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Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Basque Nationalist Left debates new strategy

This seems to be a good deal of what was going on behind the scenes when the latest inquisitorial round up happened in Donostia a week ago: Batasuna is launching an internal debate with what seem to be quite novel proposals and the Spanish government is just stuck and content in its process of Turkish-style repression and undemocratic administration.

According to Gara this new proposal talks in terms of a new cycle headed to the resolution of the political conflict, process that should be democratic and centered in the decission of the Basque citizenship and that, importantly, should happen without any violence or external interference.

It is notable that the document makes a self-criticism of the previous failed peace process of 2005-07 in the sense that they used to follow the so-called "Argel parameters" (for the also failed negotiation of Argel in the 1980s): concession in the armed struggle issue in exchange for a democratic frame (self-determination). In other words: weapons for freedom. They argue that this happened because the political bloc had issues of cohesion during the truce, specially as it was quite obvious that the Spanish government was not making any concessions.

They also mention that while there are positive new elements, there are also negative ones, like social evolution itself. They warn that the speed of such changes is faster than that of the liberation process. The positive elements are said to be the international context (crash of globalization and speculative capitalism, advance of the Left in Latin America, acceptance of some independentist proposals like those of Greenland, Scotland or Quebec), as well as the local one (exhaustion of the autonomical frame, weakening of the political hegemony of the Basque Christian-Democrats or the unity of action acheieved in the North, as well as the increase of independentist initiatives in specially Catalonia but also in the Basque Country itself). The labor unions' support of the essentials of the Nationalist Left's goals and proposals is also percieved as a very important supportive element that should not be wasted.

The new proposed focus seems to be in the so-called democratic process, which is vaguely defined as the procedure to change the current "game rules" and to carry the confrontation to parameters in which the Nationalist Left will be stronger and more efficient. Emphasis is made in that such democratic process is not limited to negotiation and does not depend on it but that it follows its own dynamics that are described as gradual.

The pillars for such process would be accumulation of forces, change in force correlation and national construction. This is further detailed as four steps: rally the Nationalist Left, build an independentist bloc, create a popular wall against the attacks from the state and re-create negotiation.

The first of these pillars is described as urgent, and leaves a feeling of wanting to rebuild ties with the breakaway party Aralar, which has improved somewhat its electoral results (while not even remotely approaching the historical levels of the Nationalist Left before ilegalization). The emphasis in being legal as central goal around this pillar makes me think that they are feeling nostalgic of the time when they could still rule towns and be decissively influential in other elected bodies.

The overall tone of this proposal seems to be in leaving somehow the armed struggle out of the equation and in emphasizing political action. However, in my opinion, the democratic process seems to be lacking in any specific plan of action, such as switching to a strategy of nonviolent disobedience or mere wishful parliamentarism that will probably go nowhere?

It is my impression that this debate could cause some greater loss of cohesion within the Nationalist Left. After all, most followers are there because ETA has been and still is, sadly enough, the only one really facing the state, while the parliamentary action so far has been totally powerless and pissed at by Madrid, where the will of the Basque People has no legal currency (after all Basques are only some 6% of the Spanish population).

I suspect that while Spain does not offer a realistic alternative to ETA as expression of the Basque popular will for self-rule, it may not matter what debates are held, because there will always be an important sector that just finds making politics in such a restrictive frame as something meaningless and idiotic.

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