22 April 2004
ARTEA – A controversial exhibition featuring paraphernalia used by Basque separatist terrorists ETA was closed down Thursday after complaints from victims’ groups and politicians.
Xabier Zumalde, a high-ranking ETA operative in the 1970s, provoked fury when he opened the first show of its kind in Spain.
But Javier Beitia, mayor of Artea, the Basque town where the exhibtion opened, ordered its closure Thursday, just hours after it opened.
The exhibition was set up in a public museum – run by Zumalde – originally dedicated to the history of the Basque farmhouse, the traditional home in this region.
The exhibition about ETA included explosives and weapons once used by the terror group.
The building was covered with ETA signs and posters.
The site also featured a life-sized replica of a “zulo”, a small hide-out dug in the ground and often used by ETA to hide hostages and armament.
In statements to EFE, Zumalde, who left ETA after the death of dictator Francisco Franco in 1975, did not explain how he obtained the items on display and said he did not fear being tried for defending terrorism.
The 65-year-old acknowledged, however, that the exhibition could be criticised by some organisations representing victims of terrorism in Spain.
“I’m a member of ETA, but one who is open and who has come to understand that the armed struggle is good for nothing,” Zumalde said.
Zumalde was an official in the regional Basque government at the beginning of the 1990s, when he was tried for his alleged role in a case of phone tapping, for which he was later found not guilty.
Critics have said the museum should be limited to the display of objects representing the history of the Basque farmhouse, which “has nothing to do with ETA or Franco.”
Several Spanish associations of terrorism victims and political parties have condemned the exhibitions.
The regional Basque government, headed by moderate nationalists who want more autonomy from Spain but reject violence, also asked Beitia for his “urgent intervention and the immediate closing” of the show.
Authorities of this part of the Basque region said it was a “clear example of exaltation of terrorism and offends the memory of the victims because there is no way to show the decency of a terrorist group that has only sown tragedy in many areas of the Basque region.”
ETA has slain more than 800 people in its 36-year campaign to create an independent Basque state in parts of northern Spain and southern France.
[Copyright EFE with Expatica]
Subject: Spanish news