Madrid, Spain. Spain has had a problem with Basque separatists for over 50 years, but a break through has been reached, whereby the organization known as the ETA will disband and cease violent resistance. Spain’s Basque militant separatist group ETA says it has voluntarily turned all of its weapons and explosives over to civil mediators, a report says.
The Spanish government in Madrid said on Friday that it had obtained a letter from the group in which the ETA said that “after giving up all its weaponry to Basque civil society representatives it now is a disarmed organization.”
Arrangements are in place, but the process was not officially over as the mediators were still due to hand over the weaponry to government authorities. The letter said that “‘disarmament day’ is tomorrow.”
“We want to warn that still the process can be attacked by the enemies of peace. The only real guarantee to succeed are the thousands of people gathering tomorrow in Bayonne, France supporting the disarmament,” said the group’s leaders.
The ETA, which was set up more than 50 years ago, is considered a terrorist group by the European Union. It has been seeking to negotiate its dissolution in exchange for amnesties and improved prison conditions for its roughly 350 members in Spain and France.
The group once before declared a ceasefire in 2011 but did not disarm. A key figure in the group’s move away from violence this time, is believed to have been the leader of the pro-independence Basque left, Arnaldo Otegi. He has served several prison terms for his links to the ETA.
The separatist group is blamed for the deaths of 829 people in a long-running campaign of bombings and shootings for an independent Basque state. It has been severely weakened in recent years after hundreds of its members were arrested.