Thursday, February 03, 2005

BASQUE PREMIER calls early polls after the rebuff of his secessionist plan:
The Basque premier brought forward regional elections on Wednesday to revive his stalled plan for virtual independence, piling more pressure on a Spanish government already under fire for being soft on nationalism.

A day after the Spanish parliament crushingly rejected Juan Jose Ibarretxe's plan for "free association" with Spain, the Basque leader called elections for April 17 and vowed to call a referendum on his proposal if he wins.

Such an illegal referendum, without the blessing of Spain's parliament, would be a major challenge for Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, whose 10-month old government has tried to dialogue with the Basques.

"No-one who calls themselves a democrat can deny our right to decide for ourselves," Ibarretxe told a news conference after an emergency cabinet meeting.
Yes, and no-one who calls himself a democrat can allow the conditions his opponents live in. As I wrote some time ago,
it would be so undemocratic that it wouldn't even pass UN standards for free elections (and that's saying much!). Look guys, I believe people have a right to self-organize the way they want to, as long as they follow the law. And as long as any vote about any proposal is truly free. But you cannot call free an election about an issue whose opponents must have bodyguards 24/7 because they can be gunned down any minute as it has happened is several hundred times (and I mean all opponents with even minor political roles; for example, a councilwoman for the Socialist party who is a janitor in the night shift must work accompanied by armed bodyguards!). Or when people are afraid to speak their minds in public, because if they express any 'not 100% Basque nationalist' idea, some masked guys can go to your home at night and throw in a firebomb. There's several thousand people who have had to move to other parts of Spain in recent years because they simply couldn't resist any longer (wouldn't that fall under the definition of ethnic cleansing?)
Not that he's directly responsible for that but, after all, even though he leads a nominally moderate nationalist party (note 'nominally'), as the regional government chief he has full responsibility over law enforcement -and it's well known that regional Basque police are sometimes 'slow' when they have to act against ETA-. And besides, the secessionist plan could only pass with the 3 votes of Batasuna, a party outlawed and in the official list of terrorist organizations in both the European Union and the US (because of its ties to ETA).