IRA v ETA - THE DIFFERENCES
Contributor / 2006-08-21 17:44:00
In a letter Ray Marsh disputes the need to support Zapatero in his efforts to seek a peaceful solution to the Basque problem. I disagree. The terror has afflicted Spain for more than forty years. We are all sick and tired of the violence and it needs to cease.
Ray draws comparisons between the IRA and ETA thereby illustrating that similarities are often more apparent than real. He ignores the differences but I will not. Essentially, there is no comparison with Ulster. The Basque Provinces have no sectarian divide. We do not have two halves of the community nursing tribal hatreds of each other. There is no religious antagonism. No go areas do not exist.
Historically, prominent roles in government have gone to Basques. Their rights and special privileges have always been respected, except of course under Franco. The Basques Provinces have always been the wealthiest in Spain. Until recently Basque wealth has come from the metal industry and ship building. The big Spanish banks such as the BBVA are Basque. The wealth of poorer regions has not been reinvested locally where needed but sent north. I deliberately exaggerate but in a sense Spain would be better off without the Basque Provinces.
Politically, votes in the Basque Provinces have gone three ways, PSOE from the urban working class, PP from the wealthy and PNV, Basque nationalist, from the rural areas. ETA with its political wing Batasuna is a break away from the PNV. The Basque nationalists have never agreed their aims. The PNV is happy with autonomy but would be happier with even more. ETA wants independence.
Terrorism can be contained but not defeated until the terrorists are brought to the negotiating table. Accordingly, ex PM Aznar initiated talks with ETA in 1998. At that time he led a minority government dependent on the Basques and Catalans to stay in power. Nobody implied that Aznar began negotiations to oblige his partners and to cave into the demands of terrorists but the PP alleges this of Zapatero whilst ignoring all mention of their former leader.
Aznar went about his business in secret. Zapatero has been open and proceeds with the approval of all parties except the PP. Hence, the principal party of the opposition is isolated. It has nothing to offer but a continuation of violence. If negotiations fail and the bombs go off again Ray Marsh ought to go to the front. Seriously though there have been enough deaths. ¡Basta ya!