Basques

Mass strike in Catalonia; Franco-nostalgia in Spain

Hundreds of thousands filled the streets of Barcelona as a general strike was called Oct. 3 to protest "grave violation of rights and freedoms" by Spanish security forces during the vote on independence for Catalonia two days earlier—when close to a thousand people were injured as Civil Guard troops dispatched by Madrid used rubber bullets and tear-gas in an attempt to prevent the poll from taking place. The strike was widely honored; the city's port was shut down, and Barcelona's metro lines cut to a 25% service during rush hour and no trains at all at other times. Street traffic was snarled by barricades erected by protesters on major arteries, with hand-painted banners reading "Occupation forces get out!"

ETA still wants independent Basque Country

Separatist group Basque Homeland & Liberty (ETA) said in an April 16 communique that it has not abandoned its goal of an independent Basque state along the French-Spanish border despite giving up its arms. The statement published in the Basque newspaper Gara said disarmament "wasn't going to be a bargaining chip, but rather a way to show the intransigence of the [Spanish and French] states and to further the independence movement." It added that the separatist group has entered a phase in which it would take "decisions from among all its members for moving forward." The statement comes two weeks after ETA gave French authorities a list of eight arms caches at locations in the Pyrenees, said to represent the last of the group's weapons. A citizen International Verification Commission served as a liaison between ETA and the authorities.

Spain: demand justice in 1976 Vitória massacre

The Association of Victims of March 3 in Vitória, Spain, marked the 37th anniversary of the massacre at the Basque Country city with a public demonstration demanding that the Madrid government officially recognize the facts of the incident, which they say have been excised from the history of the democratic transition after the death of dictator Francisco Franco. The demonstration was coordinated with protests against Spain's pending neoliberal education reform, which brought 3,000 to Vitória's streets. Similar numbers were reported in Bilbao, the largest city in the Basque Country, or Euskal Herria.

Police fire on Occupy Madrid

Spanish police in Madrid fired rubber bullets and baton-charged "indignado" protesters holding an "Occupy Congress" action against a new round of announced austerity measures the night of Sept. 25. The clashes broke out as protesters tried to tear down barriers blocking access to the parliament building, where legislators were voting to approve the austerity package. Spanish media reported that at least 20 people arrested and more than a dozen injured. Cleared from the gates of the parliament building, the protesters retreated to nearby Plaza de Neptuno, which they continued to hold for hours, yelling "Shame!" and "Resign!" toward the parliament chambers.

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