Basque businessmen demand end to ETA extortion
The employers' association in Spain's Basque region Monday condemned ETA's truce announcement, demanding the armed group cease its "blackmail and extortion" of businessmen in the region.
ETA's announcement is "disappointing, insufficient and very far from what Basque society needs and demands," the association, Confebask, which represents 13,000 businesses in the region, said in a statement.
In a video declaration, ETA on Sunday announced it had decided several months ago to halt "armed offensive actions".
Spain's government rejected the announcement as totally inadequate and demanded ETA renounce guns and bombs forever in its battle for an independent homeland.
Confebask Monday said that "for Basque businessmen an announcement of a ceasefire must be welcomed."
But Sunday's announcement "does not mention the only thing that we are really waiting for from ETA: a real and definitive end to violence and the explicit renunciation of the continuation of all types of threats, blackmail and extortion."
Extortion of businessmen in the Basque Country and the neighbouring neighbouring Basque-speaking Navarra region is ETA's main source of revenue, and previous ceasefires have not included a halt to such activities.
The head of the employers' body in Navarra said in March that ETA had sent letters demanding up to 400,000 euros (515,000 dollars) in "revolutionary tax."
He said ETA had targeted some 2,000 individuals in the past decade to raise funds.
ETA, banned as a terrorist group by the European Union and the United States, is blamed for 829 deaths in its 42-year campaign for independence for the Basque region of northern Spain and southwestern France.
© 2010 AFP