ETA, which stands for Euskadi Ta Askatasuna (Basque for Basque Fatherland and Liberty or Basque Country and Liberty - the word is also Basque for "and"), is a separatist armed group seeking an independent socialist Basque state.
Their targeted independent Basque country (Euskal Herria) is situated in the Basque Country, or "Basque provinces"(Vizcaya, Guipuzcoa, Alava), the Navarre in Spain, as well as in the historically Basque-speaking areas of Lower Navarre, Lapurdi / Labourd and Zuberoa / Soule, located in southwestern France in the département of Pyrénées-Atlantiques.
ETA employs bombings and assassinations, mainly aimed against politicians opposed to Basque nationalism, journalists, intellectuals, businessmen and the Guardia Civil and other Spanish security forces, including Basque Ertzaintza, and has killed an estimated 800 people since the 1960s. Its theatre has been Spain, specially urban environments in the Spanish part of the Basque country, Madrid, Barcelona and the touristic Mediterranean coast of Spain.
Because of its allegiance to Marxist ideas, ETA has been sponsored by communist regimes such as Cuba, as well as by Libya and Lebanon, and some of its members have found political asylum in Mexico and Venezuela.
ETA has historically taken refuge in Southern France, especially the French Basque Country and Aquitaine. The French governments have passed from initial tolerance, conceding the status of political refugees, to active counterfighting, speeding the transfer of arrested members to Spanish tribunals.
ETA is part of the Basque National Liberation Movement.
Its political wing is Batasuna, formerly known as Euskal Herritarrok and "Herri Batasuna", which generally receives about 10% of the vote in the Basque areas of Spain. On August 26, 2002, a trial for declaring illegal Batasuna was started by the Spanish Congress (Parliament). On the other hand, Judge Baltasar Garzón suspended the activities of Batasuna in a parallel trial, investigating the relations of Batasuna and ETA. Its headquarters were shut down by police. The Supreme Court of Spain finally declared Batasuna illegal on March 18, 2003. The court considered proven that Batasuna had several links with ETA and that was, in fact, part of ETA. Batasuna was listed as a terrorist organization by the United States (May 2003) and all EU countries(June 2003).
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2 Other armed organizations acting in the Basque Country
3 External links
It was founded by young nationalists unsatisfied by the PNV party. For ten years, they theorized and protested by destroying infrastructure and Spanish symbols and hanging forbidden Basque flags.
In 1968, Xabi Etxebarrieta, a member of ETA, shot dead a policeman which halted his car for a road check. He was soon killed by the Spanish police. Then ETA planned their first murder, Melitón Manzanas, a police officer and suspected torturer.
In 1973, ETA set a bomb in Madrid against the car of admiral Luis Carrero Blanco, murdering this appointed successor of Francisco Franco and prime minister of Spain. Many in the Spanish opposition welcomed this blow against the dictatorship.
ETA was divided in ETA military and ETA political-military.
After the democratization (1975-1978) of Spain, the majority of ETA (pm) accepted the amnesty and joined the democratic process in the Euskadiko Ezkerra ("Left Wing of the Basque Country") party. Dissenters joined ETA (m), which continued fighting Spain.
From 1986 to 1987 a government-supported, "counter-terrorist" illegal group, the GAL, killed or kidnapped several suspected ETA terrorists and some innocent people. After this date, no major cases of foul play on part of the Spanish government have been proven, although ETA supporters routinely claim human rights violations and torture by security forces.
To fight ETA, the Spanish state issued an counter-terrorist law, relaying suspected terrorist to the specialized tribunal Audiencia Nacional in Madrid. Suspected terrorists are subject to a habeas corpus term longer than the rest of suspects. ETA prisoners are deliberately dispersed across Spain and France, some as far from their families as in the Salto del Negro prison in the Canary Islands. The governments justify this as a means to break the cohesion of the group.
Other armed organizations acting in the Basque Country