Madrid bombs: what would ETA achieve?

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 14 March, 2004, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 14 March, 2004, 12:00am

It is difficult to comprehend what the Basque militant group ETA hoped to achieve with the massacre of civilians in Madrid.

Did they expect to gain public support by killing scores of innocent people?

It is not even clear who ETA purports to represent. I have spent four years in Spain, including a year in the Basque Country. I have never met anyone who was not totally opposed to the group. My personal experience was that even those in favour of an independent Basque state were in the minority. Referendums have supported this.

But ETA is not content to accept democracy. It is different to most terrorist organisations in that it is not fighting a brutal occupation. There is no comparison with the situations in Palestine, Iraq or Chechnya, for example, where murderous occupations are being countered by murderous resistance. The Basques are not being butchered by internationally condemned occupying forces.

Spain is a peaceful, democratic nation and there is no military oppression of the Basque Country. The Spanish do not possess the 'arrogant bastard' mentality of the Americans, the British and the Israelis. They do not kill indiscriminately on the off-chance it might help improve security for their own people. Their motives are not inspired by greed or prejudice.

The Spanish army does not carry out massacres, wait for the inevitable retaliation, then hold this up as proof that the enemy is evil.

Only ETA commits massacres in Spain.

QUENTIN POULSEN, Jaen, Andalucia, Spain