The Basques: Acts of peace and war

In the Basque region of Spain a fourteen month ceasefire by the Basque Homeland and Liberty Party – ETA – ended a year ago.

The World Today
6 minute READ

Joseba Zulaika

Director, Centre for Basque Studies, University of Nevada, Reno

One negotiator is now in jail, a go-between discredited. Killings have resumed but the situation is beyond any normal rules of war and peace.

As I write, tens of thousands of people are marching in San Sebastian to protest ETA’s latest murders.

They demonstrate under the banner: ‘For life and liberty, for what unites us: the Constitution and the Statute.’ Had I been in the Basque country, I would have been there as well. But an exclusively pacifist reading of the march would miss the point. Irony better captures the heart of this demonstration because the echo of those absent is almost as loud as the fervor of those in attendance.

The march can be seen as a showcase for the very opposite of what it seems: not a united front against terrorism, but the deep rift among Basques as to how to tackle the endemic problem and, ultimately, what to do with the constitutional issues behind the political impasse.

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