Current Affairs Politics

ETA Declares “Cessation Of Its Armed Activity”

The headlines carry the news of the much anticipated declaration of a permanent end to all military operations by ETA, the Basque guerrilla organisation. From a report in the Irish Times: 

“EUSKADI TA Askatasuna (Eta or Basque Country and Liberty) last night made a long-awaited announcement, which it describes as “historic”: its “armed activity” has come to a “definitive end”.

Coming after its 13-month ceasefire, this statement is widely understood to mean that Eta’s 52-year violent campaign for Basque “independence and socialism”, which has cost more than 800 lives, is completely over. 

The Spanish Socialist Party (PSOE) government spokesman José Bono described the news as “a battle that has been won by Spanish democracy, our citizens, our security forces and our policies”. The party’s leader in the current general election campaign, Alfredo Pérez Rubalcaba, said Eta was abandoning arms not due to any “sudden fit of morality” but because it had been totally defeated. 

In strictly security terms, this is undoubtedly the case. The police have dismantled Eta’s command structure, and its capacity to carry out attacks has been very limited for years. But its supporters in the banned Batasuna party have somehow turned this weakness into strength. They have made a virtue of the necessity of ending terrorism, and, on the basis of the ceasefire, have built a new pro-independence party, Bildu. 

This will be grist to the mill of the deeply conservative Partido Popular (PP), very likely to defeat the PSOE in next month’s elections. The PP sometimes sounds as if it sees a peaceful Basque independence movement as a bigger threat to Spain than Eta’s terrorism. Its response to last night’s statement was characteristically dismissive… 

Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams, a supporter of the declaration along with former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern, former UN secretary general Kofi Annan and former British prime minister Tony Blair, among others, last night welcomed the move.” 

The widely expected statement from ETA was posted on the Basque news site GARA and reads as follows (translated by GARA): 

“With this declaration, Euskadi Ta Askatasuna, the Basque socialist revolutionary organization for national liberation, wishes to give news of its decision: 

ETA considers that the International Conference that has recently taken place in the Basque Country is an initiative of enormous significance. The agreed resolution includes all the elements for an integral solution of the conflict, and it has attained the support of a wide spectrum of the Basque society and the international community. 

A new political time is emerging in the Basque Country. We have an historical opportunity to find a just and democratic solution for the centuries old political conflict. Dialogue and agreement should outline the new cycle, over violence and repression. The recognition of the Basque Country and the respect for the will of the people should prevail over imposition. 

This has not been an easy way. The cruelty of the fight has taken away the lives of many comrades. Many others are still suffering in prison and in the exile. For them our recognition and deepest tribute. 

From now on the way is neither going to be easy. Facing the imposition that still exists, every step, every achievement, will be the result of the effort and fight of Basque citizens. During these years the Basque Country has accumulated the necessary experience and strength to address this path and it also has the determination for doing it. It is time to look at the future with hope. It is also time to act with responsibility and courage. 

Therefore, ETA has decided the definitive cessation of its armed activity. ETA calls upon the Spanish and French governments to open a process of a direct dialogue with the aim of addressing the resolution of the consequences of the conflict and, thus, to overcome the armed confrontation. Thorough this historical declaration ETA shows its clear, solid and definitive commitment. 

Lastly, ETA calls upon the Basque society to commit with this process of solutions until we build a context of freedom and peace. 



Basque Country, 20th October 2011 

Euskadi Ta Askatasuna 


As someone who has written regularly on the Peace Process in the Basque Country, and the Basque struggle for independence in general, I welcome this move and very much hope it leads to true peace and freedom for the Basque people.

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