Monday, January 10, 2011

The Basque separatist group ETA declared a permanent and internationally verifiable cease-fire Monday, calling it a step toward ending its decades-old fight for an independent state straddling northern Spain and southwest France.

ETA's statement in the pro-independence newspaper Gara, which often serves as an ETA mouthpiece, made no mention of ETA dissolving or giving up its weapons as demanded by the Spanish government.
First of all, ETA can be described just as a separatist group only if you call al-Qaeda a religious, Boeing-flying group. Being separatist is a perfectly legitimate political option that can be pursued by peaceful means. But those guys don't do that. They have killed, maimed and injuried hundreds of people. What defines ETA, or al-Qaeda, is not their goals, but the means they use to pursue them: terrorism, instead of civilized political debate.

Second, it can't be denied this is good news, certainly better than if they hadn't made the statement (full text in Spanish, pdf). But I wouldn't bet too much on this declaration, as I haven't in the past. If they call for a "permanent and internationally verifiable cease-fire" without surrendering their weapons, the only verification would be counting the days until they change their minds and strike again (they are certainly weaker nowadays, but how you only need a gun or two to create mayhem, just ask Jared Loughner). Especially because in the next paragraph, ETA calls on Spain and France to stop repressing them. You have to consider that those bastards always call being sent to jail after murdering someone not a legitimate response from the rule of law to a crime, no. They call it "repression".

So considering this, and that they apparently don't have any intention to give up their weapons, they'll be reserving their right -- so to speak-- to strike again unless all prisoners are freed, which doesn't seem acceptable. Of course, freeing the prisoners needs to be considered at some point; it has been done before and it worked. Although not as a pre-condition, but the icing of the cake of a peace process that starts with the terrorists laying down their weapons first than anything else.

UPDATE. Minor edits for grammar.