Thousands of Basques joined a rally in the Spanish coastal city of San Sebastian on Saturday (21 July) to show their support for a draft home rule statute.
Thousands of Basques joined a rally in the Spanish coastal city of San Sebastian on Saturday (21 July) to show their support for a draft home rule statute. Earlier in the week, a parliamentary commission in Madrid passed the statute for the Basque country, a move seen as a further step to reduce tension in the region. The demonstrators were also supporting a referendum to be held soon on the statute.
SYNOPSIS: The usual forest of banners blossomed among the demonstrators. Basque nationalists recently stepped up their campaign with a series of bombings in Spanish resort areas to hit at tourist revenue, which is crucial for Spain's troubled economy.
The parliamentary commission, with five weeks allocated to discuss the draft, had approved it after only one day, despite right-wing opposition. The draft offers the Basque people powers to raise their own taxes, to police the region, and to control education. The Basque delegate on the commission, Senor Javier Arzullus, had said the approval opened the way to a new kind of nation, and a new way of life.
The final vote on the draft statute on Saturday (21 July) had been unanimous after the leader of the extreme right-wing Fuerza Nueva (New Force) Party, Senor Blas Pinar, walked out. Nationalists called the draft a peace treaty with the government in Madrid. They said it was better than the short-lived autonomy statute obtained in 1936 before the late General Francisco Franco won the civil was three years later, and re-established a suppressive central government.