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     These memos have often commented on the dignified behavior of Spanish politicians, and I surmised that they were afraid that political unrest could provoke another civil war. This surmise was confirmed at the convention of the Partido Popular, st which Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar gave a forceful but restrained speech, which justified the high esteem in which he is held.
     The Basque nationalists, who had promised to abjure violence, continued nevertheless their violent activities, and took a potentially very dangerous step. They planned a convention of Basque municipalities in line with their Estella program, which non-Basque parties had denounced. They calculated that local authorities, often provincial, poorly educated people, similar to IRA people, would support their program.
     The nationalists claim that Navarre, which is not part of the official Basque region of three provinces, is indeed Basque, and Estella is in Navarre. Moreover, they insist that the French Basque country is also part of the region, and they issued invitations to the mayors of the Basque communities in France. The official languages of the convention were to be Spanish, French and Basque, which they intend to promote, disregarding the fact that teaching Basque to children robs them of time they could spend developing skills which would help them.
     That ETA still has a cult of violence was shown when one of is members, in jail in Spain, was elected a member of the Basque parliament's human rights commission. The Spanish parties damned this as a travesty of human rights, while the non-violent Basque parties equivocated on the issue. The Spanish government refused to release him from jail so that he could take part in the meetings of the human rights commission.
     A favorite tactic of the Basque nationalists is to denounce the governing Partido Popular as the fascist heirs of Franco. For this reason Aznar repeatedly described his party as centrist. He has formed a close friendship with Tony Blair, Britain's Labor Prime Minister.
     In his speech he warned that Basque violence could provoke the right to stage a coup just as the chaos of the 1931-36 republic had triggered Franco's revolt. This made it patent that fear of such a development is one reason the behavior of all Spanish parties except ETA has been dignified and reasonable, putting the French politicians to shame.

Ronald Hilton - 02/01/99