The big news today here in Spain is that they've made Batasuna, the political arm of the ETA, illegal. You can find more details here on CNN.com.
This has been playing out over the past weeks, but today is the day a judge approved the three year ban and the government clamped down. They're shutting down Batasuna offices, turning off the water and lights and telephone, even going so far as to demand that Batasuna's ISP remove their website from the internet. Basically, they're trying to erase their presence from the map.
I understand that they are not a very nice party, affiliating themselves with ETA similiarly to how Sinn Fein associated themselves with the IRA. However, the members of the Batasuna party have been freely elected in a democratic process. From what I understand, their main crime has been to not condemn the ETA and their attacks.
The whole thing is just sad to me. To see a new democracy like Spain try to fix one of their principle problems by undemocratic means. Just because they erased Batasuna doesn't mean they've erased the problem, it just means they have no one to talk to now to find a solution to the problem. Do the people who were part of or voted for Batasuna suddenly disappear? No. Do they stop wanting the separation of the Basque homeland? No. Now that they don't have any political means of expressing their opinions will they resort to supporting the ETA even more with monies and, more importantly, moral support? Yes.
I think it was pretty dumb of the government and the other political parties to outlaw one of their own, no matter how detestible. Who's next? The POSE (the opposing party) because they don't agree with the government on some issue? It's just not the way you DO things!
My wife, feels exactly opposite about this. She, like all the Spanish, have spent a lifetime living with the crimes of the ETA and are desperate to find some solution, and I understand her feelings. But I just can't imagine this is the way to fix anything.
Later... I published this same post over on MadridMan.com's message board because I knew I'd get some intelligent and enlightening responses. You can see the thread here. There are some good thoughts there (basically almost everyone disagrees with me... NOT surprising in the least. I could be wrong, like I've said, it's been known to happen.)