It is very important to understand the difference between supporters of an independent Basque state, such as the Basque Nationalist Party, and ETA terrorist members and supporters. ETA, like all Basque nationalists, wants the Basque country to have independence, but ETA uses terrorism as a means of working towards their political goal. Most Basque nationalists agree with ETA's aims, but condemn their violence. Large protests are often held in Basque cities after ETA attacks (Guardian Unlimited).

In 1996, Jose Maria Aznar was elected as the new Spanish prime minister (Kurlansky 294). Anzar's administration took a hard line approach to ETA and all things related to it. He sentenced 23 Herri Batasuna members to seven years in jail in 1997 for collaborating with a terrorist group (ICT).

Jose Maria Aznar

Today, ETA targets politicians, journalists, businessmen, soldiers, judges, academics, and policemen who do not support the Basques. They kill mainly by car bombings and shootings. Tourists and the tourism industry are also targets ETA wishes to destroy. Tourism makes up 5.5% of Spain's economy (Guardian Unlimited).

In 1995, ETA attempted to kill Aznar with a car bomb, but failed, only slightly injuring him (Colwill).

Because ETA does not want civilian casualties, especially Basque ones, they post their bombings in advance so that people can avoid harm. ETA always owns up to their attacks. Part of the reason why they exist is because they want to be heard. They will even send footage to the media that shows them talking about their thoughts, goals, and actions. When making public statements like these announcements on video, ETA members wear ski masks to cover their identities.

ETA members

Today it is believed that ETA has only about 20 major activists along with hundreds of supporters. ETA member have been trained in Libya, South Yemen, Lebanon, and Nicaragua (ICT).

ETA continues to claim that it wants to negotiate. They say they will stop their violence if their terms are met. However they simply won't negotiate.

ETA principle demands:

2) The Union of the province of Navarre with Euskadi.

3) The regrouping of the province of imprisoned ETA activists currently serving sentences is Spanish prisons in the Basque region.

Because ETA is listed as a terrorist group, the Spanish government won't talk with them or Herri Batasuna until they renounce violence (Guardian Unlimited).

ETA announced its first ceasefire in September 1998 so that peace talks could begin between Herri Batasuna and the Spanish government. ETA was inspired by the peace agreements in Northern Ireland because they have ties to the IRA. However, the ceasefire was dismissed by the Spanish government who thought of it as a stalling tactic. ETA raided arms depots and munitions factories during the cease fire, but no major attacks were made. ETA was not satisfied by the peace talks and ended the ceasefire ni November 1999 (ICT).

Assassinations, bombings, and guerilla attacks are funded mainly by Basque supporters, extortion, drug trafficking, kidnapping, ransoms, and armed robberies (ICT). In November 2001, a car bomb in Madrid injured over 100 people. 13 people were injured in July 2003 at 2 hotels after ETA warned terrorists to stay away from Spanish resorts (Colwill).

ETA bomb

Much is being done to diminish ETA attacks, including demonstrations and legal actions. After a journalist named Jose Luis de la Calle was killed in May 2000, King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia led a public demonstration against ETA. Many ETA protests are held after they make attacks.

anti-ETA demonstrators

Herri Batasuna was banned in March 2003 by the Spanish Supreme Court, closing the party's offices and ending its funds. In December 2003, three important ETA members were arrested in France (Colwill).

ETA is responsible for about 800 to 1,000 deaths so far and about 46 kidnappings.



Home | Who Are the Basques? | Napoleon's Defeat | Civil Wars

Birth of Basque Nationalism | Franco's Era | Spanish "Transition" | ETA Beginnings | Works Cited