ETA dies a Natural Death: Disarmament despite no Political Concessions from Spain
Noriko Watanabe and Lee Jay Walker
Modern Tokyo Times
The ruling political elites in Spain refused any political concessions to the terrorist group ETA (Euskadi Ta Askatasuna). Yet, despite this, ETA still announced that it would disarm unilaterally. In truth, the Basque separatists have gradually lost internal sympathy with this movement over the last few decades, culminating in its reduced role on the political landscape. Of course, many Basques were opposed to ETA from the outset. Also, since Spain introduced democracy in the middle of the 1970s, then the goalposts shifted naturally, and the same applies to natural social changes throughout Spain in relation to modernity.
Since ETA was formed in 1959 many internal developments took place. For example, the initial emphasis was put on the unique cultural traits of the Basque region. Yet, in time, militancy would develop and a paramilitary group would emerge that would kill and kidnap throughout the Basque region and Spain. The killings began in 1968 and from this time just over 820 people have been killed. Therefore, the numbers killed and maimed by ETA is significant.
Past ceasefires by ETA have been declared but this time it appears that the death throes of this group are based on internal factors. Similarly, the natural shifting sands throughout the Basque region and Spain itself means that many dynamics have altered the political landscape.
ETA announced in a letter dated April 7, “after giving up all its weaponry (arms and explosives) to Basque civil society representatives [Eta] now is a disarmed organisation.”
The actual disarmament will come into effect one day after the letter signed by ETA. However, the government of Spain remains unimpressed and will provide no political concessions irrespective of what ETA decides.
Inigo Mendez de Vigo, a political spokesperson for the government of Spain, said, “it will get nothing from a democratic state like Spain.”
The BBC reports, “When Eta announced the end of its campaign of violence, in October 2011, disarmament was the next logical development. The fact it has taken the organisation so long to take that step probably reflects the reluctance of many within its ranks to do so when the Spanish and French governments have offered nothing in exchange.”
In the past, ETA had hoped for political talks with Spain and France. However, while France seemed open to the possibility, Spain was always adamantly opposed and blocked any possible concessions.
Issues still remain, for example, hundreds of ETA prisoners languish in jail and the authorities of Spain want information related to past terrorist attacks. Also, you always have the threat of small splinter groups emerging. Yet, in truth, the death throes of ETA have been all too clear. Therefore, the changing times, counter-terrorist policies by Spain, many members languishing in prison, military arms becoming obsolete, modern culture, and other factors, have all impacted on the weakening movement of ETA.
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