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Spain: reactionary bombing kills workers and youth

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On 11 March at least 198 people were killed in co-ordinated bomb attacks on rush hour commuter trains at Madrid's train stations.

The League for the Fifth International unequivocally condemns this savage and indiscriminate bombing, which targeted workers on their way to work, children on their way to school.

In short, people with no connections whatsoever to the repressive policies of Spanish state. Whatever the motives of the bombers – whether these were linked to Spanish support for the US war and occupation of Iraq, or the government's suppression of the Basque people's right to self-determination – this terror attack will only strengthen the perpetrators of these reactionary policies.

Such attacks will propel Spanish workers, who demonstrated in their millions against Bush’s war last year, the essential allies of progressive causes such as freedom for the Basques, into the arms of Jose-Maria Aznar and other reactionary politicians.

11th March will become Spain's 11th September. Aznar is already trying to make as much capital out of it as George W Bush made out of 9/11. Aznar rushed to place the blame on ETA, the Basque nationalist organisation that has carried out assassinations and bombings in Spain before.

Aznar's right wing government has been waging a savage campaign against all those fighting for the right to Basque self-determination. Over 700 Basque nationalists are currently rotting in Spanish jails, many hundreds of kilometres from their homes and relatives, others subject to systematic ill treatment and torture. Aznar – and the European Union – has recently declared the Basque party Batasuna, linked to ETA, illegal, despite its mass electoral support. A range of social organisations pledged to Basque self-determination have been made illegal under anti-terrorist legislation.

The leader of Batasuna, Arnoldo Otegi, took the unprecedented step of denying the attacks had been carried out by Basque separatists. ETA itself blamed "Muslim fundamentalists" for the attack. Nevertheless, shortly after the bombings, the cabinet met in emergency session, and minister of the interior Angel Acebes, declared— “ETA had been looking for a massacre in Spain.

Unfortunately, today it achieved its goal”. Within hours of the carnage, Spain forced a resolution through the UN Security Council, condemning the attacks “perpetrated by the terrorist group ETA” despite there being no firm evidence to back up their claim. Yet, the Spanish government has rushed to turn the heat on ETA in the hope that it can deliver another crushing blow upon the Basque people and garner a few more sympathy votes in Sunday’s election: a cold, opportunistic impulse; certainly not an attempt to find justice for the victims, their friends and families.

Aznar, Bush's and Tony Blair's ardent supporter in the “war against terrorism” has severely stepped up persecution of the Basques since he came to office. A large minority of the Basque population has long desired their own independent country. Many more would like increased autonomy. None have been granted the right to self-determination. Thus the whole Basque people are politically oppressed by the Spanish state, denied a basic democratic right in the same way that the Kurds are denied the same right in Turkey, Iraq and Syria.

A United Nations report released yesterday said that torture of ETA members was commonplace in Spanish police stations. Amnesty International has also documented cases of human rights abuses by the Spanish police and called for tighter controls on "anti-terrorist" police officers. Doubtlessly these uncontrolled abuses will now get worse.
In the aftermath of the fall of the twin towers, all individual terrorist attacks by groups seeking self-determination are cast in the new light of the "war on terror". This gives the Spanish state – guilty of wholesale torture and of the denial of the rights to free expression and association – “legitimacy” to carry out a war on civil liberties.

Whoever carried out the reactionary bombings in Madrid on 11th March clearly has no regard for the working class people and regards the Spanish working class as part of the problem, rather than part of the solution. It could of course fit the pattern of Al Q’aida actions— which show no concern for civilian casualties whether in Arab countries or in “the west”. If any Basque nationalist were proved to be responsible it would mark a terrible degeneration. In either case the real instigators of such reactionary and self-defeating responses are the imperialists themselves with their long term persecution of the Palestinian and Basque peoples.

The perpetrators could just as easily be the sinister fascist cells which still exist in Spain, with links to some sections of the imperialist state machine. But speculation at this point is futile. Whoever they are and whatever their objectives they have undermined the cause of removing imperialist armies from the Middle East or winning self-determination for the Basque people. Objectively they serve the interests of Aznar, Bush and Blair.

However, the working class and anticapitalist movement, the unions and the social forums both in Spain and internationally must firmly resist the attempt by our rulers to use this tragedy to strengthen their own anti-democratic and repressive measures. New draconian anti-terrorist measures will be suggested. Basques and muslim immigrants will be targeted for a hate campaign in the media and the attentions of the police and secret services.

Yet these “forces of order” – or “national defence” – are not in fact defending ordinary people at all. It is clear that the “war on terrorism has massively increased fear and insecurity for ordinary people. The US, UK, Spanish, Italian troops in Iraq are not there to defend freedom and democracy, let alone to defend their own peoples, but to plunder the oil reserves and to secure lucrative contracts for Halliburton and Bechtel.

A handful of millionaires profit and the millions of ordinary people— whether in Iraq or Palestine, the USA or Spain— suffer. That is why the only genuine “war against terrorism” we could wage is against those terrorists on the grand scale— Bush and Sharon, Blair and Aznar. They have killed thousands, not hundreds of innocent civilians. Only when we get rid of these war criminals, and help Iraqis and Palestinians, Kurds and the Basques to win freedom and the right to determine their own future, will we achieve a world freed from all insecurity, oppression and exploitation