These are the responsibility of the editor and convey the newspaper's view on current affairs-both domestic and international

ETA prisoners back definitive ceasefire

Support could be crucial if leftwing parties push terrorist group for unilateral end to violence

The decision last week by members of ETA held in Spanish jails to support calls for a definitive ceasefire by the armed Basque independence group can be analyzed from two perspectives: that of the relationship between the prisoners and the terror group's leadership; and that of the ongoing struggle between that leadership and the leftwing, pro-independence movement that backs the 10-month-old Gernika agreement requiring ETA to lay down its arms and a normalization of politics in the Basque Country.

In short, Saturday's announcement provides further support for all political activity from now on in pursuance of the goal of an independent Basque Country to be carried out in the context of the Gernika agreement. This is in contrast to the approach of ETA's leaders.

More information
ETA prisoners tell leadership to bring an end to violence

Over the last 10 months, ETA's increasingly beleaguered leadership has tried to prevent its 700 or so prisoners held in jails throughout Spain from backing the Gernika agreement. The prisoners' announcement is the result of debate within the collective led by a group held in the Nanclares jail, which has accepted the government's demands that prisoners who are prepared to apologize for their crimes and who definitively renounce violence be eligible for early-release programs. It is this approach - albeit couched in the grandiloquent rhetoric of ETA's historic struggle in defense of the Basque homeland and people - behind which the prison community has now thrown its weight.

But there is more to this than simply the failure of ETA's leadership to impose discipline on its imprisoned activists. The Gernika declaration differed from previous initiatives in that the ETA ceasefire it called for was based on "an expression of the desire for a definitive end to armed activity." This commitment was too much for ETA's leadership, and was duly ignored in its subsequent ceasefire announcement in January. This explains why the leadership, including Arnaldo Otegi, who has just been sentenced to 10 years in jail for membership in ETA, continued to work to keep its prison community in line.

There are now significantly more ETA activists in jail than there are outside, meaning that if the conflict between leftwing nationalists and ETA comes down to a vote, ETA's current leadership will lose. That said, it is unclear how events will unfold: the prisoners have given their support to the calls for ETA to unconditionally lay down its arms, but it should be remembered that they have done so while demanding continued talks and the legalization of Sortu, the party that succeeded the also-outlawed group Batasuna.

Nevertheless, having to accept the decision of its prison community is an important step for ETA. It could prove decisive if the nationalist left decides to put pressure on ETA to meet its part of the bargain: to convert the unilateral ceasefire it announced in January into a definitive end to the use of violence. And what does unilateral mean if not an end to violence without conditions?

Tu suscripción se está usando en otro dispositivo

¿Quieres añadir otro usuario a tu suscripción?

Si continúas leyendo en este dispositivo, no se podrá leer en el otro.

¿Por qué estás viendo esto?


Tu suscripción se está usando en otro dispositivo y solo puedes acceder a EL PAÍS desde un dispositivo a la vez.

Si quieres compartir tu cuenta, cambia tu suscripción a la modalidad Premium, así podrás añadir otro usuario. Cada uno accederá con su propia cuenta de email, lo que os permitirá personalizar vuestra experiencia en EL PAÍS.

En el caso de no saber quién está usando tu cuenta, te recomendamos cambiar tu contraseña aquí.

Si decides continuar compartiendo tu cuenta, este mensaje se mostrará en tu dispositivo y en el de la otra persona que está usando tu cuenta de forma indefinida, afectando a tu experiencia de lectura. Puedes consultar aquí los términos y condiciones de la suscripción digital.

Recomendaciones EL PAÍS
Recomendaciones EL PAÍS