Saturday, April 8, 2017

As ETA disarms: What is the Basque Cause

The ETA organisation is laying down its final set of arms today. The group which has been fighting for a separation of the Basque regions from Spain, has ceased fire since 2010.

ETA was formed in 1959 and stands for Euskadi Ta Askatasuna which stands for Basque Homeland and Freedom. The period from 1939 to 1975 marked the rule of Military Dictator Francisco Franco. The ETA was formed to take on Franco after oppression faced by the Basque Nationalist Party previously. Franco'e regime oppressed many other groups as well including students. Franco tried to suppress Basque, Catalan and Galician languages while favoring Castilian. The Basque language almost died out as a result of Franco's policies. Franco selected a monarchical successor in the late 60s before his death in November 1975. One of the ETA's biggest actions was the assassination of the Prime Minister in December 1973. The country became more liberal with the death of Franco.

The Basque people live in a region that is at the intersection between Spain and France, with the northern Basque region lying in France and its southern part lying in Spain. The Basque language does not have any connections to any other language family. About 93 percent of speakers of the language live in Spain with the remaining 7 percent living in France. Basque is a pre-historic language, i.e., one that is older than 5000 years.

The prime metropolitan region in the Basque Country is the Greater Bilbao, the capital city of which is Bilbao. While the city has about 350,000 inhabitants, the region has 1 million people. The next-biggest city in the Basque Country is Vitoria-Gasteiz, followed by Pamplona renowned for its bull-running tradition.

Spain and France can be pictured as two squares placed one over the other, with the square on top which is France imagined as being moved to the right atop the square below which is Spain, until only a small portion lies atop while the larger portion lies without any base. This larger portion of France lies atop the Mediterranean Sea. The space to the left of France and to the top of Spain is made up of a water body of the Atlantic Ocean called the Bay of Biscay.

Running right across the border between Spain and France is the Pyrenees, a 491-kilometer stretch of mountain from the Bay of Biscay to the Mediterranean Sea. And lying in between Spain and France on the eastern part of the Pyrenees is the small nation of Andorra. The capital of this small nation of 468 square kilometers and 85,000 people is Andorra la Vella which lies at the highest-elevation among all European capitals, at a height of just over 1000 meters.

The western end of the Pyrenees is Basque territory.

No comments:

Post a Comment