Endgame for ETA: Elusive Peace in the Basque Country

The violent Basque separatist group ETA took shape in Franco's Spain, yet claimed the majority of its victims under democracy. For most Spaniards it became an aberration, a criminal and terrorist band whose persistence defied explanation. Others, mainly Basques (but only some Basques) understood ETA as the violent expression of a political conflict that remained the unfinished business of Spain's transition to democracy. Such differences hindered efforts to 'defeat' ETA's terrorism on the one hand and 'resolve the Basque conflict' on the other for more than three decades.

In her new book, Endgame for ETA: Elusive Peace in the Basque Country (Oxford University Press, 2014), CIC Fellow Teresa Whitfield offers a compelling account of the long path to ETA’s declaration of a definitive end to its armed activity in October 2011, and the slow process towards its disarmament and dissolution that has continued since that time.

The Basque case has been cited as an example of the perils of talking to terrorists. Drawing on extensive field research, Whitfield argues that while negotiations did not prosper, a form of “virtual peacemaking” was an essential complement to robust police action and social condemnation. Together they contributed to bring ETA’s violence to an end and return its grievances to the channels of normal politics.

Read a blog by Teresa Whitfield published for the London School of Economicstitled While attention is focused on Catalonia, the debate over the Basque Country’s status within Spain remains on hold

The book may be purchased at Oxford University Press

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Sep 03, 2014
Teresa Whitfield