Tuesday, January 27, 2004

Carod-Rovira Resigns

The worst of the worst in Spanish politics came down on Carod-Rovira for daring to find new ways to end the Basque conflict. There are those who do not like peace and will crucify anyone that works towards dialog and understanding.

This note appears today at Yahoo News:

Senior Spanish regional official resigns over ETA meeting
Tue Jan 27,12:49 PM ET Add World - AFP to My Yahoo!

BARCELONA, Spain (AFP) - The deputy leader of the government of Spain's Catalonia region resigned under heavy pressure after admitting having met members of the banned Basque separatist group ETA.

Catalan president Pasqual Maragall accepted the resignation of his deputy, Josep Lluis Carod Rovira, who sparked a political row after admitting meeting in France three weeks ago leaders of ETA, blamed for the deaths of 816 people in the past 35 years in its campaign for an independent Basque country.

According to ABC newspaper, he met Mikel Albizu, also known as Mikel Antza, the head of ETA's political wing, and Jose Antonio Urrutikoetxea Bengoetxea, also known as Josu Ternera, on January 3 and 4 in the south of France.

Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar and the head of the Socialist opposition, Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, had both demanded the resignation of Carod Rovira.

"I understand perfectly the indignation of all political groups," said Maragall in allusion to Carod Rovira's overture to ETA.

Maragall said that pending the appointment of a new 'conseller en cap' -- the de facto position of regional prime minister in the autonomous Catalan parliament -- Carod Rovira would remain in the government but without portfolio.

The man at the centre of the storm was meanwhile unrepentent.

"I do not want more victims of ETA, nor assassinations or deaths -- that's why I spoke with ETA," Carod Rovira said.

"I am not backing down, nor am I asking forgiveness for my convictions favouring peace and dialogue," he said, insisting he would lead the ERC party into Spain's general election on March 14.

Carod Rovira's leftist and pro-Catalan independence Republican Left (ERC) party only one month ago joined forces with Maragall's Catalan Socialist Party and a hard left ecologist grouping to form a new Catalan government.

Maragall said he had to censure his erstwhile number two.

"He made a serious mistake, and this has prejudiced the credibility of the Catalan government," said Maragall, who in last November's regional election became Catalonia's first left-wing president since the restoration of Spanish democracy in 1975 and the first regional elections in 1980.

But Maragall, who said Carod Rovira would have to answer for his actions before the Catalan parliament, also blasted Aznar's conservative government for in his view "manipulating the press for its own electoral benefit."

It was the pro-government ABC which revealed the ETA meeting in its Monday edition.

In the Basque region itself Carod Rovira's stance was well received in some quarters.

Miren Azkarate, spokesman for the moderate nationalist Basque regional government, said he saw the meeting as "legitimate" while Arnaldo Otegi, spokesman for ETA's banned political wing Batasuna, praised Carod Rovira for having the "political courage to dare to tell the truth instead of hiding it."

Aznar's Popular Party (PP) is currently leading the Socialists in the polls as it seeks a third straight general election victory in just six weeks time.

The PP is being led into the election by Mariano Rajoy, the handpicked successor of Aznar, who has decided to not stand for a third term in office.

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