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Basque violence on the rise

Clashes between radical Basque nationalists supporting Navarra's integration into the Basque country and 30,000 demonstrators in Pamplona highlight the degree to which Navarra is caught in the cross fire of Spain's Basque war.

Pamplona, the capital of Navarra, is probably Spain's most divided city, and long before the latest outbreak of violence a leading politician called it "a potential Ulster." This week's demonstration was called by moderate politicians as a protest against terrorism. It came after the militant Basque separatist organization Euzkadi ta Azkatasuna (ETA) announced it was going to step up its campaign of violence in Navarra to force a referendum on incorporating the province into the newly autonomous Basque country.

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The Basque nationalists rest their case on the fact that in Roman times Navarra was the Basque homeland. But in recent history, during the Spanish civil war, unlike the three undisputably nationalist Basque provinces (Alava, Guipuzcoa, and Vizcaya), Navarra fought on the side of Gen. Francisco Franco. As a reward, Navarra retained a considerable degree of autonomy during the Franco dictatorship. Many Navarrese now feel that they would be better off developing the institutions they already have (including a parliament) rather than opting for a subordinate role in a united Basque country where the autonomy statute still has to be fleshed out.

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