ETA today announced "the definitive cessation of its armed activity." This is effectively the third such declaration in the last 13 months. On September 5, 2010, the group called a ceasefire saying that they would no longer "carry out offensive armed actions." In January of this year, ETA declared that the ceasefire was to be "permanent." The Spanish government responded to these moves with arrests and the banning of the the newly-formed radical nationalist party Sortu.
Today's announcement, coming on the heels of the international peace conference in San Sebastian held on Monday, is likely an effort to garner some publicity for the moribund peace process in the Basque Country and to put some international pressure on the Spanish government, which has thus far show no interest in pursuing peace talks.
Of course, this isn't surprising. Prime Minister Zapatero was burned in the last attempt at peace in 2006, when ETA (or a hardline faction within the group) responded to the slow pace of talks by bombing a parking terminal at the Madird-Barajas airport in December of that year, killing two Ecuadorian citizens.
I was in the Basque Country last September when the ceasefire was announced. Watching Spanish TV that day I learned a new word: "insufficiente." My guess is that term is being bandied about tonight on news programs and talk shows throughout Spain.
Here's the full text of today's announcement (from The Guardian):
With this declaration, Euskadi ta Askatasuna, the Basque socialist revolutionary organisation for national liberation, wishes to give news of its decision:
Eta considers that the international conference that has recently taken place in the Basque country is an initiative of enormous significance. The agreed resolution includes all the elements for an integral solution of the conflict, and it has attained the support of a wide spectrum of the Basque society and the international community.
A new political time is emerging in the Basque country. We have an historical opportunity to find a just and democratic solution for the centuries old political conflict. Dialogue and agreement should outline the new cycle, over violence and repression. The recognition of the Basque country and the respect for the will of the people should prevail over imposition.
This has not been an easy road. The cruelty of the fight has taken away the lives of many comrades. Many others are still suffering in prison and in exile. Our recognition and deepest tribute goes out to them.
From here on the road will not be easy either. Facing the imposition that still exists, every step, every achievement, will be the result of the effort and fight of Basque citizens. During these years the Basque country has accumulated the necessary experience and strength to address this path and it also has the determination for doing it. It is time to look at the future with hope. It is also time to act with responsibility and courage.
Therefore, Eta has decided the definitive cessation of its armed activity. Eta calls upon the Spanish and French governments to open a process of direct dialogue with the aim of addressing the resolution of the consequences of the conflict and, thus, to overcome the armed confrontation. Thorough this historical declaration, Eta shows its clear, solid and definitive commitment.
Lastly, Eta calls upon the Basque society to commit to this process until freedom and peace are achieved.
Long live the free Euskal Herria! Long live Basque socialism! No rest until independence and socialism!
Basque country, 20 October 2011
Euskadi ta Askatasuna