lunes, 23 de junio de 2008

Bombs over Bilbao

Bombs over Bilbao

Today, just as during the 1835 attack led by General Zumalakarregi, or the Siege of 1874, or as in 1937 when the German Do-17 bombers flew over the city, bombs are falling over Bilbao.
The Carlists [1]bombed Bilbao, General Franco’s forces bombed Bilbao and now ETA is bombing Bilbao. Given the breadth of locations in Bilbao that have been bombed ETA, it would appear that the city on the Nervion has been subjected to a real bombardment.

Just as London (a city long admired by Bilbao) during the Blitz or the 7/7 bombings, so Bilbao, as under previous attacks, resists with that strength of spirit so characteristic of the city. It knows that to resist is to overcome, safe in the knowledge that right is on their side and their enemies today, just as those from the past, will be forsaken by history and that Bilbao’s liberal values will prevail.

ETA terrorism, shrouded as it is in nationalist and revolutionary rhetoric holds no tenet other than a reactionary and nihilistic design to undermine the values and institutions of the modern world (e.g. capitalism, individualism, cultural diversity, freedom, Spain’s 1978 constitution, the EU). They are the last terrorist group in Europe, bereft of any real ideology and isolated from society, an ancient relic espousing outdated ideas from the last century.

As with all totalitarian groups, ETA believes in acts of terror and murder as a means of political expression. They terrorize society, seeking to deny people the right to freedom of the press by bombing newspaper offices, the right to political representation and justice by killing politicians, police officers and judges and they extort money from businessmen and women. But our society is stronger than the terrorists. Basques and Spaniards are hewn from the same rock as ETA and they are not about to give in to the group’s murders and threats. Indeed those of us who refuse to yield to this scourge ETA are not only greater in number than those who support it, we’re also better.

Terrorist bombs are the only rhetoric known to ETA. Moreover these violent methods and the group’s paranoid ideology are proof of their inability to convince Basque society, from whom ETA has become completely isolated. Recent news footage comes to mind of ETA terrorists being detained in Bordeaux. Francisco Javier López Peña, alias "Thierry" (considered to be the most senior commander of group), and others members were seen screaming their perverse ideology as they are taken away by the police. Then, in stark contrast, other images come to mind of the way ETA victims when they do speak out, conduct themselves with such grace and dignity. The recent killing of a national police officer Jose Manuel Piñuel has provoked an unprecedented reaction the Basque Regional Authorities, with a book of condolence, guarded by regional and national police, being made available in the Basque Parliament building. This gesture has been met with heartfelt appreciation from the victims of terrorism who in turn have displayed the moral beauty for which many of them are renowned, a moral beauty derived from a clear awareness of their own dignity, a powerful demand for justice and immense civic courage and democratic pride.

Javier Otaola.- Ombudsman of Vitoria-Gasteiz
(Basque Country’s capital)

[1] Members of a right-wing political movement that was created in 1833. The group took its name from Don Carlos, the youngest brother of King Ferdinand VII (1784-1833) and would-be King Carlos V)