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Navarra has been the source of what I, wrapped in tinfoil, interpret as a campaign to derail the peace process even before it starts. Zapatero is yet to come before Parliament to seek its backing for direct talks with ETA, and is "verifying the ceasefire". In this context, there have been two disturbing developments in the past two weeks.

Two weeks ago, the UPN (Union of the navarran People, the Navarran branch of the PP) denounced that extortion letters had been sent by ETA to Navarran entrepreneurs after the ceasefire. It turned out that the letters were likely sent in February (dated "March") to four entrepreneurs politically close to the independentists, and in a complicit, non-threatening tone.

This week, there were two cases of "street violence" (in one of them, a business belonging to a UPN member was burnt down). The UPN claimed that the attacks had been ordered by ETA (it has long been established that street violence in the Basque country by nationalist youth is often not spontaneous, and is part of a campaign called Kale Borroka or "street fighting"). The president of the regional government of Navarra (UPN) went as far as to say that he had evidence of this from the security forces, but had to retract his statements yesterday after the central government came out strongly saying there was no evidence the attacks had been ordered by ETA. Batasuna even deplored the attacks in public statements (which is unheard of).

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Apr 27th, 2006 at 04:20:08 PM EST

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