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News theme: Basque politics and ETA

On 20th October 2011 the Basque separatist organisation, ETA announced a definitive end to its activity. For the past half century this terrorist band has been a blight on the life of Spain and especially the Basque Country. The Guardian has a complete file of reports, including the full statement of cessation of activities.

More reports of the cessation can be read at: El País, Telegraph, full text BBC, Guardian picture gallery, Zapatero reaction - BBC, El País - how and why it got here.
Here, in Spanish, are official statements in response by the Spanish evangelical movement: <|from FEREDE> (the Federation of Spanish Evangelical Churches) and the Spanish Evangelical Alliance (this within an article published by Protestante Digital).

Remainder of this article, pending update: On 10th January 2011 ETA announced a deepening of its ceasefire of last September. Government and all political parties have rejected this, despite favourable developments over the past few months, as purely political. Batasuna, the Basque extremist left party linked to ETA, is desperate to be allowed to field candidates for the municipal elections due in May. This section offers some background. For immediate comment read the BBC; The Daily Telgraph; The Guardian.

Further to the above, some ETA convicts are working with mediators on personal reconciliation with the victims. This article from El País (29 Sept 2011) explains.

On 5th September 2010 ETA announced another ceasefire. Acclaimed in a few circles, this is rejected as meaningless by the majority of commentators. It is now over a year since the last killing. 31st July 2009 marked the 50th anniversary of ETA's terror campaign. To mark it, ETA planted a bomb outside a Civil Guard barracks in Burgos on 29th and under a patrol car in Mallorca on 30th, the latter causing two deaths. ETA is still alive and killing, but has achieved nothing useful for the Basques they claim to represent. On 19th June '09 ETA killed again. Here we offer some background thoughts to the problem.

Spain's peripheral regions, particularly Catalonia and the Basque Country, have never felt fully part of 'Spain'. History and language have parts to play in this situation. The result is that these regions have long desired high levels of autonomy or even independence. In the Basque Country, the existence of ETA, a terrorist organisation with a pseudo left-wing nationalist agenda, has forced all parties to consider the independence issue seriously. ETA started during the Franco dictatorship, but has resolutely refused to die before achieving its objectives, themselves more confused with the passing of time. Ceasefires and bombing campaigns have succeeded each other over the years. Meanwhile, democratic parties have taken their own positions on independence, with the governing centre-right Basque Nationalist Party (PNV), under the presidency of Lehendakari (regional president) Ibarretxe, leading the search for an agreed independence or high level of autonomy.

In March 2006 ETA, the Basque separatist terrorist group, announced a permanent ceasefire. Hopes were high that this time around, with a regional government favourable to the cause of autonomy and a Socialist government in power in Madrid, some kind of lasting peace and settlement might be found. But it was not to be. First came the Madrid bomb in December, then the breaking of the ceasefire in June, 2007. The government had not stopped arresting those who had committee earlier outrages and ETA refused to disband without clear steps towards its political aims. Since the end of the ceasefire there have been many minor attacks, but very few killings. The results of the 2009 regional elections, putting a Socialist into the regional presidency, as Lehendakari, has perhaps upset those on the 'radical nationalist left'. Yet ETA now appears to be much weakened by losses of manpower to the police and through the wasting of the political process, but it remains as potentially lethal as ever, as the June '09 killing demonstrates.

On 11th March 2004, Spain's perception of terrorism as primarily an internal problem was in a few minutes replaced by the international terror of Al Quaeda. Almost 200 were killed and 2000 injured on commuter trains in Madrid that morning. But ETA, sadly, remains a big issue in Spanish politics and daily news.

See The Guardian's timeline.

Follow the latest ETA news on the Guardian

BBC ask Who are ETA?
More about the Basque question and background
More recent news from the Basque Country can be found in the news archives.