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Basque guilt Basque guilt
by Thanos Kalamidas
2009-08-08 07:42:40
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Today I might provoke some people a bit, but hopefully I won’t insult any. But a bomb blast in the heart of Madrid last week makes me wonder what separatist and sometimes nationalist separatist groups are doing in Europe nowadays? I mean, let’s say that Spain gives the Basques what they ask for, and they create their own separate country with their own separate laws and government – then what? Do they apply for a full membership in the EU – an institution that dreams of becoming a union of republics similar to the United States? And then what? Are they going to apply or demand membership in NATO? Do they want protection under the European security umbrella and the Maastricht treaty?

When ETA, Euskadi Ta Azkatasuna (Basque Homeland and Freedom) – the separatist Basque organization – emerged in the 1960s, there were just too many reasons to do so, but the reasons can be summarized in one name: Franco, the notorious Spanish dictator. They opposed the dictator and his repressive army in every possible way, leaving a number of victims and martyrs in their trail. From the very beginning their opposition was showed in the worst possible way, and Franco never forgot until his very last moment that he was the cause of more and more deaths. But in 1975 Franco died and things changed in Spain.

In 2009 things have changed radically in Spain, not only because the Spanish government or the Spanish king wanted change, but because the whole world has changed. Since the 60s, a new power has emerged in Europe, a power that protects rights: human rights, minority rights, ethnic rights. And it consists of foundations and institutions. Actually, a lot of times it has been said that the Euro-parliament in its efforts to help minorities, has forgotten the rights of the majorities. So what the Basques want now? And if they have complains there are always the European courts ready to hear any minority

The Basque region in northern Spain currently enjoys more privileges than any other ethnic minority in Europe. Actually they enjoy autonomy to the level of having their own parliament, police force, control over education and they collect their own taxes. So what is missing? Becoming independent and then starting to beg for a new master? Democracy means tolerance, so again it is everybody’s right to hope or wish for something, however extreme it is – this is part of democracy. I might wake up tomorrow and decide that I want an independent Athenian Democracy in the middle of Helsinki, with me as the president and only citizen. And yes, this is my right and it is my right to talk about it and try to make reality of it. But from there to start placing bombs that cost human lives – that’s a far cry from democracy. In my case it would mean me turning from neighbourhood lunatic to neighbourhood serial killer. I know the example is extreme and I might have overdone it, but really, what’s the difference? After all, what ETA wanted back in 1960, they’ve got now.

What remains has nothing to do with the perhaps romantic dreams of autonomy, or resistance to a ruthless dictator. They have become the dreams of a criminal mind. In 1997, after the murder of a local councillor, more than six million people from all around Spain, including the Basque region, took to the streets saying… enough! That day, the Basque independent movement lost their strongest supporter, the people. Everybody seemed to have had enough, and for good. ETA realized this and later they decided to cease fire indefinitely. Unfortunately, this ended in 1999 when ETA returned to its old practices, slowly at first, but lately more dynamically. Now in 2009, ten years later, a new bomb and images of a building in ruins have overwhelmed the media and the internet, reminding us that somewhere in the Basque region, a group of people that were born and lived most of their life with guns under their beds, can’t adapt to a life in peace. They are continually trying to find new excuses to turn from liberators and revolutionaries, into serial killers.

The Basque society is feeling guilty for its own creation. They just stand there watching, because the Basques carry a big part of the responsibility for the bombs in Madrid. The Basque society knows very well who they are; those who provoked, committed, planned and executed this act. They know how to find them and how to stop them, but they are not doing anything out of guilt for the wasted years. Because as history has proved; at least two decades were spent wasting human lives for ETA. It turned ETA members from being liberators into serial killers, even in the minds of the Basque people. And now the new generation has to carry the guilt and the accusations.
     
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Emanuel Paparella2009-08-08 13:19:00
Unfortunately political fanaticism in their eager embracing of Machiavellian principles rationalize their nefarious actions as the end justifying the means. To the contrary, all too often what those means end up doing is corrupting the end too.


Alexandra Pereira2009-08-08 15:38:48
The sad thing is that the right question is not "What do the Basques want now", but "What is ETA today?", since the high majority of Basques don't support ETA nor its methods - and all referendums, or simple street conversations with common people in the Basque country, reveal that. ETA leaders must be treated and punished as criminals, not reasonable separatists - and yes, I wonder why hasn't the EU treated them more harshly before. The answer is: it is a mafia group of out-of-laws, drug traffickers and dealers (yes, that's how they have been financing their bombs for quite some years now!!) and killers who use illegal methods also in France and Portugal to plan their actions, who desperately crave for power and scatter fear in their own homeland. This is not a Spanish matter anymore (and even if it was, they still wouldn't be right in their methods) when they steal and rent cars, plan their actions, build bombs and traffick drugs in neighbouring countries!!!


Alexandra Pereira2009-08-08 15:40:36
The truth is they are nothing but a disguised organization of dangerous drug dealers today.


Alexandra Pereira2009-08-08 21:35:52
As for the new generations of Basques, yes, they carry not only guilt but also shame - and they hate ETA because it transformed a tradition of dignity and resistance into a murderous tradition - without their permission and terrifying their families in the Basque country. They won't forget that and they will never forgive ETA.


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