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  1. "56619","3/15/2006 13:18","06MADRID644","Embassy Madrid","UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY","","VZCZCXRO9454
  2. PP RUEHAG RUEHDF RUEHIK RUEHLZ
  3. DE RUEHMD #0644 0741318
  4. ZNR UUUUU ZZH
  5. P 151318Z MAR 06
  6. FM AMEMBASSY MADRID
  7. TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 9150
  8. INFO RUCNMEM/EU MEMBER STATES COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
  9. RUEHLA/AMCONSUL BARCELONA PRIORITY 1802","UNCLAS MADRID 000644
  10.  
  11. SIPDIS
  12.  
  13. SIPDIS
  14. SENSITIVE
  15.  
  16. E.O. 12958: N/A
  17. TAGS: PTER, PGOV, SP
  18. SUBJECT: BASQUE JOURNALIST DOUBTS ETA READY FOR PEACE DEAL
  19.  
  20.  
  21. 1. (SBU) Oscar Beltran, a journalist for the Basque Region
  22. daily \"El Correo\" and a former International Visitor grantee,
  23. recently shared his observations regarding rumors of an
  24. upcoming truce declaration by ETA. He has covered ETA for
  25. several years and reports extensively on the group. Beltran
  26. expects ETA to announce a truce soon, most likely on Good
  27. Friday in an effort to draw parallels between the Northern
  28. Ireland peace process and the situation in the Basque Region,
  29. part of ETA\'s \"long-held dream of internationalizing the
  30. conflict.\" He said the rumors of a possible truce obscured
  31. increasing tensions in the region, which he ascribed to a
  32. sense among ETA members that they have recovered from Spanish
  33. and French police actions in 2004 and 2005 that decimated
  34. their leadership and can therefore resume the political and
  35. military offensive.
  36.  
  37. 2. (SBU) Beltran expressed concern that well-intentioned
  38. Spanish government officials may believe that they are making
  39. progress with ETA as a result of negotiations with the
  40. organization\'s political wing, while in reality the ETA
  41. military wing remained fully in control. \"The ETA military
  42. leadership doesn\'t care about Arnaldo Otegi (leader of ETA
  43. political front group \"Batasuna\"), they operate according to
  44. their own logic and make the decisions without consulting the
  45. political leadership.\" In his view, ETA\'s military wing did
  46. not have a realistic appreciation of what was achievable and
  47. believed it was operating from a relatively strong position,
  48. an attitude that was not conducive to good faith negotiations.
  49.  
  50. 3. (SBU) Beltran noted with concern that ETA carried out bomb
  51. attacks to mark the March 9 general strike called by Batasuna
  52. to protest the deaths in prison of two ETA members (one by
  53. suicide, the other from natural causes). He said that
  54. although the strike was a total failure, the bombings were
  55. worrisome since ETA had not previously joined in direct
  56. support of political actions, such as the strike. (NOTE:
  57. Spanish officials were set to charge Otegi and other Batasuna
  58. leaders with inciting the March 9 violence, but the examining
  59. judge delayed a March 13 hearing due to Otegi\'s poor health.
  60. END NOTE).
  61.  
  62. 4. (SBU) According to Beltran, ETA has significantly ramped
  63. up the extortion of Basque businesses to collect
  64. \"revolutionary taxes.\" He attributed this to both an
  65. increased need on the part of the organization and to the
  66. recovery of ETA\'s \"extortion wing\" from the 2004 arrest of
  67. Maria Soledad Iparragirre, who was in charge of collecting
  68. these funds. Beltran said ETA was making up for lost time
  69. and had probably run out of \"legitimate\" funds diverted from
  70. public coffers when Batasuna was a legal political entity,
  71. necessitating a crash program to generate funds for ETA and
  72. Batasuna activities. He was struck by the fact that ETA was
  73. using strong-arm tactics against even businesses known to be
  74. sympathetic to radical nationalists, sending company owners
  75. pictures of their children as a clear threat of violence.
  76.  
  77. 5. (SBU) Beltran said the Basque Socialist Party felt
  78. tremendously confident that it could displace the Basque
  79. moderate PNV as the largest party in the region. He
  80. described the PNV as riven by ideological and personal
  81. struggles and clearly losing ground to the Socialists on one
  82. side and to the radical nationalists on the other. As for
  83. the Popular Party, once the second power in the Basque
  84. Region, Beltran said the party was in disarray and still
  85. reeling from its fall to third place in the Basque Parliament
  86. in the March 2005 elections, behind the PNV and the
  87. Socialists. He said, however, that observers of the Basque
  88. political scene were more focused on the 2007 municipal
  89. elections than on regional-level politics, since Batasuna
  90. stands to make significant gains at the local level if an ETA
  91. truce leads to the legalization of the group by the Zapatero
  92. government. Almost certainly, the PP would wage a pitched
  93. political campaign to keep Batasuna out of the political
  94. process, setting the stage for a major legal and legislative
  95. battle at the national level.
  96.  
  97. AGUIRRE
  98. "
  99.  
  100.  
  101.  
  102.  
  103.  
  104.  
  105.  
  106. "
  107. "79833","9/27/2006 10:18","06MADRID2435","Embassy Madrid","CONFIDENTIAL","06MADRID1709|06MADRID2073","VZCZCXRO1661
  108. PP RUEHAG
  109. DE RUEHMD #2435/01 2701018
  110. ZNY CCCCC ZZH
  111. P 271018Z SEP 06
  112. FM AMEMBASSY MADRID
  113. TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 0871
  114. INFO RUCNMEM/EU MEMBER STATES COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
  115. RUEHLA/AMCONSUL BARCELONA PRIORITY 2109","C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 MADRID 002435
  116.  
  117. SIPDIS
  118.  
  119. SIPDIS
  120.  
  121. E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/26/2016
  122. TAGS: PGOV, PTER, SP
  123. SUBJECT: SPAIN: SIX MONTHS ON, ETA\'S \"PERMANENT CEASEFIRE\"
  124. ON SHAKY GROUND
  125.  
  126. REF: A. MADRID 1709
  127. B. MADRID 2073
  128.  
  129. MADRID 00002435 001.2 OF 002
  130.  
  131.  
  132. Classified By: DCM Hugo Llorens for Reasons 1.4 (B) and (D)
  133.  
  134. 1. (C) Summary: Six months after the Basque separatist
  135. group ETA announced a permanent ceasefire, many inside Spain
  136. are now doubting its permanence. Street violence and
  137. vandalism continue in the Basque region and alleged ETA
  138. supporters released a statement over the weekend claiming
  139. that the group would refuse to disarm until the region gains
  140. its independence. Spanish newspapers have reported in recent
  141. days that ETA might reconsider its ceasefire agreement if the
  142. government fails to make significant progress toward the
  143. legalization of its outlawed political wing, and Interior
  144. Minister Rubalcaba announced earlier this week that talks
  145. between the government and ETA had been postponed
  146. indefinitely. Post sees the potential for a hiatus, if not a
  147. complete breakdown, in the GOS peace process with ETA as each
  148. side remains intransigent, and forging some type of middle
  149. ground does not at the moment appear possible. End Summary.
  150.  
  151. 2. (U) The Basque region was hit with its fourth straight
  152. weekend of \"kale borroka,\" or street violence perpetrated by
  153. young ETA supporters, and recent acts of vandalism have
  154. included attacks on a radio station in Pamplona and a nearby
  155. headquarters of the Basque Socialist Party. Adding to the
  156. tension, on September 23 three masked figures claiming to
  157. represent ETA read a statement saying that ETA\'s fight was,
  158. \"not past, but rather present and future.\" If genuine, the
  159. message would be the most threatening released by ETA since
  160. their announcement of a permanent ceasefire in March.
  161. President Zapatero responded a day after the statement\'s
  162. release that his government would hold firm in the management
  163. of the peace process, but Interior Minister Rubalcaba
  164. informed parliament on September 26 that a meeting with ETA
  165. planned for this month would be postponed indefinitely.
  166. Spanish newspapers have recently reported that ETA might
  167. reconsider its ceasefire agreement if the government fails to
  168. make significant advances toward the legalization of its
  169. outlawed political wing Batasuna, and rumors are circulating
  170. that ETA may take some sort of action, be it an ultimatum or
  171. an outright return to violence intended to force the
  172. government\'s hand, around the middle of October.
  173.  
  174. 3. (C) Post sees the potential over the coming weeks for a
  175. hiatus, if not a complete breakdown, in the GOS peace process
  176. with ETA. As reported in REFTEL A, President Zapatero
  177. announced in late June that he would launch direct
  178. negotiations with ETA--as the group had in his opinion
  179. followed through with its declaration of a permanent cease
  180. fire--and that Minister Rubalcaba would brief political
  181. leaders in September regarding the progress of the
  182. negotiations. Talks have not materialized, primarily because
  183. the two sides have yet to find common ground on the \"Law of
  184. Political Parties\" that was enacted in 2002 by the two main
  185. Spanish political parties to ban ETA front group Batasuna
  186. from the political process for its refusal to renounce
  187. terrorism. Zapatero insisted that Batasuna change its name
  188. and party statutes in order to meet legal requirements, steps
  189. that Batasuna continues to reject. ETA radicals and Batasuna
  190. political operatives have expressed frustration lately with
  191. the lack of progress they believe the government has made in
  192. addressing their concerns and charge that the government is
  193. trying to indefinitely delay political negotiations involving
  194. the legal status of Batasuna. Batasuna insists that it has
  195. kept its side of the bargain by respecting the ceasefire, and
  196. criticizes the government for continuing to arrest and try
  197. suspected ETA members while not lifting the ban on political
  198. participation by Batasuna.
  199.  
  200. 4. (U) The government for its part is holding firm to what
  201. it believes was agreed upon previously, namely that only a
  202. Batasuna that respected democratic procedures would be
  203. allowed to participate in the peace process, and that ETA
  204. would limit itself in negotiations to its disarmament and
  205. dissolution. Zapatero insists that the government does not
  206. intend to modify its firm stance on ending ETA violence, and
  207. that the rules of the game are clear. GOS officials remain
  208. publicly optimistic that there is room for agreement and have
  209. urged Spaniards to be patient as the process moves along and
  210. not focus too heavily on the continuing street violence. Our
  211. contacts indicate that privately, however, officials in
  212. Zapatero\'s government no longer believe that these messages
  213. are meant for internal ETA consumption and are wondering
  214. whether ETA hard-liners have won the day.
  215.  
  216. 5. (C) Poloff spoke with Basque journalist Oscar Beltran,
  217. who covers ETA terrorism for the leading regional daily \"El
  218. Correo,\" to request his assessment of recent tensions in the
  219.  
  220. MADRID 00002435 002.2 OF 002
  221.  
  222.  
  223. peace process. Beltran opined that legalization of Batasuna
  224. under another name was no longer sufficient for radical
  225. Basque nationalists, as their objective is now the complete
  226. revocation of the \"Law of Political Parties.\" Beltran said
  227. that the Zapatero government had the votes to overturn the
  228. law, but that the political price of doing so would be
  229. extremely high. Zapatero\'s options were therefore limited to
  230. either an all-out conflict with ETA, or the ceding to key ETA
  231. demands on political recognition and territorial ambitions.
  232. Beltran described rumors currently circulating in the Basque
  233. region that ETA would take \"important measures\" during
  234. October that would leave clear whether or not the group
  235. intended to hold to the ceasefire and peace process. He said
  236. ETA was not fully in control of its base, and gave as an
  237. example the inability of the leadership to halt a hunger
  238. strike by imprisoned ETA terrorist Juan de Chaos that could
  239. inflame die-hard ETA fighters and undermine the group\'s
  240. willingness to negotiate.
  241.  
  242. 6. (C) Comment: As the ceasefire negotiations enter their
  243. seventh month, misperceptions, diverging tactics, ambiguities
  244. and distortions threaten to unravel the fledgling process.
  245. Each side has been boxed into a corner by its own actions
  246. and/or pressure from opposing forces, and the middle ground
  247. does not at the moment appear sustainable. Batasuna leaders
  248. sold the peace process to its more radical supporters as the
  249. only viable entry ramp into political negotiations, but as
  250. the government stalls on the question of legalization, these
  251. supporters are becoming increasingly disenchanted and
  252. agitated and are hinting at reconsidering a return to
  253. violence. The Zapatero government\'s maneuvering room has
  254. been limited by constant attacks and criticism from ETA
  255. victims organizations and the opposition Popular Party (which
  256. has been vehemently opposed to Zapatero\'s ETA peace
  257. initiative at a time when ETA was practically eliminated by
  258. cooperation between Spanish and French police forces). It is
  259. important to note that ETA supporters have been saying for
  260. over a month that the ceasefire declaration has been in
  261. crisis (as reported in REFTEL B), and they have threatened to
  262. respond in the past. What is unclear, however, is just if
  263. and when ETA\'s patience with the peace process will
  264. eventually run out.
  265.  
  266. ********************************************* ****************
  267. CHRONOLOGY OF KEY EVENTS IN THE ETA PEACE PROCESS (2006)
  268.  
  269. March 22 - ETA declares \"Permanent Ceasefire\"
  270.  
  271. March 23 - Ceasefire takes effect
  272.  
  273. May 21 - Zapatero says he will announce in June the start of
  274. direct talks with ETA
  275.  
  276. June 26 - Zapatero announces that he will begin \"long and
  277. difficult\" peace talks with ETA
  278.  
  279. August 18 - ETA claims peace process \"immersed in an obvious
  280. state of crisis\"
  281.  
  282. September 23 - Alleged ETA gunmen announce refusal to disarm
  283. until the region gains its independence
  284. ********************************************* *****************
  285. AGUIRRE
  286. "
  287.  
  288.  
  289.  
  290.  
  291.  
  292. "91533","1/4/2007 16:37","07MADRID17","Embassy Madrid","CONFIDENTIAL","06MADRID3111|07MADRID1|07MADRID6","VZCZCXRO9083
  293. PP RUEHAG RUEHROV
  294. DE RUEHMD #0017/01 0041637
  295. ZNY CCCCC ZZH
  296. P 041637Z JAN 07
  297. FM AMEMBASSY MADRID
  298. TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 1548
  299. INFO RUCNMEM/EU MEMBER STATES COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
  300. RUEHAK/AMEMBASSY ANKARA PRIORITY 0289
  301. RUEHMN/AMEMBASSY MONTEVIDEO PRIORITY 0988
  302. RUEHQT/AMEMBASSY QUITO PRIORITY 1272
  303. RUEHLA/AMCONSUL BARCELONA PRIORITY 2330
  304. RUCNFB/FBI WASHDC PRIORITY
  305. RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC PRIORITY
  306. RUEAWJA/DEPT OF JUSTICE WASHDC PRIORITY
  307. RUEAHLC/HOMELAND SECURITY CENTER WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
  308. RUEAIAO/HQ ICE IAO WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
  309. RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC PRIORITY
  310. RHEFHTA/TSA HQ WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY","C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 MADRID 000017
  311.  
  312. SIPDIS
  313.  
  314. SIPDIS
  315.  
  316. E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/02/2017
  317. TAGS: PTER, PGOV, SP
  318. SUBJECT: ETA ATTACK: FIRST DEATH CONFIRMED, ZAPATERO FACING
  319. POLITICAL FALLOUT
  320.  
  321. REF: A. MADRID 6
  322. B. MADRID 1
  323. C. 2006 MADRID 3111
  324.  
  325. MADRID 00000017 001.2 OF 003
  326.  
  327.  
  328. Classified By: Charge d\'Affaires Hugo Llorens, reason 1.4 (D)
  329.  
  330. 1. (C) Summary. Authorities confirmed late on January 3 that
  331. they had located the body of Ecuadoran immigrant Carlos
  332. Alonso Palate in the wreckage of the airport parking garage
  333. bombed by ETA on December 30. Alonso Palate becomes the
  334. 818th victim of ETA terrorism and the first ETA victim since
  335. May 2003. Sources close to President Zapatero said that he
  336. would appear before Parliament to discuss his \"new
  337. anti-terrorism strategy,\" as Popular Party (PP) leader
  338. Mariano Rajoy continued his criticism of Zapatero\'s handling
  339. of the attack and other PP figures speculated that Zapatero
  340. wants to maintain a dialogue with ETA. An ETA expert told us
  341. that ETA may have forshadowed the attack to Socialist Party
  342. (PSOE) negotiators in a secret meeting in Ankara, but the
  343. PSOE representatives may have misinterpreted the warning.
  344. ETA\'s normally disciplined political front group Batasuna
  345. appeared to be in disarray, with one of its leaders saying
  346. only ETA could explain the rationale behind the attack, while
  347. another insisted that there was no proof that ETA had
  348. undertaken the bombing and that the Basque peace process
  349. remained viable. A Batasuna leader said the attack had been
  350. \"completely unexpected,\" but failed to condemn the bombing.
  351. End Summary.
  352.  
  353. //AUTHORITIES LOCATE BODY//
  354.  
  355. 2. (U) Police located the body of Carlos Alonso Palate in his
  356. vehicle, which had been on the lowest level of the five-floor
  357. garage destroyed by an ETA bomb on December 30. Crews
  358. continue to search for the body of Diego Armando Estacio, a
  359. second Ecuadoran immigrant who was in a separate section of
  360. the garage. There are now reports of a possible third
  361. victim, an Uruguayan traveler whose family has reported
  362. missing. Alonso Palate is the 818th victim of ETA violence
  363. and the first since May 2003, when ETA killed two police
  364. officers in Navarra. President Zapatero met with the
  365. families of both victims, following criticism by one of the
  366. families that he had not contacted them for days following
  367. the attacks. Zapatero also faced criticism for not having
  368. visited the site of the bombing, which is expected to cost
  369. over $40 million to rebuild, making it the most costly ETA
  370. attack ever in economic terms.
  371.  
  372. 3. (U) The Government took several steps to tighten security
  373. in anticipation of possible additional attacks. The Ministry
  374. of Defense ordered increased security for all of its units
  375. and the Basque Regional Government and the national
  376. Government increased personal protection for politicians
  377. considered to be under threat by ETA. According to one press
  378. report, there is concern that ETA has shifted its technology,
  379. making current countermeasures against explosive devices less
  380. effective.
  381.  
  382. //ZAPATERO TO SPEAK BEFORE PARLIAMENT//
  383.  
  384. 4. (U) PP leader Mariano Rajoy harshly criticized the
  385. Zapatero Government\'s response to the ETA attack, saying
  386. Spain was \"like a boat without a helmsman.\" Rajoy, who had
  387. joined Madrid PP leaders in making an early visit to the site
  388. of the bombing, called upon Zapatero to address Parliament to
  389. explain his counter-terrorism policies. Socialist (PSOE)
  390. leaders countered that the PP should demonstrate unity with
  391. the Government rather than criticizing Zapatero, pointing out
  392. that former President Aznar had not appeared before
  393. Parliament when ETA broke its truce with his Government in
  394. 1999, nor had the PSOE asked him to. Nevertheless, just
  395. hours later, sources close to the Zapatero Government told
  396. Spanish media that he would appear in Parliament \"once all of
  397. the facts were available\" to discuss his strategy. Socialist
  398. politicians discussed the possibility of establishing a new
  399. counter-terrorism pact to broaden its current pact with the
  400. PP. Rajoy argued that the PSOE had broken the PP-PSOE pact
  401. by engaging in talks with ETA and called on the PSOE to
  402. re-implement the existing pact rather than open it to
  403. renegotiation simply to include other political parties.
  404.  
  405. MADRID 00000017 002.2 OF 003
  406.  
  407.  
  408. Some PP leaders expressed concern that Zapatero intends to
  409. maintain contacts with ETA in spite of the bombing.
  410. Meanwhile, the moderate Basque Nationalist Party (PNV)
  411. reconfirmed its support for the Government\'s decision to
  412. suspend negotiations with ETA.
  413.  
  414. //ETA MAY HAVE WARNED PSOE//
  415.  
  416. 5. (C) Oscar Beltran (strictly protect), a journalist in the
  417. Basque Region who has covered ETA for over 20 years, told
  418. Poloff that ETA negotiator Josu Ternera may have warned PSOE
  419. negotiators in mid-December that ETA would carry out
  420. \"actions,\" but that these actions were not intended to
  421. disrupt the peace process. News reports indicate that
  422. Ternera, accompanied by his son and by ETA member Ainhoa
  423. Ozaeta, held a secret meeting in Ankara on December 15 with
  424. Basque PSOE leader Jesus Eguiguren and two unnamed PSOE
  425. figures, during which the participants made no progress, but
  426. also did not break off negotiations. Beltran speculated that
  427. the PSOE negotiators in this meeting may have misinterpreted
  428. Ternera\'s warning to mean that ETA would escalate vandalism
  429. and street violence, as it had done in October and November.
  430. Beltran said that police sources in Paris indicated that the
  431. French authorities had expected an ETA attack before the end
  432. of the year, fears that evidently were not shared by the
  433. Spanish leadership.
  434.  
  435. //ETA SUPPORTERS AT A LOSS//
  436.  
  437. 6. (U) Batasuna leaders emphasized their position that the
  438. Basque peace process was \"more important than ever\" and
  439. continued to accuse the Government of failing to move forward
  440. on the negotiations and even insisted that there was no proof
  441. that ETA had carried out the bombing. But there were also
  442. signs that internal Batasuna discipline was fraying. Asked
  443. to characterize the airport bombing, Batasuna spokesman
  444. Pernando Barrena said that it was \"up to ETA to interpret
  445. (the attack).... we have no doubt that what ETA has to say
  446. to the Basque people about this incident will be very
  447. important.\" Another Batasuna leader, Joseba Alvarez,
  448. acknowledged that the bombing had created serious problems
  449. and said that \"nobody had expected\" the bombing. There were
  450. numerous reports that Batasuna leader Arnaldo Otegi had
  451. wanted to be more critical of the attack in his December 30
  452. press conference, but had been overruled by more hard line
  453. members of the organization.
  454.  
  455. 7. (C) Beltran, the Basque journalist, said that there was
  456. tremendous confusion within ETA\'s support groups because ETA
  457. had yet to issue an official declaration regarding the
  458. bombing. He said that ETA had been expected to issue a
  459. declaration on January 2, but since that failed to take place
  460. Batasuna and other ETA supporters were simply falling back on
  461. standard extremist rhetoric. Beltran said that the December
  462. 30 bombing had severely demoralized Basque society and
  463. politicians across the political spectrum, who are bracing
  464. for further ETA violence.
  465.  
  466. 8. (U) In a signal that Spanish judicial authorities intend
  467. to ramp up pressure on ETA\'s political front groups,
  468. prosecutors denied a request by Otegi to attend a conference
  469. in Germany and asked police to prepare a report on the
  470. actions of Batasuna leaders on the day of the bombing. Otegi
  471. is free on bond, but faces large fines and 15 months in
  472. prison for slandering King Juan Carlos and for leading a 2003
  473. ceremony to honor dead ETA fighter Manuel Benaran Ordenana.
  474. In addition to Batasuna, six other ETA front groups face
  475. judicial action on terrorism-related charges.
  476.  
  477. //COMMENT//
  478.  
  479. 9. (C) If it were confirmed that ETA negotiator Josu Ternera
  480. had issued any kind of warning to Socialist negotiators prior
  481. to the attack, it could prove a political bombshell for
  482. Zapatero. The PP would be able to point to this incident as
  483. proof that the Zapatero Government was either incompetent in
  484. handling the negotiations with ETA or weak in not immediately
  485. pushing back on the ETA threat. Even if this particular
  486. incident does not gain traction in the media, Zapatero\'s
  487. uncertain handling of the aftermath of the explosion has
  488.  
  489. MADRID 00000017 003.2 OF 003
  490.  
  491.  
  492.  
  493. already damaged his standing. The PSOE is now focused on
  494. organizing a response that both demonstrates toughness and
  495. neutralizes PP criticism. The need for Zapatero to make a
  496. strong and credible presentation before Parliament appears to
  497. be increasingly necessary if the PSOE is to stem the
  498. bleeding. A possible approach may be for the PSOE to seek to
  499. create a new \"anti-terrorism pact\" that includes smaller
  500. leftist and nationalist parties, particularly if the PP opts
  501. out of a pact for reasons that appear petty or partisan. The
  502. PP feels vindicated in its frequent warnings to Zapatero not
  503. to engage ETA and is in no hurry help Zapatero achieve a
  504. graceful solution to his political predicament.
  505.  
  506. LLORENS
  507. "
  508.  
  509.  
  510.  
  511.  
  512.  
  513.  
  514.  
  515.  
  516.  
  517. "179861","11/24/2008 17:34","08MADRID1231","Embassy Madrid","SECRET","06MADRID3111|06MADRID766|07MADRID1078","VZCZCXRO8366
  518. RR RUEHLA
  519. DE RUEHMD #1231/01 3291734
  520. ZNY SSSSS ZZH
  521. R 241734Z NOV 08
  522. FM AMEMBASSY MADRID
  523. TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 5618
  524. INFO RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS 1514
  525. RUEHLA/AMCONSUL BARCELONA 3675
  526. RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC
  527. RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
  528. RUEILB/NCTC WASHINGTON DC
  529. RUCNFB/FBI WASHDC","S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 03 MADRID 001231
  530.  
  531. SIPDIS
  532.  
  533. PASS TO EUR/WE\'S ELAINE SAMSON AND STACIE ZERDECKI, S/CT\'S
  534. MARC NORMAN, NSC\'S ELIZABETH FARR, AND NCTC\'S PAUL SAUPE
  535.  
  536. E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/24/2033
  537. TAGS: PINR, PINS, PREL, PTER, SP, FR
  538. SUBJECT: SPAIN: ASSESSING THE SIGNIFICANCE OF RECENT ETA
  539. ARRESTS IN FRANCE
  540.  
  541. REF: A. 2007 MADRID 1078
  542. B. 2006 MADRID 3111
  543. C. 2006 MADRID 766
  544.  
  545. Classified By: DCM Arnold A. Chacon for Reasons 1.4 (b), (c) and (d)
  546.  
  547. 1. (C) SUMMARY: French police and Spanish Guardia Civil
  548. (GC) paramilitary forces conducted a joint raid in Cauterets,
  549. France early on the morning of November 17 in which they
  550. arrested ETA members Mikel Garikoitz Aspiazu Rubina (aka
  551. \"Txeroki\" in Basque or \"Cherokee\" in English) and Leire Lopez
  552. Zurutuza. ETA,s military chief since 2003, Txeroki
  553. represents the new generation of radical young hardliners who
  554. in recent years have supplanted the old guard and taken
  555. control over ETA. Roughly 48 hours after Txeroki\'s capture,
  556. Spanish Interior Minister Alfredo PerezRubalcaba publicly
  557. assessed that not only was Txeroki the military chief, but he
  558. had also assumed some political responsibilities following
  559. the May 2008 detention of Francisco Javier Lopez Pena, aka
  560. Thierry, which gave Txeroki control of overall strategy, thus
  561. making him the number one man in ETA. This cable provides an
  562. assessment of the arrests, identifies the roles of the
  563. detained, examines the capabilities of what\'s left of ETA,
  564. and discusses the political reaction in Spain. END SUMMARY.
  565.  
  566. 2. (SBU) Media coverage most often describes Txeroki, age 35,
  567. as the one who reportedly gave the order to bomb the parking
  568. garage at Madrid\'s Barajas airport (See Reftel A) in December
  569. 2006 that effectively ended the \"permanent unilateral
  570. ceasefire\" that ETA had declared nine months earlier (See
  571. Reftel C). According to recently arrested ETA members\'
  572. comments in the media, Txeroki claimed to have been the
  573. trigger-man in the shooting deaths of two GC officials in
  574. Capbreton, France in December 2007. The Spanish media
  575. describe the arrests as a severe blow to ETA and note that,
  576. since ETA officially declared an end to its ceasefire in June
  577. 2007 (See Reftel B), Spanish and French security forces have
  578. detained the group\'s military, political, and logistical
  579. senior leadership.
  580.  
  581. 3. (S) Embassy Madrid POLOFF and Information Officer
  582. discussed the arrests on November 21 with longtime ETA
  583. watcher Jesus Maria Zuloaga (Please Protect), the Deputy
  584. Director of conservative-leaning, Madrid-based La Razon
  585. newspaper. A native of the Basque Country, Zuloaga is a
  586. well-connected source on ETA with contacts at the highest
  587. levels of the GC and Spanish National Police. He also says
  588. he considers Interior Minister Rubalcaba a personal friend.
  589. He is the author of a book on ETA and countless articles on
  590. the group over 22 years in journalism. He has been an ETA
  591. target for years, including the intended victim of a letter
  592. bomb in 2000. In self-imposed exile from the Basque Country,
  593. he lives in hiding and says he undergoes extensive security
  594. precautions in his day-to-day life, including changing
  595. residences every two years, not owning a car, and never
  596. allowing his picture to be published. POLOFF also discussed
  597. the fallout of the arrests on November 24 with Oscar Beltran
  598. Otalora (Please Protect), political editor of the
  599. Bilbao-based newspaper, El Correo, and likewise an expert on
  600. ETA issues.
  601.  
  602. //The Arrests//
  603.  
  604. 4. (S) Press reports note that French police and the GC found
  605. two handguns, two laptops, several memory sticks, maps and
  606. just 3,000 euros in cash, which media reports attribute to
  607. ETA,s recent difficulties in fund-raising. Zuloaga says
  608. that the information in the memory sticks will be where
  609. Spanish security services will find the most valuable
  610. information, because ETA has instituted a policy of keeping
  611. PCs \"clean.\" He added that ETA policy is to protect its pen
  612. drives with Pretty Good Privacy (\"PGP\") encryption software,
  613. Virus Script and Ultra Wipe, all of which are available for
  614. free. As of November 22, Spanish media reported that French
  615. security forces had not yet broken the \"almost impenetrable\"
  616. encryption and noted that in some cases in the past, ETA\'s
  617. encrypted communications have never been broken.
  618.  
  619. //Txeroki\'s Role Within ETA//
  620.  
  621. 5. (S) When the arrests were announced on November 17, media
  622. outlets described Txeroki as the leader of ETA\'s military
  623. wing. He had held that role since 2003 and was a known
  624.  
  625. MADRID 00001231 002 OF 003
  626.  
  627.  
  628. quantity to Spanish security forces. Beltran told POLOFF
  629. that Txeroki had acquired a myth-like status within ETA,
  630. which made his detention a tough symbolic blow to the group.
  631. Rubalcaba publicly called him \"probably the most wanted
  632. objective\" of the Spanish security forces. However, by
  633. November 19, the Minister had re-evaluated his assessment of
  634. Txeroki\'s role and told state-owned radio network Cadena SER
  635. that Txeroki was in fact in charge of policy and strategy as
  636. well. Txeroki had assumed some political responsibilities
  637. falling the May 2008 detention of his rival, Francisco Javier
  638. Lopez Pena, aka Thierry, who had been ETA\'s political leader
  639. and the chief negotiator with the Zapatero government during
  640. peace talks in 2006, which Txeroki reportedly bitterly
  641. opposed. After Thierry\'s arrest, Txeroki reportedly
  642. suspended the power of ETA\'s Executive Committee, the group\'s
  643. highest authority, and assumed some of Thierry\'s duties,
  644. which effectively gave him control of overall strategy and
  645. made him the number one man in ETA. In Rubalcaba\'s words,
  646. Txeroki was \"in charge of everything, the political apparatus
  647. and the so-called military apparatus. The one who ordered
  648. the killings was Txeroki.\"
  649.  
  650. //Txeroki\'s Successor As Military Chief//
  651.  
  652. 6. (S) Even with Rubalcaba\'s re-evaluation of Txeroki\'s role,
  653. Zuloaga cautioned Embassy officials not to magnify the
  654. importance of his detention. Spanish press reports suggest
  655. that ETA\'s new military chief is Aitzol Iriondo Yarza,
  656. Txeroki\'s 31-year-old deputy who is an information technology
  657. expert with extensive experience in explosives and internal
  658. security. Zuloaga opined that Iriondo -- whose primary nom
  659. de guerre is \"Gurbitz\" but who is also known as \"Gurbita,\"
  660. \"Asier\" and \"Barbas\" -- is more dangerous, radical, and
  661. methodical than Txeroki and will probably do a better job as
  662. military chief than Txeroki did. Zuloaga noted that, under
  663. Txeroki\'s leadership of the military wing, ETA claimed \"only\"
  664. seven lives in five years, which is lower than most previous
  665. five-year periods.
  666.  
  667. //Lopez Zurutuza\'s Role Within ETA//
  668.  
  669. 7. (S) Most Spanish media reports have depicted Lopez
  670. Zurutuza as Txeroki\'s girlfriend. However, Zuloaga says this
  671. is incorrect and tells Embassy officials his sources inform
  672. him that she is in fact the commander of ETA\'s \"legal cells,\"
  673. i.e., those ETA members who have 9-5 jobs on weekdays but who
  674. are then operational -- including in carrying out attacks --
  675. on weekends.
  676.  
  677. //Txeroki\'s Alleged Plans//
  678.  
  679. 8. (S) The Spanish media report that Txeroki had planned to
  680. purge ETA\'s ranks of Thierry loyalists, whom he considered
  681. dissidents and not trustworthy. The media also report that
  682. Txeroki\'s appointment planner has a series of meetings
  683. scheduled until January 2009 in which he intended to create a
  684. cell composed of French Basques, who would be able to transit
  685. the border more easily and stay in hotels in Spain without
  686. arousing suspicion. Zuloaga assesses that Txeroki and Lopez
  687. Zurutuza were meeting for the purpose of implementing attacks
  688. in furtherance of ETA\'s November 5, 2008 communique, which
  689. Zuloaga described as conveying the most violent threats he
  690. had ever seen in his 22 years of monitoring ETA\'s activities.
  691. That communique and others have threatened to carry out
  692. deadly attacks to force the GOS back to the negotiating
  693. table.
  694.  
  695. //ETA\'s Status and Reprisals//
  696.  
  697. 9. (S) Some Spanish media suggest that some 40 members of ETA
  698. may be identified by authorities and compromised following
  699. the arrest of Txeroki, while others suggest that ETA\'s
  700. dedicated, core group numbers just 100 members (a number
  701. which Beltran suggests is accurate). Post-arrest Spanish
  702. media reports suggest that ETA has only three operational
  703. cells left, although Zuloaga suggests there are \"at least
  704. four or five.\" Meanwhile, Rubalcaba asserted on November 18
  705. that among both ETA prisoners in Spanish jails and the
  706. radical Basque nationalists who support violence there is
  707. increasingly \"a sense of growing weakness\" and an almost
  708. unstoppable process of deterioration in their support and
  709. abilities, which he predicted will cause hardline leaders to
  710. attempt a reprisal as a show of strength and to bolster
  711.  
  712. MADRID 00001231 003 OF 003
  713.  
  714.  
  715. morale.
  716.  
  717.  
  718. 10. (S) Rubalcaba has announced that Spanish security forces
  719. are on maximum alert for prospective reprisals from ETA,
  720. which already has detonated a bomb in suburban Bilbao on the
  721. night of November 20, which did not kill anyone but caused
  722. extensive damage to a TV relay tower that is used by police
  723. and security forces for radio signals. Beltran remarked that
  724. the ETA attack was a very disproportionate and weak response
  725. in comparison to the blow that they had received.
  726. Nevertheless, he suggested that ETA could execute a stronger
  727. attack at any moment. Zuloaga concurred, opining that if ETA
  728. can carry out reprisals, they will. However, he noted that
  729. the border between Spain and France is \"practically closed\"
  730. and that at the moment it would be difficult to carry out
  731. ETA\'s usual modus operandi of bringing a stolen car from
  732. France into Spain to carry out a car-bomb attack. He
  733. assessed that ETA members are \"fanatics, but not foolish,\"
  734. suggesting that the group will instead wait one or two months
  735. to regroup and then seek to carry out a more substantive
  736. attack.
  737.  
  738. //The Political Reaction//
  739.  
  740. 11. (C) President Zapatero on November 17 publicly declared
  741. the arrest a \"serious\" and \"decisive\" blow to ETA,s
  742. organization and capacity and a \"huge advance\" in the fight
  743. against ETA. He phoned French President Sarkozy to thank him
  744. for French counter-terrorism (CT) efforts and the two leaders
  745. agreed to convene in Madrid an extraordinary summit on CT
  746. measures in the coming weeks. The French Ambassador to Spain
  747. has publicly suggested the first quarter of 2009 is a likely
  748. timeframe. Spanish media reports also suggest that National
  749. Court Chief Prosecutor Javier Zaragoza will travel to France
  750. in early December to secure a temporary extradition of
  751. Txeroki to Spain, where he faces 22 charges for a range of
  752. illegal activities. Meanwhile, Rubalcaba has publicly
  753. discarded any possibility that the GOS would renew
  754. negotiations with ETA. However, Beltran suggests that if
  755. things keep going the way they are for ETA, the terrorist
  756. group may in the long term be forced to ask for negotiations
  757. from a position of weakness.
  758.  
  759. 12. (C) COMMENT: As Zapatero and Rubalcaba have indicated,
  760. the arrest of Txeroki is a landmark event in the GOS\'s more
  761. than 40-year battle against ETA. He is now in jail in Paris,
  762. where authorities have been unable to match the ballistics of
  763. the guns found in his possession with those used in the
  764. Capbreton murders. French officials have nevertheless
  765. charged him with leading a group with the objective of
  766. preparing a terrorist attack (ie., the Capbreton murders).
  767. The arrest also marks an important political victory for the
  768. Zapatero administration, especially when viewed of the
  769. context of other senior level ETA arrests since the end of
  770. ETA\'s ceasefire - three in 18 months and two in the last six
  771. months. The GOS post-Barajas crackdown on ETA is putting the
  772. squeeze on the group, whose internal divisions over the past
  773. several years are now being portrayed as a true split between
  774. the Txeroki and Thierry factions.
  775.  
  776. 13. (S) COMMENT (CONTINUED): Zuloaga is right to caution
  777. against over-emphasizing the importance of Txeroki\'s arrest
  778. and Rubalcaba prudently states that the end of ETA is not at
  779. hand, but the arrests are indeed significant and will cause
  780. further damage to the dramatically weakened terrorist group,
  781. which appears to reeling from a series of problems which
  782. include an internal schism on the direction the group should
  783. take, declining social support in the Basque Country which
  784. has led to decreased fundraising from their extortion
  785. activity, low morale and paranoia ht the group has been
  786. infiltrated by the security services, frequent arrests that
  787. have created a larger (and politically divided) prison
  788. population than ever before, and an increasingly younger,
  789. more inexperienced leadership at the helm of the group. In
  790. the long term, Beltran suggests that the disenchanted ETA
  791. prison population -- which includes numerous former leaders
  792. of the group, whose views apparently carry weight -- is \"one
  793. of the keys\" to an eventual resolution of the conflict. He
  794. says the GOS has been engaging them to secure their support
  795. for an end to the violence. END COMMENT.
  796. AGUIRRE
  797. "
  798.  
  799.  
  800.  
  801.  
  802.  
  803.  
  804. "196986","3/16/2009 8:23","09MADRID272","Embassy Madrid","SECRET","08MADRID1055|08MADRID1231|08MADRID1306|09MADRID139","VZCZCXRO0202
  805. RR RUEHDBU RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHNP RUEHROV
  806. DE RUEHMD #0272/01 0750823
  807. ZNY SSSSS ZZH
  808. R 160823Z MAR 09
  809. FM AMEMBASSY MADRID
  810. TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 0377
  811. INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE
  812. RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS 1525
  813. RUEHLA/AMCONSUL BARCELONA 3899
  814. RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC
  815. RUEILB/NCTC WASHINGTON DC
  816. RUCNFB/FBI WASHDC
  817. RUEAWJA/DEPT OF JUSTICE WASHDC
  818. RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC","S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 03 MADRID 000272
  819.  
  820. SIPDIS
  821.  
  822. PASS TO EUR/WE\'S ELAINE SAMSON AND STACIE ZERDECKI,
  823. S/CT\'S MARC NORMAN AND JASON BLAZAKIS,
  824. NSC\'S ELIZABETH FARR,
  825. NCTC\'S PAUL SAUPE
  826.  
  827. E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/16/2024
  828. TAGS: PINR, PINS, PREL, PTER, SP, FR
  829. SUBJECT: SPAIN: EXPERTS SEE WEAKENING OF BASQUE TERRORIST
  830. GROUP ETA
  831.  
  832. REF: A. MADRID 139
  833. B. 08 MADRID 1231
  834. C. 08 MADRID 1055
  835. D. 08 MADRID 1306
  836.  
  837. MADRID 00000272 001.2 OF 003
  838.  
  839.  
  840. Classified By: ADCM William H. Duncan for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d)
  841.  
  842. 1. (C) SUMMARY AND COMMENT: Embassy Madrid recently pulsed
  843. the opinions on Basque Fatherland and Liberty (ETA) watchers
  844. for their thoughts on the relative strength or weakness of
  845. the group. The consensus is that ETA is dramatically
  846. weakened but retains the ability to kill and do significant
  847. damage. One Embassy contact provided to POLOFF and the
  848. Embassy\'s Information Officer an alleged ETA internal
  849. strategy document, which apparently came into his posession
  850. from his contacts in the Spanish security services. Post
  851. cannot independently verify the authenticity of the file,
  852. which our contact described as the ETA equivalent of the
  853. documents retrieved from senior FARC official Raul Reyes\' PC
  854. in 2008. The document, which appears to have been finalized
  855. in December 2008, is highly critical of the group\'s actions
  856. in recent years and maps out a strategy for the way forward,
  857. in which it makes clear that the group intends to fight to
  858. the end and is not seeking \"an honorable exit.\" Post will
  859. pouch a copy of the document to interested parties. END
  860. SUMMARY AND COMMENT.
  861.  
  862. //The Judicial Perspective//
  863.  
  864. 2. (C) On February 24, POLOFF and LEGAT spoke at length with
  865. Magistrate Javier Gomez Bermudez, the President of the
  866. National Court\'s Criminal Chamber, who has overseen several
  867. high-profile ETA trials, including those for the 1995
  868. assassination of the center-right Popular Party\'s regional
  869. leader in the Basque Country, Gregorio Ordonez, and for the
  870. 1997 assassination of kidnapped Basque town councilman Miguel
  871. Angel Blanco. POLOFF and LEGAT asked for the magistrate\'s
  872. thoughts on the relative strength or weakness of ETA and how
  873. he envisioned ETA\'s armed conflict with the GOS would end.
  874. He replied that, for all intents and purposes, ETA already is
  875. over. He couched his comments by adding that there will
  876. always be some thug who will be willing to commit violence
  877. and invoke some vaguely political rationale, but by and large
  878. ETA has been defeated. He further remarked that the number
  879. of deaths ETA causes on an annual basis is nowhere near the
  880. early 1980s, when the rate was one every three days. He
  881. agreed with the notion that ETA receives a disproportionate
  882. amount of press and political discussion compared to its
  883. current threat capability. The amount of violence that
  884. exists today - three or four deaths per year - will never go
  885. away, he claimed.
  886.  
  887. //ETA\'s Capabilities, Weaknesses Discussed//
  888.  
  889. 3. (C) The Ministry of Interior, however, treats the threat
  890. posted by ETA as very real. In a January 15 meeting with an
  891. adviser to the Deputy Minister, POLOFF offered the Embassy\'s
  892. congratulations for the Ministry\'s back-to-back arrests of
  893. two of the terrorist groups\' military leaders in late 2008
  894. (See REFTEL A). The adviser described the arrests as
  895. important, but added, \"we\'re not done yet,\" meaning ETA is
  896. still active. This senior Guardia Civil officer indicated
  897. that he talks with his French counter-terrorism counterparts
  898. about ETA \"every day.\" He also remarked the latest
  899. generation of ETA leaders has less political acumen, a notion
  900. with which Oscar Beltran Otalora, political editor of the
  901. Bilbao-based newspaper, El Correo, and an expert on ETA,
  902. agrees. Most of the ETA operatives today are very violent
  903. and radicalized, but inexperienced and without any education,
  904. Beltran claimed. In a February 6 phone call with POLOFF,
  905. Beltran likened ETA\'s current weakness to the last days of
  906. World War II, when Hitler\'s army comprised \"child soldiers
  907. and old men.\" An entire generation of Etarras is in Spanish
  908. and French jails, he noted. COMMENT: As reported in REFTEL
  909. A, there were a record number of ETA members in jail as of
  910. the end of 2008. END COMMENT.
  911.  
  912. 4. (C) Jesus Maria Zuloaga, the Deputy Director of
  913. conservative-leaning, La Razon newspaper whose bio and
  914.  
  915. MADRID 00000272 002.2 OF 003
  916.  
  917.  
  918. credentials are provided in REFTEL B, discussed ETA\'s status
  919. with POLOFF and Embassy Madrid\'s Information Officer on March
  920. 2. Zuloaga said he still considers ETA to be \"very
  921. dangerous.\" Following the February 9 car bomb attack in
  922. Madrid (See REFTEL A) and keeping in mind the
  923. still-unexplained case of a Madrid gardener who was briefly
  924. kidnapped in September 2008 in an apparent case of mistaken
  925. identity (See REFTEL C), Zuloaga was adamant that ETA has
  926. reconstituted a cell of some kind in the Spanish capital. He
  927. acknowledged that the official GOS stance is that this is not
  928. the case, but Zuloaga claims this is a \"politically
  929. convenient\" position, because if the Ministry of Interior did
  930. publicly state that there was probably an ETA cell in Madrid,
  931. then there would be immense pressure on the Ministry to
  932. neutralize it. Zuloaga said he has spoken with security
  933. services personnel who interviewed the gardener, whose
  934. reputation is that of a stable person who does not abuse
  935. drugs or alcohol, but who now refuses to have his picture
  936. taken by the press and has had to quit his job because he is
  937. terrified and traumatized. Zuloaga suggested that ETA may
  938. have been attempting something similar to its kidnapping of
  939. Miguel Angel Blanco, who was executed after ETA\'s demands for
  940. a ransom were not met.
  941.  
  942. 5. (C) Zuloaga also opined on the recent turnover in ETA\'s
  943. leadership. He commented that he doubts that Jurdan
  944. Martitegi is actually the new military chief, as the press
  945. has reported (See REFTEL A), and suggests that Martitegi is
  946. probably just one of the most high-profile militants still at
  947. large whose name the GOS security forces know. Zuloaga also
  948. speculated on the December 9 arrest of Aitzol Iriondo, the
  949. short-lived successor to ETA\'s long-time military chief,
  950. Txeroki. Zuloaga said that the Spanish security forces only
  951. had a very small handful of officers monitoring the location
  952. where Iriondo was arrested. They could not believe that he
  953. arrived at a location whose security had been compromised
  954. following Txeroki\'s November 17 arrest, which Zuloaga cites
  955. as evidence that Iriondol was either really dumb, was
  956. sacrificed by rivals within ETA who set him up, or that there
  957. is a mole in ETA who tipped off the security services about
  958. his attendance at the meeting.
  959.  
  960. //Alleged ETA File Conducts \"Ferocious\" Self Criticim, Offers
  961. Strategy For Future//
  962.  
  963. 6. (S) Zuloaga (Please Protect) also provided Embassy
  964. officials a 69-page document which he claimed was an internal
  965. strategy document recently prepared by ETA, although Post
  966. cannot independently verify its authenticity. Zuloaga
  967. described the file as the ETA equivalent of the documents
  968. retrieved from senior FARC official Raul Reyes\' PC in 2008.
  969. The document - which is written in Castilian Spanish rather
  970. than Basque/Euskera - is part critical reflection on recent
  971. ETA missteps, part rant against capitalism, globalization and
  972. perceived oppression by the Spanish and French states, and
  973. part political platform for the way forward in building the
  974. type of society ETA would like to see in Euskal Herria, which
  975. would be comprised of the Basque and Navarra regions in Spain
  976. and the three historic Basque provinces in France: Lapurdi,
  977. Naforroa Beheree, and Zuberoa. Zuloaga claims the file
  978. likely was drafted over the course of the 18-month period
  979. from the end of ETA\'s \"permanent unilateral ceasefire\" in
  980. June 2007 until December 2008. Zuloaga suggested the
  981. document was the result of a \"virtual meeting\" of ETA\'s
  982. Executive Committee, its highest ruling body, conducted by
  983. passing the file to one another via thumb drives. He
  984. described its anonymous primary author as an intellectual who
  985. is very experienced within ETA, a mature individual perhaps
  986. in his 40s or 50s, and someone who thinks he knows fairly
  987. well the policies of Spain\'s Socialist President Jose Luis
  988. Rodriguez Zapatero and the Socialist party\'s Basque wing.
  989.  
  990. 7. (S) For longtime ETA watcher Zuloaga, the document is
  991. notable for conveying a much more pragmatic rather than
  992. fanatical tone, while at the same time leaving no doubt that
  993. the group intends to fight to the end and is not seeking \"an
  994. honorable exit.\" In Zuloaga\'s words, the document undertakes
  995. a \"ferocious\" self-criticism of ETA\'s recent past and in
  996. particular calls for a \"profound reflection\" on the
  997.  
  998. MADRID 00000272 003.2 OF 003
  999.  
  1000. limitations of the group\'s recent military operations. In
  1001. particular, the author adamantly asserts that ETA should have
  1002. undertaken a greater number of attacks in the run-up to its
  1003. March 2006 declaration of a \"permanent unilateral ceasefire,\"
  1004. which the author claims would have then enabled the group to
  1005. negotiate with the GOS from a position of strength. The
  1006. document also condemns the group for its lack of preparation
  1007. to develop a clear negotiating position during the ceasefire
  1008. and for not doing more to build public support for its stance
  1009. before, during, and after ceasefire.
  1010.  
  1011. 8. (S) The document acknowledges that ETA currently is
  1012. weakened by Spanish and French security services, which are
  1013. putting considerable pressure on the group and limiting
  1014. recruiting efforts. The author therefore suggests changing
  1015. the group\'s modus operandi to make itself less predictable.
  1016. The document suggests the group ought to conduct attacks
  1017. where and when security services least expect them and also
  1018. urges the group to constantly change its security measures,
  1019. in an effort to better protect its leadership. (COMMENT:
  1020. Zuloaga pointed to the document as the explanation as to why
  1021. ETA did not conduct more high-profile or more destructive
  1022. attacks in the run-up to the March 1 election in the Basque
  1023. Region: it was too predictable. END COMMENT.) The author
  1024. of the document recommends that the group at present
  1025. concentrate on raising money, while conducting \"selective,
  1026. discriminating, and prudent\" attacks in which it seeks to
  1027. cause \"the greatest possible damage to the enemy\'s interests\"
  1028. while making every effort to avoid collateral victims, in an
  1029. effort not to lose whatever public support the group has.
  1030. The document - which identifies 12 different categories of
  1031. approved targets - urges that the group lay low and bide its
  1032. time until a more politically convenient time to step up its
  1033. attacks. The document states, \"It is an accepted reality
  1034. that the keys to the resolution of the conflict will be
  1035. political and will be done through a negotiation process.\"
  1036. However, it concludes by stating that \"ceasefires and truces
  1037. - whether partial or general - will only be established,
  1038. managed and maintained with the objective of reaching
  1039. inflection points and political jumping-off points within the
  1040. process of liberation.\"
  1041.  
  1042. //Comment//
  1043.  
  1044. 9.(C) Anything is possible, but we think a return to the
  1045. negotiating table by Zapatero is unlikely, at least for the
  1046. foreseeable future. The lure of negotiating with ETA for a
  1047. Spanish President is to be the one who delivers a definitive
  1048. end to a 40-year old problem that has baffled all previous
  1049. governments. The risk, as Zapatero found to his cost, is
  1050. that ETA is brutal, untrustworthy, and has an unrealistic
  1051. agenda. Many Spaniards say it has become little more than an
  1052. extortion racket. Zapatero was much-criticized by his
  1053. political opponents during the 2008 general election for his
  1054. policy of negotiating with ETA, particularly when he was
  1055. forced to admit negotiations had continued after the 2006
  1056. Barajas bombing and after he had told the public that
  1057. negotiations had ceased. He would be unwise to risk further
  1058. political damage, particularly as he carries the weight of
  1059. the financial crisis on his shoulders and faces a number of
  1060. regional elections between now and the next general election
  1061. in 2012.
  1062. CHACON
  1063. "
  1064.  
  1065.  
  1066.  
  1067. "208580","5/26/2009 8:58","09MADRID499","Embassy Madrid","CONFIDENTIAL","09MADRID139","VZCZCXRO2494
  1068. RR RUEHDBU RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHNP RUEHROV RUEHSR
  1069. DE RUEHMD #0499/01 1460858
  1070. ZNY CCCCC ZZH
  1071. R 260858Z MAY 09
  1072. FM AMEMBASSY MADRID
  1073. TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 0670
  1074. INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE
  1075. RUEHLA/AMCONSUL BARCELONA 3995
  1076. RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
  1077. RUEILB/NCTC WASHINGTON DC","C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 MADRID 000499
  1078.  
  1079. SIPDIS
  1080.  
  1081. EUR/WE FOR ELAINE SAMSON AND STACIE ZERDECKI
  1082.  
  1083. E.O. 12958: DECL: 05/20/2019
  1084. TAGS: PGOV, PTER, SP, PINS
  1085. SUBJECT: SPAIN: HISTORIC TRANSFER OF POWER IN BASQUE REGION
  1086.  
  1087. REF: A. MADRID 139
  1088. B. OSC EUP20090429950021
  1089.  
  1090. MADRID 00000499 001.2 OF 003
  1091.  
  1092.  
  1093. Classified By: Acting Deputy Chief of Mission William H. Duncan for rea
  1094. sons 1.4 (b) and (d)
  1095.  
  1096. 1. (C) SUMMARY AND COMMENT. On May 5 Socialist Patxi Lopez
  1097. was sworn in as the first-ever, lehendakari, or regional
  1098. governor of the Basque Region, who is not a Basque
  1099. nationalist, an historic milestone for the troubled region.
  1100. His inauguration followed the March 1 regional election (See
  1101. REF A), in which the Socialists won enough votes in the
  1102. Basque Country to form a minority government supported by the
  1103. conservative Partido Popular. Outgoing lehendakari
  1104. (1999-2009) Juan Jose Ibarretxe, whose Basque Nationalist
  1105. Party (PNV) had ruled the region for the past 29 years and
  1106. has struggled to accept being ousted from power, bitterly
  1107. announced his retirement from politics on the day of Lopez\'s
  1108. inauguration. Lopez\'s inauguration - which the Basque
  1109. terrorist group ETA had plotted to attack shortly before its
  1110. latest military chief was arrested - presents a poisoned
  1111. chalice to Spanish President Zapatero in national politics.
  1112. The PNV has withdrawn its support in the Spanish Parliament,
  1113. where it had been a frequent ally to Zapatero\'s minority
  1114. government, which is viewed as increasingly weak and lacking
  1115. in parliamentary allies just as the global economic crisis is
  1116. reaching new depths and unemployment in Spain has topped 17
  1117. percent. The next electoral test for the Zapatero government
  1118. will be the June 7 elections for the European Parliament,
  1119. which several polls suggest will be marked by low turnout in
  1120. Spain and declining enthusiasm for the Socialists. END
  1121. SUMMARY AND COMMENT.
  1122.  
  1123. 2. (U) In regional elections held March 1, the incumbent PNV
  1124. won the most seats and the most votes but failed to secure
  1125. the backing of one or more parties to give it a working
  1126. majority. The vote represented the first serious challenge
  1127. to the Basque nationalists\' hold on power since the first
  1128. post-Franco regional elections were held in 1980. The PNV
  1129. also had held the lehendakari post since it was created in
  1130. 1936, although the lehendakaris spent roughly 40 years in
  1131. exile during the Franco regime. Ibarretxe and the PNV had
  1132. until now relied on the support of radical separatist parties
  1133. to form a parliamentary majority. In this year\'s election,
  1134. however, the radical parties banned by the Spanish Supreme
  1135. Court for their ties to the Basque terrorist group ETA were
  1136. barred from running. An estimated 9.2% of votes cast were
  1137. blank ballots in protest. The Basque Socialists (PSE) won
  1138. enough seats to form a working majority with the conservative
  1139. Partido Popular (PP).
  1140.  
  1141. 3. (SBU) Basque final election results confirmed
  1142. non-nationalist voters (50.45%) outnumbered nationalist
  1143. voters (48.29%) for the first time, meaning a majority in the
  1144. regional parliament will have the votes to counteract any
  1145. nationalist or separatist measures. The conservative PP,
  1146. though it lost two seats, did better than had been predicted.
  1147. Lower voter participation relative to 2005, combined with
  1148. the banning of any ETA-linked parties, hurt the PNV.
  1149.  
  1150. 4. (U) 2009 Basque Election Results, 65.88% Participation,
  1151. 75 Seats Total
  1152. PNV 38.56 percent 30 seats
  1153. PSE 30.71 25 seats
  1154. PP 14.09 13 seats
  1155. Aralar 6.05 4 seats
  1156. EA 3.68 1 seat
  1157. EB-IU 3.51 1 seat
  1158. UPyD 2.14 1 seat
  1159.  
  1160. 5. (SBU) On March 5, the PSE rejected the PNV\'s proposal of
  1161. a \"stability agreement\" offering either a coalition
  1162. government or a legislative agreement that would have allowed
  1163. Ibarretxe to remain his office. After more than three weeks
  1164. of intense negotiations, the PSE and PP established a formal
  1165. compromise to elect Lopez as lehendakari. The PP has
  1166. promised not to censure Lopez as long as the PSE follows
  1167. their negotiated agreement, entitled \"Basis for Democratic
  1168. Change in Service of Basque Society.\" The primary points
  1169. include: the fight against ETA; measures to revive the
  1170. economy, including new job creation; stabilizing the system
  1171. of Basque self-governance; bilingual rights and continued
  1172. implementation of the two official languages (Euskera and
  1173. Castilian); and the prohibition of terrorist propaganda on
  1174. the public radio-television network. Side agreements with
  1175. other parties are not discarded as long as they do not alter
  1176. the PSE-PP accord.
  1177.  
  1178.  
  1179. MADRID 00000499 002.2 OF 003
  1180.  
  1181.  
  1182. 6. (C) There is an atmosphere of optimism and goodwill within
  1183. Spain and the Basque Region that change is imminent that will
  1184. help make the Basque Region \"normal.\" El Pais, Spain\'s
  1185. left-of-center flagship daily, on May 19 published an
  1186. editorial suggesting that the new lehendakari\'s challenge is
  1187. to implement the reforms he campaigned on, while not
  1188. antagonizing the moderate Basque nationalists within the PNV
  1189. and elsewhere, and maintaining the support of the PP.
  1190. However, Prof. Ignacio Sanchez-Cuenca, an ETA and electoral
  1191. politics expert at the Juan March Institute, privately told
  1192. POLOFF on May 20 this task is nearly \"impossible,\" and he
  1193. opted not to speculate how long the PSE government would
  1194. last. He highlights that the PSE\'s minority government holds
  1195. fewer seats than the primary opposition party, the PNV, and
  1196. also suggested that if the PSE\'s accord with the PP falls
  1197. apart, the PSE\'s next likely ally would be with the moderates
  1198. among the PNV, so the PP has an interest in not pushing the
  1199. PSE too hard. Meanwhile, Basque journalist and long-time ETA
  1200. observer Oscar Beltran predicted to POLOFF the PSE minority
  1201. government would last at least two years.
  1202.  
  1203. //Key Players in Basque Politics Following the March 1
  1204. Election//
  1205.  
  1206. 7. (C) Francisco \"Patxi\" Javier Lopez Alvarez was born in
  1207. 1959 in the Basque town of Portugalete. In 1975 he joined
  1208. the Young Basque Socialists movement (serving as its
  1209. Secretary General during 1985-88) and joined the PSE in 1977.
  1210. He was a member of the national parliament during 1987-89
  1211. and has been a member of the regional parliament since 1991.
  1212. He has been Secretary General of the PSE since 2002 and led
  1213. the PSE in the 2005 election, in which he helped the PSE earn
  1214. the most votes while Ibarretxe and the PNV secured the most
  1215. seats. Lopez is married without children. Beltran on May 19
  1216. told POLOFF that he believes Lopez will be very pragmatic and
  1217. will not attempt any \"acts of vengenace\" for the past.
  1218.  
  1219. 8. (C) Rodolfo Ares, the Secretary of the PSE for
  1220. Organization and the right-hand man of Lopez, has assumed the
  1221. key post of regional Minister of Interior, which is charged
  1222. with defeating ETA. Born in 1954, he has spent his career in
  1223. Basque politics. Ares, together with Lopez and Ibarretxe, in
  1224. early 2009 was a defendant in a short-lived trial for holding
  1225. talks with the outlawed political wing of ETA during the
  1226. terrorist group\'s 2006 ceasefire. The case was shelved. (See
  1227. REF A). Beltran has suggested to POLOFF that Aras is the
  1228. behind-the-scenes brains who provides the strategic vision to
  1229. Lopez and the rest of the PSE.
  1230.  
  1231. 9. (SBU) The Basque PP\'s ability to reach an accord with the
  1232. PSE despite several key differences in their policy platforms
  1233. has strengthened the leadership of 39-year-old Antonio
  1234. Basagoiti, leader of the PP\'s Basque wing since mid-2008.
  1235. The PP\'s national leader, Mariano Rajoy, had supported
  1236. Basagoiti\'s promotion. A longtime veteran of Bilbao city
  1237. hall, Basagoiti holds a law degree.
  1238.  
  1239. 10. (SBU) As part of its price for supporting the PSE, the PP
  1240. negotiated that one of its members would preside over the
  1241. Basque Parliament, the second most powerful position in
  1242. Basque politics. On April 3, 35-year-old Arantza Quiroga,
  1243. the number-three official in the Basque wing of the PP,
  1244. became the first woman to hold the post. It is the most
  1245. senior post that a PP official has ever held in the Basque
  1246. regional government. Quiroga publicly self-identifies with
  1247. the conservative wing of the PP. Regional PP officials
  1248. publicly tout Quiroga, who holds a law degree, as a rising
  1249. star.
  1250.  
  1251. 11. (C) In the short term, Ibarretxe\'s retirement leaves the
  1252. PNV under the guidance of Inigo Urkullu, who has been party
  1253. leader since December 2007. Urkullu is known to be more of a
  1254. moderate Basque nationalist, far less strident than
  1255. Ibarretxe, who polarized Basque society with his unyielding
  1256. quest for Basque \"free association\" with Spain. However, the
  1257. PNV remains divided and it remains to be seen whether the
  1258. moderates or the radicals achieve the upper hand.
  1259. Sanchez-Cuenca told POLOFF that Urkullu\'s primary rival for
  1260. control of the PNV will be Josepa Igiber, the ideologue of
  1261. the party\'s radical wing.
  1262.  
  1263. //Weakened and Divided, ETA Lingers as Threat, Despite Even
  1264. More Key Arrests//
  1265.  
  1266. 12. (C) Meanwhile, ETA has announced that it will not
  1267. recognize the authority of the new PSE-led government and on
  1268. April 12 publicly identified incoming senior officials of the
  1269. government as priority targets. ETA publicly declared that
  1270.  
  1271. MADRID 00000499 003.2 OF 003
  1272.  
  1273.  
  1274. Lopez would be the \"primary objective\" of their upcoming
  1275. activities as they \"continued striking out against enemies of
  1276. the Basque Country and its interests.\" These plans were
  1277. derailed on April 18 when the terrorist group, already
  1278. dramatically weakened, suffered yet another blow by Spanish
  1279. and French security services, who arrested ETA\'s latest top
  1280. military leader, Jurdan Martitegi, amidst a plot to explode a
  1281. van-bomb at Lopez\'s investiture ceremony. Martitegi, who
  1282. held the top military post since December 2008, was the third
  1283. consecutive military leader detained in six months while a
  1284. separate joint Spanish-French operation also nabbed Ekaitz
  1285. Sirvent Auzmendi, allegedly ETA\'s top forger, in Paris on
  1286. April 10. Rogelio Alonso, a professor at the King Juan
  1287. Carlos University in Madrid who also works at the Real
  1288. Instituto Elcano\'s Global Terrorist Program, cautioned to
  1289. POLOFF on May 19 not to make too much of this, however,
  1290. noting that ETA has an impressive \"ability to regenerate.\"
  1291. Spanish press reports (See REF B) already identify Iurgi
  1292. Mendinueta, age 27, as ETA\'s most likely new military chief.
  1293. Two women -- Izaskun Lesaka, 32, and Iratxe Sorzabal, 37 --
  1294. allegedly form part of his inner circle. All three
  1295. reportedly are known to Spanish and French security services.
  1296. Sanchez-Cuenca told POLOFF that there is increasing media
  1297. interest in Josu Ternera, a veteran ETA member in the
  1298. political wing, who is likely \"the real power\" in ETA -
  1299. which remains divided. Sanchez-Cuenca suggested that
  1300. Ternera, who favors ETA\'s disarmament and negotiations with
  1301. the GOS, is more important than the last few military leaders
  1302. have been.
  1303.  
  1304. 13. (C) Sanchez-Cuenca also shared with POLOFF an advance
  1305. copy of his lengthy, soon-to-published analysis of the March
  1306. 1 Basque election and its significance. In it, he describes
  1307. ETA as \"an extremely resilient group... with tentacles in
  1308. civil society - unions, student associations,
  1309. environmentalist groups, mass media, culture, etc. - and a
  1310. broad political organization that provides legitimacy and
  1311. public support for violence.\" His article concludes with the
  1312. assessment that \"the political movement around ETA is far
  1313. from disappearing.\"
  1314.  
  1315. //Impact of Change in Basque Government on National Politics//
  1316.  
  1317. 14. (C) For the Socialists, the ability to govern the Basque
  1318. Country is a poisoned chalice. By supporting Lopez\'s efforts
  1319. to become lehendekari, Zapatero helped bring historic change,
  1320. but at the expense of PNV support in the national parliament
  1321. -- just as there are increasing calls on the GOS to fix the
  1322. worsening economic crisis. Seven seats shy of a working
  1323. majority, Zapatero\'s PSOE has just lost the support of the
  1324. PNV\'s six seats, making the Socialists increasingly isolated
  1325. in Parliament. Although there is a precedent in Spanish
  1326. regional politics for the party that wins the plurality of
  1327. seats and votes not to be part of the resulting government,
  1328. the PNV feels burned by the PSE and is in no mood to support
  1329. at the national level the Socialists that just unseated it at
  1330. the regional level. PNV officials frequently have described
  1331. the PSE-PP alliance to POLOFF as \"unnatural\" and \"illogical.\"
  1332. The PNV has already shown its displeasure by voting against
  1333. Zapatero and siding with the PP on congressional votes
  1334. regarding judicial review and infrastructure issues.
  1335.  
  1336. 15. (C) Josu Erkoreka, the PNV\'s parliamentary caucus leader,
  1337. revoked the party\'s support for the PSOE and on March 11
  1338. accused the PSOE and the Spanish judicial system of being in
  1339. cahoots to manipulate the outcome of the March 1 elections in
  1340. Basque Country, to the PNV\'s detriment. On March 11,
  1341. Erkoreka privately told Embassy officials that he sees the
  1342. PSOE in a quickening tailspin in which it will be unable to
  1343. pass any legislation at the national level and professed not
  1344. to understand why Zapatero was sacrificing the Socialists\'
  1345. prospects at the national level for power at the regional
  1346. level in the Basque Country.
  1347.  
  1348. 16. (SBU) Meanwhile, the moderate Catalan nationals,
  1349. Convergence and Union (CiU, which has 10 seats in the
  1350. national parliament) also lost power at the regional level to
  1351. the Socialists in the 2003 and 2006 elections, despite having
  1352. won more seats. The CiU publicly has stated that the PSOE
  1353. cannot automatically count on its support. Among other
  1354. parties in the national parliament, the Republican Left of
  1355. Catalonia has three seats while a handful of other parties
  1356. hold one or two seats.
  1357. DUNCAN
  1358. "
  1359.  
  1360.  
  1361.  
  1362.  
  1363.  
  1364.  
  1365.  
  1366.  
  1367. "230431","10/20/2009 13:38","09MADRID1026","Embassy Madrid","CONFIDENTIAL","09MADRID139|09MADRID499|09MADRID707","VZCZCXRO4671
  1368. RR RUEHDBU RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHNP RUEHROV RUEHSL RUEHSR
  1369. DE RUEHMD #1026/01 2931338
  1370. ZNY CCCCC ZZH
  1371. R 201338Z OCT 09
  1372. FM AMEMBASSY MADRID
  1373. TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 1355
  1374. INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE
  1375. RUEHLA/AMCONSUL BARCELONA 4161
  1376. RUEHMD/USDAO MADRID SP
  1377. RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
  1378. RUEILB/NCTC WASHINGTON DC","C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 MADRID 001026
  1379.  
  1380. SIPDIS
  1381.  
  1382. EUR/WE FOR ALEX MCKNIGHT AND STACIE ZERDECKI
  1383.  
  1384. E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/18/2019
  1385. TAGS: PGOV, PTER, SP, PINS
  1386. SUBJECT: SPAIN: BASQUE REGION REFLECTS ON POLITICAL CHANGE
  1387. IN 2009
  1388.  
  1389. REF: A. MADRID 499
  1390. B. MADRID 139
  1391. C. MADRID 707
  1392.  
  1393. MADRID 00001026 001.2 OF 002
  1394.  
  1395.  
  1396. Classified By: Acting Deputy Chief of Mission William H. Duncan for rea
  1397. sons 1.4 (b) and (d)
  1398.  
  1399. 1. (C) SUMMARY: A broad range of Basque politicians and
  1400. civic leaders privately reflected privately on political
  1401. changes in the Basque Region in 2009 and assessed the first
  1402. four months of the Socialist (PSE) government led by
  1403. Lehendakari - regional premier or U.S Governor equivalent -
  1404. Patxi Lopez (See Refs A and B) in separate mid-September
  1405. meetings with POLOFF. While nearly all of those consulted
  1406. agreed that there has been significant change in the region,
  1407. there were mixed reviews on how successful the PSE government
  1408. has been in its initial months in office. For its part, the
  1409. PSE drove home the message that it is trying to make the
  1410. Basque Region \"normal\" and \"boring\" to counter its long-held
  1411. reputation for violence and conflict. Both the PSE and its
  1412. de facto junior partner, the conservative Popular Party (PP),
  1413. suggested their alliance was likely to last for the duration
  1414. of the four-year legislature. END SUMMARY.
  1415.  
  1416. //PSE: Important Changes Will Take Time to Consolidate//
  1417.  
  1418. 3. (C) Andoni Unzalu, Secretary General for Communications
  1419. and a key Lopez political adviser, Guillermo Echenique,
  1420. Secretary General for Foreign Relations, and Irune
  1421. Aguirrezabal, Director of Foreign Relations, on September 9
  1422. told POLOFF that they were \"satisfied\" with the PSE\'s
  1423. progress to date and suggested that little by little, the PSE
  1424. was implementing important changes, but these symbolic
  1425. efforts were not necessarily quantifiable. These officials
  1426. from the Office of the Lehendakari asserted that they are
  1427. \"winning the first steps of this battle\" and that the public
  1428. knows that Lopez will defend the interests of all Basques.
  1429. They further claimed that the Basque public is \"learning to
  1430. live in more than a monocolor world\" after 70 years of
  1431. \"totalitarian rule,\" first by General Franco and later by the
  1432. PNV. Unzalu stated that he did not have the least doubt that
  1433. the PSE can count on the support of the PP throughout Lopez\'s
  1434. full four-year term, arguing that it would be political
  1435. \"suicide\" to break their accord (Ref A). Separately, Idoia
  1436. Mendia, spokesperson for the Office of the Lehendakari, told
  1437. POLOFF \"it\'s true\" that the PP and PSE have \"nothing in
  1438. common\" in terms of their social and economic policies, but
  1439. their pact serves the Basque Region and is open for other
  1440. parties to join. She said the most important thing that has
  1441. happened so far under PSE rule is that the public has seen
  1442. that the region did not \"implode\" under non-nationalist rule.
  1443. She asserted that the PSE is trying to emphasize dialogue in
  1444. its interaction with other parties and the public.
  1445.  
  1446. //PP Sees \"New Era\" in Basque Region//
  1447.  
  1448. 4. (C) Anton Damborenea, President of the PP in the Basque
  1449. province of Vizcaya, and Leopoldo Barreda, spokesperson for
  1450. the PP caucus in the regional parliament, were positively
  1451. giddy in reflecting on the \"night and day difference\" in the
  1452. political fortunes of the PP Basque wing over the past year.
  1453. They assessed that the March elections and the subsequent
  1454. PSE-PP pact to form a government have created the \"end of an
  1455. era\" in Basque politics and that the region has entered
  1456. \"uncharted territory\" in which \"everything is unwritten.\"
  1457. They said that although some leading conservative opinion
  1458. leaders grumbled about PP regional leader Antonio Basagoiti\'s
  1459. pact with the PSE, the PP national party headquarters itself
  1460. never objected to the deal. The two PP officials suggested
  1461. that the PSE-PP accord would likely hold for the full
  1462. legislature but will become strained as the next scheduled
  1463. regional election draws closer. The duo also delighted in
  1464. saying that the Basque public is \"learning that the PNV is
  1465. just another party.\"
  1466.  
  1467. //PNV Still Adjusting to Life as An Opposition Party//
  1468.  
  1469. 5. (C) Offering a different perspective, Inaki Goikeotxeta,
  1470. the senior official on foreign policy issues within the
  1471. Basque Nationalist Party (PNV) admitted that 2009 has been \"a
  1472. pretty tough year\" and suggested that what has occurred in
  1473. the Basque Region has not been an era of change but a change
  1474. of era. However, he was adamant that the PNV did not \"lose\"
  1475. the March 2009 election, as is sometimes reported in the
  1476. media. He pointed out that - despite being dislodged from
  1477. office for the first time since 1980 - the PNV won the most
  1478.  
  1479. MADRID 00001026 002.2 OF 002
  1480.  
  1481.  
  1482. seats in the regional parliament and the largest percent of
  1483. the popular vote (Ref A). Goikeotxeta said it was \"amazing\"
  1484. that the PSE and PP aligned in a \"marriage of convenience\"
  1485. and asserted that the only thing they accomplished was to
  1486. remove the PNV from power. He pointed to a July 2009 poll by
  1487. Euskobarometro - the region\'s most respected polling firm -
  1488. that found that 65 percent of respondents had little or no
  1489. faith in the Lopez government. He further alleged that the
  1490. PSE and PP do not have any policy initiatives beyond the
  1491. accord they signed. Goikeotxeta criticized the PSE\'s efforts
  1492. to take down public posters and photos that glorify ETA
  1493. members (Ref C), calling this move too provocative for ETA
  1494. and some Basque nationalists. He suggested that the PSE\'s
  1495. \"cure was worse than the illness\" and said that the situation
  1496. needs a \"prudent, proportional response.\" He concluded his
  1497. evaluation by describing the PSE government as \"weak\" and
  1498. \"looking for our (the PNV\'s) help.\"
  1499.  
  1500. //Thoughts from Observers of Basque Politics//
  1501.  
  1502. 6. (C) Eduardo Uriarte, Manager of Foundation for Liberty,
  1503. says there has been \"enormous change\" in the Basque Region in
  1504. the past year, although it has not happened as the Socialists
  1505. envisioned, since it has involved a PSE-PP partnership. He
  1506. assessed that \"bit by bit\" there are \"appreciable changes\" in
  1507. the Basque Region under the Lopez Administration and judged
  1508. that the PSE has done well in defending civil rights, in
  1509. counter-terrorism initiatives and in supporting victims of
  1510. terrorism. Uriarte added that he notes a certain relaxation
  1511. in the political atmosphere in the Basque Region these days
  1512. and - echoing Mendia - suggested that the public is realizing
  1513. that life under PSE rule is not as bad as the Basque
  1514. nationalist doomsayers said it would be. He said that for
  1515. the first time people are beginning to mix socially with
  1516. other people who do not hold the same political views.
  1517. Uriarte is a former ETA member who was sentenced to death at
  1518. the famous Burgos trial of 1970, received amnesty during
  1519. Spain\'s transition to democracy and later was active in
  1520. Basque municipal politics as a Socialist. His NGO lobbies
  1521. for peace in the Basque Region, as well as an end to ETA.
  1522.  
  1523. 7. (C) According to Maite Pagazaurtundua, President of the
  1524. Association for Victims of Terrorism, under PSE rule, there
  1525. has been a \"qualitative jump\" in support for victims of
  1526. terrorism. She said that under former PNV Lehendakari
  1527. (1999-2009) Juan Jose Ibbaretxe, the regional government
  1528. provided a bare minimum of support to terrorism victims \"to
  1529. cover appearances,\" but was never truly committed to victims\'
  1530. rights as a political priority. In contrast, Pagazaurtundua
  1531. deemed important the Lopez Administration\'s political will to
  1532. make real changes in this area. She also applauded the Lopez
  1533. Administration\'s initial steps to end a sympathetic editorial
  1534. slant to ETA in programming on the Basque public television
  1535. and radio network.
  1536.  
  1537. 8. (C) Oscar Beltran, editor of Bilbao-based El Correo
  1538. newspaper, offered a \"wait and see\" approach to the PSE\'s
  1539. initiatives, suggesting that the Lopez Administration was
  1540. still in the formative stages and had not accomplished too
  1541. much just yet. He pointed out that - broadly speaking -
  1542. officials holding the two most senior levels of power have
  1543. never been in government before and that officials in the
  1544. third and fourth tiers were either appointed by the PNV
  1545. during 1980-2009 or have always fulfilled their duties in an
  1546. PNV-led environment. Beltran suggested that the PSE fears
  1547. their initiatives may be sabotaged from the inside.
  1548.  
  1549. 9. (C) From his vantage point in Madrid, Ignacio
  1550. Sanchez-Cuenca, an ETA and electoral politics expert at the
  1551. Juan March Institute, agreed with the notion that most of the
  1552. PSE government\'s accomplishments to date have been symbolic.
  1553. He also assessed that - because of weak public support - both
  1554. the PSE and PP were under pressure to hide any partisan
  1555. differences and make their pact work. Sanchez-Cuenca
  1556. acknowledged the PSE\'s efforts to remove public murals,
  1557. slogans and posters glorifying ETA, but noted that the
  1558. implementation of that initiative will fall to city halls
  1559. throughout the region, where the political will to do so -
  1560. especially in rural areas - is not very strong. He also
  1561. praised the ascendant career of Basagoiti, whom he said has
  1562. accomplished quite a bit in a little more than a year as
  1563. President of the PP\'s Basque wing.
  1564. CHACON
  1565. "
  1566.  
  1567.  
  1568.  
  1569.  
  1570.  
  1571.  
  1572.  
  1573. "232594","11/2/2009 17:29","09MADRID1072","Embassy Madrid","CONFIDENTIAL","07MADRID1078|08MADRID1055|08MADRID1231|09MADRID139|09MADRID272|09MADRID499|09MADRID707|09MADRID775","VZCZCXRO6485
  1574. RR RUEHDBU RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHNP RUEHROV RUEHSL RUEHSR
  1575. DE RUEHMD #1072/01 3061729
  1576. ZNY CCCCC ZZH
  1577. R 021729Z NOV 09
  1578. FM AMEMBASSY MADRID
  1579. TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 1407
  1580. INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE
  1581. RUEHLA/AMCONSUL BARCELONA 4185
  1582. RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
  1583. RUEHMD/USDAO MADRID SP
  1584. RUEILB/NCTC WASHINGTON DC","C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 MADRID 001072
  1585.  
  1586. SIPDIS
  1587.  
  1588. DEPT. FOR EUR/WE ALEX MCKNIGHT
  1589. DEPT. FOR EUR/WE STACIE ZERDECKI
  1590.  
  1591. E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/25/2019
  1592. TAGS: PINR, PINS, PREL, PTER, SP
  1593. SUBJECT: SPAIN: ETA LOSES MORE KEY LEADERS, EXTENSIVE
  1594. SUPPLIES
  1595.  
  1596. REF: A. MADRID 775
  1597. B. MADRID 707
  1598. C. MADRID 499
  1599. D. MADRID 272
  1600. E. MADRID 139
  1601. F. 08 MADRID 1231
  1602. G. 08 MADRID 1055
  1603. H. 07 MADRID 1078
  1604.  
  1605. MADRID 00001072 001.2 OF 003
  1606.  
  1607.  
  1608. Classified By: ADCM William H. Duncan for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d)
  1609.  
  1610. 1. (C) SUMMARY AND COMMENT: Spanish and French security
  1611. forces have re-doubled their efforts against the Basque
  1612. Fatherland and Liberty (ETA) terrorist group, following the
  1613. high-profile, deadly and destructive attacks that ETA
  1614. executed during July 29-30 to mark its 50th anniversary (Ref
  1615. A). Joint operations since then have notched a string of
  1616. notable successes, including the arrests of ETA\'s political
  1617. leader (who doubled as the group\'s propaganda spokesperson),
  1618. number-two military commander, logistics chief, and liaison
  1619. with ETA members abroad as well as 10 Basque nationalist
  1620. political figures aligned with ETA. Security forces also
  1621. seized more explosives and other supply material in one week
  1622. in August than at any other point in the past five years.
  1623. This cable discusses recent key events in reverse
  1624. chronological order. When viewed in the context of ongoing
  1625. pressure against ETA (Refs B-H) since the formal end of its
  1626. most recent ceasefire (2006-07), ETA faces a tremendous
  1627. shortfall of experienced leaders and increasingly scant
  1628. supplies. Post will provide Septel analysis on who\'s who
  1629. among ETA\'s remaining leadership.
  1630.  
  1631. 2. (C) The domino effect of arrests is likely to continue as
  1632. the most recent detentions - and a trove of documents seized
  1633. as evidence - may lead to the identification and detention of
  1634. still others. Meanwhile, in continuing its longstanding
  1635. tit-for-tat relationship with the security services, look for
  1636. ETA to respond to the recent arrests and seizures by
  1637. conducting attacks where and when it can to buck up sagging
  1638. morale and show the public it remains a force to be reckoned
  1639. with. END SUMMARY AND COMMENT.
  1640.  
  1641. //Detention of Alleged Liaison with ETA Members Abroad//
  1642.  
  1643. 3. (SBU) French authorities, supported by Spain\'s Civil Guard
  1644. (GC), on October 27 arrested Joseba Agudo, a longtime lawyer
  1645. for arrested ETA members, in Hendaya, France. He is accused
  1646. of being the chief of ETA\'s \"Refugee Committee\" and of
  1647. passing along direct orders from ETA during his visits to
  1648. numerous Spanish prisons and various travels to South America
  1649. and Europe. Agudo - whose role was brought to light through
  1650. documents seized during the 2008 arrest of longtime political
  1651. leader (2004-08) \"Thierry\" - reportedly encouraged ETA
  1652. members who had fled abroad to return to fight for the cause.
  1653.  
  1654.  
  1655. //ETA\'s Alleged Political Leader/Chief Spokesperson Arrested//
  1656.  
  1657. 4. (SBU) A combined unit of French police and Spanish GC on
  1658. October 19 arrested ETA\'s alleged political leader, Aitor
  1659. Elizaran, in Carnac, Brittany. Although the Spanish press
  1660. initially provided conflicting reporting on Elizaran\'s exact
  1661. role, Rubalcaba in a press conference that same day
  1662. identified him as the highest-ranking official in ETA\'s
  1663. political apparatus and a member of the group\'s Executive
  1664. Committee. Longtime ETA military chief (2004-08) \"Txeroki\"
  1665. reportedly was influential in appointing Elizaran as
  1666. political chief shortly after May 2008, when Thierry was
  1667. detained. Elizaran, age 30, reportedly is the one who gave
  1668. political orders to ETA and to the \"izquierda abertzale\" (or
  1669. Basque patriotic left). Oihana San Vicente, a key deputy of
  1670. Elizaran\'s, also was arrested. Both were armed and carrying
  1671. false identification and computers. Rubalcaba publicly has
  1672. described the information gathered from the duo\'s arrest as
  1673. \"very valuable.\"
  1674.  
  1675. 5. (SBU) French and Spanish security forces reportedly
  1676. believe that Elizaran was dual-hatted as ETA\'s primary
  1677. spokesperson and served as one of the masked figures who
  1678. regularly appear in video communiques released by the
  1679. terrorist group. The vast array of items recovered from the
  1680. stolen car in which Elizaran was traveling led the Spanish
  1681. press to describe the vehicle as a kind of \"mobile propaganda
  1682. unit.\" Among the items discovered were three sets of black
  1683. berets, white masks, and jackets embroidered with the ETA
  1684.  
  1685. MADRID 00001072 002.2 OF 003
  1686.  
  1687.  
  1688. seal similar to those used in ETA\'s video messages. In the
  1689. house in Carnac where Elizaran was staying, police also found
  1690. a video library, ETA flags, and other assorted symbolic
  1691. emblems used during videotaped messages.
  1692.  
  1693. //Arrest of \"Board of Directors\" for Nascent, ETA-Aligned
  1694. Political Party//
  1695.  
  1696. 6. (SBU) The detention of Elizaran and San Vicente occurred
  1697. six days after the detention of Arnaldo Otegi and nine other
  1698. leaders of the izquierda abertzale for trying to establish
  1699. \"Bateragune\" (whose name translates to \"All Together\") as a
  1700. replacement political party for Batasuna, which was outlawed
  1701. in 2003 for its ties to ETA. The suspects could face 15
  1702. years in jail for belonging to a terrorist group and for
  1703. obeying orders from ETA. It is believed that Elizaran was
  1704. delivering directives to the 10 suspects in this case,
  1705. although initial press reports have acknowledged that proof
  1706. of this may not (yet) be available. On October 16
  1707. Investigating Judge Baltasar Garzon of Spain\'s National Court
  1708. ordered Otegi, the former spokesman of Batasuna and the
  1709. public face of radical Basque nationalists, to be kept in
  1710. preventative detention. Otegi - whom Spanish security
  1711. services believe goes by the name of \"Ronaldinho\" in internal
  1712. ETA correspondence - also was reportedly was seen in France
  1713. with ETA members prior to the late July attacks that marked
  1714. ETA\'s 50th anniversary.
  1715.  
  1716. //ETA\'s Reported Number-Two Military Official Arrested//
  1717.  
  1718. 7. (SBU) On October 11, alleged ETA members Iurgi Mendinueta
  1719. Mintego and Joanes Larretxea Mendiola were arrested in France
  1720. as part of a joint Spanish GC-French Police operation.
  1721. Mendinueta, who also reportedly was close to Txeroki,
  1722. reportedly was the number-two official in ETA\'s military wing
  1723. and had been on the lam since 2002. Some press reports
  1724. earlier this year had identified him as one of three likely
  1725. candidates to take over the military wing after Txeroki\'s
  1726. successor was arrested. Meanwhile, Larretxea\'s mug shot had
  1727. been included in a \"Most Wanted\" poster disseminated by the
  1728. Spanish Ministry of Interior after the late July 2009 ETA
  1729. attacks in Burgos and Mallorca, the latter of which claimed
  1730. two GC victims. Both men are believed to be part of ETA\'s
  1731. military arm, and they were arrested in possession of
  1732. weapons, detonators, detonator cords, fake documentation, and
  1733. various pen drives. At the suspected terrorist hide-out,
  1734. police discovered fake license plates and the machinery to
  1735. make them. Those operations were unrelated to the arrest of
  1736. another ETA member, Ibai Seuskun, in France on October 10.
  1737. Seuskun, on the run from Navarra police for over a year,
  1738. sought help for a gunshot wound in his hand, and the owners
  1739. of the farm were he sought aid turned him in to police after
  1740. he identified himself as an ETA member.
  1741.  
  1742. //Arrest of Trio, including Alleged Logistics Chief and
  1743. Senior Military Wing Official, ...//
  1744.  
  1745. 8. (SBU) French security forces, aided by the Spanish
  1746. National Police, arrested three alleged members of ETA\'s
  1747. military logistics wing on the morning of August 19 in Le
  1748. Corbier, in the French Alps. Aitzol Etxaburu, Alberto
  1749. Machain Beraza, Andoni Sarasola - all reportedly armed and
  1750. carrying false identity papers - were allegedly in charge of
  1751. providing weapons and explosives to cells for terrorist
  1752. attacks in Spain. Extaburu, also known for his close ties to
  1753. Txeroki, had been on the run since his alleged involvement in
  1754. a 2005 car bomb attack in the Basque Region. He reportedly
  1755. became ETA\'s short-lived logistics chief following the July
  1756. 2009 arrest of Itziar Plaza (see Ref B). Like Larretxea,
  1757. Machain rose to public prominence weeks earlier after his
  1758. picture appeared as one of the six ETA suspects wanted in
  1759. connection with the late July 2009 ETA attacks. Sarasola, a
  1760. one-time candidate for the radical left in local politics,
  1761. was profiled in the Spanish media earlier this year as one of
  1762. the three top leaders - along with Mendinueta - of ETA\'s
  1763. military wing following the back-to-back arrests of Txeroki
  1764. and his successor in late 2008. Sarasola\'s brother, Martin,
  1765. was one of the those responsible for the deadly December 2006
  1766. bombing of the T4 parking garage at the Madrid airport that
  1767. brought a de facto end to ETA\'s \"permanent unilateral
  1768. ceasefire.\"
  1769.  
  1770. //... Leads to Largest Arms Cache Seizures Since 2004//
  1771.  
  1772. 9. (C) In the week following the August 19 arrests, French
  1773.  
  1774. MADRID 00001072 003.2 OF 003
  1775.  
  1776.  
  1777. and Spanish authorities located 14 \"zulos\" or hidden arms
  1778. caches in France. These raids resulted in the capture of
  1779. nearly a ton of explosives, more than 200 kilos of ammonium
  1780. nitrate, dozens of weapons, 7,000 rounds of ammunition, 150
  1781. license plates, roughly 250 detonators, a slew of documents,
  1782. forged ID cards, radios, mobile phone cards, tools for
  1783. stealing cars, etc. Two ETA caches discovered on August 20
  1784. alone exceeded the total amount of explosive material seized
  1785. from ETA in all of 2008 and together was sufficient to have
  1786. made 100 limpet bombs or to have carried out at least 50
  1787. attacks, according to the media. In a rare public statement,
  1788. Parisian prosecutor Jean-Claude Marin told reporters on
  1789. August 25 that the week-long crackdown was \"a major blow to
  1790. ETA\'s supply network. There hasn\'t been a find on this scale
  1791. since 2004.\" Oscar Beltran, editor of Bilbao-based El Correo
  1792. newspaper, was more skeptical, however, noting ETA
  1793. traditionally safeguards its operations by compartmentalizing
  1794. its members\' knowledge and duplicating its efforts. On
  1795. September 9 he told POLOFF that while the arrest of these
  1796. three individuals led to the seizure of 14 zulos, it is very
  1797. likely another three individuals know of another 14 zulos.
  1798. CHACON
  1799. "
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