English-language version of Luistxo Fernandez's blog
So, ETA ended its war. The ergative energy worked. Even Tony Blair had something prepared for the occasion, though he couldn't come to town. Fresh air in the city. A sense of relief for almost everybody, that's what I feel among the Basques. Lots of interesting analysis and posts have been written over the last days, and one feature in common among those that are most interesting (imho) is that they've been written from a personal point of view. I have some examples in Spanish at hand, if you can read the language: Juan Carlos Etxeberria, Mitxel Ezkiaga and Ander Iza. (3 journalists).
I feel like I could also write from that perspective, 'cause this also has affected my life (I'm 44). But I'm not in the mood. There will be pieces from our lives that won't be written.
Will I or my two children see an independent Basque Country some day? I want that to happen. The defeat of ETA was a prerequisite for that, I believe.
Some newspapers, this friday. A photo that had to be taken long ago, by a fine Basque photographer, Juan González Andrés, El Humilde Fotero del Pánico.
Tomorrow, just some steps from my home in Donostia, there will be an International Conference to try to solve the Basque Conflict, well, don't know exactly the title. It will be held in the Aiete palace, this nice building in white in the photo. That was a residency for Generalisimo Franco during the spanish fascist dictatorship. One year ago it turned into a House of Peace, and it also sports a very creative subterranean extension, which is the cultural center of the neighborhood (nice work by the architects in Isuuru).
The Conference will gather big names: Kofi Annan, former PMs of Ireland and Norway Bertie Ahern and Gro Harlem Brundtland, Gerry Adams, former french Defence and Interior minister Pierre Joxe, and Gerry Adams as well. There was speculation that Tony Blair would come, but they say he couldn't, yet a close aide of him, Jonathan Powell, will be present.
Basque parties will meet with them, and it's expected that a common document or statement will arise from the Conference, hopefully signed for all. That document has already been baked, as they say, but the scenery is also important, I guess. Point 1 of that declaration, sources say, is already clear: ask ETA to cease all activity for once and ever.
I am hopeful with the situation in the Basque Country. Seems that ETA is going to vanish finally. That's important. It should have happened many years ago. It's late, but let's rejoice. Problems will not be solved immediatly with ETA gone: 10 years of anti-democratic measures in Spain, sold as anti-terror measures, have left a state in which political association is not guaranteed, prisoners of conscience are on jail after farcical political trials, and prison terms have been made longer and harder than in Franco's time.
But, as I say, I am hopeful. And I wish we could give these visitors a warm welcome so they help us as much as possible. A brilliant Basque cartoonist, Patxi Huarte aka Zaldieroa (CrazyHorse), has depicted a series of comics these days, with one of his favourite characters (the 'Basque nice taliban', sort of very funny local grammar nazi):
So, the nice Taliban will host the opening welcome ceremony. He sings one Mikel Laboa tune (an iconoclast of Basque music), also dances the Aurresku (a salutation dance, that seems to have impacted John Cleese from Monty Python years ago). But the funniest one is the first line, the initial greeting: "May the Ergative be with you". The translator explains that to the visitors, "the Ergative is a powerful Basque energy"! LOL. It's just a feature of Basque grammar, a tricky one maybe, which I tried to explain on my own terms some years ago in this blog: Ergativity: murder is just transitive death (also featuring John Cleese & Monty Python).
As for the conference, not much info in English. Maybe the BBC or someone will tell something tomorrow. Lokarri, a Basque pro-peace movement, has some in Spanish here.