As the battle for the right of Catalonia to vote on independence rages between the Spanish government in Madrid and the independence-oriented Catalan parliament in Barcelona, major developments have taken place in one of the most famous struggles for independence on the Iberian Peninsula — the Basque Country.
More than 400 workers from several unions, notably the CFMEU, took their fight straight to billion dollar miner Rio Tinto for its complicity in sacking Australian seafarers and replacing them with foreign workers, who are paid as little as $2 an hour. On February 5 in the Port of Newcastle, five crew members were marched down the gangway of the CSL Melbourne by more than 30 police. Those same police escorted the foreign replacement crew onto the ship to sail it away.
An international campaign for the release of jailed Basque pro-independence leader Arnaldo Otegi was launched at a conference in the European Parliament in Brussels on March 24. A statement calling for Otegi’s release was announced at the conference, which has been endorsed by international figures including former Latin American presidents, Nobel Prize winners, political representatives and former political prisoners.
On September 5, the Basque armed group Euskadi Ta Askatasuna (Basque Homeland and Freedom, ETA), which has fought an armed struggle for Basque freedom for decades, released a video declaring that several months ago it had decided to stop armed actions, and announced a ceasefire. In its statement, ETA said: “In recent times, the Basque country has been at an important crossroads. The political struggle has opened up new conditions... “The time has come to build a democratic framework for the Basque country respecting the wishes of the majority of the Basque people...