In the latest act of the long-running Basque terrorist tragedy the wait is over. After a botched “non-official” negotiation with Spanish Prime Minister Zapatero, Euskadi Ta Askatasuna (ETA) has announced that the hudna they declared fourteen months ago is now officially over:
The armed Basque separatist group ETA said today it has called off the cease-fire it declared last year, setting the stage for a resumption of attacks.
ETA said in a statement sent to two Basque newspapers that the truce it called in March 2006 will end as of midnight today. ETA said it will be “active on all fronts to defend the Basque homeland.”
[…] ETA blamed Zapatero for the failure of the peace process, and complained that the Basque leg of local elections on May 27 were illegitimate because most pro-independence politicians that wanted to run were barred by Spanish courts on grounds of links to ETA’s outlawed political wing, Batasuna.
The ETA was “barred” only because Zapatero instructed the Attorney General of Spain not to appeal all the ETA candidates, only some of them.
The Spanish courts can, of course, only bar candidates brought before them by the AG. But in handing down their decision, the Supreme Court justices stated they would’ve barred all candidates that had been brought to them by the AG, who is under direct line of command from the government.
Zapatero limited the list because he wanted to play gently with the ETA in the hope that ETA would play nice in return. At the same time Zapatero couldn’t give them a complete green light to run all the candidates they wanted to in the elections. He had to maintain the appearance that he was being tough on them. Hence only a few of the candidacies were take to court.
Few in Spain really bought the trick, least of them the terrorists themselves. For anyone who has seen a gangster film (and ETA is little more than a band of gangsters) it’s obvious that you can’t give a thug only a part of what they want. Mobsters never have enough and are always angling for more.
Three years ago a tough anti-ETA campaign in Spain had severely weakened the ETA mob. A successful series of moves from law enforcement in both Spain and France, where they used to find refuge, had them reduced in numbers and power. After the Zapatero fiasco the ETA has emerged as an emboldened band of thugs who think they can either dictate the terms of the negotiation, or put an end to it entirely. That’s why I called their “truce” a hudna. It was not really an end to violence, nor was it intended by the ETA to be so. What they got for themselves was a “time out.” They’ve used it to rearm and regroup.
Zapatero’s government should have been the one to dump the false “truce” the moment it realized ETA was just buying time. This should have been crystal clear to Zapatero after the Barajas bombing at the end of December last year. Instead the enfeebled government chose to keep on “negotiating.” The result? Spain has been played for a coward and a fool.
It couldn’t come at a worse time. Since they were allowed to run in elections, ETA’s so-called ‘political arm’ got a number of aldermen elected in more than a few towns. This means that the ETA now has access to what it didn’t have before; a weapon that will expand their abilities: databases. These town and regional databases contain many bits of information important to any terrorist organization that seeks to expand. The ETA, through its “representatives” can now access private addresses, unlisted phone numbers, car registration numbers, tax returns, bank accounts, professional and business information from everyone. All Spanish databases being interconnected, the ETA are now in a position of knowing everything about people they want to blackmail or kill.
It’s just a matter of time until they start using that treasure trove. Just a matter of time before the bombings and the blood begin again in Spain.
Barcelona-based Jose Guardia is a senior editor for Pajamas Media. His own blog is Barcepundit