This year is the Eusko's fifth birthday. This solidarity and ecology-focused local currency is used in Lapurdi, Lower Navarre and Zuberoa (the northern Basque Country, which is under French administration). It is strongly supported by both citizens and institutions, and the aim is to continue enlarging the network which uses it. To celebrate the fifth anniversary, a "great family-style party" has been organised for 4th March.
Dante Edme-Sanjurjo, the chairperson of the association which manages the currency, says that there are certainly things to celebrate. Over the last five years the currency has been used more and more, and a bright future lies ahead. He says that the key to this success has been the connections which have been built around this shared project: "It's connections between people in different sectors which give the project its strength." Amongst other things, the 3,000 people who use the Eusko in their daily lives. "They are people who are working for a more Basque-speaking, more ecological and more solidarity-focused Basque Country", in Edme-Sanjurjo's words.
The challenge is for Eusko users to have a broader profile in the future; for it to enter the daily lives of people with no direct link with the currency. The current users are people with strong social commitment: "Some people use it to make the local economy more dynamic, and defend local employment. Others use it because they believe that the Basque Country should have its own currency. Some others want to help small shops and local agriculture. We have to get to people not involved in those areas."
It is promoted by citizens, but public administrations also support it. For instance, Jean-Rene Etchegaray, the mayor of Baiona, has set up projects to promote the currency, and he is very clear about what is behind the measures against local currencies which have been taken by the French government: “I think it's a type of Jacobin anger, because our local currency's doing very well in the Basque Country. I see it as their desire to centralise power."
People who live outside the northern Basque Country can support the currency too; you can become a member by clicking on www.euskalmoneta.org. However, Edme-Sanjurjo underlines that the best way to support this local currency is by going to Baiona on 4th March.
The Basque Country Feminist Movement has given its first evaluation of the day. They underline that it was "a complete success", as can be seen in the photographs. They see the strike's success as turning point, and say it is time to take real measures "once and for all". According to the feminist movement, 230,000 women demonstrated in the Basque Country on the day.
Over recent years the FCC company has been in charge of keeping the streets of Hernani (Gipuzkoa) clean, just as in many other Basque towns. But from May onwards Hernani's own Garbitania public service will be doing that. Votes from EH Bildu and Orain Hernani (Podemos) passed switching the service from the private sector back to the public sector.
Basque political prisoner Xabier Rey Urmeneta has died in Puerto de Santa Maria Prison (Cadiz, Spain), more than 1,000 kilometres from his home in Iruñea.
A demonstration had been organised for 14th April in Iruñea in support of the three young people who have been held in prison for almost a year and a half, and to demand they be given a fair trial. After a pub brawl with two members of the Civil Guard (Spanish armed forces), they were arrested and have been held in custody since then.
Last Saturday the anti-incinerator movement organised a mass demonstration in Donostia-San Sebastian (Basque Country). They gave the provincial government and its leader, Markel Olano, a message: "Use your energy recycling, not just burning refuse".
Christian Prudhomme, the director of the Tour de France, has replied to a request made by Euskaltzaindia (the Royal Academy of the Basque Language), and stated that the official signs as the Tour goes through Senpere and Ezpeleta on 28th July will be bilingual, in Basque and French.
On the morning of 20th February, 2003, I picked up the phone and heard Joxemari Irazusta's voice: "The Civil Guard have arrested Pello Zubiria." Pello? Joxemari told me the little he knew about it, and I couldn't believe it. I got back into bed; I couldn't digest the news. After turning around for a couple of minutes I got up again and set off for Lasarte (Gipuzkoa), the place where we edit ARGIA.
The European Court of Human Rights has condemned the Spanish State for torturing Igor Portu and Mattin Sarasola. The judges decided that Spain had contravened the 3rd clause of the European Convention. The Spanish State has to pay the two men 30,000 and 20,000 Euros, respectively, "for moral damages".
Andoain Town Council (Gipuzkoa, Basque Country) has signed an agreement with Fiare. Socially excluded citizens, and those in danger of being so, will be able to ask for loans from the ethical bank without the guarantees required by traditional banks.
The Basque feminist movement gave the details of the strike which it has called for 8th March at Donostia's Tabakalera International Contemporary Art Centre.