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#62688 - 08/26/02 04:26 PM Batasuna
LostInMadrid Offline

Registered: 07/28/01
Posts: 92
Loc: Madrid, Spain
Hey everyone,

The big news today here in Spain is that they've made Batasuna, the political arm of the ETA, illegal. You can find more details here:

This has been playing out over the past weeks, but today is the day a judge approved the three year ban and the government clamped down. They're shutting down Batasuna offices, turning off the water and lights and telephone, even going so far as to demand that Batasuna's ISP remove their website from the internet. Basically, they're trying to erase their presence from the map.

I understand that they are not a very nice party, affiliating themselves with ETA similiarly to how Sinn Fein associated themselves with the IRA. However, the members of the Batasuna party have been freely elected in a democratic process. From what I understand, their main crime has been to not condemn the ETA and their attacks.

The whole thing is just sad to me. To see a new democracy like Spain try to fix one of their principle problems by undemocratic means. Just because they erased Batasuna doesn't mean they've erased the problem, it just means they have no one to talk to now to find a solution to the problem. Do the people who were part of or voted for Batasuna suddenly disappear? No. Do they stop wanting the separation of the Basque homeland? No. Now that they don't have any political means of expressing their opinions will they resort to supporting the ETA even more with monies and, more importantly, moral support? Yes.

I think it was pretty dumb of the government and the other political parties to outlaw one of their own, no matter how detestible. Who's next? The POSE (the opposing party) because they don't agree with the government on some issue?

My wife, feels exactly opposite about this. She, like all the Spanish, have spent a lifetime living with the crimes of the ETA and are desperate to find some solution, but I just can't imagine this is it.


#62689 - 08/26/02 06:34 PM Re: Batasuna
Cooter Offline

Registered: 02/27/02
Posts: 86
Loc: Boston, MA USA

I don't think anyone thinks this is a real solution to the problem. It's more of a symbolic measure. Note that Garzón's ruling (a judicial act) is distinct from the Cortes' law (a legislative act). Garzón, after combing through all the available information, concluded what everyone has known all along, that there is no difference between ETA and Batasuna. None. As an organization, they are the same, both resposnbile for what he describes as "crimes against humanity."

This, BTW, is the same principal that applies in US criminal law: let's say you are the getaway driver in a bank robbery, and one of your buddies inside the bank shoots and kills someone. You, although you shot no one, are still responsible for the murder to the same extent as the shooter.

Same principal here: Garzón found that Batasuna provided active support, logistics and resources for ETA. Just as guilty as the ones who blow up the little kids. Note that no election is being subverted, as the individual Batasuna members elected (to dog catcher, or whatever the hell these clowns managed) to office are, of course, still in office. Nor are these individuals forbidden from continuing to run and possibly be elected to office as individuals or members of another party.

BTW, I can't think of any democracy, including our own here in the US, that allows groups to participate in it that are actively comitted to its violent overthrow. I don't mean groups that would like a different system, or groups that hate the current system, or groups whose philosphy (like communism, say) can extend to violence under some conditions. I mean groups that, right now, are providing money, recruits, information, moral support, rallies, propaganda and cover for people who are, right now, blowing up cars, killing kids, and shooting politicians in the head.

I actually take this as a sign of Spain's increasing maturity as a democracy, in that they are getting over the legacy of Franco's dictatorship and are no longer afraid to say "no" to terrorists who want to have their cake and eat it too. ETA/Batasuna wants to be accepted as a democratic party, at the same time that they go around killing representatives of other parties. Neat trick, if you can swing it.

And no, I don't think this will make an iota of difference in solving the ETA problem. But, as a purely symbolic gesture, I applaud it.

#62690 - 08/26/02 06:38 PM Re: Batasuna
Fernando Offline
Executive Member

Registered: 07/05/01
Posts: 1551
Loc: Madrid, Spain
Hi Russ, hi to everyone.

Today is an historic day for spanish democracy. At last the strongest arm of ETA has been illegalized (it is in the way to).

I'm sorry but I can't agree with you Russ. Batasuna/Herri Batasuna/Euskal Herritarrok (different names for the same party) is not only an "not-nice" party (or as the always partial CNN the basque party), it is more than that.

It is always sad to illegalize a political party because it is the legitimate representant of the citizens, let's see why Batasuna has been ilegalized.

The Reasons

Herri Batasuna was founded 25 years ago, in the birth of the current spanish democracy as a marxist-leninist party which pursued the independence of the region officialy know as The Basque Country by any means possible, including violent ones.

ETA is not only the "comandos" (groups of terrorists that commit assasinations in specific areas, and which are independent from other comandos), ETA designed a wider complex called KAS (Koordinadora Abertzale Sozialista) in which each organization served for a different task.

I can't recall every name, but here are the organizations of KAS currently ilegalized:
  • Egin: The ETA newspaper, in which ETA made anouncements and which was ilegalized when it was demonstrated that was a prime financial and information source for ETA (due to its media status could obtain certain information privileges).
  • Ekin. International propaganda organization. Ilegalized when it was demonstrated that was the key in the financiation infrastructure of ETA.
  • Xaki
  • Gestoras pro Amnistía. The organization designed to support ETA jailed members. Ilegalized when it was demonstrated that was a financial source for ETA, that it passed information between ETA jailed members and ETA, and that it was coarsing the one who wanted to abandon terrorism.
  • Jarrai and Haika. Organization for teenagers which was ilegalized when it was demonstrated that its members fomented violent acts like burning public buses, attacking business (banks, communications arrays, etc), injuring basque policemen and when material for commiting all these acts was found in its sites.
  • Segi

Some of this organizations have the purpose of supporting ETA members abroad, are financial sources (restaurants and other legal business which serves to five money to ETA), to foment its violent ideology in the Basque Country (even in schools) and abroad.
HB was the political arm of this complex. Here are the main reasons for ilegalizing it:

  • It has almost 250 former ETA members (and some of them probably in active membership) as members of Batasuna
  • It has fomented violent acts, and its members have been imprisoned for commiting violent acts, menacing other parties, commiting assasinations or aiding ETA in some other way
  • In its 25 years of existence has never condemn a killing, not even the killings of children or a bombing to prime political representatives, justifying them in the more scandalous ways.
  • It has usurped power every time it could, organizing paralel events in which other parties' representatives should have had representation.
  • It has violated numerous times the laws stated by the basque parlament and the Navarra's parlament (as for example not exhibiting the Navarra's flag in the councils governed by it).
  • In the acts organized by Batasuna almost always shouts as "Gora ETA" - Go on ETA! - or "ETA mátalos" - ETA kill them - have made by Batasuna members, also burning french and spanish flags, allowing ETA members to participate in the meetings
  • It tried to allow a ETA video to be played in the space reserved for it as a political party in the public TVs
  • It has been demonstrated that its members finance ETA, as the european parlamentary that Batasuna has, which was discovered with a couple of million ptas. in a trip from Brusels to the Basque Country
  • The Batasuna senators have not attended to the spanish parlament (Congreso de los Diputados and Senado) for years, but have perceived the wages as senators
  • Batasuna mayors have allowed funerals for ETA members in public spaces (as the councils themselves), exhibiting ETA flags on them
  • etc... (there are 400 pages with reasons given by the judge Baltasar Garzón)

The process
Russ, you say that ilegalizing a party is undemocratic. Germany have ilegalized 25 parties in the recent years (some of them with nazi or xenophobic ideologies), as well as France and United Kingdom. This is the first political party ilegalized in Spain.

The ilegalization has not been only promoved by the Government: It has been a common task of all the powers of the state, the judicial power (by the hand of the 5th Court of Baltasar Garzón), the legislative power (the Congress) in which the ilegalization has obtain the support of the 90% percent of the representatives, and the executive, the Government. A special court composed of judges from the Supreme Tribunal will decide if the ilegalization can be applied. Then the Constitutional Court will determine if the measure comply with our constitution. Thus, the process has democratic legitimation, judicial guarantees and the support of the most important statal representatives.

Moreover, 80 to 90% of the spaniards have expressed in polls that they agree with the measure.


With the ilegalization ETA looses a propaganda instrument, its major financial source and a great logistical complex. Following the ilegalization, the spanish government will ask the European Union to recognize Batasuna as a terrorist group equivalent to ETA. That will make ETA loose even more logistical support in its santuars of Belgium and France.

Keep in mind that it is not the ideas which are prosecuted (there are still parties which defend the same objectives by democratic means) but an organization which was integrated in ETA itself.

Those are the reasons for which I think today is a historic day for our democracy. I will sleep better today.


#62691 - 08/26/02 06:47 PM Re: Batasuna
Espe3 Offline

Registered: 05/13/02
Posts: 511
Believe me, it is NOT a bad thing. Their only crime has NOT been JUST not condeming ETA, they are key in ETA's practices, helping them policically AND financially. Your wife has a different opinion on this, I suggest you try to dig and get to know the rest of the story, I'm sure you won't feel so supportive... its also not as democratic as you may believe. More than anything its an intimidation game, if you don't vote or support ETA, you help Batasuna out, or else. Its a complex issue, El Pais has been doing a good job of covering and explaining what's going on, read through it, you may need some help understanding some of it, its not a simple read, it'll be good to have someone explain some of the things to you, fill you in on the background you may be lacking... the best opinion is an informed one. Being a democracy is something not to be abused, even the US has and will do something similiar. Remember the saying, your rights end where mine begin. The law and democracy exists to help protect that, even sometimes at the risk of being somewhat undemocratic. Batasuna accuses the other parties of being facists, interesting, because if you step away to look at it, they are really the ones that help strip the liberties of the very people they claim to be fighting for. Its a twisted and dangerous business they've been carrying on, and its time for real freedom to begin, not the kind of freedom that THEY decide should exist.

By the way Russ, the basque region continues to have many more liberties than other provences, and they are not loosing their political voice. Simply put, they are cutting of a sick branch to save the rest of the tree. There is still a long road ahead, and ETA is surely going to create some havok, but its a major step in the right direction to curing some of Spain's ills.

#62692 - 08/26/02 06:59 PM Re: Batasuna
CaliBasco Offline
Executive Member

Registered: 10/17/00
Posts: 1495
Loc: Idaho

I smell a familiar smell on this thread but I can't quite distinguish it from all of the other ETA posts.

LiM: thanks for the link to the article. I've been following this topic since it was first proposed, and I agree with you...this is not a solution. It's not the panacea that the PP is looking for. It's more like applying a band-aid to a severed limb.

You won't stop the "bleeding" with anything but a tourniquet, and unfortunately there is no tourniquet large enough to stop the flow on this issue...certainly not removing a voice from the political process. Now the PP has effectively squelched a democratically-elected voice in the Spanish parliament. Those "illegalized" will now continue down the road until they pass by "marginalized" and stop at "militarized" like their ETA(m) associates.

This, although it looks good "on paper" is not a solution to a flesh-and-blood issue.
Ongi etorri!

#62693 - 08/26/02 07:12 PM Re: Batasuna
Fernando Offline
Executive Member

Registered: 07/05/01
Posts: 1551
Loc: Madrid, Spain
Cali, as long as we discuss it in a civilized manner I don't see the problem wink

As almost always I don't really agree with you... We have had 25 years of legalization, of "don't do this, it could get worse..." now it is time to try other solutions, and to reinforce the democracy. A party which seeks the destruction of the state, which support a terrorist band, and which uses the democratic tools to menace, coarse and intimidate people, such an undemocratic party can't be legal, here, or anywhere.

Batasuna had 25 years to comply with the legality, with the rules made for and by the people, and had 25 years to say ETA stop, and pursue the independence of the Basque Country (an idea as respectable as any other) by democratic means.

Now I hope it won't be legal anymore.


#62694 - 08/26/02 07:14 PM Re: Batasuna
LostInMadrid Offline

Registered: 07/28/01
Posts: 92
Loc: Madrid, Spain
Thank you Fernando, your long post was very educational and well written. Among other things, I didn't realize that the representatives still get to maintain their office, that's good to know.

I knew if I posted something here I could be enlightened a bit, because as Espe3 mentioned, it's a complex issue and definitely a bit much to follow for me in Spanish - many times the papers or television assume a level of knowledge I don't have.

The whole thing still bugs me though. The only possible solution is through dialogue, but there has been none with ETA for years. Getting rid of Batasuna just makes dialogue that much harder to attain.


#62695 - 08/26/02 08:36 PM Re: Batasuna
JJP Offline

Registered: 11/29/01
Posts: 208
Loc: ca.eeuu
The only possible solution is through dialogue, but there has been none with ETA for years. Getting rid of Batasuna just makes dialogue that much harder to attain.
I just want to say that these are also my exact feelings. History has shown over and over again that when you suppress discourse it usually leads to more violence.

Nevertheless, nothing grates me more than a European or a Brit criticizing US domestic policy. It's very snooty and arrogant. So I shouldn’t say anything here. Also, I don't have a grasp of all the history and intricacies of this Spanish political issue; I'm not qualified to judge and comment.

#62696 - 08/26/02 09:05 PM Re: Batasuna
toddy Offline

Registered: 12/02/00
Posts: 303
Loc: USA
Cowardly ETA needs to be fought on many fronts. The political wing is only one. THIS IS WAR! I think, in the long term interest of the nation-state we know as Spain, they MUST fight ETA on EVERY front. I think the next should be the educational system. I also think those "anti-ETA" basques should lead this process! If they have the huevos!

#62697 - 08/26/02 09:09 PM Re: Batasuna
Puna Offline
Executive Member

Registered: 07/07/00
Posts: 1437
Loc: Charlotte, NC. U.S.A.
For what my two cents are worth - I think that that the three year addendum re "outlawing" Batasuna plus the fact that the currently elected members are to complete their terms of office shows a more than fair attempt to give all concerned the opportunity to re-evaluate their methods of trying to achieve their ends.

The majority of Spaniards have been overwhelming supportive of ousting Batasuna - in many ways, the current legislation shows remarkable restraint in handling the situation.
emotionally & mentally in Spain - physically in Charlotte

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