The Basque Region and It’s Pursuit for Autonomy

Flikr. Retrieved January 26, 2011.

The people of Spain’s Basque region have long fought for their independence and have not had the most minute intent to stop until the task is accomplished. Subsequent to Franco, the region did enjoy a certain degree of autonomy, but beginning in 1950, the Basques could no longer be suppressed and a move for independence officially began. The most infamous group that has unquestioningly made the most significant impact for the cause and has triggered endless controversy has been ETA, Euskadi ta Askatasuna, which means “Basque Fatherland and Liberty”. ETA has been deemed one of Western Europe’s most active terrorist organizations, carrying out some 1,600 attacks and killing around 800 people. The Council on Foreign Relations lists these attacks as costing the Spanish government nearly 11 billion dollars from 1994 to 2003 alone (1). The group has targeted civilians, city buses, government officials, the King of Spain, and tourist attractions, along with numerous others.

Both ETA and the Spanish government have attempted to negotiate the desire of the Basque region in a peaceful and democratic way but to no avail. The Ibarretxe plan, put forth by Juan Jose Ibarretxe, the Basque leader, was designed to gain total independence for the region.

Geography 101. Retrieved January 26, 2011.

Overwhelmingly, however, it was rejected in 2005 by parliament, 313 to 29, and was said to be unconstitutional and contrary to the will of most Spaniards, stated The Washington Post’s Pamela Rolfe (2). Had it been accepted, the plan would have created separate judicial and financial systems from that of Spain.


Although the Spanish government has attempted peaceful negotiations with ETA, and despite various attempts at cease fires, ETA continues to be a continual lethal threat, even though it’s strength has waned over the years. Nevertheless, this region’s fight for independence has not ceased, for the will of the its people to continue striving for autonomy remains a constant goal.


1. Council on Foreign Relations. (November 17, 2008). “Basque Fatherland and Liberty (ETA)
(Spain, separatists, Euskadi ta Askatasuna).” Retrieved January 22, 2011 from the
Council on Foreign Relations website:

2. Rolfe, Pamela. (February 2, 2005). “Spain Rejects Proposal On Basque Independence.”
Retrieved January 22, 2011 from the Washington Post website:


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