Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Lessons From the Demonstrations

I hate to pat myself on the back but... what did I tell you?

While the Basque-phobes and the neocons drooled over the allegedly anti-ETA rallies in Euskal Herria, Spain and Catalunya I insisted that if Rodríguez Zapatero and his PSOE wanted to survive the next electoral process they needed to listen to the Spanish public.

And what was the Spanish public saying?

Yes to dialogue and yest to a peace process for the Basque Country.

So, after his confrontation last Monday at Congress with Über-fatxa Mariano Rajoy, Rodríguez is giving out signals that he knows how to read the pulse in the streets.

Check this out, it was published at the Boston Herald:

Spain’s prime minister says dialogue still an option to solve Basque conflict

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

MADRID, Spain - Spain’s prime minister staunchly defended his policy of dialogue with the violent Basque separatist group ETA on Wednesday, even after a deadly New Year’s weekend car bomb that shattered his peace efforts and left him open to the harshest criticism of his term.
Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero said the government has an obligation to seek any avenue to end the four-decade-old conflict, in which 800 people have been killed. While arrests and recruitment problems have reduced ETA to no more than 20 active fighters and about 100 collaborators, the group’s ability to create havoc is still alive.

The bomb planted at Madrid’s international airport on Dec. 30 weighed more than 1,100 pounds, and police subsequently found and disabled two other bombs in the northern Basque country. The airport attack killed two people, and reduced a parking garage to rubble.
"Spaniards have a right to live in peace," Zapatero told a breakfast meeting with politicians, businessmen and journalists at Madrid’s Ritz Hotel. "The government has to make that right a reality by using the justice and security forces, and by exploring avenues for dialogue aimed at finding an end to the violence."

Zapatero’s stance has been highly criticized by the opposition Popular Party, which has accused him of being soft on terrorism and naively believing the word of killers.

The bombing has deepened a political divide that has existed in Spain since the March 11, 2004, Madrid train bombings by Islamic radicals. Zapatero’s Socialist Party won election just days after the attack, and the conservatives, now in the opposition, have yet to recover from the loss.

Zapatero called on the opposition to stop its combative stance and join the government, noting that when his party was out of power it always stood by the ruling party in its dealings with ETA.

"Anti-terrorism policy is the responsibility of the government," Zapatero said. "All the political parties must unite around the government. This issue should not be a political one. It is the struggle of life against death."

ETA wants to create a sovereign homeland in the Basque region that straddles the border between northern Spain and southern France.

While ETA is small in comparison to other militant groups like the Irish Republican Army, the issue is an extremely emotive one for Spain, which has been grappling with demands for greater autonomy by wealthy regions. Conservatives feel that if the government caves in to these demands, it would eventually lead to the breakup of the country.

One thing Mr. Rodriguez, not only the Spaniards deserve to live in peace, also the Basques, and the Catalonians, and the Galizans. For that, their right to self determination must be brought to the foreground of any future negotiation. And when justice is served, peace will be the natural outcome.

Hopefully this time around Rodríguez will give up his extensive use of state sponsored violence and will take decisive steps towards the viability of the peace process.

And hey, this article mentions something new, that the IRA was at one time way larger than ETA has ever been. You know why?

Among other things, because it counted with wide open support by the Irish American community.

Food for thought.

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