Pact of Baiona 1975


  • TYPE OF TEXT: Primary source. As a regards the form, as it is a manifest; it is a historical text. In the content it is political text.
  • AUTHOR: Collective Author (Basque political and trade union organizations in exile in France) (PCE, PNV, UGT, Izquierda Republicana, ANV, Euskadi Mendigozale Batza, PSOE, ELA, Republicans, CNT)
ADDRESSEE: it is addressed to all citizens of the Basque Country, but indirectly to the Franco Regime, therefore, it is a public text.
  • OBJECTIVE: reaffirmed their allegiance to the Republic, and gave support to the Basque Government, being opposed to the dictatorship and preventing a restoration of the monarchy.
  • LOCATION AND DATE: Published in Bayonne (France) on March 31, 1945, during the first part of Francoism, during the stage of the Basque Government in exile in France, stage of repression and hope of the Basque Government and political organizations to re-impose the Republic in Spain if the allies won the Second World War.
We will begin the Analysis with the clarification of some Concepts that help us to better understand the text. "Government of the Basque Country": refers to the one built in the Basque Country after the approval of the Statute of Autonomy and that, after the civil war, had to go into exile (for the moment to France); "José Antonio Aguirre": leader of the PNV that, being Mayor of Getxo, was named Lehendakari.
The central theme of the text is to make public the agreements reached by the signatories regarding the Basque Government in exile and the main ideas refer to trust in the Basque government in exile, respect for the will of the people, the future of the pact when democracy is re-established and, finally, the need to continue to be united with the rest of the anti-Franco parties. We briefly expand on each of these ideas.
The text begins with a brief "introduction" introducing the protagonists of the pact, that is, "the political and trade union organizations of the Basque Country that fought against Francoism" and are now in French exile.
The ideas are determined in each of the five points, pointing out the following as the most important:
1. The union of the forces that confronted Franco and that, to a greater or lesser extent, formed the first Government of Euskadi in accordance with the Basque Statute is ratified. The same text indicates that the first lehendakari was José Antonio Aguirre (then mayor of Getxo and elected by those mayors who were able to attend the corresponding vote).
2. The Basque Government in exile is admitted as the legitimate representative of the Basque people, who are given confidence and support "provided that they collect their political and social aspirations". The statement hides the tensions between nationalists and socialists (especially on the part of Prieto).
3. They undertake to respect and defend the wishes of the Basque people once democratic normality has been restored. We cannot forget the context in which the pact was signed: 1945. The triumph of Western democracies in the Second World War was evident at that time. For this reason, the Basque Government in exile (like the Spanish or Catalan Government) is convinced that the next step to be taken, on the part of the victors, will be in the direction of putting an end to the Franco regime.
4. It is precisely for this reason that they are being set up as a consultative body of the Basque Government for the time being. We well know that it will never come because of the differences between the winning blocs (cold war).
5. Finally, they conspire to continue the fight against Franco's government and the institutions that support it, citing the Falange as the most significant. They also conspire to any attempt at monarchic restoration that might arise. Perhaps because of future necessity they forget to quote Carlism.
The antecedents of the Baiona Pact must be placed in the context of the Spanish civil war itself, and in the composition of the Basque Government in its difficult context. It was in this context that the Statute of Autonomy for the Basque Country was approved (October 1936). When the Francoists entered Bilbao and took the city, the nationalist and republican troops fled to Santander, and at that moment the nationalist battalions and the PNV signed the Santoña Pact with the Italians through which the Gudaris battalions could escape from Spain, a pact that was later not respected by Franco. 
In the same context, at the end of the civil war there would be a massive exile to France and other European countries, more than 150,000 people, and even 32,000 children during the war.
The imposition of the Franco regime and dictatorship in Spain and the Basque Country would begin in its first stage with what they came to call "the black years or years of fear", executions, repression, exile, forced expropriations, or labor camps. Apart from that, in the economic aspect would be the years of the economic period known as autarchy, a system of self-production to which the Basque Country would have to get used. The Basque Country would also completely lose its autonomous system, the Statute of Autonomy would be suppressed, and in the case of the economic agreement for Gipuzkoa and Bizkaia, provinces that were declared traitors by the regime for their loyalty to the Republic, but not Navarre and Araba, loyal to Franco.
Present moment
Opposition to the Franco regime, between hope and frustration.
Regarding the internal opposition: during the first years the situation was very complicated. The institutional apparatus of the regime set out completely to pursue with all the means at its disposal any type of opposition to the regime, the law of political responsibilities of 1939, lawsuits of doubtful or null legality, etc...
But from the 1940s onwards the internal opposition began to try to organize itself, either by means of strikes in the workplace, the most important of which was the general strike of 1947, or by calling for abstention in the approval of the general referendum law.
On the other hand, the political forces in exile were disunited and at odds, which also had an influence in the Basque area.
Once the disagreements were resolved, José Antonio Aguirre took on the responsibility of maintaining the unity between the Basque parties in order to obtain their support for the Basque Government in exile, and on the other hand the republican and left-wing parties, to obtain loyalty to the Republic in the event that once Franco's regime was over, the republican system would be reinstated again in the Spanish state, which would give rise to the signing of the present Baiona pact.
As World War II came to an end, hopes grew among the opposition abroad and among members of the Basque Government in exile, since it was hoped that the allies once peace was established in Europe would end Franco's regime for its support of the axis powers (Germany). Previously the Basque Government had had to move in 1941 from Paris New York, as Paris had fallen into the hands of Germany.  There in America José Antonio Aguirre would intensify his contacts with the Americans in the hope that they would collaborate with the Basque Government to overthrow France, while in Europe the contacts between the opposition forces against Francoism would also intensify.
Juan de Borbón would also sign an agreement in Lausanne (Switzerland) to establish a constitutional monarchy in Spain should he restore a democratic system in Spain.
The result of all these movements would be the present Baiona pact, the main objective of which, as has been mentioned, would be, on the one hand, to show loyalty to the Republic and, on the other, to the Basque Government in exile, as well as in the event that a democratic system were to be reintroduced in the Basque Country.
The consequences of this whole process will be the frustration that will take place in the 1950s as a consequence of the recognition of Franco's regime in the international context, and therefore the discouragement that will occur mainly in the opposition movement in exile.
The allies won the war, but the columns emerged in the "new" Europe after World War II, block politics, the cold war, and especially the opposition of Franco to the Communist bloc, made the Franco regime was accepted international level and it was totally strengthened. In the new context of the Cold War, Franco -unhard opponent of communism- became a protected and valuable ally of the United States. The attempts opened in exile by the Basque Government therefore failed.

The greatest frustration would come in the following years, between 1953 and 1955, when the Concordat was signed with the Vatican, the treaties with the United States, and the entry of Spain into the UN. The Basque Government expelled the communists and within the PNV again disagreements arose. In the Basque Country new opposition movements were emerging, and little by little, they were abandoning the activity of the official opposition in exile. New attempts in the internal opposition mainly in the labour movement or within nationalism, emergence of radical groups, disagreements with the PNV, and in that way EKIN will appear first, and then the terrorist group ETA.


The Baiona Pact in the first place, it meant an endorsement of the Basque Government “as a legitimate representation of the Basque people”. In its third point it was agreed: “To respect and defend, once democratic normality has been restored, the wishes of the Basque people who will freely express them”. Perhaps the key to that agreement was that the recovery of democratic freedoms was prioritized over any other issue.

The Pact was signed by representatives of the PNV, ANV, PCE, UGT, Euzko Mendigoizale Batza, IR, CCSE (PSE), Federal Republican Party, CNT and ELA-STV. The repercussions of the same were not very important because, shortly, the pact was broken due to the strong discrepancies that were created between its signatories.

It also meant an attempt to gather the opposition to the regime abroad, but which was frustrated in the 1950s due to the international recognition of Franco’s regime, with which it meant the appearance in the Basque Country of new opposition groups, within the workers’ movement, which will also arise in Basque nationalism, the appearance of the EKIN movement, or of the radical ETA group