Financial Times: principio del fin de las pistolas en España y el País Vasco

March 24, 2006

A juicio de Financial Times, estamos asistiendo al “principio del fin” de ETA, abriendo una real oportunidad para desterrar las pistolas de España y el País Vasco.


Este es el editorial de Financial Times (

Beginning of the end

Published: March 24 2006 02:00 | Last updated: March 24 2006 02:00

Today’s permanent ceasefire declared by Eta, the Basque separatist group, is a real chance to take the gun out of Basque and Spanish politics once and for all. Delicate but hard-nosed management will be needed if it is to become the foundation stone of peace.

Radical Basque nationalism emerged as a response to Franco’s vengeful dictatorship, which tried to obliterate Basque language and culture. The political challenge now is to understand why a violent independence movement has survived for 30 years under a democracy that has seen the unique Basque identity re-emerge triumphant – and thereby avoid the mistakes that have kept Eta in business.

Both big Spanish parties, the governing Socialists and opposition Popular party, have behaved irresponsibly in the past. During Felipe Gonzalez’s premiership, the Socialists licensed death squads against the Eta milieu. Under José María Aznar’s government, the right saw electoral profit in deliberately polarising Basque politics in order to boost votes elsewhere in Spain. Such tactics gave a morally bankrupt terrorist rump a new lease of life and a fig-leaf of legitimacy.

Against this background, José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, Spain’s prime minister, courageously offered Eta talks if they laid down their arms. He judged the moment well. After 9/11, and the Madrid and London bombings, tolerance for terror as a tactic evaporated. The IRA gave up the armed struggle last summer and Eta was reeling from infiltration that has cost it 400 arrests.

Mr Zapatero has a mandate from parliament to pursue talks. But his anything but loyal opposition – still unreconciled to losing the 2004 elections – is conjuring up the spectre of Spain’s disintegration, especially as this government is open to more home rule for both Catalans and Basques.

While Spain’s asymmetric federalism does raise legitimate concerns, these are mostly to do with equity between rich and poor regions. The Popular party is playing a dangerous game of reviving the inflammatory political idiom of Francoism, of “the two Spains” and the civil war. If it cannot be bipartisan on a matter of state it should at least be responsible.

Difficult decisions lie ahead. If the ceasefire becomes a formal end to hostilities there will, for example, eventually have to be a phased release of Eta prisoners in Spain and France. That will enrage the opposition and families of Eta victims. Mr Zapatero cannot constitutionally offer a democratic route to Basque secession, moreover, in the way that Tony Blair could hold out to Irish republicans the eventual prospect of an Ireland united by democratic consent.

The most plausible way forward is through expanded powers of self-government that would probably satisfy most Basques. Those who will only be satisfied by independence must have the right to pursue it – but only by peaceful and democratic means.


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