top of page

Who are we?

About  Basque PEN


 In 1950 Andima Ibiñagabeitia, Jokin Zaitegi, Jon Mirande, Federico Krutwig, Txomin Peillen and others set up an organisation known as the PEN Euskal Bilkura (Basque PEN Association), with the Spanish name PEN Club Vasco IDAZKORTZ. Its General Secretary was Manuel de la Sota and its headquarters were located in Miarritze (Biarritz), at the Etcheperdia villa.


     The Basque Government in exile had a representative in London by the name of Angel de Gondra and thanks to him as well as to a request made by Basque writers living in Argentina, the Basque Group was accepted by the International PEN Club at its congress in Edinburgh.


    An announcement in the bulletin Oficina de Prensa de Euzkadi (The Basque Countrys Press Office) published from Paris every day by the Basque Government in exile said that the Basque PEN Club would be operating within the sphere of the Sociedad Internacional de Estudios Vascos (International Society of Basque Studies) and St. Francis Xaviers Day, December 3, was chosen as its official day. Today, December 3 is International Basque Language Day. The Basque PEN Club under the name of Idazkortz was a brief initiative that lasted for about a year. 


     In 1987 a fresh attempt was made, this time under the name Euskal PEN Kluba (Basque PEN Club), and it lasted for two or three years. At that time Basque writers sat on two committees: the Writers in Prison Committee and the Translation and Linguistic Rights Committee. But this initiative was also suspended, because of the failure to create a satisfactory framework.


     In 2004, at a time when Basque culture was going through a difficult time, an attempt was made once again to set up a Basque PEN Club with the intention of keeping it going. During its constituent assembly on April 23, 2004, a Board was formed and the following people appointed to sit on it:


Honorary President: Txomin Peillen
President: Laura Mintegi
Deputy President: Joxemari Iturralde
Secretary: Eider Rodriguez
Treasurer: Lutxo Egia
Committee Members: Fito Rodriguez, Paddy Rekalde, Asier Serrano and Teresa Toda


In September 2004 the Euskal PEN Kluba under the name of Basque PEN was admitted into the international organisation at the International PENs Annual General Meeting held in Norway. The founders of the Basque PEN Club are the authors who until that moment had applied for membership, but from then onwards anybody could apply to become a member whenever they wished.


Basque PEN members are currently involved in three programmes: the Writers in Prison Committee, the Translation and Linguistic Rights Committee and the Writers for Peace Committe. 


Actually a new Board was formed and the following people appointed to sit on it:
President: Laura Mintegi
Deputy President: Paul Bilbao
Secretary: Xabi Paya
Urtzi Urrutikoetxea
Committee Members: Gari Berasaluze, Itxaro Borda eta Maialen Sobrino.

About International PEN


     International PEN, the worldwide association of writers, exists to promote friendship and intellectual co-operation among writers everywhere, regardless of their political or other views; to fight for freedom of expression and to defend vigorously writers suffering from oppressive regimes, whether of the extreme Right or the extreme Left.


     PEN is strictly non-political, a Non-Governmental Organization with in formal consultative relations at UNESCO. It is composed of Centres, each of which represents its membership and not its country. Membership is open to all qualified writers, regardless of nationality, race, colour or religion, and each Centre, being autonomous, sets its own membership qualifications.


     The letters PEN originally stood for Poets, Playwrights, Essayists, Editors and Novelists, but now membership is open to all qualified writers, journalists, translators, historians and others actively engaged in any branch of literature. Every member is required to sign the PEN Charter and by so doing to pledge himself or herself to observe its conditions.


     International PEN was founded in London in 1921 by the novelist Mrs C. A. Dawson Scott and spread rapidly throughout the world until today there are some 14000 members in 138 Centres in 98 countries. Normally there is only one Centre in each country, but if a country covers more than one language or literature, then the writers in each of those languages may form their own Centres, up to a limit of five. There may also be more than one Centre in a country where great distances are involved. After the limit of five has been reached, other groups of writers may form branches of the existing Centres.


     PEN's highest authority, the Assembly of Delegates, which consists of one or two representatives from each Centre, meets once a year at Congresses organized by different PEN Centres. These meetings also include literary sessions in which any PEN member can participate. Over the past sixteen years there have been Congresses in Caracas, Tokyo, New York, Hamburg, Lugano, San Juan, Seoul, Maastricht, Toronto/Montreal, Funchal, Vienna, Barcelona, Rio de Janeiro, Dubrovnik (without an Assembly of Delegates), Santiago de Compostela, Prague, Perth (Western Australia), Guadalajara (Mexico), Edinburgh, Helsinki, Warsaw, Moscow, Ohrid (Macedonia) and Mexico City.


     The international and diverse character of PEN is reflected in its Board, which consists of the International President, the International Treasurer, the International Secretary and seven members elected from among PENs worldwide membership. 


     PEN is not a trade union and may not act as a literary agent. It is a forum where writers meet freely to discuss their work. It is a voice speaking out for writers imprisoned or harassed for criticizing their governments or for publishing other unpopular views.


     The activities and work of International PEN take place through its constituent parts the Centres, the Standing Committees and PEN International Magazine. Each Centre is autonomous and organizes its own programme of activities, often in conjunction with other Centres, while keeping International PEN Headquarters fully informed. Many Centres publish their own Newsletters and occasional booklets and pamphlets on literary matters.


bottom of page