After Franco's death, Juan Carlos became king of Spain. During this time ETA split into two groups, ETA militar and ETA politico-militar. ETA militar was responsible for killing and aimed to assassinate three types of people: Franco-supported mayors, police collaborators and informants, and law enforcement officials who attempted to remove ikurrinas (Basque flags). ETA politico-militar kidnapped people for high ransoms. An industrialist named Francisco Luzariaga was their first kidnap victim on January 11, 1976, but they let him go because he had a heart attack during the kidnapping.


In 1977, Spain turned back into a democracy with a two-house parliament, called the Cortes. The Basque Nationalist Party, with the newly legalized ikurrina as their symbol, won 10 senate seats. A new constitution was written, declaring Spanish as the only official language of Spain. It declared Basque as a "nationality" within the Spanish "nation." 40% of Basques chose not to vote on its ratification. It was approved by popular vote. The question of Basque independence became unconstitutional because it would be questioning "the indissoluble unity of the Spanish nation" (Kurlansky 273). The third smallest regional entity within Spain was called the Autonomous Basque Community of Euskadi, but did not include Navarra, which was called the Foral Community of Navarra. Both regions wanted a system like the Fueros, but didn't receive it. Instead, they were able to use their own taxes to plan and fund their own local governments, parliaments, school systems, and highways. Carlos Garaikoetxea became the Basque lehendakari (leader).


Herri Batasuna was a new political party that emerged to directly support ETA. Telesforo de Monzon created the party in 1978 when he left the Basque Nationalist Party. In 1979, three Herri Batasuna party members won deputy's seats and one member won a seat in the senate in a parliamentary election, but all refused to take the positions bases on Batasuna's principles. Since then, Herri Batasuna has continually gotten 15% to 20% of the Basque vote, but the elected always refuse the seats.

1980 became ETA's bloodiest year, killing 118 people.(

On February 23, 1981, a man named Felipe Gonzalez attempted a foiled coup d'etat. One year later, he was elected prime minister of Spain. Gonzalez claimed to be a socialist, but not a communist. He changed the antiterrorist laws in Spain, allowing suspected terrorists to be held for up to 10 days incommunicado. Prisoners were usually tortured and beaten, then released without being charged. Gonzalez also began sending more Guardia Civil to Basqueland.


GAL is an acronym that stands for Antiterrorist Liberation Groups. They attacked and kidnapped Basque militants, mostly in France. GAL first appeared publicly after kidnapping a Basque man named Segundo Marey on December 4, and releasing him 10 days later with a note stating "you will have more news from GAL" (Kurlansky 289). On December 19 GAL killed a Basque refugee named Ramon Onaederra in a bar in Bayonne. GAL continued to kill over the next few years, totaling an estimated 27 deaths, before disappearing in 1986. It was rumored that GAL was tied to Gonzalez, who wanted to fight a "dirty war" with ETA. The leaders of GAL were uncovered to be Jose Amedo, a senior Spanish policeman, and Michel Dominguez, a high-ranking officer, after incriminating documents were found in Amedo's car. They were sentenced to 108 years in prison at their 1989 trial. It was also uncovered that GAL operatives were mercenaries, former right-wing French military members, former Portuguese colonists, and Italian neo-Fascists.



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