On January 20, 1940, Argentinian president Roberto Marcelino Ortiz and minister of agriculture José Padilla signed into law a decree authorizing expanded Basque immigration into that country and allowing the immigration of Basques from Spain and France “with the documentation that they possess.”
Xabier Irujo writes about this decree in his Expelled from the Motherland:
On August 30, 1939, the Basque government delegation in Buenos Aires established the Pro-Basque Immigration Committee. Through this committee, Basque refugees managed to persuade Argentina’s President Ortiz to sign immigration decrees on January 20 and July 18, 1940; Vice President Ramón S. Castillo signed another decree on August 12. According to the decrees, all Basque refugees—without distinction, including those without documents—could enter Argentina without undergoing quarantine, which was obligatory for all other immigrants, and after two weeks they would obtain full Argentine citizenship. There was only one condition: the committee had to verify that the refugees were Basques. (p. 106)
This decree was an important recognition and in the words of Basque president José Antonio Aguirre (as quoted in José Manuel Azcona Pastor’s Possible Paradises: Basque Emigration to Latin America) the decree meant “the recognition of honor, as men and as a people, for the Basques” (p. 400).
NOTE: Unfortunately (for us!) graduate student Iker Saitua is nearing completion of his dissertation in history so will no longer have the time to share his great “Flashback Friday” posts with us, but we congratulate him on his progress and thank him for sharing so much historical knowledge with us and we will continue in his tradition every sharing a “this week in Basque history” every Friday.