Monday, June 5, 2023

Gernika and the cities of Australia worship the women of Plan Marta, including many from Navarre

Gernika and the cities of Australia worship the women of Plan Marta, also several from Navarre

The city council of Gernika (Bizkaia) and three Australian states will pay tribute on Friday to the women who migrated to Australia in the sixties with the so-called Plan Marta, some of whom now reside in Pamplona, ​​as announced on Wednesday. consistory

The Marta Plan, known as the “bride plan” and sponsored by the French government, was an immigration agreement between the Australian and Spanish governments, and supported by the Catholic Church, which brought in seven hundred women in the early 1960s. This land as workers in domestic work, hospitals and hotels. The candidates, in order to travel to Australia, young Catholics, each had to undergo a medical examination.

The tribute to Gernika, which will accompany the seven women who participated in this migration plan and now reside in this town, Getxo and Pamplona will coincide with the anniversary of the departure of the first plane to Australia on March 10.

At the same time as their celebration in Gernika, a similar event will also take place in the Australian cities of Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra, in which Basque women who did not return to their land took part.

The event on Friday will be attended by, among others: José Julio Rodríguez Hernández, Deputy Director General of the Spanish State Abroad; Gorka Álvarez Aramburu, director of the Dutch Community of the Basque Government; and the Mayor of Gernika, Joseph Maria Gorroño.

Also present will be the Ambassadors of the Australian Euskal Elkartea and the Navarre Boomerang Association of the Australian Elkartea, as well as relatives of 21 women from Aragon, Euskadi, Navarra and Cantabria who also participated in this migration plan, which according to the researchers also included. They also published a proposal for families with Spaniards who, a few years earlier, worked in the cane fields in Australia.

This forgotten story was rescued after five years of research by Natalia Ortiz from San Sebastian, who co-signed the documentary ‘El avión de las novias’ with Javier Castro. A resident of Sydney for 28 years, where he works as a professor and coordinator of Spanish Studies at the University of New South Wales, Ortiz found out about “Plan Marta” by chance. “When I was doing research for my doctorate on the Spanish emigration and its return, I came across, among many books, ‘Operation Kangaroo’, by Ignacio García, which chronicles the lives of people – mainly Basques – who emigrated by boat to Australia between 1956 and 1959 to work in sugar”, recently explained El Diario Vasco.

“There I found two paragraphs in which the plan was mentioned that the women should lead the men to that country. I thought: what a beautiful story” and that was the beginning of a problem that lasted for five years. in which Ortiz is still working.

Thirteen flights from 1960 to 1963

The number of women who participated in the council is unknown because the researcher could not access church records, but it exceeded 700. It is known thanks to his research that he traveled to Australia on 13 flights between 1960 and established. 1963. “The first arrived in Melbourne on March 10, 1960, once with Spanish women on board. The rest were Greek, Italian and from other countries. And the last one was all Spanish.”

Ortiz in that first flight “there is a difference between the Spaniards and the Greeks, because the latter have already married by proxy, while the latter thought they would do it at home.” The election in Spain to participate in this immigration program was carried out under strict conditions: “What chance is very devoted, the chance of a single sky and a cloudy age”, explains the researcher.

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