ETA or Euskadi Ta Askatasuna "Basque Homeland and Freedom") is an armed Basque nationalist and separatist organization. The group was founded in 1959 and has since evolved from a group promoting traditional Basque culture to a paramilitary group with the goal of gaining independence for the Greater Basque Country. ETA is the main organization of the Basque National Liberation Movement and is the most important participant in the Basque conflict. ETA declared ceasefires in 1989, 1996, 1998 and 2006, but subsequently restarted killing. However, in 2011, ETA declared a "permanent, general and verifiable" ceasefire with the expressed aim of ending its campaign.
ETA's motto is Bietan jarrai ("Keep up on both"), referring to the two figures in its symbol, a snake (representing politics) wrapped around an axe (representing armed struggle).
Since 1968, ETA has been blamed for killing 829 individuals, injured thousands and undertaken dozens of kidnappings. The group is proscribed as a terrorist organization by the Spanish and French authorities, as well as the European Union as a whole, and the United States. This convention is followed by a plurality of domestic and international media, which also refer to the group as "terrorists". More than 700 members of the organization are incarcerated in prisons in Spain, France, and other countries.
From first blood to ceasefire
Euskadi Ta Askatasuna ("Basque Homeland and Freedom"), the Basque separatist terror group better known as ETA, announced that a ceasefire it had declared in September was "permanent". The Spanish government responded skeptically; ETA's last "permanent" ceasefire lasted less than a year.
The group's latest declaration was made from a position of weakness. Sophisticated police operations have resulted in a string of arrests in recent years, sapping the group’s manpower and morale; the Spanish government’s decision to ban parties associated with ETA has left violent Basque separatism marginalized politically; and the group has struggled to find younger members to replenish its ranks.
ETA's ceasefire declaration was, in part, the result of pressure from Basque nationalists who have lost faith in the efficacy of the violent struggle. A new Basque-separatist party, Sortu, has explicitly distanced itself from ETA and is hoping that judges will allow it to register.
ETA has been responsible for 58 deaths since 2000; in the late 1970s it regularly killed more than that in a single year. In the course of its 52-year campaign to create an independent Basque homeland, charted in the timeline below, it has taken over 820 lives.