For the first time since the Spanish Civil War, nearly 40 years ago, the Basque people of Northern Spain have been able to celebrate their National Day with legal processions.
GV PAN Demonstrators with Basque banners marching and singing Basque songs
SCU PAN Band playing tune
GV Demonstrators with banners, marching (5 shots)
Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved
Background: For the first time since the Spanish Civil War, nearly 40 years ago, the Basque people of Northern Spain have been able to celebrate their National Day with legal processions. Since the death of Franco, the Spanish government has granted a number of concessions to the Basques, and to other groups in the country, towards greater autonomy. So on Sunday (26 March) hundreds of thousands of Basques took to the streets of celebrate.
SYNOPSIS: There sere simultaneous processions in the four Basque provincial capitals of Bilbao, San Sebastian, Victoria and Pamplona. Over half a million people were estimated to have taken part, carrying Basque banners, and singing traditional songs.
In Bilbao, the streets were festooned with the green, red and white colours of the Basques, their flags draped from virtually every building. Last December, the Spanish government granted the Basques provisional home rule, but plans for full autonomy are still not finalised.
Under Franco, all nationalist demonstrations were rigorously suppressed. In recent months, extreme groups have continued their campaign of violence to achieve an independent Basque country mor quickly. The marches themselves passed peacefully, but soon afterwards a number of bombs exploded in San Sebastian, in a government car pound. Fourteen people were injured. But for most people in the Basque country, the day was one for rejoicing.