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In a letter, dated April16, but only published by El Diario newspaper on Wednesday, “ETA announced that it has completely dissolved all its structures and has terminated its political initiative.”
ETA, which stands for “Euskadi Ta Askatasuna” or “Basque homeland and freedom,” was founded in 1959 in response to the frustration felt by Basques during the repressive regime of General Francisco Franco. Its aim was to gain independence from Spain and establish a state in the north of Spain and southwest France. Since 1959, ETA killed more than 800 people during a conflict that officially ended in 2011.
The group released a statement last month in which it apologized to the families of its victims, adding that it accepted “direct responsibility” for its crimes. “We know that we caused a lot of pain during that long period of armed struggle, including damage that can never be put right. We wish to show our respect for those who were killed or wounded by ETA and those who were affected by the conflict. We are truly sorry.”
The Spanish government said it would continue to pursue members of ETA, despite its self-declared dissolution. “The Spanish government has always maintained its position: ETA members didn’t achieve anything for stopping killing people and they won’t achieve anything for a declaration that they call ‘dissolution,'” Spanish Interior Minister Juan Ignacio Zoido told the Spanish news agency EFE. “Spanish security forces will continue chasing the terrorists wherever they are.”
But it insisted that the Basque conflict with Spain — and, to a lesser extent, France — “did not begin with ETA and does not end with the end of ETA’s journey.”