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Scrutiny
  
Torn by peace
They just lost popular support
11/06/2009

This group owed its genesis to a deep cultural divide, and they ‘Basque’d in bloody glory for years till they, err... overdid themselves. This terrorist group is known as the ETA or Euskadi Ta Askatasuna (which means Basque Homeland & Freedom).

The Basque region bordering Spain and France is home to around 2-3 million people who are Catholic but have a distinct cultural identity. They say that violence begets violence and that’s what happened. In 1959, the then Spanish dictator Franco suppressed the cultural identity of the Basques, as some Basque nationalists had gone against him in the Spanish Civil war. Then, ETA started as a small movement by a few students against Franco’s military dictatorship in a school in the 1960s. Later on, it turned into a violent terrorist organisation that has undertaken many assassinations, one of the most famous being that of Admiral Luis Carrero Blanco, who was supposed to be Franco’s chosen successor. As cited by the BBC, in the late 1970s, the group was killing some 100 people every year on an average.

Once Franco himself died, the Spanish government commenced upon a pacification drive by granting Basque its own Parliament and also allowing Basque language and culture to be taught in schools. The ETA continued its attacks for total independence, but popular support for the moment began to deteriorate fast. In 1997, when a young Basque politician was killed, some 6 million people in the region were out on the streets protesting vehemently against the ETA’s violent tactics. Subsequently, the ruling government arrested 37 suspected ETA terrorists and 23 leaders of the HB party suspected to have close links with ETA, and France played a stellar role. This all but broke the back of the ETA. Many of its members have now left and in fact condemn their former policies. Though one can never totally predict whether the group is on its way to extinction, the fact is that while an overwhelming 86% of the people of Basque want a separate state, they are not keen on taking up arms.

By:- Akram Hoque
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