Just over a month ago, the Colombian Revolutionary Armed Forces (FARC) assumed their “ethical and political responsibility” to the Jurisdiction of Peace, the system charged with judging war crimes in Colombia arising from the peace agreements. “Violence can never happen again. Our history will have to be written from the voice of those who outlaw the war and give a leading place to those who suffered it. We do not intend to justify any conduct that proved vexical in International Humanitarian Law,” added its leader, Rodrigo Londoño.
The FARC’s resounding self-criticism about its violent record should be a reference for other, much less powerful terrorist organizations whose withdrawal occurred under more unfavourable conditions such as ETA or for those who assume their ideological legacy, Sortu. But it’s not like that. After the end of Basque terrorism—this day anniversary has been completed—democratic parties claimed that ETA was dissolved, which materialized a year ago, and a self-criticism about its terrorist past as a pedagogy so that future generations do not repeat History.
But Sortu not only shuns self-criticism from the violent past, but is showing a clear regression. From a year ago, representatives of Bildu, the coalition that captains Sortu, were taking part in tributes to ETA victims. Some town halls ruled by Bildu, such as Rentería, honored councillors killed by ETA and started also with those of policemen. Etxerat, a platform to support the etarras prisoners, regretted his lack of empathy towards the victims of ETA. In turn, these were in solidarity with those of the dirty war. A promising climate was being generated for coexistence in the Basque Country.
But this year Bildu has broken his dynamics of approaching ETA’s victims. The tributes to exiles that Bildu had avoided so as not to offend his victims from the numerous releases produced after the revision of the Parot doctrine by the Strasbourg Court reappear. While the Basque Parliament’s peace presentation remains paralyzed because Bildu does not recognize the unfair damage of ETA, hostile gestures reappear as in San Sebastian, where it has not condemned attacks on tribute plates against ETA victims. Or the exhibition of the intern convicted and unrepentant, Jon Bienzobas, for the assassination of the former president of the Constitutional Court, Francisco Tomás y Valiente, promoted by the City Hall of Galdakao, ruled by Bildu.
Behind these attitudes is a strategy and a discourse that hibernated and now visualized by the secretary general of Bildu, Arkaitz Rodríguez. “It is false that ETA militants are mere terrorists. They’re trying to make us believe that ETA was little less than a weather accident. They want to make a unique account of what happened that denies conflict. It is unacceptable for them to offer a tale of good and bad, righteous, and unjust, victorious, and defeated. On this basis there is no just, stable and lasting peace.”
The tributes to exiles and this discourse have an immediate objective of mitigating the contradictions in the “abertzale” world. Quite a few of his 250 inmates feel abandoned. Recently, 47 lawyers from etarras agreed with the Public Prosecutor’s Office to recognize ETA membership and the unfair damage caused so to evade the prison as three years earlier, the former management of Batasuna did so for the same reason. The firmness that these lawyers demanded of prisoners to circumvent reintegration policies dissipated when they were the defendants, with the consequent perplexity of the imprisoned etharra collective.
But this speech is intended for something else: to get the Government to recognize the “conflict” by sitting down with it to negotiate on homages to released etarras and prison policy. Faced with the improbability of it to happen , Bildu at least intends to entrench the “abertzale” world with the idea that ETA’s story was the necessary response to “conflict.”
Bildu, as the second Basque party with an eye on Catalan independence, believes that he has given up much and has not been recognized for his catalyst role in the end of ETA. It propelled it when ETA was agonizing and became an obstacle to his political future. It is a weak argument for democratic parties to park their account that, after the dictatorship, ETA had no justification or “conflict” to hold on to. The history we are living with the Francoism, whose victims are still discriminated against by a right that has pending a clear condemnation of the dictatorship, cannot be repeated.
This eighth anniversary of the end of ETA is a good time to claim the role of social mobilization against ETA terrorism. With ETA ended, in addition to the rule of law, the will of citizenship, specifically the Basque one, which, since the eighties and progressively, snatched the street from the proetarras. This account of a majority of Basques is incompatible with the one Bildu soughts to impose which has in the self-criticism of the FARC a reference for democratic approval.