Spain. The terrorist-stamped Basque separatist movement
ETA announced in March a unilateral and permanent ceasefire.
ETA had on several occasions previously temporarily ceased
its violent actions, but never before talked about putting
down its weapons for good. The armed struggle for an
independent Basque country had been waged for nearly four
decades. The ceasefire message was gently received
positively by the Spanish social government. According to
CountryAAH, Prime Minister
José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero emphasized that a long and
complicated peace process was waiting, but that no
concessions to the demands for independence were not
relevant. In June, Zapatero announced that formal peace
talks would begin. The Conservative opposition party PP was
critical and opposed all talks with ETA before the group was
disarmed and disbanded. In December, the first talks were
reported to have been held between the government and the
separatists. But just before the New Year, ETA took on the
blame for an explosion that occurred at an airport in Madrid
and lightly injured 19 people. This led to the government
interrupting the peace talks.
A new constitution for Catalonia was approved in June in
a referendum in the region, which thereby extended its
already extensive self-government. At the same time, the
constitution was a significantly watered down version of the
proposal adopted by the regional parliament in 2005.
writings about Catalonia as a "nation" are faded. Political
disagreement over the proposal caused Catalonia's coalition
government to split, leading to new elections in the region
in November. The largest party, the nationalist party CiU,
strengthened its position somewhat, but the three left
parties that were part of the former coalition were given
enough mandate to form a new government.
During the year, the Canary Islands became a new target
for Africans trying to get to Europe to work. More than
31,000 people, according to Spanish authorities, came to the
archipelago, often in small and poorly safe boats. The
majority were West Africans, but there were also many Asians
among the boat refugees. Many hundreds, perhaps thousands,
perished on the road. The authorities saw the storm as a
growing humanitarian disaster and appealed to the rest of
the EU for help. Spain also signed agreements with Senegal
on extended patrol of the coast.
Twenty-nine people were indicted in April, suspected of
involvement in the terrorist attack against several commuter
trains in Madrid in 2004.
In July, more than 40 people were killed and many were
injured when a subway train in Valencia derailed. According
to the Accident Investigation Board, the train ran twice as
fast as allowed when the accident occurred. The driver was
among the dead.
Galicia in northwestern Spain was hit unusually hard by
forest fires towards the end of the summer. At least 86,000
ha of forest were destroyed in over 100 fires, many of which
were suspected of being planted. Several people died in the