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Interview With Arnaldo Otegi GARA June 19 2011

Interview With Arnaldo Otegi GARA June 19 2011

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Published by Darrin Wood
Interview with the imprisoned leader of Batasuna, Arnaldo Otegi.
Interview with the imprisoned leader of Batasuna, Arnaldo Otegi.

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Published by: Darrin Wood on Jun 21, 2011
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, 2011.[
 (Interview conducted by GARA, translation by Darrin Wood. Any errors are on the part of the translator).Several months have passed since your last interview. What do you make of how thingshave evolved since then?
Before making a general recap in political terms,I would like to highlight and evaluatethe capacity and maturity spent by the nationalist left, that even in extreme conditions, has beenable to fundamentally review its strategy in line with the needs that the process of national andsocial liberation in this historical phase. It has also maintained unity and cohesion in the face of afew states that have tried to neutralize it by all means, weaken and even break it, which havefailed. This is a battle we're winning against the state.In political terms, my bottom line is that our change of strategy has broken thedeadlocked agenda that the state handled with absolute comfort. Today, the sovereign leftistindependence movement sets the political agenda in Euskal Herria.Just compare our situation three years ago with the present to corroborate not only the scope of our progress, but the liberating potential of our new strategy. We have exponentiallyincreased popular participation in the mass struggle, we have stabilized strategic alliances withother popular sectors, we have changed the balance of forces, we have engaged the internationalcommunity in resolving the political conflict, we have regained our credibility with our  people, and in just a few years we have placed the Independent left as the second political forcein Southern Euskal Herria, with more than 310,000 votes. This only reinforces our confidencein the path taken, remembering that it will be long, hard and difficult.And as for the Spanish state, we see that its¶ legitimacy has weakened and that it has increasingdifficulty in maintaining a position of immobility.
adrid still has a blocking strategy. How do you evaluate it and what can be doneto overcome it?
 I want to reiterate something: the state will change its repressive strategy only when it willgenerate more costs (in political terms, public opinion ...) than benefits. It's a matter of credibilityand power relationships. In this sense, the battle for the legalization of Sortu or the presence oBildu in the election I think is relevant in terms of political pedagogy. Why has Bildufinally been able to be present? Because there was a cascade of accessions and declarations fromdifferent sectors for Bildu, so that the pressure at all levels was unsustainable, even for areas othe judiciary. In this sense, it was a battle that was a step ahead of the Basque popular majority against the most reactionary sectors of the state.
rom this we can draw a clear conclusion for the future: with organization, with great force,loyalty and cohesion with the Basque society, with popular mobilization in parameters of democratic confrontation, we can win new battles in the future. And we will win.
What is your assessment of Bildu¶s results?
 The results were historic. The left-independence movement now occupies the central line inthe Basque political space. These results have led to a veritable political earthquake. On the onehand they show the absolute falsehood and weakness of those arguments that seek to conveythe idea of our weakness and even political defeat. On the other hand lay bare the true nature of virtual reality pacts passed PSE or PP-PP-UPN-PSN.
What are the reasons for the electoral success of independence?
 There are different reasons, but I think there is a structural and fundamental: the Basque people have wished to convey a massive, loud and clear support for a strategythat develops ways and exclusively peaceful and democratic channels. I would like toemphasize one thing: not the Basque people who have connected with the nationalist left, but itis we who have come to connect to a widespread desire of the majority in the independencemovement to replace the previous strategy of confrontation by betting on democratic means.There are other factors: the amount of Bildu¶s effort in gathering forces, the depletion oa policy management model subject to the interests of economic elites, the search and needfor an alternative social model ... All these factors have undoubtedly contributed to the success of the independence of electoral left.
What will happen now? Do you believe Bildu will be able to govern in Guipuzcoa, forexample?
Let me first reflect on the subject of institutions. There are two things that should fill us withrevolutionary pride.
irst, the commendable work of the thousands of men and women of thenationalist left in the institutions over the past 40 years have demonstrated our honesty andcommitment to the people. We were never involved in cases of public financial scandals, andsecondly, I want to highlight the nervousness detected in certain economic and political elites,that are only due to one reason: they know that we will not roll over for their interests, but for allof Basque society.Otherwise, I would re-emphasize something that has been and is a watchword for the nationalistleft in regard to the institutional work. Institutions also are a tool and not an end in itself. Thegoal is not to manage the institutions, but to do so in the service of the social and political changedemanded by the nationalist left-wing people, and doing right with the participation of theeconomic, social and union organizations.
You¶ve often talked of the inevitability of a "second transition" in the Spanish State. Howdoes this matter today?
Time is proving us right. Today everyone is aware of the need to overhaul the reform model builtafter 
ranco. And the economic crisis has not only sharpened the need, but is now not only aneconomic crisis but a political crisis, a crisis of the territorial model, a crisis of the rule of law, of democracy ... This tells us that we are approaching a bottleneck that this second transition isindeed inevitable.
Does the State have the will to deal with this "second transition" in a democratic way?
 It¶s not a problem of will, it is a problem of the balance of power. Did the State have the will for Bildu to participate in the elections? Obviously not, but it had articulated a correlation of forcesfavorable to legalization ...I think we should draw a lesson for the future from this fact and stated in terms of intellectualreflection. Block out all those who have opposed the legalization of Sortu or Bildu: PP, PSOEsectors, media, police unions ... they are the ones who are opposed to a real democratization of the Spanish State. And on the other side put all the sectors that have been in favor of legalization:sectors of the PSOE, PSC, PCE and IU, CiU, PNV, ERC, BNG, Izquierda Castellana, RedCurrent ... there are other sectors that are interested in the development of a genuine democratictransition in the state.
What do you think of the
ay 15
ovement (15-
 The question to be asked is why it has arisen in this context. There is no doubt that the brutaleconomic crisis is at the origin, but the request and requirement (which we share absolutely) in areal democracy, that is participatory, popular and policy which is imposed on markets beyond aconjunctural response and requires a revision of the structural model of the transition.
The democratic process is a key concept behind the initiative of the nationalist left. Whatstage do you believe it is in?
 We engaged in a unilateral phase, to the extent that the advances made are the result of our decisions and initiatives, and not the result of any agreement with the state. The objectives of thisfirst phase have been defined by the Declaration of Gernika: legalization and what we mightdefine as a phase of ³humanization´ of the conflict (sick prisoners, dispersion, special laws, etc.)as part of a unilateral, indefinite and verifiable ceasefire declared by ETA. We must continuedeveloping initiatives by adding forces and mobilizing around Gernika, towards a scenario of non-violence with guarantees and political normalization. And also go gradually involving theinternational community in resolving the conflict. Clearly we still have to keep adding initiativesfor the normalization of politics.
Viewing the State's position, is it plausible to think now about the negotiation of aframework that would be democratic or would that come at a later stage?
 We must start from the basis that today we do not have a relationship of sufficient strength to

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