Terrorism culture on the streets of the Basque Country

The latest assassination by ETA in Azpeitia has drawn the attention of politicians and the general public again on the fact that ETA (through its other name, ANV) rules that and several other city halls. It’s been suggested that ANV (ETA) must be removed from those city halls, and that is indeed necessary because it should not have been allowed in the first place (let us keep in mind that the socialist party (PSOE) allowed ANV to run in the latest municipal elections in some city halls, but not in others).

It’s important to point out that city halls and national governments in the last several years have their share of blame for failing to take all necessary action (in many cases for failing to do anything at all) to erode the means of support of terrorism, which is very much alive in many towns throughout the Basque Country.

The unfortunate scene of the latest assassination by ETA is a small town which streets have been witness to multiple acts of street terrorism and criminality. Just around any corner you can find signs in support of ETA assassins, threats to Spanish state institutions, and to public personalities, signs claiming other territories for the Basque Country, signs in support of imprisoned criminals, announcements of fundraisers for imprisoned killers, and many other indications of a culture of normalisation and justification of criminal activity and of attacks on basic norms of social life and respect for others.

In that town, as in many others, pro-ETA bars and pubs are well known in town. Those bars are social centers for organizing support for ETA criminals and killers, collecting funds in support of terrorism. Some local schools teach children the need to hate Spain, further contributing to turning small towns in the Basque Country into breeding grounds for criminals and assassins.

New generations have grown in that pro-ETA environment, and the increased number of seats that ETA’s political party (ANV) has gained in the city hall is the result of the education that people are increasingly receiving, in their homes, schools and streets.

The Basque Nationalist Party (PNV) was in office in that city hall for years, coexisting with national governments of PSOE and PP. None of the three political forces was able to free the people of Azpeitia from the pro-ETA propaganda flooding its streets. Some of PP’s policies did minimize or even eliminate street terrorism, but none of the three parties in power closed down those centers of terrorist organization (pro-ETA bars). None removed the signs supporting terrorism and attacking freedom of opinion from the streets. None removed names of ETA killers from dedications in some towns (there are streets named after ETA killers). None of those parties took the necessary action to control education, to avoid the terrorist influence and presence in schools.

The elimination of ETA requires both action from justice against crimes, but it also requires action from government to guarantee security and freedom for the people. The latter is outrageously lacking in Spain. ETA propaganda and financing remains unpunished in many streets of the Basque Country, and to a large extent this is what keeps ETA alive, and what keeps the basque society unconsciously threatened.

It’s a given that ANV-ETA will not help to remove its own propaganda from the streets of the town they rule, but it is appalling that the PNV did not remove it when it had the chance, and that neither PP nor PSOE took action from the central government to protect its citizens.

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