Leaders of the Basque terrorist group ETA have asked members to vote on a plan to dissolve completely by the summer. In a statement released by the newspaper Gara, ETA leaders avoided using the terms “disappear” or “dissolve,” but talked about the “end of a cycle.”
After killing 829 people and injuring hundreds more over the course of 43 years, with most of its remaining members behind bars, a 2011 ceasefire that effectively ended its armed activities, and a new social reality to contend with, ETA admits that it has become increasingly irrelevant as an actor in Basque society.
“The end of the cycle is increasingly evident, and as a result of decisions that were made, it has already occurred to a great extent. The end of the political-military strategy signaled the beginning of the end of the organization’s cycle,” reads the statement.
It is now time to close the era of the armed conflict
“It is now time to close the era of the armed conflict (…) to offer all our strength to foment the political process,” adds the document.
Following months of internal debate, the dissolution must be voted on by ETA members, most of whom (302) are serving time in prison while others are in social reintegration programs and a few dozen living outside Spain in unknown locations.
If approved, it will be the last step in a process that began with a definitive ceasefire in 2011 and was followed by a weapons decommissioning program. In 2015, ETA’s last known leaders were arrested, delivering a fatal blow to the organization.
If the proposal is approved, “ETA will no longer exist,” reports Gara.
However, the document makes it clear that ETA does not regret its past and “will not disavow its contributions, even though it is open to self-criticism.”
That ETA was going to dissolve fully this year comes as no surprise to observers of the terrorist group’s recent activities, who had predicted such a move early this year.
English version by Susana Urra.