The Basque abertzale radical left, led by outlawed party Batasuna, has upped the stakes in its determination to seek a political solution to the question of home rule in the northern region by calling on ETA to declare a unilateral ceasefire as a gesture of goodwill toward a definitive disavowal of violence.
The new abertzale initiative goes further than the previous minimum demand to bring about peace talks laid out by South African mediator Brian Currin and four Nobel Prize winners, including Nelson Mandela, last March, in a statement that called for an "internationally verifiable" and "permanent" ceasefire.
The abertzale's demand corresponds to the Gernika Declaration of September 2010, co-signed by Batasuna, Aralar and Eusko Alkartasuna, the main drivers of the Basque pro-sovereignty milieu. ETA called an end to attacks on September 5 and has stated that it would make a declaration on a permanent laying down of arms during the festive season, which in Spain ends on Thursday.
Batasuna's leaders, Rufi Etxeberria and Rafael Díez Usabiaga, are eager to push ETA into a definitive ceasefire as the Spanish government has made abundantly clear that while the terrorist organization remains at large there will be no negotiation toward legalizing the political group, the first step in gaining the right to stand in Basque local elections in May. When Etxeberria made the announcement that ETA would pave the way for peace talks during the Christmas vacation, it was given credibility due to his standing within abertzale circles.
On Sunday, another abertzale leader and the mayor of Elorrio, Niko Moreno, reiterated optimism that ETA will abide by its pledge. "The when and the where depend on ETA, but we remain optimistic and we hope that, sooner rather than later, it will make this declaration."