SOTA ABURTO, Ramon de la

Biscayan politician and financier, son of Sir Ramón de la Sota y Llano, born in Getxo in 1887. A student of Resurrección María de Azkue in his youth, in 1904 he went to England to study. In 1912 he completed a degree in naval and hydraulic engineering at the famous King's College in London. There he came into contact with the social, political and cultural currents of the world, receiving a clearly English education. He returned to Bilbao in 1913, where he came into contact with the Basque Nationalist Party, which he joined. In 1917 he was elected deputy for the district of Balmaseda, and later president of the Provincial Council of Biscay. He co-founded the Basque Culture Board, under whose auspices Euskaltzaindia, the Bilbao Symphony Orchestra, the Archaeological and Painting Museums and the Oñati Basque Studies Congress were created. He resigned as a Member of Parliament at the end of 1925. On his father's death in 1937, he inherited his father's businesses: just over 40% of the capital of the Sota y Aznar Shipping Company, he ran the Euskalduna Shipbuilding and Ship Repair Company, the Sierra Menera iron mines, the Mediterranean Iron and Steel Works, the Franco Española de Alambres y Cables de Erandio, he founded the La Polar insurance company, and had offices in London, Paris, New York, Rotterdam, Duisburg and Athens. He barely had time to get hold of his father's inheritance; ten months after receiving it, he had to flee. He did, however, have time to put all his ships - 42 of them - at the service of the Junta de Defensa during the war, to be used in the evacuation of the civilian population. The entry of Franco's troops wiped out much of De la Sota's fortune. The victors did something that. Forty years later, De la Sota was still filled with rage: they tried and condemned his father, who had been dead for months. They seized his assets and fined him 100 million pesetas. They also seized Ibaigane, his house in the Alameda de Mazarredo in Bilbao, and turned it into the Military Government, and in 1937 he went to live in the villa "Etchepherdia" in Biarritz. For the last 41 years, his occupations were far removed from the business world. He devoted himself to what he loved most: researching the sea, building up an impressive library, keeping a close eye on what was happening in his country. He helped to set up the Laburdi Buru Batzar, wrote about the shipping life of Biscay, filled "Etchepherdia" with books, paintings, papers, manuscripts... He published a portrait of his father (Bilbao, 1957), as well as some newspaper articles. He had a lawsuit with Aznar -which he lost- for the dispossession he was subjected to when his lawyer was Ramón de Madariaga, and after Franco's death, his daughter convinced him to come, and he was about to do so, but he did not have time. He only came back once, in April 1978, to spend a few days, but he only stayed for 24 hours. He did not like what he saw. He died on 5 August of that year.


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