News, October 2004

Display by keyword:

News theme: Basque politics and ETA

Until 2003, terrorism in Spain meant ETA. Bombs, or bomb threats, assasinations and extortion were a regular part of life, affecting few directly, but leaving no one completely sure that it could not hit him or her. Evidently, the events of 11th March, 2004 changed the whole way Spaniards look at terrorism, as ETA lost its monopoly with the arrival of islamic terror. At the same time, over the past year many accused of key ETA roles have been arrested. Yet, while terrorism is now regarded in a different way, the Basque 'problem' continues to be a major theme in the news and the political agenda.

On 11th March Spain's perception of terrorism as primarily an internal problem was in a few minutes replaced by the international terror of Al Quaida. A good number of significant ETA terrorists and collaborators have continued to be arrested since that time -including its leader, but little activity has come to anything. So the new government is now faced with an equally serious terror problem, but in facing this alone may fail to resolve the serious internal political issue of the Basque Country.

Basque regional president Ibarretxe produced a proposal in September, 2003, to be passed by the Basque parliament in October, for a much greater degree of regional autonomy. Reactions from the Spanish 'constitutionalist' parties, conservative Partido Popular (PP) and Socialist PSOE were varied. The PP, in government at the time, was determined to maintain the status quo. They believe the regions have sufficient autonomy and that no more freedoms are necessary to allow everyone to feel the liberty demanded by 'extremists'. On the other hand the PSOE, which took over after the 14th March elections, believes the time is ripe for a look into the Constitution to see what further decentralisation can be made, even if this requires adjustments to the Constitution itself. Once in power, president Zapatero met with regional leader Ibarretxe for talks and it seems some compromise may be reached allowing Basque concerns to be accepted. Progress has been made towards understanding, although much more remains to be achieved. Evidently, this also permits some reduction in the tendency towards supporting extreme elements. Links to statements relating to the Ibarretxe Plan can be found on the comment page.

More about the Basque question and background:
More recent news from the Basque Country can be found in the news archives: