Eta And Cultural Resistance Criminology Essay

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Throughout history, the world has experienced different forms of terrorism which threaten international security and world order. (MORE IMPACT IN FIRST SENTENCE) Following the 9/11 September attacks on the World Trade Center, terrorism became a globally feared phenomenon. However, for decades, Spain has been suffering from ethno national terrorism, spear-headed by a separatist group known as ETA (Euskadi Ta Askatasuna - 'Basque Homeland and Liberty'). Originating in the nationalist ideologies of a unique Basque culture, ETA exists today as a terrorist organization that threatens the lives of Spanish citizens.

The first section of this essay examines how Basque nationalism has nurtured a common hatred towards the Spanish state. What emerged as a reaction to the oppressive state building experiments in the 19th/nineteenth century, led to a call for autonomy of Spain's Basque region. This became a central theme for early nationalist movements, which reacted against Franco's repressive attempts to unify Spain with bombings, kidnappings and assassinations.

In order to understand the complex nature of ethno national terrorism, this essay sets out a detailed analysis of Spain's historical background. To explore the complexity of nationalism as a revived source of collective identity, the theory of the power of identity is used as a narrative to explain the emergence of ETA and the evolvement of its external support. Several structural factors have been identified including geography, economic and anthropology to explain the reasons that led a group of students to pursue political change through terrorism. The competing positions advanced by the agency-structure debate are considered to analyse ETA's organisation, structure, objectives and reasons for using violence. Several sociological models are combined with detailed empirical analysis of sociological and attitudinal profiles of ETA militants to assess how ETA has survived for nearly four decades as a terrorist organisation. It asks what underlying psychological dimensions through Janis' groupthink theory, affect its decision to choose terrorism as a means to secure political goals, and what has kept its members, most commonly known as etarras, motivated.

The second section of the essay analyses explanatory factors within the political and cultural context of ETA violence during the post-Franco era. Following Franco's death, Spain experienced a transition to democracy, approval of the Basque Autonomous region and dissolution of a faction of ETA. Notwithstanding these apparent concessions to ETA's call for Basque nationalism, ETA carried out the highest number of attacks during this period. The final period extends from 1983 to the present. Basque nationalists have almost exclusively been fully integrated into a radicalised ETA, which continues to threaten Spain's socio-political structure through threats, extortions and continuous false declarations of ceasefire and truce. Whether ETA's key objective is to gain Basque independence, or if it retains other preferences such as preserving its power as a separatist organization, due to financial profiteering and to protect its leaders as well as those who remain incarcerated, is also considered. Terrorism as a phenomenon is continuously adapting to the political, cultural and economic environment around it.

The emergence of ETA and the Power of Identity

Spain's cultural heritage is the underlying cause behind the rise of powerful and unprecedented nationalist movements across the Spanish territory, particularly in the Basque Country, where ETA originated. The absence of a unified national identity is often seen as the legacy of Spain's early process of state building (Linz, 1973). From the period of unification of the kingdoms of Castile and Aragón in the fifteenth century, rulers have sought to erase regional differences which challenge the legitimacy of the Spanish state. For decades, the centralised state has attempted to amass power over the Iberian Peninsula, generating instability, protests and violence. However such attempts have been unsuccessful in overcoming regional differences.

Historically, Spain's right-winged political parties as well as the ultra-conservative institution of the military, have opposed proposals to decentralize the Spanish state by means of granting regions control over their affairs, both of which are committed to the vision of a culturally homogenous and centralized Spain. Basque nationalism originated in the 19th century when Spain's central government in Madrid revoked the Basque Country's fueros, which were exclusive economic and social rights granted to the Basques centuries before by the Spanish crown (Encarnación, 2008). The withdrawal of fueros eventually surfaced as the reasons for the preservation of Basque identity, culture and the uprising of nationalist fervour. The struggle for Basque independence is considered a fairly recent phenomenon, entailing unconventional dynamics different to those experienced in other intractable ethnic conflicts such as those in Northern Ireland, Palestine and former Yugoslavia. It is routed in history to Sabino Arana who instigated the nationalist ideology and founded the Basque Nationalist Party (Partido Nacionalista Vasco, PNV) in 1895 (Heiberg, 1989, 49). He was conscious of the possibility of an imminent disappearance of the ethnic peculiarities that constitute the Basque community. He blamed Spain for the Basque region's political, moral and ethnic decay and which was "rather humiliated, trampled and mocked by that weak and miserable nation, Spain" ('El discurso de Larazabal', 1893, in Heiberg, 1989, 50). Three months after Sabino Arana's death in 1903, the PNV created an affiliated youth group known as EGI (Eusko Gaztedi del Interior - 'Basque Youth of the Interior'). This group would play an active indirect role related to ETA's emergence. Alongside Arana's ideologies of Basque nationalism, if he had not created the PNV, it is likely others would have, although history would have been shaped differently. Grievance, as the power of argument would still have propelled individuals to fight for their cultural heritage.

The most recent political regime seeking to impose a policy on enforcing cultural homogeneity was under the dictatorship of Francisco Franco in the 1960's. His right-winged authoritarianism was built upon the notion that Spain was not ready for democracy due to its ethno linguistic regional differences, and only an authoritarian government could maintain the nation together. The persistence of the Basque conflict was observed under Franco's regime where Basque nationalist symbols and the Basque language were forbidden. Further, the regime also instituted "a ban on the public display of the Basque flag [and the] incomprehensible policy of forbidding parents from giving their children Basque names" (Encarnacion, 2008, 97). The attacks on the Basque culture meant that "8,500 Basques were affected...either through arrest, imprisonment and torture or by fleeing into exile" (Clark, 1984, 241). Not surprisingly, these attacks created the impression that the Basque Country was under colonial or foreign occupation. As Scheff argues, ethnically based nationalism often "arises out of a sense of alienation...and resentment" (Scheff, 1994, 281). It engendered a feeling of oppression and the "urge to express one's identity, and to have it recognized tangibly by others, is increasingly contagious" (Hooson, 1994, 2-3) leading many Basques to relate to their cultural identity, collectively unite and fight for it.

The Basque Country became the vortex of ethno political conflict resulting in violence across Spain. The most radical expression of reaction to survival was the regional-nationalist group ETA. Castells proposes a hypothesis of resistance identity which is generated by those actors who are suppressed by dominant rationale (Castells, 2004, 8). This developed ETA's opposition to the Spanish State and strengthened its attempts to emphasise its ideologies through the use of violence and terrorist acts. As Eley and Suny (1996, 9) stipulate: "culture is more often not about what people share, but what they choose to fight over".

In the early 1950's, a group of students from Bilbao founded an organisation named Ekin (Action). Initially, they engaged in study-group sessions and raised awareness of problems inflicting the Basque County (Zulaika, 1988, 36). In 1957 they were co-opted by EGI and to some extent shared the PNV's political views. However, the PNV held a bourgeois conception of nationalism which was widely different to the increasingly developing notions of anti-imperialism and anti-capitalism that Ekin assumed. The group of students, discontented, set upon a hard-line revolutionary approach, confronting Franco's despotic regime with an armed conflict. This resulted in the breakup of Ekin from the PNV in 1959 and the foundation of ETA.

In May 1962, the First Assembly of ETA was held. It presented its main principles and defined itself as a "Revolutionary Basque Movement of National Liberation" (Llewelyn, in Preston, 1976, 218). It set its main objectives of both national liberation, entailing the freedom and independence of Euskadi (Basque Country) from Spain's dominance, and social liberation where Basques had access and possession of complete social freedom and responsibilities as citizens.

From its creation, ETA did not carry a rigid ideology and therefore "borrowed and adopted policies according to the pressure of events and the needs of its expanding membership" (Llewelyn, in Preston, 1976, 219). However, a succession of radical events, primarily as a consequence of those individuals who were being detained by Franco's armed forces, led to the decision of using violence to gain a degree of recognition and to "provoke an overreaction from the state from which they could benefit from" (Reinares, 2011, 15). Within the context of violence, it is important to identify the initiator, where most researchers assume is the opposition, and the role of the government, who are the defenders or responders reacting to terrorist challenges. Violence induced in a political conflict, is often considered interactive, in the sense that governments respond to violence in a way to justify their defensive actions, however as Crenshaw argues, "a political opposition may not have been 'terrorist' until the government initiated confrontation" (Crenshaw, 2007, 6). As such, the Basques may well have considered Franco to be a terrorist by means of unmerciful killings through his repressive regime. No ETA militant considers himself as a terrorist, but simply as an abertzale, as a 'patriot' (Reinares, 2011, 13). ETA may corroborate its actions in forms of revenge using the old adage that "one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter", a distinction must be made in that an "individual can be both a freedom-fighter and a terrorist" (Waldron, 2004, 24).

Numerous factors denote ETA as a terrorist organisation. Defining 'terrorism' is a complex task. It is often defined as a 'form of coercion' whereby the victim is forced to comply and if unsuccessful, actions are carried which would harm the victim physically or psychologically (Waldron, 2004, 9). It is interesting to understand the intentionality, decision-making structures, strategies and actions that it characteristically entails. If terrorism is "the deliberate creation and exploitation of fear through the violence or the threat of violence in pursuit of political change" (Hoffman, 2006, 40), then ETA is considered a terrorist entity at an international level. It targets those individuals who support what they regard as the 'occupying powers' (Morris, and Hoe, 1987, 32). Not only has it threatened Spain's peaceful coexistence, but also France's security, but has also been condemned by the EU and the U.S. State Department designated ETA as a Foreign Terrorist organisation in 1997 (RTT NEWS, 2011).

From its first terrorist attacks in 1968 (see appendix 1), ETA began to gain popular recognition and support. Internal problems did, however, begin to emerge. The use of violence brought about an internal controversy between those members with left ideologies and those who above all considered themselves nationalists. Those 'nationalists' came from rural areas and working-class families, with a lower educational level than those who founded ETA, and who in the end, replaced them as leaders. This division within ETA facilitated the decision to use violence as a means. Also, education was a key factor which could be related to the inclination towards radicalisation and even infatuation towards a human collective. This then propagates attitudes of intolerance and at the same time is capable of stimulating aggressive behaviour, even terrorist.

Consequently, in 1974, ETA was officially divided into two. On one side, the political-military division, ETA (hereafter pm), which opted to subordinate the use of violence for political exchange after the end of Franco's regime. However it was dissolved in 1982 after the referendum of the Basque Country's Autonomous region was passed. On the other side, the military division, or ETA (m) which turned to a radicalised nationalist ideology, maintaining a systemic practice of terrorism and was responsible for hundreds of deaths from the late 1970s onwards.

Franco's regime imposed its policy of cultural homogeneity on all Spanish regions; however only in the Basque region did ethno political disputes spawn ethno national terrorism (see appendix 2). Three distinct structural elements have been analysed in explaining the reasons behind ETA's terrorist acts and the reasons why only in the Basque region did terrorism emerge. Basque culture is markedly different to that of Spain and other Iberian cultures. The region sustained a foral regime (Heiberg, 1989, 45), which means a longer administrative and economic autonomy than other regions in Spain. The Basque language, or Euskera, is the distinguished characteristic that makes the Basque culture different from any other European or even global culture. From an historical perspective, the most critical element of self-recognition is language, to the effect that nationalism, as Castells argues, is most often "a reaction against a threatened autonomous region, in a world submitted to cultural homogenization...language, as the direct expression of culture, becomes the trench of cultural resistance" (Castells, 2004, 55). Basques are further separated from the rest of Spain genetically. Their blood-type frequencies are exceptional to the region, as the anthropologist Zulaika asserts there is "archaeological evidence suggesting that Basque evolution took place in situ well before the subsequent invasion of the European continent by people speaking Indo-European languages" (Zulaika, 1988, 16). As Heiberg stated: "this 'fact' of political and cultural differentiation provided the raw material which Basque nationalism drew upon to construct its ideology" (Heiberg, 1989, 45). As such, the emergence of this nationalist ideology fostered the Basque sense of ethnic realisation and uniqueness.

Geographically, according to Basque nationalists, the Basque region is composed of seven territories: four in Spain and three in France. While the French regions are smaller districts of the larger 'Pyrenees Atlantiques' region, the regions in Spain are currently divided into two self-governing autonomous regions - Navarra and Euskadi. The Basque Country terrain is composed of mountainous regions which played a part during Franco's period of repression. Thousands of Basques hid in the mountains and became isolated. Until present, proximity to French borders also provides a door of escape and where issues of sovereignty emerge. In the mid 1980's, the French government tolerated ETA exiles to live in Southern France meaning the Spanish authorities could not persecute them (SOURCE). Further, during the mid 1970's there was an economic crisis in Spain which generated an environment of uncertainty and apprehension which induced violence. High unemployment promoted economic complaints to Madrid and encouraged individuals to join ETA.

While terrorism often seeks "to instil a mental state like terror in the population that it targets" (Waldron, 2004, 7), the question lies in whether the intentions are coercive or for intimidation, as an act of punishment, as an expressive act or because of the political consequences that possibly will follow. Clearly, ETA's use of violence involves a means-end strategy which is "directed to a change in policies, personnel, or system of government, and hence to change society" (Honderich, 1989, 151). The representation and labelling of individuals as 'terrorists' is largely understood by examining a characterisation of them on their personality traits and the means that they use. A large body of literature has attempted to understand the motivations behind this terrorist organisation. The secretive and clandestine nature of ETA limits the understanding of its internal structure and of its members. Crenshaw offers the agency debate making differentiations of terrorists' personalities and motives. An actor is either rational or irrational. From observations made, actors do not act in an irrational way, they respond to incentives and adapt to changes in strategies, time and methods employed, thus are rational.

ETA is a group whose members are rational actors. They do not have mental disorders or are psychologically handicapped, thus are not irrational. On the other hand, Herbert Simon (1985) introduced the concept of 'bounded-rationality' where individuals intend to act rationally, however their choices may seem irrational, but are in fact rational. Simon believes there is "plenty of evidence that people are generally quite rational; that is to say, they usually have reasons for what they do" (Simon, 1985, 297). So what drives etarras?

Greed, power and ambition have become the stepping-stones behind ETA's actions. ETA finances itself through the use of kidnappings, extortions and bank robberies (SOURCE??). As Clark points out, it is difficult to identify ETA leaders and membership as it is comprised of several functions, levels and categories (Clark, 1984, 142). Therefore, knowing whether ETA leaders are profiteering from this terrorist organisation is difficult to understand though an attempt is made. Throughout the years, numerous leaders have been arrested and since 1990, fourteen of the lawyers defending them in court have been arrested for supporting and participating in the financial extortions (La Vanguardia, 2010). This reveals the financial capabilities of the organisation in paying bribes and involving individuals outside the organisation to collaborate and take part in their acts. ETA has changed its methods of attaining finance, where before it used to rely on bank robberies, it shifted to frequently kidnapping businessmen and extorting their families in return of large sums of money. Moreover, ETA supporters consider their voluntary financial contributions to be "normal and necessary" (Telecinco, 2008). Some may even argue Venezuela supports ETA financially and supply of weaponry; however this fact cannot be corroborated. A former ETA militant, José Arturo Cubillas currently works in the government of Hugo Chávez and ten other etarras are living in Venezuelan soil (El Mundo, 2006). This has raised issues of international law as Venezuela does not feel compelled to deport the etarra back to Spain to be prosecuted, as he is a Venezuelan citizen (see appendix 3). The reasoning as to whether or not ETA continues to instigate terror in the name of Basque independence is questionable and most likely it is down to financial exploitation and profiteering.

Several psychological factors led to the emergence of ETA. Here, Irving Janis' (1982) theory of groupthink is illuminating. As a group, the feeling of power and morality over their causes creates "excessive optimism and encourages taking extreme risks" (Janis, 1982, 174). As such, ETA militants may perceive terrorism to be a form of pleasure, an enhanced feeling of power with an unquestioned belief in its morality, ignoring moral and ethical consequences of their actions. The nature of a clandestine underground organisation means its members lose a sense of reality and therefore believe in ETA's ideology, and advocate the efficacy of using violence as a political method.

In the 1970s, ETA only recruited males between 21 and 26 years of age who had completed military service in the Spanish army. As a novice, he would feel a rather grand social prestige by being a member of ETA. Members were at a young age and at a vulnerable period of life, susceptible to influences from living styles and political practices. Even though, PNV and EGI supported Basque nationalism, ETA members considered that "being part of the [ETA] organization was very exciting", yet being part of the PNV was "more for adults [and] not dynamic enough" (Reinares, 2011, 35). This realised the increasing ambition within etarras and the desire to fulfil their lives experiencing the dynamics within terrorism.

A second dimension of groupthink displays the internal closed-mindedness where there are collective rationalization and the creation of stereotypes of out-groups. Spain is considered the foreign oppressor, thus militants affirm their nationalist ideologies within a shared group psychology. In this sense, some may argue that etarras may be considered outcasts of society, thus search for a common ideology, which they found in ETA. Their choice of becoming a member of a terrorist clandestine organisation over a normal life is hard to distinguish and analyse. The mere fact of being able to relate to a collective identity and expose their grievances is the underlying argument behind ETA militants.

The third type entails the pressures toward uniformity where there is a "self-censorship of deviations" (Janis, 1982, 175) and a conjunct vision of unanimity. ETA is mainly based in Guipúzcoa, one of the three provinces of the Basque Country. The organisation, however, is a network of 'commandos' distributed across regions in Spain, each with its own leader. Within small groups or 'commandos', leaders are able to control and exert direct pressure on members to avoid doubts and counterarguments, and to emphasise on loyalty. Since 1982, the Spanish government has however, offered a series of measures to reintegrate former ETA militants into society. ETA(m) threatened its own members who were considering to abandon the organization and who wished to reintegrate into society through these governmental policies. María Dolores González disobeyed ETA's orders and opted to leave the organization. Years later, on September 1986, she was shot dead by ETA militants (Reinares, 2011). These governmental policies were nonetheless effective in interrupting ETA's recruitment process, lowering the number of recruits, and modifying "among 'military' ETA members, of the perception of their opportunities structure" (Martínez-Herrera, 2002, 13), all of which reduced armed collective action.

According to Reinares, between 1970 and 1995 the average ETA militant at the time of being recruited, was a male young adult with a somewhat limited theoretical background. His socialisation within radical nationalism, rejection and hatred towards Spain had evolved during his childhood, especially during Franco's dictatorship. He absorbed all the fatalities from experiencing cultural repression. Diachronically, however relevant changes can be observed such as a significant decrease in age when joining the organisation (from 25 to 19) (Reinares and Jaime-Jiménez, 2000, 122). In addition, they had to be single and in 1975 only 1 out of 10 were married at the time of recruitment (Reinares, 2011, 39). ETA members are predominantly male which reveals the character of etarras and a conflict of gender within the organisation, refraining women of becoming leaders as well as less direct involvement in violent acts.. To this day, women who become ETA members principally do so as they are attracted by a male ETA militant (Dominguez Irribarren, 1998; Reinares 2011). Most of them follow their male partners into exile, in particular to France, and thus are also persecuted by authorities. However, this does not imply that those women lack Basque radical nationalist ideologies, as Reinares argues, "if there was a lack of affective relations [in a relationship or marriage] it seems improbable that they would have accepted commitments" (Reinares, 2011, 24).

These factors indicate ETA's flexibility to the ongoing political and societal changes that the Basque Country and Spain have experienced over time. It is likely that the changes in nationalist ideologies amongst the population and perceived risks of entering a terrorist organisation meant that new members had less military training; they were not tied down by marriage, and were less mentally mature. As rational actors, they were attracted by the dynamics of a terrorist entity, by committing vandalism acts, to the extent of planting bombs and shooting civilians. Terrorism appears like an addiction, where escalation and inability to stop are common characteristics (Crenshaw, 2004).


For decades, ETA has narrated its own modern chronicle. Its internal structure has been a key factor from its onset for the assurance of its survival. More important than its political posture, has been its organisational structure and effective use of strategies. ETA's terrorist actions involve most notably assassinations (use of guns) and the use of bombs, in particular in forms of parcels and car bombs (limpet bombs). From a comparative perspective, between 1968 and 1977, ETA is known to have assassinated 33 victims and perpetrated 26 bomb attacks, although much of the evidence is unclassified (15); most likely victims who were kidnapped and then disappeared (see figure 2 below). Statistics of ETA victims between 1981 and 2003 reveal a higher number of bombings (198) than assassinations (130), and unclassified (198) (figure 2). On the one hand, assassinations combine two elements with which ETA rely on. These are on proximity and on specificity, depending on whether the intentions are to kill or to injure the victim. Bombings, on the other hand have been a key strategy and in most times effective. Its use varies on the level of 'intent to harm' and the type of victim (Wilson et al, 2010, 690). This strategy requires fewer resources and is a lower-risk strategy than kidnappings and hostage taking (Enders and Sandles, 2006, PAGE?). Car bombs are the most 'hands-off' strategy, not requiring the presence of ETA militant (use of timers or remote detonators) and usually the placement of bombs are notified in advance to the authorities as a means of recognition SOURCE.

Figure 2: Victims in type of attack by year

SOURCE: My own elaboration (statistics from "Asociación Víctimas del Terrorismo", 2011)

Globalisation and technological advancements have contributed to ETA's survival and facilitated the adaptation to new environments. It has shaped ETA's strategies, recruitment process and to a large extent promoted its continuity. The opening up of European borders in the early 1990s has allowed etarras to flee into exile without cross-border challenges. Proximity to French borders allows family members to visit militants who are forced to flee. Moreover, the euro has hindered authorities from tracking ETA's financial position and transactions. The internet is also used to display their methods and training sessions which could be argued is a way of recruitment and encouragement for individuals to join or support the organisation (Weimann, 2004, 3). Despite these apparent advantages, ETA also faces enhanced anti-terrorist measures which account(s) for a reduced number of ETA victims as well as a higher number of arrested etarras in the 21st century.

Through the use of effective strategies, it is important to differentiate and understand what success is for ETA; whether it is to ensure its continuity, thus maintain its prosperous financial position, change the political system, or attain international recognition. ETA has been able to mobilise in each precise moment its human elements in order to guarantee its progress and continuity. Morris and Hoe argue that organizations which are "nationalist…cannot survive without the support of the population" (Morris, and Hoe, 1987, 32). Throughout history, individuals have profoundly imbued grievance and resentment, and for that reason will continue to support violent means. From its first victim, ETA accumulated popular support which fed into the organisation's continuous use of violence. A set of political circumstances influences ordinary people to support nationalist organizations like ETA (see appendix 4). Ordinary people, who are by no means violent, are manipulated to "believe that only a violent opposition to the state will achieve their interests" (Morris, and Hoe, 1987, 32). Even to the extent where support from the population forced the government to release numerous incarcerated etarras (see appendix 5).

Local support provides a framework which enhances ETA's accessibility to new potential members. The recruitment of new members to an organisation is a pivotal activity necessary to ensure its survival. A clandestine organisation that breaks all rules of law must ensure the replacement of members who have either been arrested by the authorities, have been forced to flee into exile due to persecution or simply abandoned the organisation. While ETA's recruitment process may be slow and gradual, taking as long as up to year to be accepted into the organisation (Clark, 1983, 442), in effect, it needs to replace those whilst avoiding security leaks and must impose psychological techniques making it difficult for the recruited to disengage from the organisation. As a group, Janis argues "groupthink refers to a deterioration of mental efficiency, reality testing, and moral judgements that results from in-group pressures" (Janis, 1972, 9). Moreover, Bowyer Bell describes how an underground, highly secretive organisation, is consequently inefficient "hampered by the restrictions imposed by secrecy" (Bowyer bell, 1988, 30). Although ETA may seem inefficient at times, the fact is it continues to be a terrorist organisation. Support from the local population, amongst whom ETA militants hide, allows them to fulfil their intentions with fewer restrictions, as there is a reduced need for secrecy.

On December 20th, 1973, ETA carried out its most effective and dramatic terrorist act. The President of the government at that time and Franco's successor, Admiral Luis Carrera Blanco, was killed in a car bomb explosion (Zulaika, 1988, 58). This act was carried out in Euskadi and directed at a politician, rather than at their usual targets of local agents of state oppression such as the Guardia Civil (Civil Police). The assassination of Carrero Blanco and the indication that the Franco regime would come to an end required ETA to adapt to the new political situation that could emerge in Spain, hence question its own organisational structure and consider new strategic objectives.

ListenAfter Franco's death in November 1975, the draft of a democratic constitution was passed and in December 1978, approved. For the Basques, this meant that nationalities and regions across Spain were officially recognized and a degree of autonomy was granted to those provinces which desired it (Reinares and Jaime- Jiménez, 2000). On this principle, in 1979, three Basque regions - Vizcaya, Álava and Guipúzcoa - through a proposed referendum adopted the establishment of an autonomous region, which was sanctioned by a great majority of voters. Accordingly, Euskadi held and managed its own legislature and decision-making. However, even though ETA had the opportunity to pursue their goals through political means, not only did they continue using violence, but exacerbated their terrorist activities.

Analysing Figure 2 above, a striking escalation of terrorist activity took place between 1978 and 1980, which was precisely the most precarious and crucial period of the regime change. Reinares and Jaime- Jiménez (2000) contend that as the dictatorship entered a period of crisis and liberalisation, it facilitated the development of radicalisation and political dissent consolidated by unfulfilled expectations (Reinares, 1990). However, this dramatic increase in terrorist attacks was perpetrated under a special set of circumstances. When supporters of radical nationalist political outlooks see their very high expectations hindered, they tend to turn to armed violence, in particulate among sectors of society that have grown from a sub-culture of violence. As witnessed during the democratic transition where the first government was reluctant to "grant amnesty to over 600 Basques, most of them ETA militants or collaborators, who had been imprisoned under the Franco regime" (Reinares and Jaime-Jiménez, 2000, 124), to that effect ETA was not satisfied with the new political system. Through terrorism, its basic aim is to create a cycle of 'action-reaction-action', which is a classic insurgent strategy (Moreno, 2005, 70) designed to provoke the State into a concentred repression which leads to mass-revolutionary turmoil. In 1977 the first free general elections took place, consequently provoking small and marginalized political groups to turn to violence in order to effectively pursue their common goals. Progressively building popular support, these small electorally marginalised groups were linked with ETA (m), where Herri Batasuna ('The Unity of the People', HB) was created in 1979, and increasingly attracted popular support.

The 'dips' shown on the graphs are attributable to anti-terrorist strategies measures implemented by the government. Anti-terrorist campaigns are most prominent for their proactive infiltration and intelligence measures (SOURCE, MARTINEZ-HERRERA??). These have managed to significantly reduce ETA's terrorist activities and alongside other factors, is what has led them to where they stand today. For decades, ETA has shifted its attacks on new targets mostly due to the high number of leaders arrested in the 1990s, which explains why there were fewer victims in the early 1990s and none in 1999 (see figure 2 above). ETA decided to develop a strategy of "socialized suffering" whereby their terrorist actions targeted those beyond the usual state targets such as politicians, police and armed forces. These included attacks on civilians, journalists, academics, judges, and so on (Encarnacion, 2008, 94). Furthermore, ETA began to target tourists, serving as a communication link to raise their cause internationally, which may increase international pressure on the Spanish government to resolve the conflict.

Many would argue that ETA has achieved a considerable proportion of their goals. While their current position is not completely separatist, they have achieved a remarkable degree of autonomy. Yet this has not led to the dissolution of the organisation or the cessation of violent acts. ETA has absolutist goals and as Post argues: "nothing less than total victory will suffice" (Post, 1990, 37). ETA has publicly expressed interest in 'negotiations', which some may argue represents a weakness (Reinares, 2011). Nonetheless, continuous declarations of ceasefire have maintained the organisation in contact with the Spanish government and therefore on-going hopes that they will reach their objectives. For example, in 1998 ETA proclaimed a unilateral ceasefire, driven by a will to negotiate (Martínez-Herrera, 2002, 14), however it ended a year later, followed by more bombing campaigns in 2000 (BBC, 2006).

ETA endorses ethno national terrorism comprised of an ideology of absolutist quality which "guarantees [it] can always find plausible justifications for continuing its struggle" (Post, 1990, 38). However, as shown in figure 2 above, in 2004 and 2005 ETA did not carry out any attacks. These dates coincide with the Al-Qaeda train bombings in March 2004, which "made evident the kind of consequences [ETA] would face if they were to carry out an action of similar proportions" (Moreno, 2005, 65). It has also been revealed that in June 2004 ETA planned to explode four car bombs in Madrid, however discarded the idea "due to the great popular outrage provoked by the attacks of March 11" (Moreno, 2005, 71). Between 2007 and 2010 there were less ETA victims due to French and Spanish authorities arresting "more than 400 ETA members, including six of its top leaders" (RTT NEWS, 2011). In comparison to radical Islamic terrorism, despite the most recent capture and killing of Al-Qaeda's leader Osama bin Laden, Al-Qaeda has claimed it will continue to instil terror (This Day Live, 2011). However, it seems ETA does show signs of weakness when its prominent leaders are captured. Even though it is organised as a network of commandos, each with its own leader, the main leaders are considered the core and main force that drive the organisation. All these events could be interpreted as a weakness and the beginning of the end of ETA.

Throughout the last decade, ETA has kept a low profile and has demonstrated a commitment to achieving its goals through political means. On January 10th 2011, ETA declared a new "permanent, of general and international character and verifiable ceasefire" (EL PAÍS, (a), 2011). Following the ousting of HB as a political party in 2003, which financially supported ETA, Sortu emerged as a new 'leftist aberztale' Basque Political Party, with "determined political aspirations of independence, strictly implemented through political means, abandoning all forms of violence" (EL PAÍS, (a), 2011). The Supreme Court denied its inscription as a legitimate party on March 23rd 2011, claiming it to be the successor of Herri Batasuna. However, following this, Bildu emerged on the 25th of March 2011, as a New Leftist Basque political party. Examining these recent events, it is evident to presume attempts to legitimise new political parties, which are inherently linked to Herri Batasuna, demonstrates ETA's eagerness to continue their struggle through political means and not through the use of violence. However, two etarras were arrested in relation to the killing of the first French police officer on April 10th 2011 despite their alleged ceasefire (EL PAÍS, (b), 2011). Other arguments highlight the desperation of ETA in times of weakness and decadence, after 38 members were arrested following the declarations of ceasefire (EL PAÍS, (b), 2011), as well as the findings of ETA's largest warehouse containing hundreds of explosives (EL PAÍS, (c), 2011). All of which indicate whether or not ETA's declarations are credible and whether or not it does intend to cease using violence as a means. Regarding the forthcoming elections in May, it is arguably accurate to suggest ETA is only trying to gain time and strengthen its popular support.

Most recently, on May 5th 2011, the Supreme Court passed Bildu as a new political party. It will take part in the forthcoming elections and has declared it will "change the political map" (EL PAÍS, (d), 2011). Even though the new party wishes to "gain credibility...and is against all violent acts from ETA" (EL PAÍS, (e), 2011), this is a critical period in Spain, where the conservatives continue to be sceptical and previously claimed Bildu was a "new strategy of ETA" and individuals from Bildu were part of HB (EL PAÍS, (f), 2011). The Spanish government must ensure efficient precaution measures and preparedness which must be taken into account in order to prevent ETA from regaining strength and collective unity from popular support. Arrests of ETA militants and disruption of its organisational structure are pivotal given that "terrorism has not yet disappeared because ... [it] has managed to set up its own organizational network in which the discourse of radicalism and violence is daily framed and thereby reproduced" (Mees, 2004, 328).


ETA emerged from what it considered a struggle of cultural repression. It is important to realise and understand Franco's attempt to realise a hegemonized Spain, despite cultural resistance from regions, in particular the Basque Country. This created an environment of resentment towards the Spanish state from which the sense of collective unity and the power of identity emerged.

Since the Constitution was established in Spain in 1978, ETA has continued to call for a completely autonomous Basque region, despite the transition to democracy and the establishment of seventeen autonomous regions across Spain. Throughout periods in the 20th Century, ETA has gained support increasing its opportunities of survival. However, many Spaniards condemn ETA and its terrorist acts, walking the streets of Spanish cities to express opposition to the organisation.

ETA is considered an actor that rigorously and rationally calculates its actions in forms of assassinations and bombings, despite several declarations of ceasefire. The nature of ETA members is important in understanding their motives. From the rational actor model, this essay suggests that etarras are rational actors who turn to violence following a logical process of cost-benefit analysis. However, this essay applied group think to suggest that, bearing in mind their age and marital status, they exhibit bounded-rationality. Throughout several generations, involvement in public vandalism to the extent of using terrorist means is justified within their group psychology of Basque nationalism and the historical grievance. ETA's highest priority is to succeed in its terrorist acts and consolidate its ideologies and rhetoric of legitimacy to attract support and new members.

From this point, it is impossible to predict whether ETA has indeed stopped using violence and to believe in its credibility. The Spanish government, as well as citizens must not trust ETA's 'new' political strategic move. Even though Bildu has been accepted as a new political party, people must ask themselves whether ETA does regret using violence in the past, and whether ETA has completely given up on using terror as a means to fight for the Basque Country's independence. As experienced in the past, it is very possible ETA's new tactic involves regaining strength, resources and political support. ETA's justification for terrorism lies on periods of cultural resistance, however the possible reality lies in ETA's reasons for political power and profiteering. But one element is certain, it continues to be an active terrorist organisation; therefore Spain is still at risk of ETA's violence.

Appendix 1

ETA's first planned victim was in retaliation for the tortures of incarcerated ETA members. In 1968, the chief of the Brigada Político-Social (the Political Police Division of Franco's regime), Melitón Manzanas, was shot seven times and killed. He was considered the symbol of Francoist repression and known for the tortures of hundreds of individuals who opposed the autocratic regime.

Appendix 2

Terrorist organisations in Galicia and Cataluña however disappeared (INCLUDE).

Appendix 3

In October 2010, the Fiscal General of Venezuela, Luisa Ortega Díaz stated that under Article 69, of the Constitution of the Republic of Venezuela, "the deportation of Venezuelan citizens is prohibited" (Correo del Orinoco, 2010).

Appendix 4

Figure 1 below displays a centrifugal model which represents a system of concentric circles ETA has influence over, which ensure its continued existence and autonomy. The core represents ETA which holds its own organizational structure, ideologies, core membership basis, principle leaders, objectives, etc. The next broader circle corresponds to a network of interconnected organisations which support ETA, for instance political parties such as Herri Batasuna, ('The Unity of the People', HB), formed in 1979 as a political coalition. HB's key arguments were based on the fact that the Spanish 1978 Constitution does "not recognize the right to self-determination, thus capitalizing on the difficulties which arose during the implementation of the autonomy arrangements" (Reinares and Jaime- Jiménez, 2000, 125). It was however, outlawed in 2003 after financing ETA with public money. Other supporting organisations include associations such as those created by prisoners' relatives, trade unions and mass media. Moreover, the next circle represents those who vote for the parties supporting ETA. Finally, the external circle embodies those individuals who oppose the Spanish state and reject everything Spanish and fully support the independence of the Basque country, and also accept violence as a means to ETA's objectives.

Figure 1: ETA's sphere of influence SOURCE: My own elaboration

Appendix 5

During the 'Proceso de Burgos' ("The Burgos Trials") in 1970, 15 ETA members were jailed for 500 years and 6 were sentenced to death. However, those who were sentenced to death were pardoned due to popular support and in 1977, the Law of Amnesty set free those who had been incarcerated (World News, 2010).

A survey conducted by the University of the Basque Country in May 2010 showed that only 2.7% of Basques support or justify Eta.