Permissive, clumsy, damaging policy

Year 2002: The Spanish Government, with support from the opposition, introduces new legislation to ban political parties which support, in one form or another, terrorism. The new laws were drafted quite clearly with political party Batasuna in mind. This party, linked to criminal band ETA, had representation in the Basque parliament, receiving public funds which ended up supporting ETA’s terrorist activities.

Year 2004: National elections to the Spanish Government: The PSOE (socialist party), until then the opposition party, became the party in power.

Year 2005: Local Basque elections took place. Batasuna, already declared illegal for supporting terrorist activity, could not run in this election. However, a new party, PCTV (EHAK by its Basque name), ran for office, despite it being heir to the people, ideas, and practices of Batasuna, and in fact being a new name for Batasuna (illegal by then). According to the law in effect since 2002, PCTV could have been declared illegal, as Batasuna was. However, the socialists in Government, who had supported in 2002 (while they were the opposition party) the new legislation on political parties, failed to apply the law on PCTV. PCTV obtained 9 seats in parliament: in other words, this ETA side-wing party obtained again public funds, and power in the Basque parliament.

Year 2007: City elections were scheduled all throughout Spain. In the Basque Country, another new Batasuna heir party ran for office: ANV. Again, like in 2005 with PCTV, many voices called for the law of political parties to be applied in full force to keep terrorist-supporting ANV and PCTV from running in the elections. The ruling socialist Government of Spain again did nothing (like in 2005) to prevent the terrorist supporters from gaining access to public money, to administering public funds in city halls, and to accessing personal information from citizens to be potentially used by ETA through their PCTV and ANV brands.

Year 2008: Spain general elections are scheduled for March 2008. The ruling socialist Government now (early 2008) has initiated actions to declare PCTV and ANV illegal, as was done with Batasuna in 2002. The Government claims that now (a few months before General elections), there is evidence of the relation between ETA and PCTV and ANV, because this evidence was not obvious until now.

Nothing could be further from the truth: Evidence of those links was known since long ago. Yesterday, Feb 9, the Supreme Court in Spain, published a court order stating that it would be disproportionate to do as the Government requested (i.e., to suspend ANV activity before declaring it illegal). The Supreme Court argues that the evidence of ANV links with ETA are known since May 2007 or even earlier. Therefore, why has the Government delayed to act against ANV? Why do it now and not earlier? The obscure reasons that drove the Government to act this way are more than likely part of its strategy to negotiate with ETA. In recent months, Prime Minister Rodríguez Zapatero has admitted that in December 2006 he said he would stop contacts with ETA after ETA killed two people in Madrid that month. Prime Minister Rodríguez Zapatero has also admitted now that despite what he said, he continued to meet and negotiate with ETA. Then ETA killed two more people, this time in France. Now it’s useless to listen to anything Rodríguez Zapatero may say. Who knows whether he continues to talk with ETA or not. It’s almost meaningless because the damage is done: Since the socialist party came into power in 2004, ETA has been allowed to return to public institutions through PCTV and ANV, and has grown in strength and support.

The current socialist Government is staging a tough stance on ETA, very convenient in the time of elections to obtain public support (or to avoid losing it). Funny enough, this means the Government acknowledges that most people support policies that ban and defeat ETA, instead of the negotiating and appeasing strategy of PM Rodríguez Zapatero.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s