Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Basque Nationalists Under Attack

The Spanish State is cracking down on the Basque nationalist left. From Reuters on March 23:

MADRID (Reuters) - A Spanish judge Monday charged 44 Basque nationalists with membership of the militant separatist movement ETA, which the Spanish government calls a terrorist organisation.

All were members of three banned separatist parties -- the Communist Party of the Basque Country (PCTV), Basque Nationalist Action (ANV) and Batasuna, ETA's political wing.

"Through these (parties) they have tried to regenerate the fabric of terrorism on all fronts in order to continue criminal action towards their final aim," a court writ said.

Among those charged are the mayoress of the northern town of Mondragon, Maria Inocencia Galparsoro, as well as Pernando Barrena and Joseba Permach, leading figures on the radical left.

The charges are a new blow to separatists, who want an independent Basque state carved out of northern Spain and south west France.

Spain's Supreme Court banned two further nationalist parties from regional elections earlier this month because of their connections to ETA, meaning that for the first democratic elections since the death of dictator Francisco Franco the radical left had no candidates.

Without the support of radical left-wing parties, the ruling Basque Nationalist Party is expected to lose power in the Basque Country to a Socialist-led coalition -- ending an unbroken run of Basque nationalist governments going back to 1980.

(Reporting by Teresa Larraz; translating by Ben Harding)

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