Bilboko Aste Nagusia, the Great Week of Bilbao, began yesterday in a very strange mood, after the fascist Spanish proconsul ("delegate of the government") in the Western Basque Country, J.M. Urquijo, managed to use some of their fascist laws and fascist tribunals to impede that this year's Txupinera, Jone Artola, could exert as such.
The txupin or ritual shot of a noisy firework is how fiestas begin, not just the first day but every day. Since the popular organization Coordination of Konpartsak (festive groups) took over the Bilbao Fiestas in 1978, after decades of fascist boredom, giving them new life, the role of the Txupinera (always a woman, as the Pregonero used to be a man back in those days) has rotated among each of the konpartsak, which in turn elect a woman among their ranks.
This year 2013, it was the turn of Txori Barrote (= "bar bird"), whose logo represents a woodpecker breaking prison bars. Like many (but not all) other konpartsak, there is a socio-political organization behind it, in this case the veteran and highly popular Committees pro-Amnesty, which is now illegal but has brought year after year, week after week, for many decades, the plight of Basque prisoners, dispersed to remote prisons and often tortured and abused at all levels, to the streets of this country that fights and dances between the mountains and the sea.
For the Spanish Nationalists, including Mr. Urquijo, there is no new period, no peace process or anything, just yet another phase in their endless conquest of our little country. In this sense he has been persecuting any expression of solidarity with Basque prisoners with unprecedented zeal. Even after tribunals acknowledged that display of prisoners' photos was no crime, they have been repressing such expressions of solidarity and love, up to the point that one year Txori Barrote and Kaskagorri konpartsak were declared illegal themselves, although for short time, with the result that the whole city was full of prisoners' photos. More than ever before, as an act of solidarity by all other konpartsak.
This year the crusader zeal of the Spanish Imperialists had of course to leave a bitter taste in our fiestas (they are ours, not yours!) and the txupinera Jone Artola, who has the bad luck of being the sister of a long time political prisoner and, therefore, has acted often as speaker of the solidarity movement, was declared illegal herself, not her life but her right to be Txupinera.
If we would have a half-decent municipal government, they would have declared disobedience. But it's a pathetic bourgeois one and they only wanted to obey the law, no matter it is foreign imposed law.
So, after long negotiations a coral txupin was agreed. The rocket was fired by the President of the Fiestas Comission, a local councilor, and, as the Txupinera could not legally wear the uniform, the Pregonera Iraia Iturregi (captain of the local women football team) took her own off as soon as her speech was over, embracing Jone, who wore proudly her 27 years' old Txori Barrote shirt.
|Iturregi and Artola embraced|
Iturriaga's speech was full of references to the inquisitorial abuse:
I am really tired of those who do not seem to understand which is the essence of Aste Nagusia. Stop! We want to enjoy each second of the fiesta independent of gender, race and political ideologies! We want to enjoy the fiestas all together as the persons we are.
She ended with a cry of Gora gu ta gutarrak! (Up with us and our people!)
Which was cheered by the crowd with cries of Go Txupinera! and Mr. Governor: you are dumb!
The two women dressed in their uniforms again to enjoy of the fiestas in the streets, where they were homaged by the konpartsak, which are the soul of it.