The Basque Conflict and ETA: The Difficulties of an Ending

The violence perpetrated by the Basque separatist organization Euskadi ta Askatasuna (Basque Homeland and Freedom, ETA) was for many years an anomalous feature of Spain’s transition to democracy. ETA claimed some 840 lives over fifty years. It was reviled as a terrorist criminal band inside Spain and listed as a foreign terrorist organization by the United States The Basque Conflict and ETA The Difficulties of an Ending 2 USIP.ORG • SPECIAL REPORT 384 and the European Union. Yet its own perception of its long campaign was that of an armed conflict appropriate to a disciplined political-military organization, sustained by the support of a broader social and political movement. Spain’s counterterrorism, reinforced by essential cooperation from France and complemented by vocal and organized opposition to ETA from Basque and Spanish society, succeeded in significantly reducing the number of ETA’s victims. But despite three major efforts to seek a solution through negotiations—the third broke down after ETA bombed Madrid’s Barajas airport in December 2006—ETA persisted as the last organized armed insurgency in Western Europe.

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Dec 09, 2015
Teresa Whitfield