ETA, the Basque separatist organization that laid down arms in 2011 after leading an insurgency that killed over 850 people, announced that it is dissolving itself in a letter first published by Spanish news media Eldiario.es.
In the letter, which according to ElDiario.es is dated April 16 and sent to Basque officials and organizations, the separatist group wrote: “ETA has completely dissolved all its structures and has terminated its political initiative.”
However, the organization, which led one of the longest violent insurgencies in the history of modern day Europe, said the region’s conflict with Spain and France – countries with significant Basque minorities – “did not begin with ETA and does not end with the end of ETA’s journey.”
Last week, ETA apologized for its separatist campaign that killed over 850 people over a five-decade period that also included kidnappings, extortion, and sabotage (El País, in Spanish).
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In a statement in Basque to local newspaper Gara (in Spanish), ETA said: “We are conscious that over this long period of armed fighting we have caused much pain … We want to show our respect to the dead, the injured and the victims caused by ETA’s actions… We are truly sorry.” ETA, an acronym for “Basque Homeland and Liberty,” is expected to announce its dissolution in early May (El País, in Spanish).
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ETA was founded in July 1959 by radical students who were frustrated with the Basque Nationalist Party’s moderate stance at a time when Spain was under the rule of General Francisco Franco, the fascist dictator who won the country’s civil war two decades earlier and suppressed strong regional identities, particularly in the Basque Country and Catalonia.
The organization eventually took on an anti-imperialist, anti-capitalist, and nationalist platform and claimed its first victim – a civil guard – in 1968. It killed hundreds of civilians as well as members of Spain’s armed forces, including a shopping center bombing in Barcelona that killed 21 people and injured 45 more.