Friday, October 21, 2011

The end of Eta

Half a century of bloodshed in the Basque country came to a historic close when the separatist group Eta finally renounced the use of arms and sought talks with the Spanish and French governments.

Three leaders in masks announced that the group was calling a final halt to the use of bombs and bullets in a video circulated to news media both in SPain and other countries.

"Eta has decided the definitive cessation of its armed activity," they said. Eta was following a peace script put together with the help of mediators led by the former UN secretary general Kofi Annan, after a year in which it had observed a unilateral ceasefire.

Annan's group made its petition late on Monday, urging Eta to make "a public declaration of the definitive cessation of all armed action". Leaders of the separatist left publicly backed the call the next day.

That is of course good news. The cause lost impetus as more and more leaders of the group were arrested and Basque people no longer saw the bloodshed as a legitimate means to an end. Still in its time, Eta was responsible for over 800 deaths and many more wounded.

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