INTRODUCTION: The new political climate in Spain has led to an amnesty for many political prisoners and official blessing from the authorities for political parties, for the first time in 40 years, to hold authorised mass meetings.
INTRODUCTION: The new political climate in Spain has led to an amnesty for many political prisoners and official blessing from the authorities for political parties, for the first time in 40 years, to hold authorised mass meetings. Not since the time of the Spanish Civil War has there been such great activity on the political front -- and none more so than in the troubled Basque region where Basque nationalist guerrillas have renewed their of violence for independence from Spain.
SYNOPSIS: In the Basque city of Pamplona on Sunday (27 March), 6,000 people met for the first legal assembly of the Basque Nationalist Party since 1937. The party demand for an independent Basque state has been rejected by the Spanish Government. However, that didn't deter the Basques from celebrating their first official congress since the government of the late dictator, General Francisco Franco.
The celebrations took place against a background of renewed tension following the deaths of two Basques in a clash with police three weeks ago. The Basques nationalist guerrilla movement, E.T.A., retaliated by shooting dead three civil guards.
The Basque nationalist leader, Senor Julio Jauregui, appealed to his supporters for calm while the negotiations with the Spanish authorities continue. The government in Madrid has indicated that some form of autonomy might be possible - while Senor Jauregui has warned the Basques will become ungovernable unless they get home rule. He said that if the government didn't give way there would be total disrespect for the authorities with more Basques joining the guerrillas.
The veteran Basque politician, Senor Manuel Irujo, made a surprise appearance before the assembly and received a hero's welcome. Senor Irujo only returned to Spain last week after almost 40 years in exile. A minister in the short lived Basque Republic, he was forced to flee when the Spanish Republican Government fell to the forces of General Franco. The assembly ended with a declaration by the Basque nationalist Party that nothing but self rule would satisfy their demands.