Misc 21/11/2020

A Donostia native from Vilassar

Antoni Batista
3 min
Un donostiarra de Vilassar

JournalistErnest Lluch had a house in Donostia, a flat on Paseo de Salamanca, with a small living room overlooking the mouth of the Urumea river and the Zurriola beach that he could see through some mirrors that had been installed in the kitchen. Firework nights during the Semana Grande in August and galleys in September splashing out on the seafront.

Mari Carmen Garmendia, who was the Minister of Culture and spokesperson for the Basque government, said that Ernest Lluch was part of the San Sebastian landscape, because you could meet him everywhere. He went to fech the newspaper at Justo's kiosk, on Avenida de la Libertad. He would do his shopping at the Bretxa market. He walked along the Kontxa, arrived at Chillida's Peines del Viento, turned around and drank tea in the fish tank of the Hotel de Londres and of Inglaterra. He was a member of the Real Sociedad and of the Orfeón Donostiarra. He did not miss the concerts of the Quincena Musical. He gave blood every Holy Saturday. He did not miss any exhibition at the Altxerri gallery and liked its music bar. He went to the aquarium and was fascinated by the imposing abyssal chasms of marine ancestors of the Maresme. The inexcusable pintxos of the Parte Vieja, standing right there as he left the house, and the haute cuisine of his friend Arzak in family celebrations.

He wrote in the abertzale newspaper Egunkaria, with translations by the best possible translator: his friend Ramon Etxezarreta, a Basque philologist and town hall deputy mayor. He had joined Elkarri, the peace association founded by ex-militants of Herri Batasuna. He placed Donostia on the cultural world map of the Menéndez Pelayo International University when he was rector. From his powerful academic side, he had reasoned a confederal model without dismissing the Constitution, developing the regional Basque rights.

His last summer

But in the summer of 2000, the last summer of his life, he felt the impending restlessness of the murders of two very close friends, Juan Mari Jauregi, an anti-Francoist fighter and socialist politician, and the president of the Gipuzkoan employers' association, Joxe Mari Korta, who had just told him over dinner at the Nicolasa that he was starting a campaign not to pay the so-called impuesto revolucionario. From then on, he had to take measures, which were distressing in themselves, and hire security when danger was more likely. He got tired and shortened his holidays, thinking that in Barcelona he would be calmer, but he was lulled and isolated himself from time to time: he did not want to disturb anyone. Montserrat Tote Lamarca, his wife, noticed his absences and accompanied him in his shared emotions. Even so, they still returned to Donostia to watch the sentimental derby of the two teams that occupied his heart: on Saturday 14 October, Barça scored six goals against the Real, too much punishment for those who loved both sides of the field in that match.

On September 8 he had published an article in La Vanguardia talking about him but camouflaging himself in third person singular. A supposed "friend who used to spend his summer holidays in Donostia" was aware that he was at high risk: "Twice during the day and twice at night he checks the bottom of the car, and before leaving, again"; "Walks around the city must be avoided", and areas such as the old town are totally forbidden. The day he took that article to the newspaper was the last day I saw him. He was wearing a shirt from the metropolitan transport, which he had been given as a present for his constant praise of public transport, of which he was a regular user: he used to go to Donostia by bus or by night train. He invited me to go over the bridge of the Constitución in Maià de Montcal, which I would have done to exchange impressions on how he had felt in the meeting with Arnaldo Otegi that I had helped organize. We ran out of time to do so.

Cultural Center in Anoeta

In the field of the Real Sociedad, in Anoeta, an Ernest Lluch Cultural Center was opened, which includes a good collection of Catalan books that the Generalitat gave. All Real Sociedad fans remember and love him.