Luis Araquistáin Quevedo (Bárcena de Pie de Concha, Santander, 1886 – Geneva, 1959) trained as a marine pilot but spent his professional life working between journalism and politics. From 1911, he was actively affiliated with the PSOE (Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party), where he performed different roles, and was appointed representative for the Biscay constituency (1931–1933) and later the Madrid constituency (1933–1936). Under his authority as a Spanish ambassador, first in Germany and then in France, Araquistáin initiated the project for the Spanish Pavilion at the Paris International Exhibition of 1937, placing the first stone of the building at the official ceremony.
Luis Araquistáin, a writer and theorist, lived in Argentina before residing in different cities in France, Germany and England. In November 1919, he was part of the delegation, alongside Francisco Largo Caballero and Fernando de los Ríos, representing the Unión General de Trabajadores de España (Spain’s General Union of Workers) at the Labour Conference held in Washington. After the Republic was declared in Spain in 1931, Araquistáin was named undersecretary of the Ministry of Work and Social Security and Spanish representative at the extraordinary sessions of the League of Nations, representing the country in different international settings. His work as a representative led to him being named Spanish ambassador to Germany (1932–1933), and later France (September 1936 – June 1937), and in 1920 he founded the publishing house España, with Julio Álvarez del Vayo and Juan Negrín. Years later he would create the magazines Leviatán and Claridad, in 1934 and 1935, respectively, using their pages to argue for the PSOE’s governmental policies and measures and to lambast the principles of communism.
In Paris, as a Spanish ambassador to France, Araquistáin performed important Civil War-related tasks: logistics, arms and propaganda, and worked to assist and activate refugee support organisations and to open channels to welcome exiles. Alongside José Gaos and Josep Renau, he was also in charge of the set-up, commissioning and production of the Spanish Pavilion at the Paris World’s Fair of 1937, in which he sought to extol the strength of the nation and the rejection of fascism. Some years later, in 1952, as the works displayed at the pavilion were remembered and reviewed, he wrote to Pablo Picasso to confirm the donation of Guernica to the Spanish people.
Among his many publications, not to mention his articles and lectures, are the titles Entre la guerra y la revolución. España en 1917 (Between War and Revolution, 1917), España en el crisol. Un Estado que se disuelve y un pueblo que renace (Spain in the Melting Pot. A Dissolving State and a People Reborn, 1920), El peligro yanqui (Yankee Danger, 1921), written on his return to the USA, and España ante la idea sociológica del Estado (Spain Before the Sociological Idea of the State, 1953). Politically, Araquistáin shifted from a reformist socialism to one that was both radical and active, akin to Largo Caballero and coinciding with the outbreak of the war. Subsequently, from the early stages of his exile, first in London and later in Geneva, despite returning to a moderate position, he developed a critical attitude towards his own project and the failure of the Republic, continuing his work as a spokesperson and representative of the PSOE at different assemblies, conferences and international committee meetings.