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Wednesday, 13 September, 2000, 12:31 GMT 13:31 UK
Analysis: Spain's elusive separatists
ETA rally
ETA ended its ceasefire last December

By Daniel Schweimler

The Spanish public has been putting great pressure on the authorities to take action against ETA and its political supporters.

They have had enough of the seemingly continuous violence which is carried out all over Spain.

Twelve killings this year have been blamed on the separatist organisation, following the end of its 14-month ceasefire late last year.

The dawn raids in northern Spain and Madrid were dramatic - especially as they were ordered and co-ordinated by the judge, Baltasar Garzon, who has conducted a long legal campaign against ETA and its supporters.

Judge Garzon
High profile Judge Garzon was behind the operation
ETA's command was broken up in 1992 - it was based in France at the time.

And the leadership of ETA's political wing, Herri Batasuna, was jailed a few years later only to be released on a technicality last July.

Each time the authorities said they had dealt a major blow against the illegal organisation, each time ETA struck back with a renewed campaign of bombings and shootings.

Elusive organisation

The organisation of ETA is deliberately designed to confuse the authorities.

It has been run from abroad - previously France and now possibly by exiles in Latin America.

It is broken into self-sufficient cells which have only the most tenuous links with the leadership.

The latest arrests will enable the Spanish authorities to show the public that they are being tough on terrorism.

But periods of toughness in the Basque region often result in more disaffected youngsters joining ETA - convinced they are being misunderstood and persecuted by Madrid.

No-one in Spain will be under any illusion that ETA's 30-year violent campaign for an independent homeland is over - in fact many will be more guarded than ever.

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12 Aug 00 | Europe
Rally for ETA dead
29 Aug 00 | Europe
Basque killing condemned
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