Manifesto of the organisers: Askapena1, NATOren eta EBren Aurkako, Herri Ekimena and Bardenas Ya
(Translated from Castilian version by D.Breatnach)
(Reading time total: 6 mins. including Comment)
We began the previous manifesto talking about emergencies. We said that it was essential to reclaim an anti-imperialist and internationalist Euskal Herria2.
And that urgency, that need, is what has brought together comrades from all corners of Euskal Herria here today. Well done all of us!
Capitalism is going through a systemic crisis. They speak to us of a “extraordinary period” but the truth is rather that we find ourselves in a permanent crisis. As we have supposedly departed one, they have already placed us in another.
As of 2020, moreover, we have entered a phase of exceptionality in which States take advantage to impose economic, social and disciplinary policies that point towards a war scenario. Therefore, we cannot separate the capitalist decomposition from the increase in repression and censorship.
The rise of fascism that is taking place throughout Europe is a direct consequence of the bourgeoisie’s fear of losing the control it exercises over an increasingly exploited and angry population.
In the field of international relations, we are also witnessing the increasing loss of hegemony of the Empire that has controlled the world practically without opposition for the last 30 years.
The bloc led by the United States and NATO, far from accepting the end of its historical cycle, seems determined to increase armed conflicts. In addition to giving a boost to the arms industry, they intend to hinder the growth of emerging powers such as China or Russia.
For this phase of confrontation, they have finally achieved the support of the lobby led by Ursula Von der Layen, the “gardener” Borrell3 and company.
NATO and the EU, together with the Zionist entity that redoubles its attacks on the Palestinian people, are today the main props of this dark period in history.
As far as NATO is concerned, we have to understand that its role goes beyond being a mere military organization. It is true that it is mainly the army of the bourgeoisie (and it is demonstrating this in Donbass, as it has also demonstrated in Yugoslavia, Libya or Syria).
But it has the superior function of being the military arm against anyone who opposes the policies of capital. Today these translate into the over-exploitation and precarity of the working class (especially women and people of colour).
And changes in labour rights to deprive us of material concessions wrested through class struggle, change of laws to increase the repression of those struggles, etc.
A clear example of this is the latest General Budget of the Spanish State, supported by all the social democratic parties4.
The budget supports the deterioration of the material conditions of working peoples to benefit NATO, giving it more control capacity and recognizing their right to appropriate civil infrastructures to defend the interests of the bourgeoisie.
The support for these militaristic policies, at the dawn of a world war, is a real shame and demonstrates the total lack of commitment of the leadership of these parties to the future of the Working Peoples of the world.
In Euskal Herria we are well aware of what NATO represents:
in addition to the military training industrial estate in Las Bardenas or the military exercises carried out at the Araka base (Gasteiz), we have recently witnessed blatant support from the Government of Gasteiz for war industries such as SENER or SAPA.
Nor can we forget the historical support of NATO, through the Gladio network, to the Spanish and French States in their legal and illegal repression5 against the struggle in Euskal Herria.
If we add to this the economic and social exception measures imposed on us by Brussels (private pension funds, increase in the retirement age, dismantling of public health) …
It becomes increasingly clear to us that neither as a nation nor as working class do we have a future within NATO or the EU. The need to destroy these instruments of domination by the bourgeoisie, as well as the Spanish and French States, is more than evident if we aspire to build a future in freedom.
These are not good times, of course not. The situation is becoming more and more complicated throughout the world. And that is why we here today are calling for the activation in each town and each neighborhood of the anti-imperialist Euskal Herria.
Thirty-seven years ago we said “NO to NATO!”6
Today, we not only reaffirm this rejection, but we once again make an urgent call to join forces with the rest of the working peoples and oppressed nations of the world to stop the imperialist offensive promoted by this criminal organization along with its allies in the European Union.
From Chile to Donbass, passing through Laos, Mali or Vietnam…
LONG LIVE THE STRUGGLE OF THE WORKING PEOPLE!
AN ANTI-IMPERIALIST BASQUE COUNTRY!
COMMENT: A GIANT STEP FORWARD
(Reading time: One min.)
The estimated 2,000 turnout in support of this demonstration must have exceeded the expectations of the organisers and greatly encouraged them. Two thousand is not a huge number in the highly-politicised Basque Country, even with a total population of less than three million, north and south.
But this is a nation which has for decades been under a political leadership, the surviving members of which have now taken the road of pacificaction, of accommodation to capitalism and the Spanish and French states, of social-democratic ‘opposition’.
This movement had a united national political leadership, an armed guerrilla movement, a daily newspaper, a trade union and smaller affiliated groups; it had café/bars/social centres throughout the southern provinces.
Though in decline and fragmented with the leadership’s embracing of the pacification process (through which, unlike the Provos, they did not even gain the release of their hundreds of imprisoned comrades), it still exercises a heavy influence on politics in the Basque Country.
That is today the ambit of Otegi, EH Bildu and Geroa Bai and neither did their parties participate in Saturday’s demonstration nor as an individual any of senior responsibility in their structures, though certainly individuals in their social and cultural sectors were seen in the march.
In that context and after 25 years of pacification, 2,000 in open attendance is a giant step forward for the Basque resistance. ‘Tús maith, leath na hoibre‘, it is said in Irish: ‘A good beginning is half the work’ and indeed, a beginning is how the organisers view the event.
“Dissident” groups such as Amnistia ta Askatasuna, Amnistia Garrasia, Tinko and Jardun have arisen in the last decade and youth have been very prominent in these and others disparate groupings, which is important for any revolutionary movement.
The photos and videos of Saturday’s demonstration show older and mature faces too, veterans of the struggle and also those active during the pacification period and this too is important, for it brings a certain continuity to the movement and the awareness of mistakes made in the past.
More than 50 organisations in the Basque Country supported the call for this demonstration.
The road ahead will not be easy (when has it ever been for the Basque nation or the working class in general?) but a giant step forward has been taken.
1Askapena is the internationalist arm of the Basque movement for independence and was responsible for a number of years for maintaining a network of Basque solidarity organisations (which in some cases it founded) in Mexico and across a number of European cities, including Belfast, Dublin and Cork. In 2011 five of its leading activists were arrested on charges of supporting the guerrilla organisation ETA, through Askapena’s solidarity with political prisoners. The five defended their right to work with prisoner and internationalist solidarity and were finally acquitted in 2016 earning much admiration for their stance (in stark contrast to the 47 activists in a number of prisoner support organisations who apologised for their activity in a Spanish court in September 2019 in exchange for non-custodial sentences for the majority).
2The current Basque name for their nation, “the Basque-speaking country”, replacing the former “Euskadi”, now used to refer only to the three-province ‘autonomous’ region of Bizkaia, Araba and Gipuzkoa.
3Josep Borrell, Foreign Minister of the EU Parliament who has described the EU as “a garden”. A Catalan member of the PSOE, hostile to Catalan independence who after five minutes stormed out of an English-language interview by Tim Sebastian on the German TV program Conflict Zone regarding the struggle in Catalonia.
4This is a reference not only to the social-democratic coalition government of the PSOE and Podemos but also of the Basque EH Bildu and Catalan ERC, the votes of which MPs supported the Budget.
5A reference not only to banning of parties, organisations and demonstrations but also to routine torture and the kidnapping and assassinations of the State-sponsored GAL of the 1980s.
6In the 1986 Referendum on whether the Spanish state should join NATO, the southern Basque Country gave a majority vote against, the only region to do so (though the vote against was high in some regions), the total vote being 52.54% in favour.