Basque separatist group ETA announces dissolution and end to political initiative

The Basque militant group ETA announced that it will dissolve completely and end its political initiative, according to a letter published on Wednesday, May 2 by the Spanish newspaper El Diario.

In the letter dated April 16, ETA said it “has completely dissolved all of its structures and declared an end to its political initiative.”

“ETA has decided to declare its historical cycle and functions terminated, putting an end to its journey,” the letter added.

The group was expected to announce the move this week after Alberto Spektorowski, a mediator with the International Contact Group, told Basque radio on April 19 that the ETA dissolution would be announced “on May 5 or 6,” barring any surprises.

Update, May 3: In a “final” statement dated May 3, ETA said it “wished to end a cycle of the conflict between the Basque Country and the Spanish and French states, the cycle of the use of political violence.”

ETA waged a nearly four-decade fight for an independent Basque state that killed at least 829 people before it announced a permanent ceasefire in 2011. Last year it went a step further and laid down its arms.

The organisation, which is thought to have 20-30 members in hiding as well as just over 300 behind bars, has traditionally made key decisions following internal debates.

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy’s conservative government had demanded ETA ask for forgiveness and disband. He has also said there will be no impunity for ETA crimes or “favored treatment” for former members.

The Basque Country is due to hold local elections in May 2019.

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