Spanish press reacts bitterly to end of ETA bombs

21st October 2011, Comments 0 comments

Spain's press reacted with relief, bitterness and outright suspicion Friday over Basque separatist group ETA's announcement of an end to more than 40 years of bombing and shooting.

Newspapers welcomed the declared end to a violent campaign, which claimed at least 829 lives, but they attacked the lack of an apology or details of disarming, and the demand for talks.

"The end of the terror," blared the front page of the leading daily El Pais.

"ETA drops its arms," declared Catalan daily La Vanguardia.

But papers found much to criticise in Thursday's video announcement by three militants wearing white hoods and black berets.

"ETA flouts its killings and summons the government to negotiate," said the front page of the right-of-centre daily El Mundo.

Insead of apologising to victims, ETA offered its "deepest recognition and tribute" to its own comrades who had died in the "cruelty of the fight" or who had fled or been imprisoned.

The gropu also made no mention of dissolving, as has been demanded by the government.

It called on the Spanish and French governments to open direct dialogue with the aim of "addressing the resolution of the consequences of the conflict and, thus, to overcome the armed confrontation".

In an editorial, El Mundo said Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero had gone a step further than the hooded militants when he welcomed "this end" of ETA.

The paper said ETA had not only failed to say it was disappearing but also had spoken of a new cycle, and the need for direct talks to overcome the "armed confrontation".

"In the current circumstances, there is no guarantee that we won't move from this 'definitive cessation' to the resumption of attacks if ETA's goals from these negotiations are not satisfied," El Mundo said.

The conservative ABC daily agreed ETA had not gone far enough.

"Moving from active terrorism to a threatening guardianship of a terrorist organisation, with its arsenal hidden, is not the peace that Spain deserves," the ABC editorial said.

El Pais greeted the declaration with more optimism.

"Full stop to the nightmare. Democracy ended up triumphing over a band of fanatics who sowed terror," said the paper's editorial.

But the paper's relief was tinged with regret.

"The killers of the terrorist band plunged into grief thousands of children condemned to grow up without the love and protection of their parents, who they would never see again," El Pais said.

"In the end they violated that basic right not only of every citizen but of every human, to a daily life without fear," El Pais said.

"That, and nothing else, is the result of 43 years of ETA's criminal history."

© 2011 AFP

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