Fiestas & traditions
The Fueros: Origin of the Basques' special status
These Fueros consisted of a set of ordinances in public and private law which regulated the way the Basque Provinces and Navarra were administered.
In historical terms, the word Fuero usually refers to the foundational charters of cities and boroughs. These charters were designed to concentrate families in specific places and often included a number of privileges and exemptions. But where the Basque provinces and Navarra are concerned, the term Fueros does not refer to local dispensations but to a series of general laws that these territories laid down for themselves at a time when they enjoyed a large degree of autonomy. These Fueros consisted of a set of ordinances in public and private law which regulated the way the Basque Provinces and Navarra were administered.
The Fueros took shape as a body of law arising from a series of customs and habitual practices that were themselves a reflection of a specific way of thinking and feeling. Perhaps one of the most distinctive features of the Fueros as a whole is their flexibility in the face of changing social conditions.
As one expert put it: "A fuero isn't something that suddenly appears, like a new constitution; rather, it is something that is shaped gradually, grounded in history itself. So foral [the adjective derives from fuero] formulas cannot be discarded as inadequate; they are formed continually, are constantly renewed, and do not attempt to base their ultimate justification on preceding formulations. So each formulation is another landmark on the path to their final completion."
The term fuero has often been associated with privilege. But it should be said that the two have nothing in common. The Fueros do not derive from a supreme authority, but from the repeated practices of a community. To be able to draft such Fueros a community has to be autonomous, i.e., it must have the capacity to endow itself with the legal framework within which it carries on all its activities. So the Fueros are best defined not as a gratia, but rather as a ius.
These principles, defended by prestigious jurists, were repeated by Javier Pérez Anaiz in his El Concierto Económico: evolución, caracteres y fundamentos de la financiación vasca [Economic Agreement: evolution, nature and foundations of the system of Basque financing] published by the Basque Institute of Public Administration (IVAP) in 1992.
So it can be fairly said that the Fueros are an exceptional distinguishing feature of the Basque Country. Each territory (Bizkaia, Alava, Gipuzkoa and Navarra, in Spain; Benavarre, Laburdi and Zuberoa in France) has its own history and has shaped its own law, with a number of similarities and common forms.
Tuesday, May 22, 2007
Some history, courtesy of EITb:
~ ~ ~