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United States and Spain: The danger of ethnic minorities. ETA

Criticism of St.Patrick's Day and its festivities is politically incorrect, but this is serious business, not fun. Ethnic minorities often have little idea of the realities of their ancestral home, but they feel obliged to respond to a call for funds. Thus it is only recently that the American Irish realized the damage done by funding IRA terrorists. Another important case involves Basques in the New World. They have supported ETA terrorists, and, when the terrorists escaped to American countries to evade Spanish justice, they have given them shelter. For years Spain has been trying to get Mexico and other countries to extradite ETA terrorists, and finally their efforts have been successful. Despite this, ETA terrorists have not abandoned violence in Spain. They are nasty, dangerous young men.

Now the Basque colonies in the US have become a problem. There are 15,000 Basques in Idaho. State Senator David Bieter, whose mother was Basque, introduced a resolution calling for peaceful self-determination for Spain's Basques. It was enthusiastically received by the local Basque community. Whether this was his own initiative or whether he was put up to it by a Spanish Basque is not clear, but the Idaho Basques had no idea of the minefield they were walking into. The position of the Madrid government is that it is responsible for the integrity of Spain and that Basque provinces have got the highest degree of autonomy. The position of the United States, one and indivisible, would be the same.

The Idaho resolution was viewed as unjustified interference in Spain's internal affairs. The Spanish Ambassador, Javier Ruperez, who had been kidnapped by ETA in 1979 and held for a month, was incensed. The surprised Idaho legislature changed the resolution to have it condemn ETA, and then passed it unanimously. At the same time they suggested that the US become involved and broker an agreement. This is a dangerous trend: if the US becomes involved in the domestic disputes of more countries about whose complex domestic policies it is often poorly informed, the result could be more military involvement. If the Mexican situation deteriorated sharply, would General Pershing ride again?

Ronald Hilton - 3/17/02