I reproduce it here because it is quite important, it shows the international community that the Basque quest for self determination has many sides.
Here you have it:
Sunday, November 4, 2001
Ambassador's visit brings Basque question home
In 1979, when the first Spanish ambassador to visit
Boisewas in town, he was not permitted to meet at the . On Saturday, Ambassador Javier Ruperez got inside what locals call the "House of the Basques." But deep differences remain between Basque Center and Idaho Basques, who represent the largest population outside the homeland and who continue to press for a referendum on Basque independence. Spain
After a closed-door lunch that lasted an hour longer than planned, Sen. Larry Craig was the first to emerge from the meeting, looking a bit shellshocked. "We got into a very spirited discussion," said Craig, who had met Ruperez on a trip to
Spainand arranged his visit to . Idaho
"It got pretty heated, unexpectedly so," said Roy Eiguren, an influential Boise Basque and
Spain's honorary vice consul in . The nut of the conflict is this: Ruperez and his boss, Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar, see the issue of Basque self-determination not as a political problem but as a matter of crushing the separatist terrorist group ETA, which has killed 900 people in 30 years. The government rejects proposals for talks with ETA's political arm, Idaho Secretary of State Pete Cenarrusa's call for a brokered peace like that engineered in Idaho Northern Irelandby George Mitchell, and for an independence referendum in the four . "It is the overall conviction of the Spanish people that we don't have a political crisis," Ruperez said in an interview. "It should be solved mainly through the law enforcement agencies." Basque provinces
To put a referendum on independence to the people would be akin to letting an American state break away, Ruperez said. "We have one single country. We don't consider the possibility of splitting it up."
Aznar has characterized Basque nationalism, both violent and non-violent, as a "Nazi ideology." Ruperez offered his own bit of hot rhetoric: "I don't really care about the foment of Basque independence. What we do care about is violence." His passion is understandable. In 1979, the year Ruperez was elected to the Spanish Parliament, he was kidnapped by ETA and held for a month. Though he says that has no influence on his views, his voice betrayed bitterness when he said, "Those who kidnapped me, they are back on the streets, and not only back in the streets, but in the Basque Parliament."
Cenarrusa, who has been working on improving the lot of the Basque homeland for 30 years, wound up getting into what diplomats like to call "a frank and open" discussion. I wasn't in the meeting, but hearing it described afterward, it sounded rough and tumble.
Sitting around the same table after the lunch, I spoke with several of the principals, including Cenarrusa, Eiguren, Rep. David Bieter, D-Boise, Deputy Secretary of State Ben Ysursa and Gloria Totoricaguena, a Basque academic who lives in
"The ambassador gave his spiel but he didn't say anything about what the problems are over there," Cenarrusa said. "He talked about ETA, but I said, 'Where did ETA start?' It started with (Fascist Dictator Francisco) Franco suppressing Basque culture and assassinating people. Our end is to get rid of ETA, and he shares that goal," Cenarrusa said.
"But our other end is to allow the Basques self-determination," said Beiter, "and we don't share that goal." Ruperez rejects as a model two votes on separation in
Canada's French-speaking Quebec, calling such a move "whimsy," and an attack at the "indivisibility" of . Spain
Beiter plans a memorial in the next Legislature urging Congress to back a referendum on Basque independence. "It's not whimsy. It's thousands of years of differences of language and culture.
is the parallel. They got to vote." Quebec
That sentiment is gaining ground in Europe, where nationalist movements in
Scotlandand may one day secure elections on independence. In September, the British magazine The Economist said Wales fuels terrorist sentiment: "Mr. Aznar's obduracy on the political front is playing into the extremists' hands – by pointlessly antagonizing the non-violent Basque majority." The Economist predicted independence would be rejected by voters, just as it was in Spain , a view Ruperez shares. But until his government changes, perhaps with Aznar's retirement in 2004, movement on resolving the Basque question seems unlikely. Canada
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