JOXE ARAKAMA LOPEZ DE GEREÑU
Conquest is any action implemented by means of violence, deceit or scheme against a people, the vilest action pursued by a mighty group against any peoples, a crime against humanity.
The author of the article emphasizes that the Basque Country was subjected to conquest. During the Middle Ages, Navarre, the natural kingdom of the Basques, came to be conquered by the Castilians in 1199-1200 and 1512-1522. During the 19th century, the Spanish occupied all the Iberian Basque Country again, suppressing after two Carlist Wars in 1836-1839 and 1873-1876 all traces of the Basque sovereignty remaining. The prime minister of Spain did not mince words, he had removed the Charters or Fueros “by right of war”.
Well into the 20th century, Franco’s fascist uprising was also an action of conquest in the Iberian Basque Country. As a result, the Basque Government had to take to exile. As Jose Maria Areilza, first fascist mayor of Bilbao, put it bluntly in a speech addressed to the fascist militia, “you have saved us by means of conquest, that is, by violence, shooting and shelling”; “Bilbao did not give up, the army and the militias conquered it, by dint of sacrificing many lives”.
Following conquest, it is time for colonization. The conquerors substitute the language, culture, religion, political ideology and world view of the defeated, imposing theirs instead. The conquering peoples pursue the assimilation of the defeated people through colonization and, especially, language and culture substitution.
When colonizers take over more than just one territory or community following conquest, we may call it imperialism, like Castilian (Spanish) Imperialism or French Imperialism.
In the wake of conquest victors typically boast their feats, not only back in their homeland, but over the people subjected. Among the latter, conquerors praise the agents who worked at their service in the imperial effort, like Elcano, Oquendo or Legazpi, in the case of the Basque Country. That imperial pride instilled on the Spanish people accounts for their inability, even by those who live in wretched conditions, to understand why Basques and Catalans, despite being under Spanish rule, reject Spanishness.