For years, the “anti-terrorist” harder message against the Basque organization ETA was a factor in attracting votes for the right-wing Spanish Popular Party, now in government (1). In marked decline in the polls for the upcoming elections (2), this party is now trying to resurrect the ghost of ETA, although it ceased its armed activity over three years ago (3).
In this scenario is framed a new campaign led by Spanish newspapers close to Government, including “El Mundo” (4) and “ABC” (5) about the presence of ETA members in Cuba.
It all started with the recent visit to Havana of Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, Spanish president. His visit, a private one, was framed in an international initiative that calls on governments to the definitive abolition of the death penalty. Cuba still remains in its Penal Code, although not applied since 12 years ago (6).
Cuban President Raul Castro personally serviced the request of Zapatero, who in turn supported Cuba in its claim to be removed from the “list of countries that support terrorism” prepared by the White House, which implies sanctions added to the block that already suffers the island (7).
Fact that Raul Castro had received Zapatero and had not received to the current Spanish Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo in November, irritated the Spanish Government and its nearest press (8).
The newspaper “El Mundo” even published in little more than a week up to 16 notes and articles justifying the tantrum of the Spanish Government (9).
The García- Margallo Minister criticized Zapatero with an argument that discovers how Spain is trying to obstruct the nascent Cuba-US dialogue: Madrid would be asking the White House to keep Cuba in that “terrorist list” while La Habana no extradite to Madrid two ETA members residing in Cuba (10).
In that way, Government and Spanish press took the opportunity to revive the myth of the Cuban government alleged collaboration with ETA.
Remember that these people were accepted in Cuba -as others in Panama , Uruguay , Nicaragua, Cape Verde, Sao Tome , Venezuela and the Dominican Republic- over 30 years ago and as a response to an express request of the Spanish government of Felipe González (11). The current request for the extradition of two of them would be based on their names supposedly appeared on the computer of the Colombian bushwhacker leader killed in 2008, Raúl Reyes (12), whose hard drives were (according to numerous human rights organizations) manipulated by Colombian Intelligence Services (13).
The extradition request also seems out of time: the FARC negotiated with the Colombian government for two years a definitive peace precisely in Havana (14); and ETA had definitely ceased fire for more than three years (15).
On February 28 , journalist of the newspaper ” El Mundo ” Angels Escrivá , in a text entitled ” Spain seeking extradition of two historic ETA to Cuba ” , exercised de facto spokesman of the Spanish Government ( 16). ` Havana gave no answer ( to the above request for extradition ) , he said, despite ( …) which is key for Spain would approve the claim ” of Cuba to be removed from the US list of partner countries with terrorism.
This arrogant and neocolonial blackmail played a trick on the journalist, who committed two anthology rabbits in the story.
At fist was affirmed that “the issue (extraditions) is a key for Spain to withdraw the Castro regime from the list of countries collaborating with terrorism”; confusing the authorship of the famous list and attributing that to Spain, not to the US government that is which really makes it. In other way, referring to two ETA members who allegedly live in Cuba, recognizing that “nobody of them have pending cases” with the Spanish Justice, added that “their deportation to Spain would demonstrate a good volition” from Cuba. The question is obvious: if these people have no pending cases, what is the judge to which should give them Cuba?
Summarizing, the Popular Party uses, once again, the “terrorism” theme to attract an electorate that is in mass escape; and the great Spanish press show, once again, its propagandist role. In this case, the propagandist role is not only for the Spanish government, but from the US policy positions that stay also at right of the White House (17).