Monday, January 10, 2011

ETA declares a "permanent" cease-fire

In a communication released in written format in Basque, Spanish and English and in video format in the two first languages, the Basque armed organization ETA (Euskadi Ta Askatasuna, Basque Country And Freedom) has declared a permanent, general and verifiable cease-fire today. 

    ETA members declaring a permanent cease-fire (from the video)

    Permanent cease fire may mean that the negotiations are very advanced... or is it a last attempt to bring Madrid to the negotiation table?

    Maybe the most important word in this communication is permanent, in reference to the unilateral cease-fire already announced in September 2010 but de facto active since many months earlier.

    ETA only declared a permanent cease-fire in March 2006, which lasted less than a year in fact, as a concession to the Spanish government in the failed peace negotiations that year. This wording is clearly again a concession to Madrid in order for them to feel legitimate to proceed with more open, albeit surely discreet, negotiations.

    However it is not too clear which is the disposition of Madrid, which has rather increased the repression in the last months. In any case it is a clear gesture to concede with Spanish formal demands.

    I would think it an error to read permanent as anything else, unless negotiations end up happily, what is most difficult considering the radically opposed fundamentals of each party. 

    It is generally acknowledged that ETA does not lie, however in this case the general Basque reading is probably that it is a forced potential lie, much as when one is forced to give oath to the Spanish constitution in order to get a public servant post or stuff like that (nobody is happy with it but you have to swallow). At least I see it that way, more so as there is a precedent in the ultimately inconsistent use of this language on ETA's side. 

    ETA's stand

    In the comunication ETA also reaffirms is demands for peace, namely a Democratic Process (dialogue and negotiation referred ultimately to the will of the Basque People) with the following aspects:
    • Overcoming human and civil rights abuses
    • Territoriality (overcoming the division between Navarre and the West) and self-determination 
    • Basque social and political actors are the ones to agree which formulation will be used for the exercise of self-determination, including all options (independence emphasized)
    • The ultimate end of the process shall be self-determination of the Basque People without limit or interference
    • All parties must commit themselves to respect such agreements and to provide guarantees for their implementation
    ETA also makes a call to the governments of Spain and France to end all repressive measures and abandon their position of denial towards the Basque Country. There is also mention of the efforts of the international group of mediators, who have facilitated this process to reach so far.

    Update: reactions:

    Hostile public reaction by Spanish forces

    I an interview at conservative TV channel Antena 3 and reflected by Spanish blog Cuestionatelotodo, Prime Minister Rodríguez Zapatero rejected ETA's offer. According to him, ETA must take more blunt and and definitive steps. He added that only the definitive final of ETA is valid.

    His Minister of Interior, Alfredo López Rubalcaba, declared in a press conference without questions that the only communication we want to read from the terrorist band is that ETA declares the end and makes it in a clear and definitive form.

    The undemocratically imposed Western Basque President, Patxi López, of the same party (PSOE) declared that this is not the communication expected (or hoped for). And spoke against conditional truces whose time is past, in his opinion.

    The Secretary General of the Spanish Socialist Party (PSOE), Marcelino Iglesias, considered the communication important and asked all parties to behave with prudence and responsibility, in a clear message to the opportunist Palin-style opposition Popular Party (PP), which in the past has repeatedly sabotaged all negotiations, putting pressure on the government with only electoral gains in mind.

    For these rabid Spanish nationalists, direct heirs of Fascism, speaking by their Secretary General, María Dolores de Cospedal, this is just a pause, and rejected any conditions for peace as well as international mediators.

    The residual post-communist coalition Izquierda Unida, by means of their Coordinator Cayo Lara, repeated the same message as the major Spanish parties: the only communication possible is that which speaks of an irreversible ceasefire.

    South African mediator confirms it is a formal request by his team

    Brian Currin said that this declaration is a request that was made in order to proceed with the formal constitution of the International Mediator Group than he heads. In this sense he announced that he has already contacted other members of this facilitator team in order to make their first formal visit to the Basque Country soon.

    In his understanding, ETA is not imposing conditions to the Spanish Government but simply describing their own expectations about the process. He thinks that what they mean is that, in this phase of the ceasefire, these political matters should be on the table and dealt with.

    Update (Jan 11): 

    Two arrested accused of ETA links

    A joint operation by French and Spanish police, directed by super-judges Laurence Le Vert and Fernando Grande-Marlaska, have arrested Iraitz Gesalaga, Tximas, 27, in Ziburu, and Itsaso Urtiaga, 21, in Zarautz. They are apparently accused of teaching computer usage to ETA members.

    Both people were living normally in their respective towns. Gesalaga works as computer engineer in Ziburu, while Urtiaga studies Philosophy in Donostia.

    According to the Pro-Amnesty Movement, these arrests are nothing but pure propaganda. It is not any coincidence that two people with totally open lives are arrested just one day after ETA's declaration. The ilegalized movement showed its concern about what can happen specially to Itsaso Urtiaga, as the Guardia Civil is particularly infamous for their torture practices, often including sexual abuse.

    They also called for a demonstration today in Zarautz at 19:30 CET.

    More reactions

    Eusko Alkartasuna (EA, Basque Solidarity) appealed for the Spanish government to take steps in the direction of peace.

    The largest Basque labor union, ELA (Association of Basque Workers) said by mouth of their Secretary General, A. Muñoz, that the Spanish State would commit a barbarity if it does not take the opportunities offered for peace. They also made a clear distinction between ETA and the Basque Nationalist Left, which they consider autonomous from each other.

    Both EA and ELA have strongly supported, from viewpoints highly critical with ETA, the incipient peace process and have rather active relations with the Nationalist Left.

    More curious maybe is the declaration from the (Western) Basque Socialist Party's Secretary General, Jesús Egiguren, who suggested that it would help a lot if the Spanish tribunals re-legalized Batasuna. He also proposed to regroup Basque prisoners in three or four prisons. Unlike other members from his party (see above) he evaluates positively ETA's declaration and also considers that the attitude of his party's government in Madrid is what can be postured at this right moment, considering the text, public opinion, the opposition and previous experience.


    1. Here also the brazilian portuguese translation -

    2. Thanks, Raphael. I will add it to the links.

      Notice please, the update with the first reactions.

    3. Egiguren seems to be the last thninkng soul in that damn socialist party!

    4. Yes, he's sort of a "dissident" for what I've read, however he's also the Secretary General in this autonomous region, so he has some support too. But well, their autonomy is very limited, it is Madrid who decides. The PSC (Catalan branch) is somewhat more autonomous but not the Basque branches.


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