The Basque Conflict

Dictator Francisco Franco

War – huh – what is it even about with these Basques?  The Basque conflict, basically between Spain and ETA (Euskadi Ta Askatasuna), was an ongoing semi-armed and explosive political conflict from 1959 to 2011.  The Basque National Liberation Movement is a group of social and political Basque organizations that fought for independence from Spain and France with the ETA being the most prominent and well known of the factions.

You’ve probably heard little snippets here and there throughout the years of some random explosion or gun fight killing 2 people.  You probably didn’t really understand what the hell was going on.  I mean… aren’t the Basques Spanish anyway?  Not so fast my friend.  Basques consider themselves culturally unique and different to the rest of Spain, and to an extent France as the region bleeds into France as well. 

The geography of Basque Country ranges from the northern part of Spain and south western part of France – on the bay of Biscay.  They have their own distinct language, customs and traditions.  Since the 19th century there have been factions fighting for independence from modern day Spain. Then the ETA was created in 1959.  They really got their feet wet under the rule of military dictator Francisco Franco.  A piece of shit ruler that descended hell upon his people.  

He thought it would be a great idea to suppress Basque culture, language and general identity.   That meant hoards of leaders jailed without cause and torturing people while abolishing entire political organizations.  What happens when dictators do this type of outlandish shit?  Students rise and protest.  Thus – the Basque conflict began.

The first attacks were geared more towards Franco’s government.  So many Spaniards despised this creepy degenerate that the rest of Spain, and others, didn’t see the ETA so much as a terrorist organization but as a freedom fighting force.

In 1975 Franco died and so started the “transition” period for Spain.  The late 70’s brought on a new constitution that the ETA didn’t like so much.  So their plan was to ramp up the indiscriminate bombings to get their point across.  From 1978-81 there were 230 people killed.  The public opinion was steadily swaying towards that of the formal Spanish government.  

The ETA really escalated the feud when they kidnapped the first ever military man named Capt. Alberto Martin Barrios. They demanded the release of 400+ prisoners in exchange for Capt. Barrios.  When they were turned down, it got really ugly.  They shot him in the head and left him for dead.  The public didn’t take this well.  The ETA found out how the Spanish population would react by pulling the trigger and it wasn’t in their favor.  This incident was the beginning of the end as they like to say. 

The conflict lasted for 40 years and claimed at least 829 lives, with many reputable estimates at over 1000.  The last death being in 2010.  Currently there are about 3,000,000 people living in Basque Country in Spain and France.  Everything has calmed without much anticipation for future conflict.

-In 2016 the ETA formally declared a permanent cease fire.  

-In 2017 they gave up their weapons stock which included 130 guns, 3 tons of explosives and thousands of rounds of ammunition

-In 2018 a ceremony was held because it was confirmed the ETA has formally disbanded.

There goes that conflict.  On to bigger and better things!

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