In a statement published last Sunday in the newspaper Gara ETA said:
“The Pro-Independence Left, the Basque People’s engine of struggle, has spoken and ETA supports its position (ETA is referring to the historical declaration by 100 high profile Pro-Independence Left activists last November in Altsasu and the grassroots debate that followed). We can’t keep waiting for the enemy, it’s time to take the lead and to act. At this time, when the enemy is striking hardest we can’t just keep resisting. We must respond showing the same leadership they try to strangle. It’s true, that rather than in resisting against repression, our strength lies in the political struggle. The enemy’s arguments are proved next to nothing when confronted with the Pro-Independence Left in the political debate”.
ETA highlights in its statement that the Pro-Independence Left is the only force that proposes a political framework that allows for all political options to be promoted and developed freely.
Most of the statement is focused on the democratic process. ETA says that the democratic process will become the axe of the struggle to be developed from now on by the Pro-Independence Left. According to ETA it would bring a democratisation of the political and legal situation of oppression, the overcoming in democratic terms of the political conflict, the implementation of the Basque Country’s national rights and the citizens’ civil and political rights and it would carry the Basque Country to a scenario of self-determination in a step-by-step, regulated and agreed way.
ETA is convinced that such a process will be opposed by the current political and legal framework with efforts to undermine it with "reforms" and so perpetuate the conflict with the aim of destroying the road to sovereignty.
ETA states that the Democratic Process is not the best option but the only one and that it must be understood that the main guarantor of it is the Basque People. According to ETA only with the strength and support of the Basque People will it be possible to open, build and bring that process to its successful conclusion.
In that sense ETA believes that the past experiences show two key lessons. If there is no People’s activation the Process won’t advance and also that it won’t be possible without the participation of the Spanish state. ETA continues: “If the Democratic Process is to be developed through democratic means and without interferences, as we also believe it should, the state interference and violence must stop.”
ETA ends the statement by recalling the historical words of one of the organization’s main leaders recorded just hours before he was assassinated by the Spanish death squads in 1978: “It won’t be ETA or any political party, it will be the Basque People who will bring freedom to the Basque Country. That’s what we want to stress today. Victory is in the struggle and we want to encourage our People and every citizen to organise and fight, to be protagonists in the liberation of our People.”
ETA’s last statement was widely covered in the media and sparked many reactions from the political parties. Many of the pro-Spanish newspapers manipulated the statement and even published wrong translations of it (ETA’s statements are always only written in Basque). Despite the usual critics there was a broad interest in the contents.
The pro-independence social democratic party Eusko Alkartasuna/Basque Solidarity welcomed the statement as positive and expressed its willingness to take steps towards a unified nationalist strategy based on a civil and political process.
Two days before the ETA’s statement the pro-independence trade union LAB organised a delegates’ rally with
1,200 in attendance. Addressing the audience the general secretary Ainhoa Etxaide encouraged political parties, trade unions and social organisations to reach political agreements to boost the democratic process. She said steps are being made and that they will be consolidated in the coming months. The LAB’s leader said this will be a decisive year.
During the rally they remembered the union’s former general secretary who was imprisoned in October along with Otegi and other leaders of the Pro-Independence Left. They also remembered the rest of the Basque political prisoners and the 89 workers who were killed last year in their workplace.