March 22, 2006

ETA declares permanent cease-fire, Spaniards "quiet" in their jubilation

Basque Group Ends Movement With Cease-Fire.

VITORIA, Spain - The Basque separatist group ETA announced a permanent cease-fire Wednesday, ending a decades-long campaign of violence and closing the door on one of Western Europe's last active armed separatist movements.

The news prompted quiet jubilation in Spain, which has endured more than 800 deaths and $15.5 billion in economic damage since the 1960s as part of the group's campaign to carve out an independent Basque homeland in northern Spain and southwest France.

In a video statement, ETA said it "has decided to declare a permanent cease fire as of March 24, 2006."

"The aim of (the cease-fire) is to promote a democratic process in the Basque country and to build a new framework in which our rights as a people will be recognized," the group said. "ETA also calls on the Spanish and French authorities to respond positively to this new situation, leaving their repressive ways behind."

Translated: "We're getting our butts kicked and this whole 'violent separatist revolution' thing just isn't working out any more so please don't hunt us down like the vile scum we are and prosecute us."
Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero expressed caution and hope. He was evasive when asked if he would now start negotiating with ETA under an offer he made last year, contingent on the group renouncing violence.

"Any peace process after so many years of horror and terror will be long and difficult," he told parliament.

Zapatero said that until now, Spain's political parties were joined in pain over ETA violence. "Now I trust we will be joined in hope," he said

[...] Many Spaniards believed that after the March 11, 2004, attacks in Madrid carried out by Islamic extremists, ETA had effectively been stymied. The idea is that popular revulsion over terrorism made deadly violence politically unthinkable for the group.

Interesting point.

As the rest of the article appears to demonstrate, most Spaniards were cautiously optimistic about the supposed declaration, but, as Sandra Dorada, a 29-year-old postal worker stated, "'[...] (ETA) have said this before and it wasn't true.'"

Posted by Kyer at March 22, 2006 12:44 PM | TrackBack