Thousands of workers went on strike in Spain's northern Basque country on Monday (27 September) to back demands for amnesty for political prisoners.
Thousands of workers went on strike in Spain's northern Basque country on Monday (27 September) to back demands for amnesty for political prisoners. The strike also coincided with the first anniversary of the execution of five Basque nationalists last year.
SYNOPSIS: In Bilbao, widely regarded as the Basque capital, police cordoned off the streets as thousands of people took to the streets in a noisy demonstration. The riot police were reinforced from nearby cities in case of troubles after the provincial governor called the strike organisers "subversive and terrorists". Many of the strikers carried pictures of the five Basque nationals who were executed on the orders of the late General Franco last September.
The day before the strike there was a memorial service for those executed at the nearby Basque village of Nuarbe.
Monday's strike was widespread and steel plants and shipyards in Bilbao came to a halt as workers held meetings. Traffic almost came to a halt in the normally busy port area and strike pickets called on shops and offices telling them to close. According to Reuters some workers were cautious about leaving their factories and joining the march as they feared being beaten or shot by riot police. Some also argued that fresh police violence would be countered with more strikes which might badly cripple the Basque economy.
But generally most shops opened only briefly to allow housewives to buy their day's food supplies and them closed. During similar strikes two weeks ago local industrialists in the province of Vizcaya said that the stoppages had cost the economy 3,000 million pesetas (25 million pounds sterling).