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Blog: The clandestine Basque independence movement ETA (Euskadi ta Askatasuna) has renounced violence.
This is good for a number of reasons:
1. The end does not justify the means. ETA killed peaceful political opponents with whom it disagreed. This cannot be justified in any circumstances.
2. The violence was self-defeating. It turned off potential supporters, in the Basque country as well as elsewhere in Spain.
3. ETA, with its relatively small membership, was no match for the might of the Spanish State. It never stood a chance of achieving independence for the Basque country through violence.
However, it should also be borne in mind that:
1. The Basques are a Stone Age people who have had to live for centuries under Spanish domination. Their language has no connection with Spanish. A minority of them at least are known to want to secede from Spain. Spain has no intention of letting this happen.
2. Spain’s central government persecuted the Basques mercilessly under Franco. Hundreds of Basques were killed by Franco’s rebels during the 1936-1939 Civil War, not least with the bombing of the historic Basque town of Guernika.
3. Post Franco, the socialist government of Felip González (1982-1986) cracked own heavily on the Basque separatists, passing antiterrorist laws which suspended Habeas Corpus and gave police the right to hold prisoners incommunicado. It is alleged that suspects detained under these laws were routinely beaten and tortured. A rightwing anti-ETA terrorist group GAL (Grupos Antiterroristas de Liberación) is said to have killed up to 27 people linked or thought to be linked to Basque separatist circles. GAL was subsequently found to have links with Spain’s Interior Ministry and three high-ranking Spanish officials, including José Barrionuevo, González’s Interior Minister, were convicted of involvement and received ten-year jail sentences.
The point that Antigone1984 is making is that the violence did not come from one side only.