11th Euskal Herria Mugaz Gaindi Conference Looks at the Basques of Cuba

For the past two years, William A. Douglass has been organizing a conference on Vascos en Cuba (Basques in Cuba) that was held between January 12 and 14, 2015, in the Palacio del Conde de San Esteban de Cañongo in Havana’s Plaza Vieja. The three days of both morning and afternoon sessions featured eighteen lectures by investigators of various aspects of Basque history in Cuba. About half were from the European Basque homeland (as well as one from Uruguay) and the remainder were Cuban academics. The event was co-sponsored by the Basque Government, USAC, the Fundación Fernando de Ortiz of Havana, that city’s Asociación Vasco-Navarra de Beneficencia, the Colegio Universitario de San Gerónimo, and UNR’s Center for Basque Studies. An engaged and enthusiastic public filled the venue to capacity. Asier Vallejo represented the Basque Government during both the opening and closing ceremonies as did Renato Garcia as president of the Havana Basque Association. William Douglass moderated the proceedings and will edit both a Spanish and English publication of the results.

Euskal Herria Mugaz Gaindi is a series of conferences organized by Basque diaspora specialists at several universities in the Basque Country. The Vascos en Cuba seminar was also the first event in a series of conferences to be held throughout 2015 in commemoration of the 40th anniversary of the publication of the work Amerikanuak: Basques in the New World co-authored by William Douglass and Jon Bilbao.

Closing speakers from left to right Félix Julio Alfonso López (Vice Rector of the Colegio Universitario San Gerónimo), Renato García Eguzkiza (President, Asociación Vasco-Navarra de Beneficencia de La Habana), Asier Vallejo (Director para la Comunidad Vasca en el Exterior of the Basque Government) and Bill Douglass

Attentive crowd at the Basques in Cuba Conference.

Bil Douglass (center) with from left to right: Jon Ander Ramos Martínez (speaker), Feli Lorenzo (Museo Euskal Herria od Gernika), Beñat Çuburu-Ithorotz (speaker) and Mikel Urquijo (speaker).