Chávarri, Victor

Víctor Chávarri, the one of the statue, was born in 1854 in Middle Street, which today takes his name, being the most influential personality in the economic and political development of the Basque Country at the end of the 19th century. He studied in Liège, where he was graduated in 1878 in the career of civil engineer of arts and manufactures, with the knowledge of everthing about the latest techniques in use in Europe in the work of the coal, iron and the steel.

He gave his first steps in the industry helped by the economic protection of those who had appeared already in the preliminary miners of the 19th century, next to the "Ibarra and Cía", like his countrymen Sotera de la Mier and Jose de Gorostiza.

Nevertheless, his creative and enterprising spirit would soon fly on his own, being sufficient twenty years (he died at 45) to became one of the principal main figures of the industrial revolution of Biscay.

He exploited several mines in Biscay and held his great Project to build in Sestao’s wetlands, a factory, La Vizcaya (The Biscay), which was one of the main pillars of the Basque steel industry.

He founded or participated in other numerous companies, such as Hulleras del Turón, a company pioneer of the Asturian mining industry, the railroad to Santander, the streetcar Bilbao-Las Arenas, the S.A. Basconia, which produced tinplate for the canning industry.

His performance in politics was also very important. He was a Senator and Member of Parliament from 1885 to 1890, having like direct political competitor Martinez de las Rivas. In 1891 he was candidate “liberal” against Martinez de las Rivas, conservative, and Facundo Perezagua socialist, and in 1895 he became the Conservative Party which was more in line with his performance daily.

His action was decisive in 1893, leading the official opposition to free trade, when the famous draft trade agreement with Germany threatened to recent Basque industries.

He became in this aspect a tireless defender, against the State Government, of the industrial Biscayan interests, showing in his statements a great administrative and political vision.

His performance was very criticized in 1897 invalidating the election of three socialist councilmen of Bilbao, adducing reasons of census and economic solvency of the electors, which earned him the antipathy of a great sector of the public opinion. In those days of hard fights of the proletariat, mostly immigrant, his figure appeared as the visible head of mining and manufacturing employers (he was the creator of The Biscayan League of Producers,(La Liga Vizcaína de Productores).

His power was so great, that made him say to one of the prominent figures of Zunzunegui in Bankruptcy: "You believe God is like Chavarri, who goes in the morning to the office and says to the salesman, while he reads the papers: Today, that rains, that touchs the lottery to Mauritius of Belosticalle, that dies the fat woman of Ollerías and that gives smallpox to sweeper one-eyed ... "

In 1900 when he was returning from a trip to Andalucia, Africa, Italy and France, he suffered a cerebral congestion, in Marseille, Dr. Areilza who was at his side, could not avoid his death.

All the industrial and financial representation of the epoch, attended his funeral, an artistic pantheon was built in the cemetery of below which the people called it "of the rich people".

Also and by popular subscription a monument was lifted in the plaza.

Two years later and following the impulse that he gave, there was the biggest metallurgical Spanish event. Result of the merger of the "Biscay" with the companies "AItos Hornos y Fábricas de Hierro y Acero de Bilbao" and the " Compañía Anónima Iberia", High Ovens of Biscay (Altos Hornos de Vizcaya) were created.