“Sortu is not a succession of Batasuna or of anyone else,” says Iñaki Zabaleta, a journalism professor in the Universidad del País Vasco who read a party statement and identified himself as a “promoter” of the new party. “Credibility needs to be earned. We ask for a chance.”
After numerous false promises and broken cease-fires, though, few are willing to give the benefit of the doubt to the rebranded Batasuna, which in its statutes claims it wants to end all types of violence, with a specific mention of ETA.
Alfredo Pérez Rubalcaba, Spain’s deputy prime minister and Interior minister, said Batasuna has “minimal” credibility, while adding that this “is the first time in many years” that it “has explicitly rejected violence.” But he warned “we have a long way to go and in the meantime I do not want anyone to forget that ETA has yet to declare a definitive end to violence.”
Skepticism was also palpable during a chaotic and confrontational press conference where Sortu supporters were joined by two foreign “guarantors,” including a high-ranking party official of Sinn Féin, the political wing of the dissolved Irish Republican Army.
Journalists asked why Sortu didn’t show its independence by publicly demanding that ETA disband and surrender their weapons, echoing the feeling of a vast majority of Spaniards.