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Key dates in history of Basque group ETA

Published on September 24, 2020

HBO’s “Patria”, a highly-anticipated adaptation of Fernando Aramburu’s best-selling novel about the impact of ETA’s bloody fight for independence on people living in Spain’s Basque Country, hits the small screen Sunday.

Here are key dates in the history of the violence, which ended a decade ago as ETA renounced its armed struggle.

– Fight against dictatorship –

– July 31, 1959: Basque nationalist students set up Euskadi Ta Askatasuna (ETA) — “Basque Country and Freedom” — during the dictatorship of Francisco Franco when the region’s language and culture were heavily repressed.

– June 7, 1968: A policeman is shot dead by ETA militants in the Basque city of San Sebastian — the first deadly attack for which the group claimed responsibility.

Over four decades of violence in pursuit of an independent Basque state, ETA will be blamed for over 800 deaths.

– December 20, 1973: Luis Carrero Blanco, Franco’s prime minister and presumed successor, is blown up in his car in Madrid — one of ETA’s most notorious attacks.

– Paramilitary death squad –

– October 15, 1977: Two years after the dictator’s death, a general amnesty for political prisoners, including from ETA, is declared by Spain’s first post-Franco democratic government.

– October 25, 1979: The Basque region is granted semi-autonomous status.

– 1980: At least 92 people are killed in attacks in what is ETA’s most deadly year.

– December 1983: Emergence of GAL, a shadowy paramilitary group which targets Basque militants, killing 28 in the years until 1987.

– June 19, 1987: ETA’s deadliest bombing kills 21 people at a Barcelona supermarket.

– July 12, 1997: Conservative Basque politician Miguel Angel Blanco is shot dead by ETA militants after being held for 48 hours. Millions take to the streets in protest.

– Broken ceasefires –





– September 16, 1998: ETA announces a unilateral and unlimited ceasefire, but goes back on it in late 1999 following the collapse of talks with the government.

– March 17, 2003: Batasuna, ETA’s political wing which was created in 1978, is outlawed.

– March 22, 2006: ETA declares a “permanent ceasefire” in return for talks with the government.

– December 30, 2006: ETA claims responsibility for a bombing at Madrid airport that kills two people, breaking the ceasefire. In the period until summer 2009, ETA carries out seven more attacks.

– November 17, 2008: ETA’s military chief Mikel Garikoitz Aspiazu Rubina, known as Txeroki, is arrested in France. His five successors are later arrested.

– August 9, 2009: ETA carries out its last attacks on Spanish soil, although its very last victim is a French policeman killed in March 2010 during a chase in the Paris region.

– Armed struggle ends –

– October 20, 2011: ETA announces “the definitive end to its armed activity”, but declines to formally disband or disarm.

– November 24, 2012: ETA says it may discuss disbanding if jailed members are moved to prisons nearer home. Spain refuses to negotiate.

– April 8, 2017: ETA announces its “total disarmament” and begins surrendering weapons to the French authorities.

– Dissolution –

– April 20, 2018: ETA apologises for the “pain” and “harm” it caused during its armed campaign and asks for forgiveness from some victims but not those it considers legitimate targets like police officers and politicians.

– May 3, 2018: The group formally declares its dissolution, saying it has “completely dismantled all its structures” and “ended all its political activity”. Mariano Rajoy, who was premier at the time, insists there will be “no impunity” for ETA’s crimes.

– October 1, 2018: At a ceremony in Madrid, the Spanish and French prime ministers celebrate “common victory” against ETA.