Álvarez, Basilio

Ourense, 1877 – Tampa (Florida), 1943. Exiled politician.
(Mundo Gráfico)

Before going into exile, Basilio Álvarez was an agrarian activist, founder of Acción Gallega in 1910 and with contributions in the press, for example in El Eco de Orense. Also known as “the abbot of Beiro”, he was removed from his parish due to his fight against the abuse suffered by the farmers at the hand of the economic elites. During the Second Republic, he was MP for the Partido Republicano Radical. After the military coup of 1936, he left the country and lived in Argentina, Cuba and the United States.

His first destination in the US was New York. According to the testimony of Emilio Gónzalez López, Álvarez arrived in the city in poor economic and health conditions. González López and Castelao sought the support of the ambassador of the Republic in Washington, Fernando de los Ríos, so he could receive a pension. González López mentions the role of the presidents of the Frente Popular Antifascista Gallego and the Spanish Benevolent Society in these negotiations, Salvador Galán and Xoán Deus respectively, both from Sada. References to the “Comité pro-Basilio Álvarez” can also be found in the pages of the newspaper España Libre (9/8/1940 and 23/5/1941). In Crónicas galegas de América, Xosé Neira Vilas refers to Basilio Álvarez’s poor health and sadness in New York, where he maintained regular contact with Castelao, who according to Neira Vilas tried to lift his spirits by singing “spicy songs”.

Fernando de los Ríos agreed to provide him with a pension, and Álvarez moved to Tampa (Florida) after receiving an homage reported by España Libre on 5/23/1941. Even after his departure, the support from the Galician community in New York continued. The Casa Galicia Unity Gallega organized a musical event in his honor, as it appears in España Libre on 23/4/1943, along with a letter of thanks from Alvarez himself, already hospitalized in the sanatorium of the Centro Español de Tampa. This newspaper also dedicated its Editorial to him on 11/26/1943, after his passing (Sources: Emilio González López, Castelao, propagandista da República en Norteamérica (2000), Xosé Neira Vilas, Crónicas galegas de América (1999), España Libre).