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The Birth of The ETA in Fascist Spain

by Militante Saturday, May. 25, 2002 at 8:08 PM

The ETA are the legacy of the popular front of communists, socialists, anarchists, and republicans; who fought for freedom and equality against General Franco's Fascism during the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939); the international class struggle against imperialism new and old continues...

errorThe Basque: A Culture of Resistance

by Annie Tute Nere Collective

The Birth of The ETA in Fascist Spain


Franco's oppressive regime ruled Spain and resistance sparked up in every corner, including the formation of a new and unique group, the ETA.

The young Basques were frustrated and ready to call on their rich heritage of resistance, but upon meeting with the famed Basque Nationalist Party, they were shocked and disappointed to find this older generation was simply content with hiding and waiting for Franco to die.

These young Basques, including Jose Luis Alvarez, were not content with this response. Alvarez had just recently spent time in jail for belonging to a student movement and though he admits that he and others lacked political philosophy after jail time and the disappointing meeting the Basque Nationalist Party, they knew something had to be done against Franco's oppression of Euskera(Basque language) and the people.

In 1952 five of these students organized their own
movement. They structured the newfound group, Aberri Ta Askatasuna (Homeland and Liberty), into small cell units in different areas, one in San Sebastian and the other in Bilbao, to with stand the Gaurdia Civil's penetration and oppression. They quickly found however that "ata' in a certain dialect of Euskera "ata' translated to "duck', which led to the new name- Euskadi Ta Askatasuna (ETA) and official founding date.

ETA immediately began undertaking it's anti-Franco
activities. They published an underground journal, Ekin (to act, to persist), promoting the forbidden Basque language and agitating for an end of Spain's imperialist regime in Basque country. By the end of 1959 the ETA had grown to over 200 members who studied devoutly other liberation movements.

From their examination of liberation movements the
ETA began to use more confrontational tactics, this is not surprising due to the fact that their long history was based on strong resistance. Statues and walls through out the country started to bare the message: GORA EUSKADI!

As the message spread and the walls became covered, the ETA kept pushing forward. The ETA's first claimed act of revolution was the bombing of the elevator in the Gauardia Civil headquarters. Then in 1961 they derailed a train carrying Spanish statesmen celebrating the anniversary of the 1936 coup d'etat. There were no casualties but the ETA had sent a message that could not be ignored like those sprayed across statues, Franco's regime entered Basque Country at their own risk.

Franco's government responded quickly with mass arrests and torture of 100 Basque people. However the prisoners were soon released as Franco was not concerned with stopping the ETA but extracting revenge . This would define the future of the ETA movement under Franco's regime, a cycle.

The ETA also during this time began to develop political ideology, mainly that stemming from Marx, towards a society based on Socialism. With a socialist ideology the ETA began to move further away from the Basque Nationalist Party. The ETA turned its attention on organizing and working with the working class. As the ETA began to key the phrases of class struggle and revolution, Franco became more worried. His worry turned to more oppressive action when two ETA members killed a Guardia Civil. The eye for an eye cycle continued when the Guardia Civil assassinated a known ETA member. The acts of defiance and oppression became more violent and open. The ETA hope that these provocations would first provoke the Basque people, and then would lead to a general uprising.

The resistance and fight with Franco's regime continued. The new slogan waved by the ETA read: Iraultza ala hil! (Revolution or Death!). Other groups (primarily Anarchist and Catalan) began to issue their support to the ETA's fight. When 3 ETA members were condemned to death, demonstrations broke out, not only in Pamplona and Bilbao, but also in Barcelona and Madrid, not mention support poured in from France, Belgium, Sweden, Norway, and Australia. Due to this pressure Franco canceled the executions and commuted the sentences to life in prison.

The ETA was not defeated by the oppression and imprisonment. ETA commandos carried out one of their most effective and dangerous political assassinations in December of 1973. After staking out Franco's right hand man, Admiral Carrero Blanco, the man who was sure to fill Franco's shoes after his passing, and carry on Francoism in Franco's tradition, the ETA commandos set a trap for him at his routine church service. At 9:30am Carrero Blanco's car pulled up and parked. Then a large crash and explosion, the car was blown several stories in the air care of dynamite packed deep under the pavement of the spot he always parked.

This action led to the popular anti-fascist joke in Spanish. "Una bache mas, un carbon menos" (One more pothole, one less asshole).

By 1975 the ETA were suspected of killing 38 and countless attacks against the state. In response Franco had two Basque political prisoners assassinated by firing squad. Riots broke out and one angry mob set fire to the Spanish embassy in Lisbon. But Franco was not going anywhere.

The ETA remained an active fighting force up until Franco's death. However the mass uprising they had hoped for never came to fruition. Today the ETA has once again been launched into the media spotlight with various car bombings and actions against the Spanish government, which has once again led to great oppression against the Basque and various anarchist and revolutionary groups due to supportive ties to the ETA. Though nationalism is a false divide and usually implemented by the State to keep the masses ignorant, Basque country, much like countless others, still remains absorbed by western capitalist powers (France and Spain). The Basque struggle for freedom is an important one, it is one of the countless battles still being waged against centuries of fascist oppression.

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