In a yet another incredible twist of the advance of Spanish neofascism in the Basque Country (by undemocratic means, of course), an unprecedented situation has happened yesterday, as the Great Week of Bilbao is getting ready one year more: the person proposed to be this year's txupinera (the person, traditionally a woman, who ignites the firecracker marking the beginning of the festive journey, which is known as txupin) has been vetoed by the Spanish-nationalist tory town councilors (remember that last elections were undemocratic as important options were forbidden from running, what heavily distorts the representation in favor of Spanish nationalist forces).
But the most outraging fact is why has she been vetoed: because her brother is imprisioned by Spain and she collaborates in organizing travels for family members to the remote prisions where Basque prisioners are sent.
The Fiestas of Bilbao (Bilboko Jaiak), known officially as Bilboko Aste Nagusia (Great Week of Bilbao) are celebrated the week after August 15th, lasting ten days in fact. Since the fall of fascism they have been co-organized by the Town Hall and the Coordination of Kompartsak (self organized fiesta groups), this has allowed them to become the most popular and wild fiestas ever anywhere on Earth. The fiestas are presided by a couple of persons: the pregonero/-a (speaker, someone notable that is honored with cheering up the masses with his/her discourses) and the txupinera (traditionally a woman, as pregoneros were in the past usually men). The latter is appointed by the Coordination of Kompartsak, a wholly autonomous entity, normally just ratifying the nominated person proposed by the kompartsa that takes the turn that year.
last years' txupinera (left) and pregonero (right) in their uniforms
This year it was the turn of Eguzkizaleak (the Guardians of the Sun), a kompartsa organized around ecologist NGO, Eguzki (the Sun). Being txupinera is just a honorary position as her main role is just being there dressed in her red uniform and igniting the festive rockets now and then. At most she may be asked to say something for the local TV. That's all.
Never before was a txupinera vetoed by the Town Hall. And this year's veto (or threat of it so far) doesn't forecast anything good for the future of the fiestas under this arrogant undemocratic Town Hall.
We'll see what happens. I don't really see the kompartsak yielding in this issue.