Zach Campbell at Harper's Magazine:
Some say that Arnaldo Otegi is an assassin. Others call him a peacemaker. Given his history, he might be a little of both. Otegi used to be a member of E.T.A., the armed militant group that fought in Spain for fifty years for an independent Basque state, first against the dictatorship of Francisco Franco in the 1960s and ’70s and later against the country’s democratically elected government. Otegi has gone to jail on terrorism charges three times, and is now the leader of the second strongest electoral force in the Basque Country. His actions led to E.T.A. issuing a ceasefire seven years ago, but the group still hasn’t disbanded.
In the Basque Country, violence is often justified behind closed doors. Since its inception in 1959, E.T.A. has killed over 800 people and, for decades, kidnapped and extorted to finance their activities. In response, Spain’s civilian and military police, and paramilitary groups financed by the Spanish government, killed hundreds and tortured thousands, even after the country’s transition to democracy. At different times in history, both sides have had enormous popular support in the Basque Country, and it has divided the region as much socially as it has politically. Here in many workplaces, schools, social circles, and even families, people found themselves on opposite sides of the conflict. Now after fifty years of conflict, Otegi says he knows how to end the war.