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24/03/2006 | SPAIN- ETA's Cease-Fire and its Search for Viability

Stratfor Staff

Spanish Basque separatist group ETA announced March 22 that a permanent cease-fire will begin March 24. ETA's declaration is less of a concession to the government and people of Spain than an indication that the group is losing power.

 

Spain's Basque separatist group ETA declared a permanent cease-fire beginning March 24, according to a March 22 report in Basque newspaper Gara. The announcement is not a militant group's concession to its government, but an acknowledgement that the group is searching for ways to remain viable.

ETA grew to prominence in the late 1960s and began a violent campaign to gain independence for the Spain's Basque region. More than 800 people have died in bomb attacks over the past 37 years, which led the United States and the European Union to classify ETA as a terrorist group. ETA's political arm, Batasuna, was first banned in 2003.

Although ETA began to lose prominence in the 1990's, the group's viability took a major hit in 2004, after the March 11 al Qaeda attacks that killed almost 200 people in Madrid. Support for the group's violent tactics across Spain -- and even in the Basque region -- fell as animosity toward terrorism grew. The group halted bombings for almost a year after the Madrid attacks, for fear of reprisal from the government as public calls for cracking down on terrorism increased. When the group began its bombing campaign again, it issued warnings before attacks in order to avoid casualties.

A March 9 workers' strike protesting the government's refusal to hold a public inquiry into the deaths of two ETA members in prison fell flat. Few people participated, and many Spaniards ignored the event and the four roadside bombs that were detonated.

Compounding its loss of public legitimacy, ETA's numbers have fallen drastically. Particularly over the past few years, the Spanish government has arrested ETA members, including bombmakers, systematically across Spain and into the south of France, leaving the group with limited capabilities and diminished membership.

ETA is now at a crossroads, and Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero's government has offered the group an option. Zapatero won parliamentary support in 2005 to negotiate with ETA only if the group disarmed. For ETA, negotiation is the only viable choice if it is to stay afloat for the near future. Madrid now has the upper hand, and despite protests from some Spaniards and former Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar's conservative Popular Party, most of the violence-weary population supports negotiations.

Talks remain Madrid's best option for dealing with ETA, even though the government is in a position to strike hard against the group. Support for ETA may be falling, but many Basques still desire autonomy, and violent action against ETA could prompt Basques to take up arms if they feel unnecessarily persecuted or pressured.

ETA likely will ask for many concessions. The most important will be reinstating Batasuna as a political entity that has a voice in Madrid, but this will only be granted if the group is serious about the cease-fire and demonstrates its commitment to disarmament. Reform through the political process is ETA's best hope of regaining support and possible influence. Should ETA renege, as it has done on previous cease-fires, its credibility would be lost.

Stratfor (Estados Unidos)

 


Otras Notas Relacionadas... ( Records 1 to 10 of 85 )
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22/10/2011 España - ETA: Ni pactaron ni negociaron
17/10/2011 Spain - Eta expected to announce definitive end to four decades of violence
27/09/2011 España - ETA, lo inédito y lo inaudito
06/09/2011 La cúpula de ETA comunica a sus bases que no se disuelve
06/09/2011 La cúpula de ETA comunica a sus bases que no se disuelve
22/06/2011 Negociación con ETA: 2006-2011
22/06/2011 Negociación con ETA: 2006-2011
01/06/2011 ETA, hasta Cuba se desmarca
01/06/2011 ETA, hasta Cuba se desmarca
30/10/2010 ETA en las instituciones


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