Tag: Social History

Flashback Friday: Red Army

On December 11, 1932, the Basque soccer team Osasuna (Club Atlético Osasuna) won 5-1 away to Athletic Madrid (Club Atlético de Madrid) in the Spanish Second Division, at the former Metropolitan Stadium of Madrid. In this match, Osasuna’s young forward Julian Vergara Medrano (1913-1987) scored all five goals. In 1932, during his debut season, Vergara scored a total of 34 goals for Osasuna. Three years later, in 1935, Vergara led the Basque “red” team (see below) to promotion to the first division. By then, he had established himself as one of the best soccer players at Osasuna. Vergara played for Osasuna until 1939. The professional soccer club Osasuna, based in Iruñea (Navarre), was founded in 1920 by the fusion of two small local teams–the Unión Sportiva and the New Club. Since its inception, the team has traditionally worn red jerseys and therefore this color has always been associated with Osasuna and its supporters.

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Julian Vergara Medrano (1913-1987)


Every Friday we look into our Basque archives for interesting historic events that happened on the same day.

Flashback Friday: The Wheelbarrow Basque

On November 27, 1885, Guillermo Isidoro Larregui Ugarte was born in Iruñea, Navarre. In 1900, at the age of fifteen, he emigrated to Buenos Aires, Argentina. He first began working as a merchant sailor. Later on, he moved to Uruguay, where he worked and prospered on a hog farm. Then he went southward to Patagonia and worked for an American Oil Company in the province of Santa Cruz. One day in 1935, Guillermo met another Basque immigrant. The two Basques started yelling at each other over a bet that one could walk northward to Buenos Aires with a wheelbarrow. Without thinking twice and while everybody laughed at him, Guillermo Isidoro Larregui Ugarte grabbed a wheelbarrow and prepared it with the essential things he needed to survive. Thus began his long journey from Santa Cruz to Buenos Aires.  In reality, he wanted to start traveling through and exploring the Latin American landscape. Since he had no other means of travel, he embarked on this curious adventure with a wheelbarrow. His story soon began to appear in newspapers and people from different corners of the country increasingly followed his footsteps. Furthermore, people supported him on every stage of the journey, especially from the Basque immigrant community. After his great feat, Larregui never claimed his winnings from the bet. Later on, Guillermo made a further three more trips with his wheelbarrow. He came to be known as “the Wheelbarrow Basque” or even “the One Wheel Quixote.” On June 9, 1948, Larregui passed away at the age of seventy-nine in Puerto Iguazú, Argentina. 

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Guillermo Isidoro Larregui Ugarte holding his wheelbarrow

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Front page of an Argentinian newspaper La Nacion of May 25, 1936


Every Friday we look into our Basque archives for interesting historic events that happened on the same day.

Flashback Friday: The Disciple of Barandiaran

On November 13, 1914, Julio Caro Baroja, the renowned anthropologist of Basque origin, was born in Madrid, Spain. He was the eldest son of Rafael Caro Raggio and Carmen Baroja Nessi. At a very early age, Julio moved to the Navarrese town of Bera, in the Basque Country. There, he would spend hours with his uncle, the famed author Pío Baroja. During his adolescence, he learned about Basque culture when he began reading books in his uncle’s library and this interest led him to undertake ethnographic research in the Basque Country. As a student of the Basque archaeologist and ethnographer Jose Migel Barandiaran, he quickly became drawn to Basque history and culture. In 1941, he had already completed a doctorate in ancient history. From this moment on, his contribution to Basque anthropology and historiography consisted of publishing numerous books and articles, including The Basques (1949) and Vasconiana (1974). Among other things, Baroja, who was considered a nonconformist scholar, observed Basque society as a synthesis and integration of modernity and tradition. In 1995, Julio Caro Baroja passed away in Bera and was buried in the local cemetery. Born in the context of World War I and dying in the aftermath of the collapse of the Soviet Union, Baroja lived through many of the turbulent events that marked the “short twentieth century,” which also influenced a considerable part of his work on Basque studies.

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From left, Julio Caro Baroja, Joxemiel Barandiaran Aierbe, and Juan Garmendia in Ataun, Gipuzkoa, in the 1970s.

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From left, Eloy Placer, Julio Caro Baroja, William A. Douglass, and Jon Bilbao during the Summer Session Abroad in Uztaritze, Lapurdi, organized by the Basque Studies Program in 1970. Source: Jon Bilbao Basque Library, UNR


For more information and a selection of his works translated into English, check out the book edited and translated by Jesús Azcona, The Selected Essays of Julio Caro Baroja.

Every Friday we look into our Basque archives for interesting historic events that happened on the same day.

Flashback Friday: Strike!

On September 18, 1911, early in the morning, a major strike started in the streets of Bilbao (Bizkaia). At the beginning of September, Basque steelworkers from big factories, like the “Great Furnaces of Biscay” (Altos Hornos de Vizcaya, S.A.), had gone out on strike against the poor working conditions and the central government position, because it supported the big corporations’ coercive mechanisms against workers. In previous years, the labor situation had dramatically deteriorated in Bilbao and the whole Bizkaian mining area. Governmental authorities reacted with full force against workers, violating the strikers’ civil rights. Eventually, the fighting in the streets of those Basque industrial centers grew in intensity and spread to other regions, followed by the events of September 18. On this day, labor conflicts in the Basque steel industry reached their highest point when other labor organizations in Spain joined in the fight against the government-sponsored corporatism. The general strike was a symptom of the growing influence of labor unions in the major industrial centers, such as the city of Bilbao and the surroundings. Furthermore, it showed the strength of the organized labor’s commitment to strategies of resistance against the excesses of big capitalist corporations. The decades between 1890 and 1910 witnessed the expansion of a unionized industrial workforce and labor organizations in the Basque Country.

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Strikers preparing barricades to meet the police

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Police officers cordoned off the center of Bilbao (Bizkaia)


Every Friday we look into our Basque archives for interesting historic events that happened on the same day.