INTRODUCTION: In Spain, the government has made a symbolic, though significant, concession to northern basque nationalists by allowing them to hoist their own flag at town halls all over the region.
INTRODUCTION: In Spain, the government has made a symbolic, though significant, concession to northern basque nationalists by allowing them to hoist their own flag at town halls all over the region. The flag, which was banned for forty years by General Franco as a symbol of separatism, was flying outside official buildings throughout the four Basque provinces on Wednesday (19 January).
SYNOPSIS: In the northern port of San Sebastian, thousands of basque revellers celebrated in the main square and displayed the flag, known as the Ikurrina. And there were similar celebrations in many other towns. Shops, which had previously sold the flag surreptitiously, were doing a roaring and open trade, and department stores said they had placed huge orders with manufacturers.
Until recently, the distinctive red, white and green flag was used by Basque extremists to lure policemen into booby traps, and during the Franco era anyone daring to fly it faced immediate arrest. Now, the police have reportedly been ordered not to take any action.
The Ikurrina will be tolerated by the authorities as long as the red and gold Spanish national flag is given preference. Permission to fly the Basque emblem was granted during a visit by Basque mayors to Madrid on Tuesday (18 January). But the decision was unpopular with some administrators and the civil governors of the two main basque provinces are reported to have resigned in protest.