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Spain Tries To Isolate Pro-Basque Separatists

Wed., July 16, 1997

Spaniards outraged by the killing of a young politician are moving to isolate the political arm of the Basque separatist group responsible for the slaying.

Leaders of Spain’s largest political parties and labor unions joined forces Tuesday in condemning Herri Batasuna, which they consider an accomplice in the killing carried out by the separatist group ETA.

Miguel Angel Blanco, a 29-year-old councilman, was found handcuffed and shot Saturday afternoon in a wooded area near the Basque city of San Sebastian after he had been held hostage for two days.

Interior Minister Jaime Mayor Oreja, the country’s top law enforcement official, led the call to “repudiate and socially reject” leaders and members of Herri Batasuna, whose executive board faces trial on charges of cooperating with ETA. Herri Batasuna controls about 10 percent of local governments in the Basque region.

“Only an atmosphere such as the one being created now will make it possible to asphyxiate the violent subculture in which ETA was born,” he said.

Spain’s largest opposition party, the Socialists, pledged to stop working with parties holding “ambiguous” views about ETA’s violent campaign for a Basque homeland.

The two main labor federations, the General Union of Workers and Workers Commissions, pulled out of meetings attended by a labor group linked to Herri Batasuna.

In Blanco’s hometown, a notice signed by the slain man’s friends called for a boycott of stores owned by Herri Batasuna’s supporters.


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