Police Shooting Adds to Tension
March 15, 2004 7:06 AM   Subscribe

A police shooting in País Basquo led to rioting and rubber bullets on Saturday just hours before the Spanish elections. Reports say that Angel Berroeta was shot for not placing a sign in his shop window that read, "ETA NO."
posted by shmuel (6 comments total)
The tensions in País Basquo are unimaginable to me. Although I have heard over and over again ETA is not the Basques I think the Basque people take the accusations that have been flying the past few days personally.

On the other hand the Guardian does something that would make most Madrileños cringe: they describe ETA as a, "Basque separatist guerrilla organisation." Here in Madrid, and I suspect across the country, ETA is not regarded as anything but terrorists. They have killed too many people (including civilians) to be thought of as anything else here.
posted by shmuel at 7:21 AM on March 15, 2004

Looks like one police officer found the perfect time to shoot someone he didn't like.
posted by spazzm at 8:10 AM on March 15, 2004

I think it was sic who mentioned this shooting in another thread. Jawdropping news, thanks for the followup.
posted by dabitch at 8:36 AM on March 15, 2004

País Vasco (or Basque country in English or Euskadi in the Basque language, Euskera) has always been a hot spot, but the past four years with the arrogant, insulting and provactive politics of Aznar and the ever-bullheaded nature of the basque themselves it has become a real pressure cooker. One of the reasons that the radical element survives is because the government has, in turn, become just as radical. As you can imagine that in some pueblos the neighbors despise each other because they now that one is a state policeman and another is an ETA sympathizer and another is a militant in the Partido Popular another is a militant in PNV (non-violent basque nationalist party) etc.

This situation is very dangerous and the story is always more complex than at first glance: one thing that the Guardian article left out is that the murdered shopowner is the father of a convicted Etarra (ETA terrorist; and yes they are terrorists not separatists) serving time and most likely was a Batasuna/ETA sympathizer himself (I mean in spirit, not as a terrorist himself). Knowing this, because they were neighbors, the wife of the policeman tried to force him to hang an ETA NO sign in his shop, he refused and apparently a very heavy argument ensued. She went and got her policeman husband, who most likely in a murderous mood because the goverment was claiming that ETA had just murdered 200 people in Madrid, so went to his neighbor's shop and shot him dead. He then turned himself in to the police.

Other Batasuna/ETA sympathizers/neighbors showed up to see what was happening and began to protest. More police came. Two young protesters tried to hang an ikurriña (a basque national flag- a highly charged symbol) with a black bow on it, just as the rest of Spain has been displaying a black bow on the national flag as an homage to the victims of the terrorist attack. The police ripped down the flag and caused the crowd to riot. Rubber bullets and arrests. An all too familiar story the past four years in Euskadi.

Now I firmly believe that most radical basques feel sorry for the "innocent deaths" in Madrid. These people see themselves at "war" with the Spanish state and to live with the violence that ETA creates and that they support they make distinctions between "legitimate targets" and civilians. So maybe the bow on the ikurriña was meant as an homage, but maybe it was meant as a provocation. I hate to guess in the País Vasco.

The only thing that is clear is that the ex-government had much to do with creating the current highly charged atmosophere in Eusakadi. In these elections Batasuna the illegalized political arm of ETA called on its supports to cast blank ballots and it has been reported that that 100,000 blank ballots were cast in Euskadi. To put that in perspective PNV, the leading vote getter in Euskadi got just over 400,000 votes. There is much more of these people than the ex-government cared to admit...
posted by sic at 10:31 AM on March 15, 2004

Sic, thanks for the information. BTW, what part of Spain do you live in? Is there a way that I can contact you or read more of your thoughts? I really appreciated what you had to say.
posted by shmuel at 12:02 PM on March 16, 2004

Thanks for the compliment, Shmuel. I no longer live on the peninsula, I live in Tenerife, Canary Islands, ever since I married a canarian woman 5 years ago. The island life is great, but sometimes I feel cut off from the big events, like the massive anti-war protests (although we had a few decent sized ones here) and of course the spontaneous protests on Saturday against the media manipulation of the media.

If you ever want to chat about Spain, politics, literature, jazz or history feel free to drop me a line. I'm not a bonafide expert in any of those subjects, but I certainly like to talk about them...

I'll post an email in my profile....

un saludo.
posted by sic at 2:00 PM on March 16, 2004

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