30 November 2011 ~ 0 Comentarios

No reason to negotiate with Spain’s separatist ETA

by Carlos Alberto Montaner

Atentado ETA

(MIAMI HERALD) Mariano Rajoy, Spain’s prime minister-elect, has a reputation for being flexible and tolerant. He has said that he will meet as soon as possible with all the parliamentary forces in the country to look for common ground that will allow them to quickly overcome the economic crisis. The Socialists are not his enemies, but his adversaries. He will try to forge some sort of consensus with them.

But he will make an exception: He will not dialogue with Amaiur, a Basque political coalition that represents the separatist trend of ETA, the terrorist group that is, according to its founding documents (which it has never renounced), a communist organization inspired by Marxism-Leninism.

Rajoy’s firm opposition to negotiate with ETA’s political wing is perfectly natural. Since 1975, when the gang sped up its series of crimes, kidnappings and extortion, to date, it has murdered 864 people. Among the dead, we must mourn women and children who were blown to pieces, innocent customers in restaurants and supermarkets, people who happened to walk by when terrorists detonated their shrapnel-filled bombs.

Of those people killed, 313 were civilians, 32 politicians and 11 judges and lawyers. Ninety-five percent of the victims were liquidated during Spain’s democratic period. The worst years were from 1979 to 1985; there was a climate of fear that no doubt encouraged the military coup of 1981 that nearly ended the faltering post-Franco democracy.

To these direct victims must be added the thousands of Spaniards, mostly Basques, who had to pay ETA not to be killed or had to flee with their families from their homes to avoid being exterminated. Also the thousands of people who lived in fear, protected by private guards or police, because — from the royal family to the lowliest of functionaries — every public servant was a potential target for these murderers.

Amaiur — the name of a Basque-Navarre people — no doubt faces a bitter dilemma. On one hand is the horrible past of crimes and blood that it had to renounce because the gang had been defeated; on the other are its nearly 700 members who remain in prison, many of them sentenced to tens and hundreds of years.

How will it free them? The penal code, in some cases responding to genuine expressions of repentance, allows some measure of mercy, but it doesn’t seem that the political arm of ETA is willing to make any concessions of a moral nature. On the contrary, it raves and demands a dialogue with France and Spain to prepare for the independence of the great Basque homeland.

What will Amaiur do? Most likely, it will try to press Rajoy’s government, orchestrating demonstrations in the Basque country and securing international support that asks the new Spanish government for amnesty for the members of that armed gang.

To that end, probably it will not be difficult to recruit the usual suspects: people like Argentina’s Alfredo Pérez Esquivel, the Nobel Peace Prize winner; or Hebe de Bonafini, the very colorful (and contemptible) leader of the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo; plus the entire circuit called 21st-Century socialism, such as Hugo Chávez, who refuses to extradite “Etarran” Arturo Cubillas; Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega, who has always been very close to the Basque terrorists, dating back to the struggle against Somoza in the 1970s; or the Cuban government, which, in 2000 in Panama, was the only Ibero-American state that publicly and arrogantly refused to sign an international declaration against the terrorist gang.

Will Rajoy stand firm? I think so. It is what Spanish society expects. The prevailing reasoning in the country is very simple: as long as ETA does not lay down its weapons and repents and apologizes publicly for its criminal history, it is unthinkable to consider reconciliation and oblivion. The only honorable behavior is to enforce the law to the letter. As former Prime Minister Aznar said, “They lost, and there’s no reason to negotiate.”

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