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Sunday, March 28, 2004

jumping the pistola

this is a personal translation of the impassioned reaction of a Spanish journalist immediately following the attacks in Madrid a few weeks ago. javier marias, a prominent writer for spain's premier periodical el pais, like most mardileƱos, intially assigned the homegrown terrorist group ETA as responsible for the attacks.

with more insinuations that ETA was not behind the attacks, he responds in his blog to this, his earlier reaction that is a bit emotional and a bit mistaken:

Early in the Morning
Each time that ETA assassinates - and it's almost always done early in the morning, the terrorists get up early, or maybe they don't sleep the night before-, there's a custom that, near midday, those responsible for the city councils step outside the door of their buildings, in the heat, cold or rain, and remain in silence for one or two minutes. Along with them are as many city dwellers that wish to join, normally those who live nearby. It's a very impressive thing, this silence that is at the same time mournful yet condemning, a collective silence, of people who interrupt their daily activities or chores and stand quietly in the middle of the street. If someone utters a shout or a curse against the assassins at that time, their voice is usually quieted because in those moments the true condemnation is to not say anything. And, in spite of the reiteration of this custom throughout so many years, the act has not lost strength, nor has it worn itself out, in comparison to so many other reactions that have become empty as a result of repetition.

Today from inside of my house I noticed this suspicious silence. I looked out of a balcony and from there I saw the mayor and all the town councilors, both of his party and of the opposition, standing quietly in front of the building. There were also more passers-by than usual, stopped passers-by. The flags were at half-mast. "Once again," I thought, "Who's it going to be?" without imagining that this question was meaningless because right now there are only anonymous deaths, and they number one-hundred and seventy eight while I write these lines, and there will be more still, as many of the assassinated have yet to finish dying. In three of four railroad stations in Madrid, thirteen bombs have exploded bright and early, when the commuter trains run full of people going to work, of students going to classes, of sleepy people that just woke up.

It is the bloodiest attack in all of Spain's history, the most massive, when two days remain for the general elections, those that we never miss - for the little that we like the current political parties - we who lived under Franco and yearned to be able to go to the ballot boxes sometime in life. That dictatorship ended. That of ETA remains almost like a prolongation of the other. It's obvious that that organization longs for Franco when before they were able to be seen as a "resistance." …

ETA does not tolerate the existence of a democracy, all of the imperfect that it could be. In the Basque region there hasn't been any type of oppression for more that twenty-five years, at least that which it imposed itself; there is an autonomous government and a widely competent parliament, including a Basque police force against which ETA also attacks once in a while. ETA is just a mafia. Their members and their sympathizers know that if they stop killing that wouldn't be anybody anymore, they wouldn't be "respectable" people anymore, that is to say scary and unscrupulous, in their towns and cities.

There could be a day that ETA dissolves. It is very possible that there will be an amnesty which releases all of its prisoners to the streets, like that which had already begun at the beginning of our democracy, returning freedom to all that were prisoners then, including those who had committed assassinations. ETA will have ended and I am sure that the citizens would consent to this amnesty; they would give it gladly, even if it might be with disgust. But not in our heart of heart, neither in our memory nor in our conscience. There in the land neither civic nor political, there, in the personal and intimate soil, we will never forgive them.

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