque Country. One version is from a person who enjoyed my page and thought to contribute. The other, by Martin de Ugalde, is a published history, sent to me by friends in Euskadi. The supposed "diaspora" of the Basque people does exist. The American Heritage Dictionary defines diaspora as "A dispersion of an originally homogeneous people." I think this fairly and accurately describes the state of the Basque people of the world.
ABC has, through these articles, attempted to slander my page and suggest that I and my page are pro-ETA. I have had contact with the people at Euskadi Information. We have exchanged email messages. I may not agree with their ideology, but I believe they have the right to express it. I believe that in trying to label my page as pro-ETA, ABC is doing a grave disservice to me. In their attempts to link Euskadi Information to ETA and me to Euskadi Information, they are trying to threaten both sites. They have mentioned repeatedly police and federal investigation, even claiming the FBI is involved. To me, this is nothing more than threats meant to scare both sites and cause us to shut down. I do not intend to let ABC and their rhetoric to scare me this way. I plan to keep my site going.
I want to thank all who have expressed support to me for my site during this situation. I really appreciate it and all of you who sent letters to ABC on my behalf. Thank you.
Blas Pedro Uberuaga
"I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it." -- Voltaire
Please report any problems or suggestions to Blas.