Thousands of people took to the streets in Spain last night to protest against the militant Basque separatist group, ETA. In the capital, Madrid, demonstrators walked behind banners calling for peace, dialogue and in memory of two Ecuadorian immigrants killed by an ETA bomb at Madrid airport late last month.
Despite the appearance of unity, the march was somewhat overshadowed by a political row over who should take part and under which slogans. It meant the main opposition Popular Party did not send any representatives – the first time a major party has been absent from an anti-ETA protest since the 1970’s.
But Santiago Morales, head of the Ecuadorians in Spain Federation said he’d received thousands of emails from PP activists expressing their support. The same row over slogans meant ETA’s banned political wing, Batasuna, stayed away from a march in the northern city of Bilbao. It protested against calls for the armed group to end violence. The president of the Basque autonomous government, Juan Jose Ibarretxe, promised the crowd that he would continue to fight to achieve peace by purely political means.