The Basque separatist group Euskadi ta Askatasuna (ETA) announced its dissolution this month, sending a letter to authorities stating that it had decided to dismantle all structures after its ultimate failure to solve the Basque “political conflict.”
“ETA obtained nothing through its promise to stop killing, and it will obtain nothing by announcing what they call dissolution,” said Spain’s Interior Minister Juan Ignacio Zoido, who promised authorities would continue pursuing the terrorists and investigating all unresolved crimes linked to the group.
The Spanish government made it clear that ETA would receive no concessions in return for disbanding, but may grant the group’s request to transfer imprisoned members to prisons closer to their homes in the Basque region.
“I don’t believe in the end of ETA because there are lots of deaths that haven’t come to light,” said a Spanish economist living in the Basque city of San Sebastian. “Lots of murders that have never been cleared up, lots of victims who have not been compensated.”
Over 800 deaths have been attributed to the group, which sought to establish an independent state in the Basque region of northern Spain/southern France. Victims include police, military, politicians, entrepreneurs, civilians, and ETA deserters.
The ETA movement began decades ago in Francoist Spain, when a group of angry students joined together to oppose General Francisco Franco’s dictatorship. The group’s methods drew widespread support from Franco’s opponents.
ETA assassinated Franco’s successor in 1975, but continued its armed insurgency against Madrid even after the government gave the region significant autonomy.
ETA’s announcement marks the end of one of the longest terror campaigns in modern Europe. The victory here is historic, but somewhat unsurprising considering how long it has been since Franco’s death.
“The news reflected what has been evident for years, that ETA is a spent force, its ranks decimated by arrests, its popularity minimal in the Basque region,” reports The New York Times. “In their long struggle, the government has won.”
ETA declared a ceasefire in 2011 and relinquished its weapons in 2017. The group plans to hold an official dissolution ceremony later this week.
Editor’s note: In my Agency years, the ETA was always a major concern, albeit a localized one. It was a serious group, I’m glad to see it gone.