Through publications on the Gara, a newspaper which the armed Basque separatist group ETA has been utilizing to convey messages, the Euskadi Ta Askatasuna, or in English, the Basque Homeland and Freedom declared that it will cease all violence on its part to achieve ultimate autonomy for the greater region of the Basque Country, amnesty for its members and “complete” ceasefire including democratic processes and peaceful dialogue.
ETA has declared “permanent” ceasefires at least 12 times in its history. The separatist group situated in northern Spain and near southwestern France is listed as a terrorist organization on the watch-lists of both the European Union and the United States.
The group was created in late 1959 during the dictatorship of Francisco Franco by idealistic and nationalist students who were all angry and frustrated at the perceived lack of appropriate political aggression on part of the Basque nationalist party Euzko Alderdi Jeltzalea.
At first, ETA started out small by displaying banned banners, carrying out acts of vandalism and even damaging government property.
Then, in 1968, policeman Jose Pardines was shot and killed by an ETA member starting a startling string of violent events including the elaborate assassination of Francisco Franco’s #2 man Luis Carrero Blanco in 1973.
As bombings, shootings, extortion (which has now reportedly stopped in the ETA’s area) and abductions got out of hand, the government of Spain in cooperation with a previously ETA-lenient French government started to break down the ETA in the mid 1990′s by taking over 600 ETA members as prisoners and crippling the organization’s abilities to carry out most of its operations.
At least 829 deaths are attributed to the ETA’s actions. Spain’s Prime Minister Zapatero on a national broadcast hailed the ETA’s decision as a “victory for everyone” and gave thanks to the Spanish police, individuals involved in pressuring the ETA to lay down its arms and the French government.