Sortu advances in zigzag | Spain


Members of Sortu and EH Bildu receive with applause the former head of ETA Mikel Antza upon his arrival to testify in the investigation of the murder of Gregorio Ordóñez, on December 21, in San Sebastián.
Members of Sortu and EH Bildu receive with applause the former head of ETA Mikel Antza upon his arrival to testify in the investigation of the murder of Gregorio Ordóñez, on December 21, in San Sebastián.Unanue (Europa Press)

Two months after Arnaldo Otegi acknowledged that there should never have been pain to the victims of ETA terrorism, and a month after the group of prisoners of that organization advocated for the elimination of the welcome (public tributes to the released ETA members) in order not to add more pain to their victims, there have been two events: Sortu – the successor party of the former political arm of ETA – expresses its “support and solidarity” to Mikel Antza, alleged political head of ETA between 1992 and 2004, to which the National High Court has just opened a new case; and, at the same time, paves the way for the last spokesman of the terrorist organization, David Pla, to enter his direction.

These are movements that affect Bildu – the nationalist coalition where Sortu is a member – which knows that, although its statutes reject terrorism today, it will not have a full democratic homologation until Sortu recognizes that it should not have supported ETA’s claim to use violence to achieve political goals in a democracy.

Sortu advances in a zigzag. The latest movements make a setback visible and are explained internally. The party leadership, which controls the group related to Arnaldo Otegi and which promoted the rejection of terrorism more than a decade ago, faces a congress in January with a critical sector of 22%, suspicious of the institutionalization of the nationalist party.

Sortu’s leadership, in a gesture of authority, has prevented the recognition of these critics as an internal current, and Pla’s entry into his leadership would reinforce the official positions by being aligned with them, they point out in the nationalist party. In addition, Pla does not provoke the same level of rejection from the victims of terrorism that other ETA members provoke, as it lacks crimes of blood. It is linked to the final stage of ETA, in which he was the spokesperson and was a member of the delegation that waited for the Government in Oslo to prepare for the disarmament and dissolution of the terrorist group.

However, Mikel Antza, alleged political head of ETA at the stage of the so-called socialization of suffering, one of the blackest in ETA’s history, arouses wide rejection. Sortu explains his support for Antza because he has already been sentenced in France to 20 years in prison, of which he has served 15, and opposes the opening of new cases – the last one, relating to the murder of the deputy mayor of the San Sebastian City Council, Gregorio Ordoñez, promoted by Dignity and Justice.

Sortu knows that it must respect the operation of the rule of law. His official attitude and the internal pressures reveal that it will be difficult for him to take the fundamental step that he has pending, once the end of terrorism has been achieved: to recognize that ETA should not have used it to achieve political objectives in a democracy.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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