This article was translated by John R. Bopp
You may have noticed a lot of ink being used these days around the world to talk about the dissolution of the ETA. We hope someone has been able to compile it all, because we sure haven’t been able to.
And this is due to the fact that it’s simply too big a job for an organization as small as ours, and also because, lately, we’ve been feeling exhausted, with a bit of writer’s block. The truth is that the matter was already closed, and everything that’s been said and done in the past few months has been nothing but repeated attempts to get some kind of payoff, as if that were possible and acceptable.
But another reason we haven’t really compiled anything is that most of the article we read were written by people who didn’t really know anything about what was happening in our country, and in the Kingdom of Spain, in the last eighty years (or more). We got the feeling that if we collected everything in our blog, we’d need a huge introduction to give context to the story.
Fortunately, along came Alberto Letona in the New York Times. Now, our regular readers will know we consider the latter a true “friend of the Basques” due in no small part to the fact that most of what they write about our country is based on their own understanding, and not that which is dictated by embassies or Spanish media. The former is a Basque journalist we’ve spoken about on numerous occasions, who we consider a good journalist again, with his own criteria.
On May 9, the New York daily included an op-ed piece by Mr. Letona placing the dissolution of the ETA into its context. This article will help those outside our borders to better understand what was happening in our country that caused the ETA to come about, and why it’s disappearing.
So, we decided to use this to put an end in our blog to this dark chapter in the history of the Basques. We know that everyone will have their own opinions about certain matters, feeling that too much or too little has been said; it’s inevitable.
We’ll highlight two:
Mr. Letona writes “ETA made people proud of their Basque identity and culture,” but we believe it was quite the contrary. One of the reasons the ETA came about was that that pride already existed in our people, alongside a strong sense of democracy. There was fear that our nation was going to disappear, squashed by Francoism, which led to the creation of a movement that purported to defend our national identity and fight the dictatorship. A good part of the Basque, and Spanish, population defended that struggle in those years. After all, the ETA did was no Western democracy did: fight a fascist dictatorship that survived, with their blessing, into the second half of the twentieth century.
The other matter is that we have a different view of what the “pending issues” are, and in “hope”.
The ETA was the product of Francoism, but unfortunately, its disappearance does not end this chapter in the history of the Basque Country or Spain. The dead still lie in ditches; an unconstitutional amnesty and absurd laws allow even a policeman who tortured and collaborated with the Gestapo to receive a medal as a “victim of terrorism”; those tortured by Francoism are still “second-class victims” or “not victims” at all for the Spanish government, etc. All this is a black hole that’s too big to sweep under the rug.
Mr. Letona is hopeful. We wish we could be as sure as he seems to be. If he’s referring to hope for our Basque nation, without a doubt. If he’s referring to hope that the powers within the Spanish Government might be able to fix this problem, well, that’s too far a stretch for our hope.
Unfortunately, we’re surrounded by gamblers who change the cards and the rules as best suits their interests. We see it in such “trifling” matters as the end of the dispersion of ETA prisoners. First, they’d bring the prisoners closer when the ETA stopped killing, then when it dissolved, then when they asked for forgiveness, then when they help clear up the murders, then… The word of certain political leaders and institutions is worth less than a $3 bill.
These are “personal explanations”, individual perceptions from those “inside”. But was matters is that Mr. Letona has written an article that touches on the key issues so that readers around the world who are unfamiliar with our story and history can understand. This brilliant text will help them have a much more precise, clear, and real view of the end of the ETA, what brought it about, and what it has meant in the recent history of the Basque Country and of Spain.
The New York Times – 9/5/2018 – USA
Terrorism Is Over. Now Spain Needs Lasting Peace.
Last week, in the small town of Cambo-les-Bains in the Basque region of France — just across the border from the Spain’s Basque Country — the Basque separatist organization Euskadi Ta Askatasuna, best known as ETA, announced it was disbanding. The last terrorist group in Western Europe came to its end almost 20 years after the Good Friday agreement in Northern Ireland.