ETA's Endgame

Terrorism is a much abused term in our day, often invoked shame- lessly by political leaders to manipulate a passive public. Big Media goes along meekly. (After all, what exactly is "The War on Terror" if not a  magnificent, Hollywood inspired title to cower a population into accepting one of the most outrageous war mongering, war profiteering scams ever?)  However, the term does have appropriate uses and, unfortunately, "Basque Terrorism" has been one of them. For over thirty years the imposition of fear and, yes, terror, on one part of the population by another has been a fundamental strategy of ETA. Imagine, for example, you are a Basque living in a small town in the province of Guipuzcoa. You are a socialist and decide to run for town council. You will live in fear because automatically ETA will declare you fair game. Because in ETA's worldview any person expressing an ideology that does not jive with theirs is a legitimate candidate for assassination.  ETA is very good at assassination. Experienced. They've murdered over 800 people in their long, bloody campaign. And, yes, they have inspired much, much fear. Enough fear to silence some, make others go into exile. That's terrorism. But not everyone gave in. Many, many Basques resisted. Some especially brave individuals, such as novelist Raúl Guerra Garrido, refused to be silenced and withstood years of violence, intimidation and death threats.  In the late 1970s and early 80s, during Spain's transition to democracy, ETA was a potent killing machine and successfully goaded the state into responding with violence of their own. It was a dark time, but democratic values prevailed and slowly, slowly, ETA's ultimate defeat became more and more evident.
On Thursday ETA announced the definitive end of violence, a recognition of defeat that has seemed inevitable for some time. Their leadership has been arrested and jailed repeatedly, their ability to bring in the money through extortion seriously eroded. It's good news, even though the statement is a pitiful example of their habitual double speak. So now it's the beginning of what will likely be a protracted and messy process to definitively do away with the organization.


The Martyr

Yesterday Khadafy was captured and then assas- sinated in Sirte. That extra- judicial execution is un- fortunate, but not very surprising. People are violent and vengeful. Khadafy himself was a ruthless dictator who killed with impunity. I just read that Hugo Chávez has declared that Khadafy is a martyr. Is that the Bolivarian Revolution? A martyr! As Chávez lamented the loss of his close friend hundreds of thousands of Libyans celebrated the fall of the Khadafy regime.  (But we should be fair: Tony Blair also referred to Khadafy as a good friend.)