Politicians and Public Officials

Ybarnégaray, Jean

Sportsman and political personality from Basse-Navarre, born in Uhart-Cize in 1883 into a well-to-do family. He did his first studies in Larresore and his law studies in Bordeaux, establishing offices in Saint-Palais and Baiona.

He also visited the authorities and political elements on the other side of the Bidassoa to interest them in the cause of the Allies. Member of Parliament in 1914. At the end of the war, he was re-elected against Garat, the radical mayor of Baiona. In 1924, as vice-president of Jeunesses Patriotes, he was elected again, with even more votes than the previous time; his rally on 26 October was attended by a crowd that was hard to beat and he was supported by Bishop Gieure and the priest Berguey, a rally that was ed the following year. His success was based on a precise knowledge of the doses of clericalism and Basqueism needed to move a traditionalist, rural and depoliticised opinion that followed the slogan eskualdun fededun.

As well as winning the support of the anti-republican clergy, he was able to find a place in Basque societies, such as the Basque Studies/Eusko Ikaskuntza, of which he was vice-president from 1921 to 1929, and to make himself popular with acts such as the foundation of the French Pelota Federation in 1921 and the inclusion, which he obtained, of this sport in the official category of the Paris Olympic Games in 1924. On 17 September 1925, he took part in the Homage to Axular organised by Eskualtzaleen Biltzarra. The following year he founded the Unión Catholique. All this work did not prevent him from obtaining, from 1926 to 1929, the title of French pelota champion and founding in Argentina, on 19 May 1929, the International Federation of Basque Pelota, originally formed by France, Spain and Argentina, an event attended by a Basque native, Horacio B. Oyhanarte, Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Basque Country. Oyhanarte, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Argentina, and a native Basque, Ramiro de Maeztu, Ambassador of Spain.

His popularity levels can be measured by the votes he obtained in 1932 (83.3%) and 1936 (85.5%). It was in the 1930s that Ybarnégaray's anti-parliamentarianism took precedence over any other political motivation. When the Stavisky affair broke out, he played a key role in the bloody days of 5-6 February 1934 and in the fascisation of a large section of right-wing opinion. Daladier was forced to resign, even though he had a majority, which provoked a formidable mobilisation of the French left. Ybarnégaray's Croix de Feu and leftists clashed throughout France, most notably in the riots of 5 April 1935 when demonstrators prevented Ybarnégaray from speaking in Baiona.

The victory of the Popular Front forced Ybarnégaray to regroup his followers and radicalise by forming a clearly pro-fascist group in the Assembly, affiliated (Vice-President) to Colonel La Rocque's Parti Social Français (1936). At the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War in 1936, he did not conceal his pro-Francoism, which he demonstrated by being appointed, in June 1940, Minister in Marshal Petain's government (Minister of Ex-combatants and the Family) until September of the same year. Not only did he succeed in fomenting ility against nationalist and republican refugees in the French Basque Country, but he also adopted persecutory measures against them, such as internment in the Gurs camp, the closure of the Basque Government Delegation in Paris and the closure of the "Euzko-Deya" newspaper.

Later (1944), his reflexes as a French patriot led him to oppose the Germans, who deported him to the Tyrol for a year and four months. At the end of the war, he was acquitted by the Liberation Court, but despite his 1951 election bid with Tixier Vignancourt, he was forced to leave politics. He died in Paris on 25 March 1956. In the magazine "Gure Herria", in the article in which the first notification of his death was given, one can read:

"Il y avait si longtemps que le Pays Basque avait été habitué à être réprésenté par M. Ybarnégaray que pour beaucoup sa fin semblait emporter une partie de l'édifice euskarien, une partie de cette entité si pure et si erratique que les basques nous formons dans l'immense amalgame moderne".

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