Soñando Sunday: Let's Talk About ETA

Soñando Sunday: the Basque Country

I love it when it rains. The Guggenheim museum: Reflection with no people!

I love it when it rains. The Guggenheim museum: Reflection with no people!


After briefly introducing the Spanish political system and the Independentista movement in Catalunya, it is only fair that we talk about some other political situations that have impacted Spanish life and culture over the past century (there are a lot, so bear with us as we get started). The next stop on our list is the separatist movement in the Basque Country―ETA.

My personal experience with the Basque Country is limited―much more so than Catalunya. Therefore, I have done some addition research on the separatist movement. The links that I have used can be found below.

A Basque beach.

A little background

The Basque Country (known as País Vasco in Spanish) is a beautiful place that is partially in the northern part of Spain and partially in the southern part of France. I have personally only been to the Spanish part, and only for limited periods of time, however, my desire to spend more time there is high. In comparison to Andalucía, the countryside is lush and green (something I find myself missing as I am from a relatively green part of the USA). It also has beautiful beaches and some great food.

The Basque Country has a very interesting cultural history that is distinct to the rest of the Spanish Peninsula. We can see this difference in a variety of celebrations, but mostly we can identify the distance in the language. Where with Catalunya I call the province by its ‘native’ name, with the Basque Country I wouldn’t even know how to pronounce the given name―Euskal Herria. In fact, they say that Basque is one languages that has the least amount of ‘language family’ in the world. It is so far away from what I am used to that it is hard for me to say traditional names, blundering through it until I can actually pronounce my friend’s names.

And, like all groups that are ‘odd’ or ‘different,’ the Basque community has suffered discrimination and, at the same time, has fought for its own independence. Even though this fight started before Franco, it became more extreme as the region was repressed during the dictator’s regime. The situation was bleak as the province was banned from speaking its own language, their culture was suppressed, and the intellectual leaders were imprisoned and tortured for having different beliefs.

The rise of ETA

The group ETA, or Euskadi Ta Askatasuna (which means Basque Homeland and Liberty) was formed during Franco’s time as dictator and was willing to do what it took to gain their independence, even if that meant using violence as a means to an end. The fight shown by the Basque Country, both against Franco and for their freedom, might be one of the fiercest at this time.

Giant heads for a traditional Basque festival.

Giant heads for a traditional Basque festival.

When the regime ended and Spain returned to being a democratic country, ETA did not give up its fight for independence. It is estimated that over 800 people have been killed by this group since it was formed. The violence that the group used has slowly diminished and today ETA does not have as much power as it once had. This can be attributed to the fact that people no longer support the same violence as a means to an end as they once once did, and, perhaps, that the province has be given rights to use their own language and be fairly independent in other political aspects.

In addition, both Spanish and French police forces are working against the violent uprising that could appear and the leaders of the group are treated as terrorist leaders. ETA and other Basque national groups are closely monitored in their political ties and actions and fight for political independence has calmed since radical independence parties have been banned from running in Basque elections.

what now?

Currently it is the Catalan independence that is on everyone’s mind. However, if that region were to separate from Spain, we don’t know what could be expected from the supporters of the Basque independence. In a country like Spain, where many provinces, cultures, and histories come together to make one, when one part breaks off the future is unknown.

What do you know about the Basque Country? And its fight for independence?

Let us know your questions and comments!



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