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Basque Separatist Group ETA Declares Ceasefire

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Author Topic: Basque Separatist Group ETA Declares Ceasefire  (Read 122 times)
Faith of the Fallen
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« on: September 06, 2010, 02:52:42 am »

Jacques Massey, a journalist with Intelligence Online and author of a French-language book published in February whose title translates as: "ETA: Secret History of a 100-Year War," said "for the first time in the history of ETA, it's not ETA that imposes its line on the political movement. It's the political movement ... that has ended up winning from ETA what it wanted – notably the end of armed hostilities."

Intense pressure from Spanish and French police "left ETA with little strategic or tactical ability. It had little capacity to stir a big movement and cause the Spanish government to flinch."

"Today, under the crackdown, a (ETA) leader keeps his posts between three and five months, then gets arrested ... In the 1980s, they were able to kill 50 or so people a year. Today, they'll kill a maximum of one or two."

Massey added: "That's not enough to make a state bend."

ETA's announcement was not a surprise in Spain – in recent months, many people in the Basque region had been expecting a cease-fire. Spanish Interior Minister Alfredo Perez Rubalcaba had said as recently as Friday he was expecting a cease-fire statement from ETA.

ETA's last deadly attack was in July 2009 on the Mediterranean island of Mallorca with a car bomb that killed two police officers. But the group is suspected of having shot and killed a French police officer near Paris in March in a botched car robbery.

The new announcement came in a video sent to the BBC and a statement published by the newspaper Gara, a pro-independence daily that often serves as a mouthpiece for ETA.

The video showed three masked militants sitting at a table with a sign bearing the ETA insignia behind them: a snake curled around an ax.

"ETA makes it known that as of some months ago it took the decision to no longer employ offensive armed actions," the statement said.

It added: "If the government of Spain has the will, ETA, today as in the past, is willing to agree to the democratic minimums necessary to undertake the democratic process." It was not immediately clear what steps it is seeking or if it specifically seeking peace talks.

The announcement came more than four years after ETA announced a cease-fire which it then termed as permanent and which led to peace talks with Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero's government. But it ultimately went nowhere towards ending Europe's last major violent political militancy.

The truce ended with a thunderous car bomb blast in December 2006 that killed two people at Madrid airport. Since then, the government has said repeatedly it would not negotiate with ETA again, insisting the group must simply dissolve.

Since 2008, a total of 238 ETA members have been arrested in Spain, France and elsewhere, the Interior Ministry says, and over the past two years six men described as ETA's top leaders have been arrested, one after the other.

ETA, which is considered a terrorist organization by the European Union and the U.S., has killed more than 825 people since the late 1960s.

Ares said the group's decision to announce Sunday a cease-fire supposedly decided upon months ago made little sense.

"All the world can understand that decisions should be communicated when they are arrived at, and not months later," he said.


Associated Press Writers Jill Lawless in London and Jamey Keaten in Paris contributed to this report.
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