Archive for the Basque Category

Whey learn BASQUE?

Posted in Basque on 2017-03-10 by candycactus

Because they have most Rh – blood.

Because when you google “Basque” in images you will see corsets.

Because they call a tree a “fire-rock”.

Because it is almost dead or will be dead soon.

Because they actually circumnavigated the world (Elkano survived the Magellan expedition).

Because men there since ages used to gather to cook fine food together instead of watching football.

Because they have most women in the parliament in Europe.

Because nobody does it.


Clowns & Protests

Posted in Basque, Stories and Tales on 2017-03-05 by candycactus

When you watch a TV series and miss several parts of it, you feel kind of lost – what happened in between? This is how I felt trying to catch up with what is going on here.

“Are you coming to the demonstration?”, Jaione asked. I was reluctant.

“All clowns are taking part in it, it is organised by Porrotx.”

My jaws dropped. What is happening here now? Porrotx was on the list of people I wanted to make interviews with. The MAIN BASQUE CLOWN.

The story goes like this.

There would be demonstrations demanding bringing back the prisoners at least a little bit closer to the homes of their relatives, as the international law for prisoners requires. Now they are being held as far as possible. The Spanish government seems to be taking pleasure in a revenge of some sort, even if the object of hate has already vanished, which was ETA. But things are not as they seem to be, Spanish government seems to need ETA and seems to desperately need any excuses to demonise Basque society. So even if the arms are down, Spanish government is still fighting in its dark ways and methods by not complying to international law of prisoners and still applying draconic Aznar era laws which means that for burning a trash container you might get 12 years of prison.

I got already used to these demonstrations, seemed like business as usual – thousands of people marching, no reporting in the news and no reaction from the government. Almost all the walls bear a sign here – EUSKAL PRESOAK ETXERA (Basque prisoners – back home). But this demonstration was a certain surprise. First of all the cause of it and then – the method.

There is a prisoner Sara Majarenas who was condemned as being part of ETA for 13 years. She already accomplished 3/4 of her time in prison. Usually prisoners get the chance to move from the first grade prison (which is the most restricted one) to the third grade, which presents a lighter form of conditional imprisonment. In this case the usual practice was not applied to Sara, since she was connected to ETA and the revenge of Spanish government is great.

However, Sara happens to have a child of 3 years. After 3 years children have to be released from the prison. At the same time they are separated from their mothers, which is painful for both. Now, in this case the story does not stop here. The daughter was brought to her grandparents. But somehow her father has gotten hands on her and tried to kill her as a matter of revenge for her mother.

Questions marks and exclamation marks appeared wildly mixed in my mind.

So, the Basque society got alarmed. The child was in danger, mother was in prison. What to do?

Then the main clown of the country, Porrotx, a figure known to every child in Basque country and Catalonia has come to idea to make a different type of demonstration. He called thus for a party. So today, samba drumming, clowns, children with star shaped balloons (the name of the small girl was Izar, which means “a star”), and thousands of parents, pregnant women, youngsters and elder ones came to a huge event requesting the authorities to allow mother to be with her daughter.

Porrotx flying his flag with wild coloured stripes, singing children songs that everybody small and big knew, marching though the streets of Donosti on the first warm spring evening, the skies in beautiful dark blue, the yellow lanterns of Donosti.

When everybody gathered at the stage, the good news was proclaimed – today the decision has been changed and mother can be united with her daughter.


Never underestimate the power of clowns. Porrotx is the real political player here you will not read in any newspaper abroad.

You would say – this is a total manipulation of children. That was also my first thought. But the second thought – all education is manipulation. If the other side – Spanish government was alright, then desperate Basque leftists would not have to bring their children to celebrate that kind of sad occasions. I imagine some children’s animation movies where Native Americans teach their children to resist the white colonialists and am sure it would squeeze a tear out of anybody. (Just watch Spirit: The Stallion of Cimarron to get the idea).

It was a very peaceful and even funny protest. I guess Basque society should be given credit for resisting with just balloons.

Here is an article in Spanish on the matter, ignoring the balloons and the clowns:

Humans of Basque Country

Posted in Basque, Uncategorized on 2016-07-25 by candycactus


So here is a story about these happy guys. The kids, Zohargi (clear sky, 9 years) and Ihortziri (lightning, 4 years), were born in the prison. Some numbers: first 3 years of their lives they spent there with their mother. Their father spent 10 years in prison. Their mother has 20 more years to go. She lives in a cell of 9m2. They can speak to their mother 5 min daily on the phone. They visit her once in a month for 4 hours, driving 1300 km. There are still around 400 political prisoners dispersed in Spanish prisons deliberately far from their homes. Despite the fact that the violent conflict is over, Spanish government refuses to negotiate anything, so the question of political prisoners is being raised just on the walls calling for amnesty #humansofbasquecountry#basques #freethemall

Visit Humans of Basque Country for more stories.


Basque Limbo

Posted in Basque, English with tags on 2016-03-03 by candycactus


Although the violent conflict in Basque country is over, the peace is not there yet. This article reviews the recent history and reflects the current  situation in the Basque country.

The presence of police in Berlin’s streets these days was stronger than usual. Several German citizens were killed in Istanbul in January. So, taking a plane to Bilbao felt like heading to a safest and most quiet place in Europe, far from news concerning terrorism or refugees, the latter occupying a lot of public minds in Germany. Basque country now seems like a quiet paradise for surfers and occasional French tourists indulging into the Basque miniature culinary delights known as ‘pintxo’s. The landscape of rolling hills, generous views of the Cantabrian sea so as the pilgrims passing by on their route to Santiago de Compostela serve almost as a disguise, covering up the bloody past and the twisted present of these places. What an irony, I thought. The place that used to be known for the longest persevering armed conflict in Europe now becomes quieter than any other place in Europe. Reading news about Spain one would find out more about Catalans and their strife for independence, but not about the Basque country. As if it would be a strange conspiracy punishing the former ‘enfant terrible’ of Spain depriving it now of attention.tWhat used to be general Franco’s summer palace, almost four decades after his death served as a venue for a conference that would mark the end of the violent conflict in the Basque country that lasted 50 years. Short after carefully staged international conference held in San Sebastian in the palace of Aiete 2011 with the presence of the prominent international figures such as Kofi Annan, Gro Harlem Brundtland and Gerry Adams, ETA delivered BBC a video recording, in which figures dressed in a variation of a ku-klux-klan fashion sporting black Basque berets declared a definitive ceasefire. In the video you could hear a decisive female voice reading a text in Basque, stating ETA’s commitment to find a democratic solution to the conflict. “In its commitment to a democratic process to decide freely and democratically our future, through dialogue and negotiations, ETA is prepared today as yesterday to agree to the minimum democratic conditions necessary to put in motion a democratic process, if the Spanish government is willing.”

If there were ceasefires before, this time it was for real – a definitive one. So, the armed conflict is over. ETA is not more. But the peace is not there yet. So what then?

Basques are one of the most enigmatic nations of Europe. A lot of evidence suggest, that the ancestors of Basques must have been there before anybody else arrived. Euskera is a pre-indo-european language featuring most prominently ergative form (An article in Wikipedia explains it like this: for instance, instead of saying “she moved” and “I moved her”, speakers of an ergative language would say the equivalent of “she moved” and “by me moved she”.)

There have been various hypothesis linking it to the languages of the Caucasus, in particular with Armenian, however none of them could be proved. So, in this regard Euskera must be one of the oldest and most intriguing languages of Europe. However, instead of being celebrated and acknowledged as such, in the European context it is almost unknown and totally marginalized until today.

Although Basque history predates any other nation in Europe, in order to understand current events it is enough to reflect the their history of the past century. Picasso’s painting ‘Guernica’ can serve as an emotional starting point that depicts the suffering of the recent past. During the Spanish Civil War in 1937 Guernica, the former capital of the Basque country was bombed by Nazis in co-operation with Franco, causing a tremendous wound in the national psyche of Basques. Nazis were defeated. However, Franco stayed not least because of the help of American government in power until 1975, his phantom legacy extending until now.

During the years of the Franco regime, for saying  ‘agur’ (hello) in the street, you could end up in the prison. Children were punished harshly for using Euskera and would be made to talk in “christian” (‘hablame en cristiano’ meaning  ‘talk to me in christian’, would be a usual phrase to undermine any attempts to speak Basque and impose Spanish). Although the situation for the language got much better after Franco’s death in 1975 and after however Euskera has been facing further challenges. It has been mocked harshly in the Spanish press since long time. Juan Mari Torrealdai, a Basque intellectual collected excerpts from various statements of the Spanish journalists about the Basque language from the Spanish press and published them 1998 in a book “Libro Negro de Euskera” (The Black Book of Euskera). The book contains pejorative statements of Spanish journalists about the ‘primitive’ and ‘limited’ nature of Euskera. With my Lithuanian background I thought it was rather remarkable – I could not imagine any of these statements referring to Lithuanian language during the Soviet era. Despite the political oppression language was never a target of humiliation. But in Basque case it was and is in a very extreme way.

I thought it would be interesting to meet Juan Mari Torrealdai and find out what he might have collected after 1998. Did the style or attitude towards Basque language in the Spanish public sphere change since 1998? I found out that now 73 year old Juan Mari was imprisoned, tortured and currently is suffering from cancer that has a clear connection to the torture he had endured. I did not meet him finally due to his advanced stage of illness.

This is just one example of what seems to be usual destiny in the Basque country. Basque population must have the highest rate of prison experience in Europe. Nowhere else I met so many people who have been through prison and torture as in the Basque country. One would want to believe that people deprived of freedom somehow deserve it. But the people I encountered were exceptionally far from any image of a terrorist or criminal. Intellectual, somebody who happened to be working in a bar frequented by nationalists, the choice of the authorities often looks just random etc. The practice of the Spanish government is as follows – the person would be put into prison as a suspect. The suspect would spend a year or more in the harshest first grade prison level before facing charges. Later the charges would be dropped and the person released without any trial. Several cases have been brought successfully to the European Court of Justice, however the Spanish Government ignores the decisions of the court and refuses to pay compensation for their ‘mistakes’. Spanish government has been criticized and warned on various occasions in UN concerning the incompatibility of their application of law with human rights.

During the government of the conservative Partido Popular 1996 – 2004 José María Aznar released a set of special laws for the Basque country that were meant to combat terrorism. The adjustment would have as a consequence for example differences in interpretation of the law depending on where the crime was committed. It might cost you 12 years of prison if you would happen to burn a trash bin in Pamplona, whereas just some kilometers away in Logroño you might get away with a fine of 300 EUR.

Although ETA seized its activity, the Spanish Government insists on keeping special laws to combat terrorism introduced during that era. One of them is a deliberate dispersion of political prisoners, perpetuating the suffering of the families who visit their imprisoned family members traversing huge distances. In 2015 there were still 427 Basque political prisoners. If at the time of law’s introduction it might have had a certain, even then questionable, justification, now it seems like a mere caprice indulging in the sweetness of revenge. The government argues that lifting this law would do injustice to the families of the victims of terrorism. However, this is a highly arbitrary argument. The behaviour of Spanish government towards the Basque society and the changed political reality facing the end of the violent conflict seems to be unprecedented, in which they deny the fact, that there is a conflict, thus preventing peace process from any development from its most initial phase. To the outrage of international observers dealing with armed conflicts, after the definitive ceasefire ETA did not receive any assistance by the government and has been left by itself to deal with questions concerning weapons, refugees, political prisoners, etc. Spain seems thus to be the only country in the world where an armed group wants to disarm and the government makes it as difficult as possible.

Thus it is tempting to think that Spanish government needs an image of an enemy in that form and it would perpetuate the problem to keep the confrontation. In his book “Dirty War, Clean Hands” (Yale University Press, 2003) Paddy Woodworth meticulously describes the details of the antiterrorist war known as GAL in the 1980’s, as later evidence suggests, initiated by the socialist government of Felipe González. Several actions of death squads of GAL, deliberately assassinating people who were not involved in ETA activities, invoke the creeping impression, that the goal of this war was not to combat terrorism, but its opposite. Since the latter they succeed. The 1980’s were known in Spain as years of led, ‘años de plomo’, and innumerous victims were claimed from both sides, with ETA activity higher than ever in its history. At the same time terrorism seem to have always served well redirecting attention from internal affairs.

These days a prominent figure of Basque political scene, Arnaldo Otegi has been recently released from the prison after facing charge to revive the political arm of ETA Herri Batasuna. In her book “Endgame for ETA” (Oxford University Press, 2014) ” Theresa Whitfield skillfully describes the initial secret talks between Arnaldo Otegi, the de facto leader of the Basque left and Jesús Eguiguren form the Basque socialist party PSE. Reading the details of the compelling secret and deliberate process that lead ETA to declare definitive ceasefire it becomes once again obvious that Arnaldo Otegi is one of the central personalities for the peace process and if something he might deserve – it would be a Nobel prize for peace and not a prison sentence. Instead Otegi, the best communicator of the Basque left, has been held in prison since 2009 charged for taking part in a secret meeting with the accusation that he wanted to reorganize the political arm of ETA Herri Batasuna. However, it left unnoticed that the same meeting led to the definitive ceasefire of ETA. It was the judge Baltasar Garzón, famous internationally for the trial against Augusto Pinochet, who spoke out the prison sentence for Arnaldo Otegi applying the exceptional laws of the Aznar era. In an interview in 2015 even he admitted that for the peace process it does not make any sense that Arnaldo Otegi would continue imprisoned, since he would be able to contribute to the process much more being outside than inside. Although the 10 year sentence was reduced to six and half years by Spain’s Supreme Court, the willingness of Spanish Government to proceed with the peace process is more than questionable. Mr. Otegi has expressed his doubts in a written statement from the prison: “The governments of Spain and France need to extend the non-solution scenario because they fear that once that phase is over, the next scenario will be that of using the right to self-determination”.

Two main points that seem to be hopelessly stuck between the positions is the recognition that there is an unresolved conflict and it has claimed victims on both sides so far. Although it seems obvious, Spanish Government refuses to acknowledge the victims of the side of the nationalist independentist movement, simplifying the reality by acknowledging only victims caused by ETA, further denying that there is no conflict as such. According to the logic of the Spanish Government, there was a terrorist group, it is defeated and thus the conflict is not existing any more.

Based on her research and observations Theresa Whitfield ends her book “Endgame for ETA” with a following appeal to Spanish government: the peace has no price, however it does not come for free neither. The fact that the Spanish government fails to co-operate in the peace process might turn what seems to be peace in the Basque country into an elusive passing phenomena. The nationalist left with aspirations for the independence of the Basque country, making up around 15-20% of the Basque population, has been limited of means to organize themselves politically, since many of the political creations have been undermined with the accusation of reviving the political arm of ETA. As a result many political activists had to face prison sentences, thus again preventing them to be elected as political representatives in the future. More than one hundred ‘herriko tabernas’, bars that in the last 40 years used to be meeting places for the nationalist left, are supposed to be closed in near future following the decision of the Supreme Court several years ago. Numerous demonstrations happen on regular base in the Basque country protesting against the policy of dispersion, however are ignored and often do not even make it to the local news.

All this puts an enormous psychological strain on the nationalist left of the Basque country. It seems that even among the radical nationalist left the prospect of taking up arms again is not an option any more. However, it is still questionable what form the political will of the nationalist Basque left will take if political means are being deliberately limited and do not seem to have not even the most distant prospect of achieving their actual goal – the independence of the Basque country. The left wing coalition EH Bildu were in many municipalities far from successful in the last elections giving way to Podemos, a new left-wing Spanish party that gained the most votes in the region.

The peace process is in danger also because of the fact that one of the cornerstones of the nationalist left population mentality is a deep rooted mistrust in the political game. Spanish government fails to acknowledge the fact that majority of Basques deliberately did not vote for the constitution in 1978 and it is precisely this constitution that prevents Catalans and Basques to exit the Spanish state, requiring the consent of all the provinces of Spain. So, engaging in the politics for many people who consider themselves as nationalist left means playing the game where only the opponent can interpret and change arbitrarily the rules.

Even if Arnaldo Otegi with his unmistakable charisma would manage to create a somewhat uplifting atmosphere among the nationalist left when released from the prison, the loss of faith in the effectivity of political means among the nationalist left has run deep in the Basque history so as in the last years. Although pro-independence nationalist left makes by no means a majority of the Basque population, it nevertheless used to ’cause trouble’ during the years of ETA activity. Thus it raises the question how the energies of this part of the society will be channelled in a constructive way in the near future given the fact that ETA has left arms behind and the Spanish government at the same time blocks virtually any attempt for discussion and resolution of the conflict. Basque limbo might last, but it is not sure how long and what the outcome would be in the future.

More on Basques by Cactus:

#Otegi #Freethemall #FreeOtegi #Basque #ETA #Euskalherria


LOREAK – a very Buddhist Basque film

Posted in Basque with tags on 2016-02-09 by candycactus

I was lucky to get to know the Basque country slightly beneath it’s surfing and eating ‘pintxo’ surface. Having studied it’s recent history and current still persisting multiple divisions in the society it seems to me almost obvious and incredible at the same time that this kind of film would sprout from the Basque society.

Mind and Labels

Why almost incredible? Because it sends one central Buddhist message. Basque society as one of the oldest European nations was exposed through the history to a multitude of civilizations and beliefs (Romans, Christianity, political beliefs in the intensity of inquisition, such as fascism of the right wing, socialism of ETA), but never to Buddhism. Obvious – because maybe the directors of the film Jon Garaño and Jose Mari Goenaga consciously or subconsciously sensed, that this is what Basque society might desperately need after painful years of struggle and suffering. Buddhist attitude. But I imagine that even to the makers of the film the connection to Buddhism might be novel, although it contains the essence of Buddhist teachings.

The film suggests in an extremely subtle way that it is all about our mind, that all our troubles are created by our minds. In Buddhist philosophy one would describe reality as the coming and going of elusive waves, constantly changing forms and expressions. Things are as they are, with change as an only permanent factor. If you chop reality in micro-nano bits, not even one’s own personality is something solid. Just millions of pulsing and constantly changing cells. But when we look at it from the gross perspective, then we see things as permanent and solid, and we put meanings to these changing phenomena by putting labels that help or destroy us. Dangerous or a pleasant wave of the sea? It depends on our mind.

According to buddhist philosophy, the fact of the appearance of flowers, as in the film LOREAK, is just the fact of appearance of flowers. But in our human condition with untamed minds, as the film shows, it can become a sign of love, threat, memory, betrayal, recognition, attention, impermanence, danger, etc. We build our constructs of reality. Just like Magritte’s painting points it out,”Ceci n’est pas une pipe.” It is not a pipe, even if it might appear to us as such. It is just canvas with some paint on it. The minds of cats and dogs seem to be blessed by not creating such confusions. Have you ever seen a cat responding to a video Skype chat in a way we humans do? Probably not, since they do not care much about a piece of plastic.

Unfortunately the minds in the Basque society are conditioned to the contrary due to their experience before and after the death of Franco. It is strange to see the relief caused by the elder protagonist Tere developing Alzheimer’s. It becomes obvious how the mind affected by the disease is beyond the constructs and images, trapping a ‘healthy’ mind. And only then the barrier of hostility seems to be able to fall between the protagonists Lourdes and Tere. The absence of hostility brings Lourdes in confusion and powerlessness, expressing itself in tears. How do you approach somebody who used to be your enemy and now is approaching you with innocent hugs?

Parallels to Politics. Reinventing Terrorism

As already mentioned, the film does not make any hints to politics. But for me it appears as highly political, including the courageous fact that is in Basque language. There are indeed very few films sporting Basque language due to the continuos linguistic oppression by the Spanish language, culture and last, but not least, government.

Watching that very scene I had to think of the strategies of GAL, the so called antiterrorist war, led by the Spanish socialist government in the 1980’s, using methods competing with inquisition. Many actions of GAL, if you read the details of events, seemed to be as if the government in reality wanted to provoke terrorism and not to defeat it, as presumed.

Why that? I guess, if terrorism would disappear, one would have to reinvent it. We see it in Europe nowadays – terrorism seems to be the best way to divide population and shift it to the right. It seems that the dynamics between the Basques and the Spanish are also very much dominated by this axiom. Even if ETA has put arms away in 2011 and the willingness to proceed with the peace process was demonstrated by the Basque society including the quarter of it struggling for auto-determination and peace process, a core personality for the peace process, Arnaldo Otegi, among many others, has been put by the Spanish government into jail for ridiculous accusations, as if to confirm the axiom, that the Spanish government cannot deal with the absence of the enemy.

Arnaldo Otegi will be freed by the end of February 2016, but Spanish government for sure will find other ways to imprison him again or ‘reinvent terrorism’ in some other ways. It would be such a relief and surprise if it would develop in a different way. Basque independentist left wing part of the society, that might make around 20% of the 3 million big Basque populations and are seen as political continuation of ETA, (at least part of it, putting it in an extremely simplified way) acts in my perception very much as if they would have dropped their previous hostility to the Spanish government and the Basque right wing embracing the tools that are strictly political, thus presenting a self-induced Alzheimer state comparable to the state of Tere in the film, who drops it’s all hostility due to her disease.

I feel tempted to perpetuate the parallels – Basque left has put itself in an extremely vulnerable situation, just as self induced Alzheimer would present to anyone, by embracing the rules of the political game with it’s tools, knowing that they did not serve them any time yet to proceed with the dialogue. Since dialogue needs two – as the dynamic of the relationship between Lourdes and Tere excellently illustrates.

The vulnerability, willingness for dialogue challenges Spanish government to the extent that it does not take position since the beginning of the peace process in 2011 and seems to be ignoring anything, that raises eyebrows by any experts who dealt armed conflict and peace talks in Northern Ireland or Colombia. Spanish just does not take any position and act as if it would be hiding. Lourdes would need Tere to get back her hostile mind in order to proceed the same way as before. The difference between the images – Lourdes cries. Spanish government hides. And revenges from the bush insisting to keep the prisoners dispersion as a special prisoner treatment legacy from Aznar’s government era BEFORE the peace process.

Mailbox Paranoia

Repeated inquiry by the protagonists in the flower shop, why somebody would send flowers and would not leave their personal details subtly elevates the situation to a grotesque level. Why sending flowers would be an expression of bad intention? Why somebody would have to leave their personal details sending flowers? It is our minds that create realities. And what is there? Just flowers. Appearing here and there.

However, this skepticism of protagonists is justified in the Basque country more than in any other society known to me. Flowers can be read as messages, bombs, threats. Many people on both sides have become victims of black mail and hidden bombs in neat packages. Although ETA is not innocent in these matters, I was impressed reading a book by Paddy Woodworth (Paddy Woodworth, ‘Diry War, Clean Hands’) of how much evil was caused by the GAL, already mentioned so called antiterrorist war in the 1980’s. Among other things it must have conditioned the society to the elevated levels of paranoia. The experience of these years has taught that one could be especially far from politics and political interest and be nevertheless chosen to become a victim of assault. Knowing some facts from the recent history of the Basque country the image of somebody getting flowers from somebody unknown does naturally come with these fears that might be preserved in the society, although the film does not give not even a slightest hint to the political background of the Basque society, thus again winning all my sympathy for putting the matter in such a subtle way.

In LOREAK the fear of assassinations is transcended. It is not at all about becoming a political victim. It is about becoming a victim of peoples images and projections.

Zero Game

Love is seen by protagonists as a limited resource, love relationships as a zero game, where if one gets more the other automatically is bound to get less. It is about the fear of somebody receiving more love and attention that oneself might give. The message of the film goes well along the buddhist philosophy again – love is one of these resources that are unlimited. The fact that somebody receives more love and attention does not mean that the other side would get less.

Thinking of the zero game, images and projections, I have to think of Basque society as of victim of these. If Basques would enjoy independence, it would be possible to live peacefully for everybody, but one would have to get rid of certain images, such as ‘huge and indivisible Spain’, as repeatedly expressed vision by the Spanish government. So as the images of all the parties involved in the political struggle (ETA, the right wing party PNV, Spanish Socialists, many other major or minor actors) would have to be modified and transcended in minds of the people as a some sort of self-induced Alzheimer.

However, the political reality in Basque country consists of images maintained by the stronger power through mass media and serving perfectly to maintain the idea, that the right of Basque people to decide their own future would mean a huge loss for Spain. Maintaining and clinically clinging to the image of the ‘big and indivisible Spain’ as one would hear from Mariano Rajoy, seems to be the main obstacle in the process of self-determination of the Basque people (even if the reality is somewhat more complex). Even more ridiculous the difficulty given the fact, that it has been accepted by the dominating powers in cases of many other minor nations, such as Baltic people, Kosovo, etc. The fact that Basque country, unlike Catalonia, is financially independent from Spain due to its autonomy statute of 1978, just emphasizes the fact, that it is a victim of images imposed by the dominating power of Spain. It is not impossible for people to live together where every nation enjoys the right to decide about their destiny. If it is about the right to decide. Even if decision includes “Yes” for one option and “No” for another, still it is not a zero game, since advantages for both sides can be drawn in any case.

Dealing With the Dead

In Buddhist philosophy the fact that somebody dies is just the fact that somebody dies. Not much else. The funerals of buddhists usually are rather cheerful, because the death of somebody is also a practice of non-attachment. But then our minds create new realities, such as that the dead can live on if they live in our memory, as several protagonists insist in the film. And they do live, the dead, they become real for us, for good and for bad. But in fact they are not there any more, buddhists would instruct: “Let it go, let them go”.

Basque society is extremely conditioned by their recent past in the treatment of the dead and the meaning it has for their nation. The dead do indeed live on in a Basque society in multitude of ways. One has just to think of the cases of Lasa and Zabala, the first victims of the GAL war, as pictured in the film with the same name. The accidentally found remains of two chaps killed and tortured ten years before the discovery, made it possible with a lot of effort to shed light on the crimes of the past government so as the fact that these criminals continue in power. Dead do help Basques, at least in this case.

For Basques, seems like, if one would forget the dead, one would forget the injustice inflicted every day and would just get used to it and become assimilated. By cultivating the memory of the dead Basque people seem to draw power for their struggle for justice. The dead, the remains of the dead almost present a visual graspable image of all the invisible injustice happening on every day base, as if they would be concentrated images and finally objects of suffering and loss. Thus cultivating the memory of the flower bringer for Ane means much more than just as remembering the death of an almost unknown colleague. It is the suffering for loss of love and attention generally in her life.

Thus so beautiful last twist of Ane’s mind – with time the image of the flower bringer changed to her to the point of becoming unimportant. She dropped eventually her ritual of bringing flowers to the object that incorporated for her the potential of love and attention. Most probably because she finally received it. It was not a potential any more. It was there.

Basque people for sure would stop perpetuating their love for the dead in form of mass demonstrations commemorating their killed compatriots, raising the constant quest of mass graves, the unfair dispersion of prisoners and torture by the Spanish government, as soon as justice would be restored.

It is not the case yet. And yes, it is somewhat ironical, that in the international scene this film is presented as Spanish.