Terrorism: The Basques and ETA Part III
What’s happened? ETA and its political wing, Herri Batasuna , have experienced strong internal strife over the use of violence as a political tool, with consequent shelling and divisions. ETA has also not gone out of its way to liquidate former prominent members who have distanced themselves from political violence. The result is that on the nationalist left, the so-called abertxales, there are several nationalist parties fighting for increased autonomy or full independence by peaceful means. It all culminated in Herri Batasuna being banned before the 2000 election.
Analyzes of election data at the municipal level showed a dramatic increase in the proportion of residents among Herri Batasuna’s previous voters. By looking at who is on the lists and by following the cash flow in ETA’s attempts to finance other party formations, the authorities have been able to ban a number of electoral lists they have perceived as a cover for ETA. Proponents of her case have been working to make the actual transcript of this statement available online. When the verdict was handed down in the spring of 2009, it was a crushing defeat for ETA and Herri Batasuna. Spain received full support for the fact that parties that call for political violence and terror can be refused to stand for election.
According to ARISTMARKETING, the outside world’s image of Spain has changed significantly over the last 30 years. The young democracy carried a heavy legacy from the Franco dictatorship, including the conflict in the Basque Country. And the case was not improved by the young democracy’s sometimes scandalous and criminal handling of ETA terrorism. The great GAL scandal of the 1980s did great damage. It was about groups in the security forces and the political leadership, which did not trust that ETA could be fought with legal means, set up secret death squads (Grupos Antiterroristas de Liberación) to fight ETA with its own means.
Today we see that international anti-terrorism cooperation has become increasingly close. While France used to be almost a free port for ETA people, the country is today one of Spain’s closest allies in the fight against ETA. Many have long regarded the strict Spanish anti-terrorism laws as dubious at best when it comes to human rights, but the support of the court in Strasbourg has helped to dampen criticism of Spain.
But is ETA really defeated? Were the terrorist acts in the summer of 2009 just a last bluff? Using terrorism as an effective means in the political struggle, hardly anyone believes in it anymore. According to the security police and other experts in the field, there is a heated battle within abertxale circles between those who want to choose a political path without the use of violence, and the few who, so to speak, on their own advocate full warfare. Time and time again we see that the movement’s political leaders, such as Arnaldo Otegi, is almost being held hostage by the militants.
ETA will probably attempt violent actions also in the foreseeable future. Although recruitment to the organization has declined, it turns out that it is still young people who are captivated by ETA’s propaganda. Some are recruited, among other things, through “street riots” (borroka) – ETA’s attempts to copy the Palestinian intifada. As a political phenomenon, however, ETA has been increasingly brought to the sidelines.
To understand the situation in the Basque Country today, we must make a clear distinction between two groups in the population: the tiny part that supports political violence as a tool in the struggle for more Basque autonomy and perhaps full independence and the vast majority of Basque nationalists who support declared parties. opponents of political violence and terrorism. Rather, they vote for the legitimate Basque parties. If the political wing, Herri Batasuna, is to have any chance of survival, ETA must lay down its arms for good so that the party can stand for election again.
9: Measures against ETA
What about the referendum to determine the people’s desire for belonging? The Spanish Constitution of 1978 does not allow for a referendum in the Basque Country on full independence, as has been done in Quebec (French-speaking province in Canada). But the main reason why such a referendum has not materialized is that even among Basque nationalists there is strong opposition to the so-called line of sovereignty.
All experience indicates that the government must at some point negotiate with ETA , be it open or secret. What is far less clear, however, is what can be negotiated. The attitude of the various Spanish governments has been that they can negotiate a ceasefire, disarmament, amnesty or reduction of sentences and a program of return to society for ETA’s mercenaries. What they cannot negotiate with ETA on, however, are political issues such as the future status of the Basque Country. The only problem is that these are precisely the political issues that ETA will negotiate on.