Basque Militant Group ETA Dissolves After 60-Year Fight for Independence
Basque separatist group ETA (an acronym for Euskadi Ta Askatasuna, which roughly translates to Basque Country and Freedom) announced its full dissolution on Thursday, Spanish media outlets reported. The group started dismantling its organization after complete disarmament last year.
“ETA wished to end a cycle of the conflict between the Basque Country and the Spanish and French states; the cycle of the use of political violence,” said the separatist group in a statement.
The letter, dated April 16, was distributed to several figures who had played a role in the Basque peace talks, including former U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan.
A brief, dark history of ETA
ETA stands for Euskadi Ta Askatasuna, meaning “Basque homeland and freedom” in the local language. The group formed in 1958 at the peak of the Francisco Franco’s regime in Spain and aimed for independence for the Basque region. The organization, dubbed as a terrorist organization by the EU, United States, and Canada, abducted 86 people, killed more than 800, and wounded thousands from 1968 through 2010.
ETA grabbed international attention after killing Spanish Prime Minister Luis Carrero Blanco in 1973.
ETA announced a cease-fire in 2011, but had yet to disarm their weapons. They started handing over guns and explosive materials in Southern France slightly ahead of their full disarmament in April last year.
How have the Spanish people reacted?
Some Spanish citizens felt relief after the ETA disarmament, but others vented waves of anger, saying that there were a lot of mysterious deaths and victims who have not received compensation.
Teresa Diaz stated that she received nothing after her former police chief father was killed in a car bomb 30 years ago.
“It is in principle good news that they are not killing more people. Of course, it is great that there are no more victims, but there is absolutely nothing to thank ETA for,” Teresa described.
21 people were killed in a car bomb incident in Barcelona in 1987. Among the victims were children and pregnant women. The tragedy drew condemnation from across the world.
Ruben Mugica, head of the Basque Association of Terrorism Victims (COVITE), said that the dissolution would not change anything, suspecting that ETA was only voicing propaganda.
Despite the dissolution, ETA cannot hide from crimes it committed in the past
Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy stressed that the ETA’s complete disarmament would not eradicate the crimes they’ve committed over the past 50 years.
“No matter what ETA does, there is no room for impunity for its crimes. ETA can announce its disappearance but its crimes do not disappear nor do the efforts to pursue and punish them,” Rajoy stated on Thursday.