The Palm Beach Post from West Palm Beach, Florida on November 7, 1968 · Page 30
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The Palm Beach Post from West Palm Beach, Florida · Page 30

West Palm Beach, Florida
Issue Date:
Thursday, November 7, 1968
Page 30
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C6-Palm Beach Post, Thursday, Nov. 7, 1968 Basques Threaten Civil War Against Franco Regime of recent months have given It a strong following among youth. The proclamation Oct. 25 of a three-month extension to the State of Exception has further embittered the Basques, accentuating a complaint voiced by one banker: "The only solution they have for us is repression," he said. "It does not occur to them to take a single step towards a political solution at the same time." If the emergency law, which expires next month, is lifted on schedule, many predict an upsurge of opposition activity by the E.T.A. and by regular parties nationalists, socialists and communists. "It is not that I think that E.T.A. is logical, with the army and police as strong as they are, and with a people that basically hate violence." one lawyer said. "But this estimate does not count on one Imponderable: the regime's infinite capacity for offending us." hen Shopping Use P-T Classified tionalist groups, particularly the E.T.A (Euzradl Ita Aska A-Suna, meaning the Basque nation and liberty). Second, and more significant, Is the severe government repression that has followed the proclamation of a three-months State of Exception akin to martial law In Guipuzcoa. The organization broke away from the clandestine but democratic Nationalist party 10 years ago. It is made up of universtly graduates and young people from villages and factories. Split Into various factions, some of whom proclaim themselves Marxist-Leninist, and loosely organized, E.T.A has been responsible for several large payroll robberies and numerous acts of sabotage. It proclaims itself ready to kill the enemies of the Basque people. Two deaths that of a civil guardsman and that of Militon Manzanos, chief of the Guipuzcoa Secret Police have been attributed to It. Among Informed opposition sources here, however, there Is doubt that E.T.A. Is In fact committed to full-scale terror-Ism. There are strong suspicions that the death of Manza nos, for Instance, was the result of a feud with his subordinates. In any event, after the killing of Manzanos, on Aug. 2, the government imposed a state of emergency In Guipuzcoa, and began large-scale, arrests throughout the province. The pro-government press gave great display to stories of E.T.A. activities. The result, in the view of many people here who have no particular sympathy with E.T.As methods, was simultaneously to mobilize public Indignation against the government, and to dramatize E.T.A. as the only effective vehicle of resistance. About 400 or 500 persons were arrested, Including 19 priests and a provincial deputy. Of these, about 90 are still being held, while another 48, among them three lawyers, have been sent to forced residence in other parts of Spain. The arrests, many of which were apparently indiscriminate, and the police mistreatment of prominent people, including priests, caused Indignation here that affected many people including prominent businessmen example, there was the time when the Governor of Vizcaya and an official delegation presided over a ceremony at the Village of Lequeltio and planted a cutting from the oak of Guernica, a symbol of Basque freedoms. Seventy bystanders suddenly unrolled a cloth banner on which the oak was painted in chains. The Civil . Guard charged In, beat them severely, and took them to Jail. Centuries ago, the Basques submitted to the Spanish Crown on the condition that their local rights would be respected, but they have seen these rights whittled away since the 1830's. The Franco regime, however, gave them new reasons for discontent. To punish Guipuzcoa and Vlzcava for having fought with the republic against the Franco forces in the civil war, it deprived them of the right to collect their own taxes. The mood of rebelliousness that has grown up this year, described even by government supporters as the most serious since the civil war, rests on two factors. One is the more active role of clandestine na who previously tended to remain neutral. Perhaps the Incident having the greatest repercussions was the arrest and beating of one of the most distinguished figures here Miguel Cas-tells, president of the Provincial Catholic Action Association, a notary and a prominent lawyer. His arrest was a mistake and he was quickly released. He was later tried, however, found guilty of insulting the police and fined. At the same time, the Judge asked for an Investigation of why Castells emerged from police custody with injuries that took two weeks to heal. It is too soon to predict what the results of all this will be. Over and over, people interviewed here and in Bilbao, Including some highly conservative bankers and businessmen, echoed the sentiments expressed by one: "What the government has done this year has polarized us politically as never before." A government official estimated that 90 per cent of the Basques here now opposed the regime. Many people who deplore the extremism of E.T.A. concede that the events Castlllians, the Andalusians are uneducated and primitive, and they are not really ready for democracy. As long as we are tied to them we shall have to endure their dictatorship." This mutual suspicion limits the effect that the troubles of the Basques have elsewhere in the country, but does not nullify It. The government crackdown In Guipuzcoa and Vizcaya, for example, has been accompanied by restrictive measures on a nationwide basis. These In turn tend to stir up resistance elsewhere and to cause internal strains In a regime divided between advocates of gradual liberalization and of a hard line. The Basques generally are taller and heavier than other Span-lards, live better and have more education. Their origin and the origin of their language guttural, highly Inflected and difficult to master Is not known. A theory that they were t h e original Iberians who came to Spain from North Africa Is no longer widely accepted. Philologists have found faint relationships between Basque and a dialect spoken In Mongolia, but not enough to build theories upon. They have a tradition of choral singing that approaches that of the Welsh. Strenous exercise Is another tradition, and It includes winter swimming, boulder-lifting, log-splitting and rowing heavy boats through rough seas. The food Is the best In Spain, and in San Sebastian there are 35 eating clubs where men go in the evening, put on aprons and cook their own meals. Afterwards they sing, perform skits and pound around the room playing brass Instruments In an atmosphere half-bolstertous, half solemn. The Basques are community-minded and egalitarian, unlike those In the rest of the country. "We are the most democratic people In Spain not just politically, but socially and economically," a lawyer here said. A factory owner said that all but one of his 700 workers called him by his first name. "The exception Is my plant engineer, and he comes from Madrid," he said. Beneath these lighter aspects of Basque life, however, is a passionate sense of national Injustice. This Is easily triggered. For (f I firm Vnrk Timm Ncwi SrrvWi' SAN SEBASTIAN . Spain The fishing port of Bermeo curves around an Inlet on the Bay of Biscay, with the white, red-roofed nouses climbing steeply up the deep green hills that mark the coastline of the Spanish basque country. An ancient stone watchtow-er, still serving as a beacon for the town's 135 tuna boats, stands on the quay beside the two-story shed that is the warehouse, auction hall and meeting place of the fishing cooperative. Late one afternoon, the owner of a fishing-boat was showing a visitor around the deck, where young women pushed baby carriages and old women loaded nets into donkey carts. The fisherman pointed to the reports of tides, weather and fishing conditions that are chalked on slates and hung outside the cooperative. He spoke with anger: "There are 18,000 people in this town, and virtually all of us speak Basque. Vet those signs are required to be written in Spanish." It is perhaps In the towns and villages of Vizcaya and (juipucoa two of the four Basque provinces of Spain that resentment of the regime of Generalissimo Francisco Franco is at its bitterest. There the repressive acts of the authorities, usually the Civil Guard, are most severe. And there resistance, which has increased sharply this year, is the most frequent. Bermeo, 15 miles north of Bilbao, lives almost completely estranged from the authorities. The Civil Guard detachment, housed in the former residence of an official of the pre civil war republic, is virtually an occupation garrison. Bermeo has had an agitated year. In July, 35 busloads of Basques arrived from nearby villages after the authorities had prohibited them from climbing Mount Aitxagorrl. Climbing mountains In large groups is a traditional Basque form of communal celebration. The arrivals began by dancing in Ihe main square to the sound of drums and xistu a shrill pipe and singing songs in Basque. The Civil Guard moved to break them up and there was general fighting. The climactic moment came with the release of a monkey, which had been brought from Dakar, dressed up in a tiny version of the Civil Guard's green uniform and black tri-corn hat. The guards chased the monkey and finally a trooper pulled out his pistol and shot it to death. As the monkey rolled over on its face, its jacket hiked up in back showing a sign stitched to the seat of his pants reading: "This is how the Civil Guard will die." In the village of Lazcano, set deep in the hills of Guipuzcoa, the struggle was personified in the feud between the mayor, Juan Beguirlstain, and the priest, the Rev. Don Imanol. The mayor was also the church organist. As tension in the Basque country grew throughout this spring, the mayor decided to play the national anthem during the Eucharist. Father Inland's protests to the mayor and the bishop were useless. Every Sunday, just as he reached Ihe elevation of the sacrament, the national anthem would boom out. Finally, one Sunday, Father Imanol stopped the mass and addressed the congregation: "You may be surprised at hearing the national anthem here. When only one political viewpoint is allowed In the street, the church should be a place of freedom, where those who do not share this political viewpoint can at least be left alone." Father Imanol was summoned to San Sebastian to see the governor, who berated him and fined him $.150. Not long after, however, when the mayor went off for a holiday, his house was burned down. The effect of ferment in the Basque country on the other parts of Spain is limited because the Basques' fight for political liberty is Inextricably mixed with the demand for regional autonomy or even independence. Even in the days of the republic, Madrid was cool to Basque nationalist aspirations. Nowadays, when one talks with members of the oppostion, one finds sympathy for the Basques, but also a tendency to view what Is happening as a desire for separatism, which is viewed most unsympathetlcally In the rest of Spain. "We cannot carry Spain on our backs Indefinitely," a young Basque nationalist said. 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