The esfr-bordermarkers in the Basque country are not safe. Recently the markers 76 and 100 have disappeared and no. 101 has been broken off:
For Basque nationalists, the esfr-border should be non-existent, cutting in half a region that should be an independent whole. There is an iconic picture of the ‘execution’ of bm098 in which a group of masked nationalists is watching the executioner.
Is this the reason that its bordermarkers are relatively more damaged or have more often disappeared than in other regions? We don’t know. Let’s not forget the temptation of ‘le désir de détruire’ which is of all times.
Anyway: on my latest trip to the Basque country in April 2022, I discovered that bm100 has disappeared:
And its neighbor no. 101 has been broken off:
Carlos Roca (website) inspected the crime scene with a forensic eye. He identified the whitish edge of the fracture area as being the result of a portable grinding saw. Having thus grinded a wedge, it’s easy to break the bm off:
The disappearance of bm076 was reported in july 2021 by Michel Molia (see this post):
Together we visited the spot and searched in vain the valley underneath the ridge, the so-called ‘Gorospil-cemetery‘
Altogether, we have now 8 cases of the 288 Basque-bordermarkers (nos. 1-272, including submarkers) which have disappeared or have been severely damaged:
– 067: shattered in pieces
– 076: disappeared
– 098: shattered in pieces
– 100: disappeared
– 101: broken off
– 236: disappeared
– 255: disappeared in 2007
– 271bis: disappeared
Unpleasant, whatever one’s forgiving thoughts about of Basque nationalism OR juvenile vandalism… This is not a Belgian farmer, “invading” France by moving a monument rock to get his tractor by…
In a sense this touches upon something we have discussed once or twice before, I think. For smaller countries and for those with a longstanding national identity it matters, perhaps by analogy to the psychological importance of personal boundaries…or those that would gain (or protect) natural resources (be it Donbas coal or pasture for sheep) it matters a great deal, and invasion is an existential matter. For bigger lands the equation may shift… Borders (at least when you get down to the centimeter level) are paradoxically both arbitrary and meaningful, and (arguably) the same can be said for border markers… I’m not saying that that is my own firm position with respect to the monuments themselves– certainly I am troubled by this destruction; perhaps in part the reason for the offense I would take at this is the disrespect it shows for the people that placed them: these are not iron stakes in the ground put by people following an easy treaty description with a portable GPS, but works of craftsmanship placed to mark a point on an irregular line, with considerable labor involved in finding that line on the actual ground with limited technology. To break (or steal) the marker is to slap those people in the face
I have never been able to resolve this contradiction in my own mind. For one view (not fully mine but one that I appreciate), I commend to you the poem by Robert Frost, “Mending Wall” https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/44266/mending-wall
As always, I get great pleasure in reading about your work…
Well, another mini-essay in depth, David, thank you! And what a beautiful poem of David Frost, let’s remember “‘Good fences make good neighbors.’.