Basque president visits the Farm

July 29, 2010, 12:30 a.m.

Currently on a larger tour of the Bay Area and Silicon Valley, Basque President Patxi López visited campus on Wednesday.

López, who was elected the leader of Spain’s autonomous northern community in May 2009, toured SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, the main campus and the Center for Automotive Research at Stanford (CARS), and also met with Stanford Provost John Etchemendy Ph.D. ’82.

The visitors particularly enjoyed seeing the solar car project and the autonomous vehicle at the CARS facility, according to Etchemendy. The Basque delegation was interested in discussing relations between Stanford and industry during the tour, and the group also spoke with former Provost William Miller and Luis Mejia from the Office of Technology Licensing.

Etchemendy’s heritage and previous statements on Basque politics added nuance to his meeting with López, who is the first president to openly oppose Basque independence in thirty years.

Etchemendy, of Basque heritage, has a history of promoting Basque culture and awareness. He sponsored the formation of an introductory Basque studies course in 2006. He also signed the March 2010 “Brussels Declaration,” which called for the terrorist and nationalist Euskadi Ta Askatasuna (ETA) group to cease violence permanently and also for reciprocation on the side of the Spanish government.

López’s party, the Spanish Socialist Party (PSOE) is against an independent Basque and has spoken out against the Brussels Declaration.

“The declaration endorses the initiation in the Basque country of a peaceful process patterned on that used to solve the conflict in Northern Ireland,” Etchemendy wrote in an e-mail to The Daily. He said his signature was a personal endorsement.

“The desired outcome is to bring to an end the use of violence as a means to promote independence of the Basque provinces from Spain,” he added.

— Marisa Landicho

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