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Spain

Yearbook 1998

Spain. In September, the Basque terror group ETA (Euskadi ta Askatasuna) launched an unrestricted and unconditional ceasefire for the first time. ETA has previously declared a cessation of fire, but the group has then set conditions. The reaction of the Spanish government was cautiously optimistic. At year-end, ETA had not violated the ceasefire. Over the 30 years that ETA has fought for an independent Basque, over 800 people have been killed.

1998 Spain

According to Countryaah, Madrid Supreme Court sentenced former Security Minister José Luis Barrionuevo and Deputy Prime Minister Rafael Vera to ten years in prison for assisting the kidnapping of a French businessman in 1983. The action was the first attributed to the so-called death squadron GAL (Grupo Antiterrorista de Liberación), 1983 killed 27 people in search of supporters for ETA. Several of GAL's victims had nothing to do with ETA. Barrionuevo and Vera were convicted of funding the business with money from a secret budget. They were both defended by former Prime Minister Felipe González, who appealed the ruling to the Constitutional Court. González has assured him that he was not aware of GAL's activities that went on while he was the head of government.

Spain was hit by a major environmental disaster in the spring when a dam at the Los Frailes-owned mine of Boliden Apirsa near Seville erupted and several million tons of clay with arsenic, zinc, iron and heavy metal residues poured into the Guadiamar River. Parts of the poisoned water reached the bird sanctuary of Doñana. Several tons of dead fish floated up the river, and the crops on both beaches were destroyed. Boliden Apirsa agreed to pay SEK 50 million to the affected farmers for the lost harvest while denying that the company was responsible for the poisonous discharge.

In October, Spanish judge Baltasar Garzón demanded that Chile's dictator Augusto Pinochet be extradited to Spain. murder of Spanish nationals in Chile. Pinochet was then nursed at a hospital in London. Under Spanish law, it is possible to prosecute foreigners for genocide even if the crimes have been committed outside Spain. In addition, Spanish judges are entitled to their own sovereign law interpretation. Chile's ambassador to London, Mario Artaza, claimed that 82-year-old Pinochet enjoyed immunity because he was head of state at the time of the crimes. British Secretary of State Jack Straw handed the case over to the five House of Lords, who, with three votes against two, ruled that Pinochet could not be protected by his diplomatic immunity and that the issue of his extradition to Spain should be decided in a British extradition court in London.

Corruption scandals and terrorism

Spain experienced a series of political and economic scandals in the 1990s, which affected both the trade union movement, the banking system and public authorities. A number of people were convicted of corruption, several associated with the ruling Socialist Party. A surveillance scandal in 1995 led to the resignation of both the Minister of Defense and the intelligence chief.

For Felipe González, the most serious case was the revelations about the so-called "dirty war", that is, the activities of the secret organization GAL, which in the years 1983-1987 is said to have killed 23 alleged ETA members. Several police officers were convicted of their affiliation with the GAL, but from 1994 there were also allegations of a possible link between the government and the GAL. Two former high-ranking officials in the Interior Ministry were arrested. Prime Minister González rebuffed that his government should have had something to do with GAL, but several later revelations pointed in the opposite direction. The case became a burden for González and was instrumental in the re-election that led to his departure. By then, the interior minister had already had to step down; he was later indicted for his position with GAL.

At the same time, the Basque separatist organization ETA continued its violent line of bombing and kidnapping of prominent businessmen demanding ransom. The organization killed several high-ranking military, and in 1995 ETA plans for an attack on King Juan Carlos were revealed; the same year, an attempted assault against José María Aznar failed. Following cooperation between French and Spanish police, several ETA members were arrested in the 1990s. However, this only led to ETA stepping up its activities, where, among other things, ETA kidnapped politicians to release imprisoned ETA members. In the autumn of 1996, ETA's alleged leader was arrested in France.

The situation peaked in the summer of 1997, when a local politician from the ruling People's Party in the city of Ermua near Bilbao, Miguel Ángel Blanco, was kidnapped by ETA. Despite appeals from, among others, the Spanish Crown Prince and the Pope, Blanco was found murdered. This triggered spontaneous actions, including the destruction of several offices of ETA's political wing Herri Batasuna. During Blanco's funeral, a total of six million people across Spain participated in demonstrations against terrorism. Herri Batasuna was tried in isolation politically, and the entire central board was sentenced to long prison sentences. The party resurfaced in 1999 under the name Euskal Herritarrok, though with minimal support in the subsequent elections.

New terror and political shaking

ETA terror flared up again in the early 2000s, despite declarations of ceasefire and some progress in attempts to get real peace talks started - and despite the fact that the Conservative People's Party (PP) and José María Aznar won a clear victory at the 2000 parliamentary elections on promises of a hard line over ETA. In a new election to the Basque parliament the following year, moderate nationalist Juan José Ibarretxes party PNV became dominant.

March 11, 2004, Spain met its " September 11 ". Synchronized terrorist attacks in three places against the railroad into Madrid in the morning rush hour were one of the worst in Europe in peacetime, with 191 dead and over 1800 injured. The Aznar government immediately blamed ETA, which just as clearly refused to have anything to do with the action. The country's embassies around the world were mobilized to spread the government's version. At the government's initiative, mass demonstrations were held in several major cities, including the UN condemned the "ETA terror" after a lobbying operation that Spain later regretted.

There was political agreement to allow the general elections, which would take place three days later, to proceed as normal; however, the election campaign was halted. But now it seemed clear that the Islamist terrorist organization al-Qaeda was behind the train bombs, which was seen in the context of Spain's involvement in the Iraq war, and it became a prevailing belief that Aznar had sought to lead people behind for political reasons. light. This resulted in a defeat for the People's Party. Socialist Party (PSOE) José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero formed a new government, otherwise historically with 50 percent female ministers.

The Zapatero government announced a swift dismantling of the disputed Iraqi engagement and that the fight against terror should now be based on European cooperation and military action with the UN secret. Furthermore, a turn was made, from Aznar's close ties to the United States and "back to the heart of Europe", as it was called in the government statement. The resignation of the Aznar government was considered to help the EU politicians agree shortly on their new constitutional treaty. The Spanish referendum on the EU constitution gave 77 per cent yes votes (though with low turnout) to the treaty that later failed in polls in other countries.

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