A Basque in Boise

Possibilites

Not so long ago, I finally took a deep breath and wrote about being Basque and the struggle to find my place and be somewhat at peace with my feelings. Now I wonder how different that essay would have been if ETA had called its definitive ceasefire 20, 25, or 30 years ago.

Last Thursday, ETA announced they were ending four decades of terrorism in the Basque Country and Spain. October 20, 2011, the first day of my entire life without ETA, a day that I thought would never come, especially during my late teens and early twenties, when ETA would kill or kidnap someone every single month, sometimes every other week. I lost count of how many times I went down to the plaza to join Gesto por la Paz (the Association for Peace in the Basque Country) to condemn the terrorist attacks. How uncomfortable it was to stand there in silence, listening to the ETA supporters who would gather right in front of us and chant their chants. These were people I’d known all my life: my neighbors, my friend’s mom, dad or uncle, some were even my friends – and they still are.  It’s hard to explain. But then again, who can understand four decades of violence?

I’m not saying governments did not play a part in dragging out the resolution to the conflict. Even after ETA’s permanent ceasefire announcement there are certain politicians who won’t move a finger to help the process along. In my opinion, that’s a very good way of resolving nothing. I guess I would just like to see a little bit more optimism all around. True, ETA has yet to physically turn in their weapons and has not apologized to the victims of its past actions in the announcement. This makes it for a very skeptic welcome of the news by ETA victims. Then again, my sister is alive and well, making me laugh with her sharp remarks, my mom still cooks yummy meals every day, and my dad asks about the weather in Boise every time he has a chance. Many people (829) are not as lucky.

It will be hard and probably unfair for many, but today there is a possibility for change, a possibility for peace, a possibility for a new Basque Country. I want these possibilities turned into reality.

 

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2 thoughts on “Possibilites

  1. Eyes open

    What a one-sided and short sighted view on a centuries old conflict. I would expect a much more balanced analysis from someone who writes from Boise. You’ll meet many around you there who can still tell you about the horror of Gernika, exile, torture…The conflict didn’t begin with ETA and obviously it won’t disappear with the end of ETA’s armed campaign. Telling otherwise it only will hide the roots of the conflict and won’t help at all in its solving. You mentioned Gesto por la Paz there. Gesto was used by the pro-state forces to hide their responsability in the conflict (you could find tactics like these in any CIA counter-insurgency manual) and when it wasn’t of any use for them anymore it almost vanished. Last Saturday the Gernika Agreement signatories which look for a peaceful and democratic resolution to the conflict based in respect of the Basque society’s will (self-determination) gathered 49,000 people while those Gesto followers only got a few dozens. I wonder what would have happened if all those efforts had been directed at the real roots of the conflict. But I mostly wonder what would have happened if the Spanish and French states machinery and brutal centralism hadn’t repressed the Basque people’s desire of freedom. It’s not difficult to imagine, is it?

  2. Eyes open

    What a one-sided and short sighted view on a centuries old conflict. I would expect a much more balanced analysis from someone who writes from Boise. You’ll meet many around you there who can still tell you about the horror of Gernika, exile, torture…The conflict didn’t begin with ETA and obviously it won’t disappear with the end of ETA’s armed campaign. Telling otherwise it only will hide the roots of the conflict and won’t help at all in its solving. You mentioned Gesto por la Paz there. Gesto was used by the pro-state forces to hide their responsability in the conflict (you could find tactics like these in any CIA counter-insurgency manual) and when it wasn’t of any use for them anymore it almost vanished. Last Saturday the Gernika Agreement signatories which look for a peaceful and democratic resolution to the conflict based in respect of the Basque society’s will (self-determination) gathered 49,000 people while those Gesto followers only got a few dozens. I wonder what would have happened if all those efforts had been directed at the real roots of the conflict. But I mostly wonder what would have happened if the Spanish and French states machinery and brutal centralism hadn’t repressed the Basque people’s desire of freedom. It’s not difficult to imagine, is it?

  3. Henar Chico

    Hi Ben, you talk like I am all cool with what happened in Gernika, like I don’t know the history behind ETA or why it started. And yes, I have met a handful of people in Boise who lived the horror and I have gone to talks and gatherings on this subject, the last one only several months back. Actually, one of the few events in Boise that has anything to do with politics. The Basque community in Boise gets hardly involved with that. I still don’t believe it’s ok to protest against the horror of Gernika with the horror of four decades of terrorism.

    Besides, I am from Bilbao. I lived there since I was born until I was 21 and I saw first hand the pain caused by all the senseless murders carried out by ETA. I don’t believe the way to fight for independence in the Basque Country was to kill or kidnap innocent people just because they didn’t think the way ETA and their supporters wanted. On the other hand, and just like I say on my post, I’m not so gullible to think the government was totally clean in their fight against terrorism. And that’s why I went to Gesto por la Paz.

    I’m not sure where you’re getting your information, but you might want to take a look at their website (http://www.gesto.org/engl/i_index.htm) to get familiar with Gesto por la Paz’s mission and goals. Their main objective was to organize “concentrations of people who gather in silence for 15 minutes on the following day of every murder or death caused by political violence in relation with the Basque Country, take place.” Note that it doesn’t say “every murder or death caused by ETA”. In fact, we gathered more than once to protest the murder of an ETA member. Also, they worked to bring the political prisoners closer to the Basque Country.

    There was a terrorist attack in my town one time. (http://servicios.hoy.es/datos/2006/victimaseta/index.php?victima=046). ETA put a bomb in a car parked at the train station, which blew up killing Francisco, which was a Civil Guard. I later taught English to his daughter. Many people will say he deserved it because of his profession. I disagree. But, what if he’d gotten in the car just as people got off the train? How many more innocent people could have died? And that’s how ETA worked. The end justifies the means. What type of democracy would that had been? It’s not difficult to imagine, is it?

  4. Henar Chico

    Hi Ben, you talk like I am all cool with what happened in Gernika, like I don’t know the history behind ETA or why it started. And yes, I have met a handful of people in Boise who lived the horror and I have gone to talks and gatherings on this subject, the last one only several months back. Actually, one of the few events in Boise that has anything to do with politics. The Basque community in Boise gets hardly involved with that. I still don’t believe it’s ok to protest against the horror of Gernika with the horror of four decades of terrorism.

    Besides, I am from Bilbao. I lived there since I was born until I was 21 and I saw first hand the pain caused by all the senseless murders carried out by ETA. I don’t believe the way to fight for independence in the Basque Country was to kill or kidnap innocent people just because they didn’t think the way ETA and their supporters wanted. On the other hand, and just like I say on my post, I’m not so gullible to think the government was totally clean in their fight against terrorism. And that’s why I went to Gesto por la Paz.

    I’m not sure where you’re getting your information, but you might want to take a look at their website (http://www.gesto.org/engl/i_index.htm) to get familiar with Gesto por la Paz’s mission and goals. Their main objective was to organize “concentrations of people who gather in silence for 15 minutes on the following day of every murder or death caused by political violence in relation with the Basque Country, take place.” Note that it doesn’t say “every murder or death caused by ETA”. In fact, we gathered more than once to protest the murder of an ETA member. Also, they worked to bring the political prisoners closer to the Basque Country.

    There was a terrorist attack in my town one time. (http://servicios.hoy.es/datos/2006/victimaseta/index.php?victima=046). ETA put a bomb in a car parked at the train station, which blew up killing Francisco, which was a Civil Guard. I later taught English to his daughter. Many people will say he deserved it because of his profession. I disagree. But, what if he’d gotten in the car just as people got off the train? How many more innocent people could have died? And that’s how ETA worked. The end justifies the means. What type of democracy would that had been? It’s not difficult to imagine, is it?

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