Essay on Basque ETA

Published: 2021/11/05
Number of words: 1401

Terrorism is a threat to any nation in the world. The study and analysis of terror movements, their formations, their ideologies and their operations is a crucial step in promoting and maintaining national peace and cohesion. The vice results in loss of many lives each year. It may take place in any country irrespective of power and location. For instance, in Spain, political terrorism executed by Basque ETA has in the past left Spaniards leaving in constant fear. Basque ETA is a powerful movement with a place in Spain’s history that one cannot ignore.

National Terrorism

National terrorism is a type of terrorist activity motivated by the spirit of nationalism (Sanchez, 2007). Domestic terrorism takes place when terrorists seek to form a self-determination that may entail obtaining significant autonomy for some territory. The combination of the territorial claims and the armed struggle by the national terrorists give rise to a particular strategy and violence intended to coerce the state. The domestic terrorists repeatedly kill with an aim to establish a wholly independent nation or separatism (Sanchez, 2007). The primary element that distinguishes political terrorism from other forms of terrorism is the territorial claim. National terrorists engage in a war of attrition with their state as a way of gaining a permanent autonomy of some territory (Sanchez, 2007). Mobilization of people against the state also distinguishes political terrorism from other forms of terrorism. The national terrorists use propaganda to encourage people to join their movement. Ethnic terrorism is a different type of terrorism in that terrorists in such a case seek to influence their constituencies as opposed to the country as a whole (Bayman, 1998).

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Basque ETA

The Basques are a culturally distinct Christian group that straddles the mountainous region between modern-day Spain and France (Basque, 2017). They do not have their independent state and have been enjoying a minimal amount of autonomy over the centuries under the French and Spanish rule. Basque ETA is an indigenous ethnic group which characterized by the Basque language, a common culture and a shared ancestry with the old Vascones and Aquitanians (Brescó de Luna, 2017). The group has a distinct ethnicity different from that of the other Spaniards. The reason for this is that unlike their neighbors, the Basque militants speak a different and unique language that also varies significantly from others in Europe (Brescó de Luna, 2017).

The goal of Basque ETA is to win self-independence for a Basque state in Northern Spain and Southwestern France (Sanchez, 2007). The group was mainly formed to counter the suppression of the Basque language and culture. The ideologies of Basque ETA focus primarily on excluding those who don’t believe wholeheartedly in the total autonomy of the Basque region. They have adopted a radical leftish stance on the freedom of their homeland. Their identity as a separate group of people means they view outsiders as people who are against their cause and as such consider them enemies (“To Kill a Stranger,” 2017). It is this ideology that made them believe that violent uprising was the only method that could lead to their freedom (Gill, Horgan & Deckert, 2013). To demand its independence, ETA carries out well-organized military attacks against the Spanish administration.

Most of the Basque ETA’s victims are government officials, with the first victim being the police chief who got killed in 1968 (Basque 2017). Even though the movement fights against the government and that it issues warnings to civilians before attacking, some of the victims of its constant attacks are civilians. To frustrate the government, Basque ETA resorts to crude methods of paralyzing the Spanish economy by targeting Spain’s tourist attractions, most recently the group bombed buses along Spain’s tourist-packed Costa del Sol, such attacks have cost the Spaniard government around eleven billion dollars between the year 1994 and 2003 (Basque 2017).

Initially, Basque ETA was an armed leftist group that was founded in the year 1959 during the Francoist dictatorship and later evolved from being a promoter traditional culture to a paramilitary group organization that engaged in violent campaigns entailing bombings, kidnappings, and assassinations throughout the Spanish territory. ETA was the leading group within the Basque national liberation movement and the most important participant in the Basque conflict. Initially, Basque ETA was a splinter group of the youth organization of the Basque Nationalist Party. At first, Basque ETA was a national organization. Later on, it adopted a Marxist or socialist dimension and was involved in some killings during the dictatorship in Spain (Sanchez, 2007).

In the year 1974, a short period before Franco’s death, Basque ETA split into two organizations, the military ETA and the political wing called political-military ETA (Sanchez, 2007). The primary reason for the split was the strategies made after the end of Francois dictatorship. The ETA political-military was of the opinion that armed struggle and active political participation in the new democratic system would complement each other. On the other side, the ETA military held the idea that the organization should invest all its resources in the armed struggle. 1981 saw ETA political, military group renounce the use of violence after yielding to electoral politics.

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The ETA military has committed 774 out of the 832 killings done by the entire Basque nationals (Sanchez, 2007). ETA Basque has set off a series of attacks with the most notable one being the car bombings in Vitoria and Madrid injuring one hundred people. In May 2002, they bombed Santiago Bernabeu stadium and wounded seventeen people (Basque 2017). In March 2004, on the eve of the Spanish national election, ETA group planted bombs in commuter trains which later exploded killing over two hundred people and seriously injured over one (Basque 2017). In December 2006, ETA military was put in the spotlight again after they set up a car bomb in the parking area at an airport terminal in Madrid killing two people and injuring nineteen others. Basque ETA is no longer an active group; this is after the Spanish government agreed to hold talks with the group’s members that saw them abandon their weapons (Basque 2017). There have been numerous calls for a permanent ceasefire by the group’s militias with the most notable one being in (Basque 2017). The team also called for all the Basque citizens to participate in the political process to restore peace and justice. There have been confirmations that ETA’s strength has waned over the years (Basque 2017). Basque ETA constitutes a national terrorism group. The radicalism exhibited by Basque ETA is meant to obtain independence from a more extensive state, where they feel oppressed and suppressed. Their motivating factor is the spirit of nationalism and self-determination. The radical strategies adopted by ETA are meant to coerce the Spanish state into granting them freedom.


The rise of Basque ETA as a national terrorism movement had a significant effect on the Spanish government. Basque ETA had reasons to rise against the Spanish state. Their primary goal was liberation and they ideology was socialism. The group later split into two parts and engaged in violent killings of civilians and government officials over the years. They speak a different language which makes them distinct from other Spaniards. Over time, the group had minimized its aggression and agreed to hold talks with the Spanish government which later resulted to a ceasefire. Though the effects of the various attacks executed are still felt, the movement is no longer active. The study of the creation and development of such a terror movement helps the government in promoting national cohesion and avoiding such a violent uprising.


Sanchez,C. (2007) ETA and IRA national Terror

Bayman. (1998) Logic of ethnic terror

(2017). Retrieved 24 October 2017, from http://Basque Fatherland and Liberty (ETA) (Spain, separatists, Euskadi ta Askatasuna)

Brescó de Luna, I. (2017). From militant voices to militant irony: Examining identity, memory and conflict in the Basque country. Europe’s Journal of Psychology, 13(3), pp.548-558

Sherrieb, K. and Norris, F. (2012). Public Health Consequences of Terrorism on Maternal–Child Health in New York City and Madrid. Journal of Urban Health, 90(3), pp.369-387.

Gill, P., Horgan, J., & Deckert, P. (2013). Bombing Alone: Tracing the Motivations and Antecedent Behaviors of Lone-Actor Terrorists,,. Journal Of Forensic Sciences59(2), 425-435.

To Kill a Stranger. (2017). Vimeo. Retrieved 25 October 2017, from

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