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INTERNATIONAL TERRORISM: Spain's ETA



Spain was a leader in the UN discussion on the need for an international convention on terrorism. Cooperation between Spain and France in fighting terrorism is an excellent example of the benefits of international cooperation. In the past ETA terrorists used France as a hideout, but now close cooperation between the French and Spanish government has resulted in the capturing of top ETA leaders.

Whereas the careful planning of bombings and killings is the work of ETA adults, what the Spaniards call street terrorism--burning busses, throwing molotov cocktails, etc---is often the work of youths between 14 and 18. When the Spanish government decided to treat them as adults, an incredible thing happened. An ETA mob gathered in the street to protest violently, and the Basque police was waiting for them. Down the street on the other side of the police, a typical meeting demanding peace convened. Instead of attacking the ETA mob, the Basque police turned and attacked the peaceful crowd, only later attacking the ETA mob.

Anti-terrorists Spaniards held the Basque Nationalist government responsible for this, and demanded the resignation of the Basque Interior Minister. The Spanish government had acted with extreme patience, but now its anger could not be hidden. The supposedly peace-loving Basque Nationalist Party had long been talking out of both sides of its mouth.

Xabier Arzalluz the leader of the Basque Nationalist Party, is a strange old man. A former Jesuit priest, he comes from the mountain town of Loyola, where San Ignacio was born. In the 19th century, the nationalists, then reactionary clericals called Carlists, had their stronghold in the area, and even today the attitude of some Basque priests is ambivalent. He lived in Germany, where he lost his faith but became strongly anti-Communist. A learned man who has never advocated violence, he is simply impervious to the persuasion of Madrid politicians. He wishes that the European states would break up into regions within the European Union.

Ronald Hilton - 9/19/00


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