The proetarras, grown by the cessions, redouble their demands
As expected, the one in Bilbao was the largest demonstration of those called this Saturday in favor of ETA prisoners by the Sare collective. And although thousands of people marched through the streets of the capital of Biscay shouting “Euskal presoak etxera” (Basque prisoners home), the pandemic and the latest political movements of the Basque board reduced the impact of the call. The organizers left all the leading role to 200 anonymous citizens who opened the march carrying arrows of various colors, alluding to the path that the families of ETA prisoners have to take to the jails where they are serving sentences. Behind them a banner where you could read a brief “Bidean” (on the road) carried only by representatives of the Sare collective. EH Bildu, Podemos and the entire Basque trade union arch supported the mobilization throughout the week. However, political representation was reduced to old pro-ETA acquaintances with little political weight today, such as Tasio Erkizia –historic member of the Abertzale left and convicted of collaboration with an armed gang–, or Jone Gorizelaia, and representatives of the Catalan independence movement such as the former president of the Catalan Parliament, Carme Forcadell or the leader of Junts per Catalunya, Jordi Sànchez. The protesters marched the Gran Vía de Bilbao for more than an hour chanting slogans in favor of amnesty and the rapprochement of ETA prisoners. “It is a popular clamor,” described Sare’s spokesperson, Joseba Azkarraga, during the tour. “Thousands of people have taken to the streets to demand the end of the policy of exception and move towards coexistence,” he added. The demonstration ended without incident shortly after six o’clock in the afternoon when the head arrived at the City Hall. There the organizers read a final statement in which they reiterated their request that all ETA prisoners go to prisons in the Basque Country and Navarra. However, they acknowledged that after the latest approaches, there are no longer prisoners of the gang further south in the Community of Madrid. In addition to criticizing the National Government, Azkarraga also wanted to send a message to the Basque Executive, which 100 days ago received the transfer of prison powers. The spokesmen for the Sare collective claimed to be “waiting” to see how the actions to achieve a prison policy “humanized and respectful of the law” announced by the Urkullu Executive are materialized. The PNV unsubscribed A message that, at least in the streets of Bilbao, did not reach any member of the Basque Nationalist Party, simply because they were not present. The PNV had announced its support for the mobilization, and in fact, yesterday morning Irune Berasaluze and Jon Andoni Atutxa, parliamentarians of the nationalists, attended the round table of victims with which the group opened the day. Even, in statements, Berasaluze was in favor of repealing “the exceptional prison policy that applies to ETA prisoners.” However, late in the morning from Sabin Etxea, the Jeltzale headquarters, they decided to change the script and announced that they would not participate in any more organized mobilizations in favor of ETA prisoners. The nationalists sought, with this decision, to dissociate themselves from Sare and the judicial, political and social upheaval that their latest calls have created. The last was the end-of-year march in Mondragón with the intention of demanding the release of Henri Parot. “They have screwed up,” PNV president Andoni Ortuzar said at the time. Nor did another of the usual faces of these mobilizations appear in Bilbao: Arnaldo Otegi. The only presence of the leader of EH Bildu yesterday was an appearance in Baracaldo at the end of the general assembly of the national team. And in his appearance he did not allude to the approach of prisoners. The leader of the independence coalition chose almost at the same time that the PNV announced its dissociation from the acts, to launch a challenging message and present himself as a political alternative. “We are prepared to govern and we want to decide everything here,” Otegi assured in a new chapter of the coalition’s roadmap to show itself as a useful party. “We have been resisting for a long time but now we are building the Basque Republic,” he warned. The Bilbao demonstration was the final act of a day that began early in the morning with a discussion that helped pro-ETA members to put the victims of “all violence” on the same level. Equalizing the victims Three victims of the Basque terrorist gang, one from the GAL and another from the so-called “police violence” sat on the same stage to call for an end to the “political use” of violence. Robert Manrique, a survivor of the Hipercor attack, acknowledged that he did not share “the official line” of the ETA victims. “Most politicians take credit for themselves, but it is not fair, the credit belongs to society,” he added. Rosa Lluch, daughter of the former socialist minister Enest Lluch, also agreed, who acknowledged feeling abandoned at many times. “Many say they speak on our behalf but no one asks us what we feel and what we need,” he lamented before asking politicians and institutions to “ask” the victims again. A message also launched by Maite García, victim of the GAL, and Idoia Zabalza, sister of Mikel Zabalza, whose death while he was detained at the Civil Guard barracks in Intxaurrondo was never fully clarified.