dimarts, 22 de febrer de 2005

RÈPLIQUES I REFLEXIONS SOBRE EL REFERÈNDUM

Alguns amics m'han fet arribar comentaris sobre el darrer post. En Salvador diu que de cap manera l'objectiu del tripartit era el trencament del PSC i del PSOE, sinó foragitar CiU del poder. Hi estic totalment d'acord. Potser jo no em vaig expressar bé. El que jo dic és que la millor conseqüència del tripartit, evidentment no volguda al començament, atès que no governava el PSOE, seria aquella que possibilités un trencament entre aquestes dues forces, o bé una visualització fefaent de la total i plena subordinació del primer respecte al segon. Em direu que això ja ha passat. És possible, però ¿ha quedat visualitzat per a àmplies capes de la societat catalana? Penso que no. Aquí té molt a fer ERC. Ha de trobar les escletxes que eixamplin les contradiccions entre les dues formacions. Que hi són, i existeixen. Penso, per exemple, que s'hauria de promocionar molt el paper de "tonto útil" que pot fer el conseller d'economia i finances. El seu zel professional, segurament no farà més que topar amb el sectarisme i el tancament de l'oligarquia central del PSOE. CiU també podria aportar el seu granet de sorra, però la cada cop més gran omnipresència de Duran i Lleida, és preocupant per al futur de la formació.

Sobre el referèndum. La trampa del vot en blanc

Bé ja s'ha celebrat el referèndum. Els resultats del no, si més no al Principat, han estat molt més alts dels que vaticinava el CIS fa uns dies. S'ha arribat al 28.07% de No,s i a un 7.29% de vots en blanc. Cal reflexionar sobre els resultats. Des del primer moment el Sí ha sortit reforçat per l'estratègia institucional i mediàtica. Ningú no dubtava que el Sí trauria més vots que el No. Ara bé, ha guanyat el Sí? Òbviament, si tenim en compte que de 35 milions d'electors, només 10.8 han votat a favor, podem dir que no ha guanyat. Ara bé s'ha beneficiat de l'estratègia de fragmentar el vot no-Sí. Efectivament, els ciutadans que no han donat suport a la llufa, no han posat els ous en un mateix cistell, sinó en tres. Uns, els més, s'han abstingut. Uns altres, han votat en blanc. I els tercers, han votat que no. La fragmentació del vot no-Sí, ha beneficiat al Sí.

Ara bé cal observar la trampa que ha significat la inclusió de paperetes per votar en blanc. S'ha fet una gran propaganda d'aquesta opció, i òbviament era una propaganda adreçada a aquells que no votarien que Sí. MAI abans, en cap elecció o referèndum, hi havia hagut paperetes en blanc. Ho dic clarament, s'ha incentivat que aquells que era clar que no votarien que sí, però que els feia angúnia votar que no -per exemple, per no ser titllats d'euroescèptics o de ser arrenglerats amb Le Pen o amb Batasuna- optessin per votar en blanc. D'aquesta manera s'afeblia el vot del NO. Considero que la immensa majoria del 7.29% de vots en blanc, si no haguessin pogut votar aquesta opció, haurien votat que NO. El vot en blanc, per definició, és un vot raonat i il.lustrat, cívic, per la qual cosa difícilment hauria anat a parar a l'abstenció. Tot i que és qüestionable, però si sumem, els vots pel No i els vots en blanc, al Principat, dóna un 35.36%. També és rellevant que aquest tipus de vot sigui molt més alt a Catalunya que al País Basc i Navarra. En definitiva, doncs, el PSOE, per enèsima vegada, ha tornat a jugar brut. Cal, això no obstant, aprendre aquestes lliçons... per quan siguem nosaltres qui els convoquem.

He dit.

diumenge, 20 de febrer de 2005

CATALAN CONCERNS OVER EU VOTE

By Oana Lungescu
BBC European regional correspondent

On Sunday, Spain becomes the first country to hold a public referendum on the European Union constitution. Three of the 25 members have ratified the treaty in parliament. But Spain is the first of more than 10 countries planning to put it to a public vote. The Spanish government has been pushing the "Yes" vote with campaigns targeting young people and football fans.
But in the north eastern region of Catalonia there is still some indecision.

Twenty years since Spain joined the EU, its economy and infrastructure have grown beyond recognition, pumped up with a net inflow of EU subsidies worth 105bn euros (£96bn). Some of that money is being put to work in Barcelona, one of busiest and most prosperous ports in the Mediterranean Sea.


Common interest

By the end of the decade, it will double in size, to capture some of the growing traffic of goods from Asia currently entering Europe through the North Sea. Joaquim Coello, the president of the port authority, says that one fifth of the money he needs for the expansion will come from the EU. For him, a strong European Union is simply good for business.

"If the EU reinforces its institutions and presence in the world, as well as its internal co-ordination as a common market, that's in our interest from an economic point of view," he says.

Mr Coello is one of very few people in Spain - and in Europe - who have actually read the constitution's 448 articles.

To help the rest make up their mind, the government has distributed five million copies for free. It's also enlisted celebrities, like former football stars Johan Cruyff and Emilio Butragueno, to record radio and television spots. All the mainstream parties, from the ruling Socialist Party to the opposition conservatives have joined forces in calling for a "Yes" vote.

But Anna Terron, a former socialist member of the European Parliament who now heads a government agency lobbying for Catalan business in Europe, is concerned that too few people might bother to vote. "People take Europe for granted, so it's difficult to get a political momentum," she says. There may be even less incentive to vote because the referendum will not be binding.

Catalan pride

But in regions such as Catalonia, some see it as an opportunity to send a political signal not to Brussels, but to the Spanish government in Madrid. Catalonia is fiercely protective of its own identity. Outside the cathedral in Barcelona, young and old gather every Sunday to dance the traditional round dance they call the Sardana.

One of the young men is wearing a T-shirt saying, "Me, Spanish? I'm Catalan!"

Controversially, those leading the "No" campaign are the Catalan nationalists of Esquerra Republicana (ERC) or Republican Left, a key ally of the ruling socialists. Although regions like Catalonia already enjoy a large degree of autonomy, with control over culture, education and health, Catalan nationalists want more - a greater voice for what they call "stateless nations" in Europe and official EU status for their languages.

After all, they argue, Catalan is spoken by around 10 million people, more than the population of several new EU member states like Malta, Estonia or Slovakia. Pilar Dellunde, a regional MP for the Republican Left Party, says Europe should stay true to the motto of the constitution - "United in Diversity."

"We want Catalonia to become an independent state within a federal Europe, so the first step is for our language to be recognised in this treaty," Ms Dellunde says. For ERC, which militates for independence by peaceful means, a "No" to the European Constitution would in effect be a "No" to Spain but a "Yes" to Europe. This may sound contradictory, but it is true.

In Spain, Eurosceptics are hard to find. Unlike Britain, France or Denmark, where "No" campaigners are warning that the EU Constitution will establish a federal superstate and wipe out national identity, both sides of the argument in Spain say they want more European integration, not less. This is a view I heard again among students at the university of Barcelona, where all the posters are calling for a vote against the constitution.


French push

Thousands have benefited from EU-sponsored "Erasmus" grants to study abroad and they're not anti-European. But law student Blanca Mestre told me she opposed the EU Constitution because it was too long, too complicated and too remote from ordinary people. "All my family will vote 'Yes', not because they know what's in it, but because all the media tell us it's a step forward," Blanca explains.

But she is concerned that a "No" vote could be misinterpreted elsewhere in Europe. "I wouldn't like a totally Eurosceptic No, like in Britain, but I'd be happy with a "No" leading to a better constitution," she says.

Several countries will hold referendums by the end of the year, including Portugal, the Netherlands and France. Others, like Denmark, the Czech Republic and the UK - where the fear of losing national sovereignty is highest - are still to set a date, perhaps waiting to see if someone else says "No" first.

For the first time, this treaty allows member states to leave the EU and many think the UK may have to leave if it ends up as the only country to reject the European constitution. But if France, one of the engines of the European project, says "Non" this summer, the EU itself would be thrown into turmoil. It's perhaps an indication of concern that President Jacques Chirac started his campaign in Barcelona, joining the Spanish prime minister in a call for a resounding "Yes" on Sunday.

Like most EU leaders, Mr Chirac is hoping that Spain will set an example for the referendums to come. From this unprecedented exercise in public consultation, the EU could emerge more united in diversity - or more divided than ever.

Story from BBC NEWS:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/2/hi/europe/4273977.stm

Published: 2005/02/17 14:49:25 GMT

© BBC MMV

dissabte, 19 de febrer de 2005

NO M'HE TORNAT BOIG

Us ho puc ben jurar. No m'he tornat boig i, tot i l'hora que és quan escric això, no he begut ni una gota d'alcohol. La possibilitat, remota, però possibilitat, de què dimiteixi el conseller Nadal, no m'acaba de fer gràcia. Per descomptat, l'individu en qüestió em repugna, però una cosa són les fòbies personals i una altra l'anàlisi política. I aquesta darrera em diu que qui més beneficiat sortiria de la seva dimissió seria, en clau interna sociata, el sector més ecspanyolista, els Montilla, Zaragoza, etc. I qui més perjudicat, el feble, feblíssim sector catalanista i patriota (tot i que federalista) que encara sobreviu a l'interior del PSC.

Direu, imbècil, es tracta d'això, de fer del PSC una simple federació del PSOE, com passa amb el PSPV o el PSOE de les llles, per exemple. És possible. D'aquesta manera ERC podria arrossegar aquests sectors cap al seu hortet. ERC també es beneficiaria. No dic que no. Però aquest fet impossibilitaria, de fet aniria en la direcció contrària del que jo penso que és el sentit últim del tripartit: provocar el trencament entre el PSC i el PSOE. Si Nadal dimitís, no només no hi hauria trencament, a mig o llarg termini, sinó pura i simple submissió del primer respecte el segon. I això sí que és inacceptable, encara que de facto, sovint ja passa a hores d'ara. Però no passa de iure.

És el mateix cas que amb els diaris. Jo abomino de LA VANGUARDIA i del PERIODICO de CATALUNYA. Però els prefereixo mil vegades més que EL PAIS. Hem de ser llestos i intel.ligents i no caure en les trampes que els ecspanyols ens volen posar dia sí i dia també. Compte amb prendre decisions que després ens poden resultar molt cares.

Aclareixo que no dic que no s'hagin de demanar dimissions pel cas Carmel. I segurament, la de Nadal és una de les més clares. Però cal que no sigui l'única (qui és el regidor-president del districte del Carmel?- i si es dóna, el seu relleu cal que sigui algú de la seva corda, no un neo-yuppie metropolità i ecs-panyol "hasta las cachas". Penso també en el conseller encarregat de l'habitatge, que no és altra que l'inefable Salvador Milà, d'Iniciativa.

En seguirem parlant.

dimarts, 15 de febrer de 2005

La Torxa Olimpica & Madrid Olympic Flame


torxa olimpica, originally uploaded by graccus.

No comment, just see and enjoy

dilluns, 14 de febrer de 2005

SI EN SOU DE PASSERELLS!

Ara fa unes setmanes es va decidir que el que realment importava era la pela i no la sobirania. Per això es va deixar de banda el debat entorn l'autodeterminació i la seva inclusió en el nou Estatut (el nou nyap) i es va posar tots els esforços en aconseguir un nou finançament a l'estil basc. Quin ha estat la conseqüència d'aquesta tria? No en podia ser una altra. Els ecspanyols, quan han vist que es renunciava als principis per la pela, doncs han dit, doncs ni els uns ni l'altra. I ara ja veiem com es neguen en rodó a qualsevol acord de finançament. De manera que els nostres inefables polítics s'han quedat sense la sobirania i sense el finançament i amb una cara d'idiota que fa pena. Si en són d'imbècils i de passerells!

En aquest sentit, vull remarcar que ERC no juga el paper que hauria de jugar. En gran mesura això ho atribueixo al fet que el portaveu del partit a la Ponència que redacta el projecte de nyap, sembla estar més interessat en la seva imatge personal i el seu ego que en fer la feina. La vertitat és que mai l'he tingut en un bon concepte, la seva tebior patriòtica no és un bon senyal. Aquest lloc l'hauria d'ocupar un representant més genuí de l'independentisme real. Per altra banda, sempre he desconfiat dels advocats ensinistrats a les facultats de dret ecspanyoles. El dret, és ben sabut, conforma una manera de pensar i de raonar -d'aquí la seva rellevància. Però si qui el controla és el teu enemic, t'hi pots jugar el coll que de les seves facultats sortiran individus incapaços de dissenyar una estratègia rupturista amb l'estat, perquè seria com matar el (seu) pare. El pare que els ha proporcionat una manera de pensar i de veure el món... i de guanyar-se les garrofes. Els més perillosos en aquest sentit, són els administrativistes, que tenen Ecspanya ficada entre cella i cella. Per cert, acabo de llegir que el bufet Roca i Associats ha generat un volum de negoci de 23.8 milions d'euros en el 2004. El negoci de la dependència.

dijous, 10 de febrer de 2005

MADRID ROCKED BY CAR BOMB BLAST

The bomb is thought to have contained 20-30kg of explosives
A car bomb has exploded near a Madrid conference centre, injuring 43 people, hours before a royal visit.

Spanish police say a caller claiming to be from the Basque militant group Eta told a newspaper the group was planning to explode a device in the city.

The blast occurred at 0930 (0830 GMT) near the Juan Carlos I Convention Centre - ONE OF THE PROPOSED VENUES FOR MADRID'S 2012 OLYMPIC BID.

Spain's King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia had been due to visit the centre.

------
Note: Capital letters are mine (JS)
------

Story from BBC NEWS:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/2/hi/europe/4249159.stm

Published: 2005/02/09 18:10:18 GMT

© BBC MMV

AILING CATALANS TO TRY CANNABIS

Barcelona is planning a pilot scheme to decide whether cannabis can be used to help patients with painful illnesses.
There is still disagreement between the Catalan authorities and the Spanish government over whether the pills will be available at chemists for the trial.

Madrid would prefer to see the results of a purely hospital-based trial before sanctioning wider use.
Dozens of Barcelona chemists back the project - set to include patients with cancer, multiple sclerosis and Aids.

The Catalan regional authority - or Generalitat - has said it is ready to start the project later this year, using four hospitals and 60 pharmacies. But the Spanish Health Ministry told the BBC News website it was still waiting for Barcelona to present the final details of the scheme. A ministry spokeswoman said she did not think the pharmacies would be taking part yet - not until in-hospital trials had been carried out and evaluated.

Supervision

The Barcelona Pharmacists' Association, Collegi de Farmaceutics, which proposed the project, says the use of chemists is key.
They say pharmacies allow closer interaction with patients and controlling the use of the cannabis pill would be no more complicated than morphine or methadone.

The association, which offers information leaflets on therapeutic cannabis use to the public, says it is aware that a significant number of patients already use the drug for therapeutic purposes.

"This implies risk, since the absence of medical supervision and the variability of the active drug substances contained in the plant make it very difficult to ensure correct dosing and follow-up of consumption," it says on its website.

A UK study of cannabis-based drugs last year revealed patients using cannabinoid compounds could find relief from some of the painful symptoms of MS.

Doctors in the Netherlands were allowed to start prescribing medicinal cannabis to patients in 2003.

Several studies have also linked the drug to mental health problems, such as depression and schizophrenia, and respiratory illness.

Story from BBC NEWS:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/2/hi/europe/4253787.stm

Published: 2005/02/10 13:28:59 GMT

© BBC MMV

DEAR NYC2012 BID SUPPORTERS AND VOLUNTEERS:

The most crucial event in New York’s Olympic Bid history is coming up. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) is visiting New York, one time only, to evaluate our Olympic plan. There are two ways you can make this important visit a success. Read below about these events. Make sure to reply if interested to the e-mail addresses associated with each event.

Sunday, February 20th: Welcome Gathering at the Plaza Hotel

Monday, February 21st: NYC2012 Olympic Rally at Rockefeller Center

1. Welcome Gathering at the Plaza Hotel
Sunday, February 20th –Gathering at 7:30pm!
The Plaza Hotel (corner of 58th Street and Plaza Drive, off of5th Ave)
To Attend: You MUST e-mail Reply@nyc2012.com.

Mark your calendar for Sunday February 20th when the IOC arrives and New York welcomes them to the Plaza Hotel in Manhattan. Be there at 7:30pm to say WE LOVE THE OLYMPIC GAMES with signs and flags! The Plaza Hotel is located at 5th Avenue and Central Park South.  We will look for you on the corner of 58th Street and Plaza Drive – the entrance to the Plaza Hotel at 7:30pm.  We will provide the NYC 2012 signs and flags, you provide the enthusiasm!



2. NYC2012 Olympic Rally at Rockefeller Center
February 21st - President’s Day, Festivities Begin at 11:30am!
The Plaza and Rink at Rockefeller Center
To Attend: You MUST e-mail Vols@nyc2012.com.

Come celebrate New York’s Olympic and Paralympic Bid in Rockefeller Plaza. We’ll have live musical performances, exciting Olympic sport demonstrations, and NYC2012 Prize Raffles. Olympian Oksana Baiul will skate with other Olympians at the Rink at Rockefeller Center, and the NYC2012 logo will be featured in the center of the ice as part of the celebration.

Join some of the greatest Olympians, Paralympians and fellow New Yorkers to show your support for bringing the Olympic Games to our great City. Members of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) will be in New York starting on February 21st and this rally will show New York’s enthusiasm for hosting the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. So tell your family and friends to join you – and us—to demonstrate how much we want a New York Olympic Games!

For more information about New York’s Olympic Bid visit NYC2012.COM.
Information on the Visit will be up on the website by Tuesday, Feb 15th.

dijous, 3 de febrer de 2005

L'AFER WARD CHURCHILL

El cap del departament d'estudis ètnics de la Universitat de Colorado, Ward Churchill, ha presentat la dimissió com a conseqüència de les pressions i amenaces que ha rebut després de la seva intervenció recent en un acte a Nova York, on va desafiar la doctrina oficial sobre els fets de l'11 de setembre.

A continuació reprodueixo una breu referència biogràfica del Prof. Ward i després el comunicat de premsa que Ward va fer arribar als mitjans de comunicació exposant les seves raons que l'han portat a dimitir. Jutgeu vosaltres mateixos.

----

Ward Churchill is perhaps one of the most provocative thinkers around. A Creek and enrolled Keetoowah Band Cherokee, Churchill is a longtime Native rights activist. He has been heavily involved in the American Indian Movement and the Leonard Peltier Defense Committee. He is Professor of Ethnic Studies at the University of Colorado and has served as a delegate to the UN Working Group on Indigenous Populations.

----

Press Release - Ward Churchill
January 31, 2005

In the last few days there has been widespread and grossly inaccurate media coverage concerning my analysis of the September 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, coverage that has resulted in defamation of my character and threats against my life. What I actually said has been lost, indeed turned into the opposite of itself, and I hope the following facts will be reported at least to the same extent that the fabrications have been.

* The piece circulating on the internet was developed into a book, On the Justice of Roosting Chickens. Most of the book is a detailed chronology of U.S. military interventions since 1776 and U.S. violations of international law since World War II. My point is that we cannot allow the U.S. government, acting in our name, to engage in massive violations of international law and fundamental human rights and not expect to reap the consequences.

* I am not a “defender”of the September 11 attacks, but simply pointing out that if U.S. foreign policy results in massive death and destruction abroad, we cannot feign innocence when some of that destruction is returned. I have never said that people “should” engage in armed attacks on the United States , but that such attacks are a natural and unavoidable consequence of unlawful U.S. policy. As Martin Luther King, quoting Robert F. Kennedy, said, “Those who make peaceful change impossible make violent change inevitable.”

* This is not to say that I advocate violence; as a U.S. soldier in Vietnam I witnessed and participated in more violence than I ever wish to see. What I am saying is that if we want an end to violence, especially that perpetrated against civilians, we must take the responsibility for halting the slaughter perpetrated by the United States around the world. My feelings are reflected in Dr. King's April 1967 Riverside speech, where, when asked about the wave of urban rebellions in U.S. cities, he said, “I could never again raise my voice against the violence of the oppressed . . . without having first spoken clearly to the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today – my own government.”

* In 1996 Madeleine Albright, then Ambassador to the UN and soon to be U.S. Secretary of State, did not dispute that 500,000 Iraqi children had died as a result of economic sanctions, but stated on national television that “we” had decided it was “worth the cost.” I mourn the victims of the September 11 attacks, just as I mourn the deaths of those Iraqi children, the more than 3 million people killed in the war in Indochina, those who died in the U.S. invasions of Grenada, Panama and elsewhere in Central America, the victims of the transatlantic slave trade, and the indigenous peoples still subjected to genocidal policies. If we respond with callous disregard to the deaths of others, we can only expect equal callousness to American deaths.

* Finally, I have never characterized all the September 11 victims as “Nazis.” What I said was that the “technocrats of empire” working in the World Trade Center were the equivalent of “little Eichmanns.” Adolf Eichmann was not charged with direct killing but with ensuring the smooth running of the infrastructure that enabled the Nazi genocide. Similarly, German industrialists were legitimately targeted by the Allies.

* It is not disputed that the Pentagon was a military target, or that a CIA office was situated in the World Trade Center . Following the logic by which U.S. Defense Department spokespersons have consistently sought to justify target selection in places like Baghdad , this placement of an element of the American “command and control infrastructure” in an ostensibly civilian facility converted the Trade Center itself into a “legitimate” target. Again following U.S. military doctrine, as announced in briefing after briefing, those who did not work for the CIA but were nonetheless killed in the attack amounted to “collateral damage.” If the U.S. public is prepared to accept these “standards” when the are routinely applied to other people, they should be not be surprised when the same standards are applied to them.

* It should be emphasized that I applied the “little Eichmanns” characterization only to those described as “technicians.” Thus, it was obviously not directed to the children, janitors, food service workers, firemen and random passers-by killed in the 9-1-1 attack. According to Pentagon logic, were simply part of the collateral damage. Ugly? Yes. Hurtful? Yes. And that's my point. It's no less ugly, painful or dehumanizing a description when applied to Iraqis, Palestinians, or anyone else. If we ourselves do not want to be treated in this fashion, we must refuse to allow others to be similarly devalued and dehumanized in our name.

* The bottom line of my argument is that the best and perhaps only way to prevent 9-1-1-style attacks on the U.S. is for American citizens to compel their government to comply with the rule of law. The lesson of Nuremberg is that this is not only our right, but our obligation. To the extent we shirk this responsibility, we, like the “Good Germans” of the 1930s and '40s, are complicit in its actions and have no legitimate basis for complaint when we suffer the consequences. This, of course, includes me, personally, as well as my family, no less than anyone else.

* These points are clearly stated and documented in my book, On the Justice of Roosting Chickens , which recently won Honorary Mention for the Gustavus Myer Human Rights Award. for best writing on human rights. Some people will, of course, disagree with my analysis, but it presents questions that must be addressed in academic and public debate if we are to find a real solution to the violence that pervades today's world. The gross distortions of what I actually said can only be viewed as an attempt to distract the public from the real issues at hand and to further stifle freedom of speech and academic debate in this country.

These are the views of Ward Churchill, not the University of Colorado .

----

dimecres, 2 de febrer de 2005

BASQUE LEADER ADDRESSES SPAIN MP,s

The leader of the Basque regional government has addressed the Spanish parliament in Madrid, proposing more independence for his homeland. Juan Jose Ibarretxe opened his speech in the Basque language, before continuing in Spanish.
But his proposals for a separate judiciary, financial system and citizenship were dismissed by the Spanish prime minister and other MPs. The autonomy plan is expected to be overwhelmingly rejected in a vote. Mr Ibarretxe began his address in Basque, breaking the parliament's ground rules, which say all discussions must be in Spanish.

'Free state'

"I have come to the Spanish parliament to defend the right of the Basque people to decide their future," he said.
"I sincerely believe there exists a solution ... common ground," he said of the dispute that has led to a violent separatist campaign by Basque group Eta, in which more than 800 people have died since the late 1960s. A month ago, the Basque regional parliament narrowly voted to support his independence plan. Mr Ibarretxe wants a new relationship with Spain, in which a Basque "free state" is largely independent. He is the first leader of one of Spain's 17 semi-autonomous regions to address parliament. But the ruling Socialists and the main opposition, the conservative Popular Party, have already indicated they will vote against the proposals, which they say will only cause divisions in the Basque region.

Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero said the plan ignores mainstream sentiment in the Basque country supporting the status quo. "The Basque country's relationship with the rest of Spain will be decided by all Basques, not just half," he said.
Opposition leader Mariano Rajoy said Mr Ibarretxe was eyeing independence, not just more autonomy. "We're going to uphold our duty by rejecting [the proposal]," he said.

However, Mr Ibarretxe has said that regardless of the result in parliament, he intends to hold a referendum on the independence project in his homeland.

Story from BBC NEWS:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/2/hi/europe/4224885.stm

Published: 2005/02/01 20:04:09 GMT


--------------------

LAWMAKERS REJECT BASQUE POWER PLAN

From CNN Madrid Bureau Chief Al Goodman
Wednesday, February 2, 2005 Posted: 0014 GMT (0814 HKT)

MADRID, Spain (CNN) -- The Spanish Parliament has overwhelmingly rejected a sovereignty plan for the troubled northern Basque region. Some analysts predicted the plan's chief proponent could try to snatch political gain back home in the Basque region from the defeat in Madrid late on Tuesday. The defeat of the plan, by a vote of 313 to 29, with two abstentions, had been widely expected. The ruling Socialist Party and the main opposition conservative Popular Party joined forces to halt the initiative, viewed as unconstitutional in Madrid.

But Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero told Parliament before the vote he was prepared to talk with other political parties, including the Basques, to negotiate an increase in home-rule powers for the region. Parliament voted at 11:40 p.m. (5:40 p.m. ET) Tuesday after a seven and a half-hour debate. The vote was the latest flashpoint in a long-running dispute between the central government and the Basque region, which has been torn by three decades of separatist violence by the outlawed ETA group, blamed for more than 800 deaths across Spain.

A bomb authorities attributed to ETA exploded just last Sunday at a hotel in Denia on the Mediterranean coast, causing two minor injuries and extensive property damage.

The Basque region already has broad home-rule powers, including a regional police force, under Spain's 1978 constitution and a Basque autonomy statute. But the plan's main proponent, Basque regional President Juan Jose Ibarretxe, of the moderate Basque Nationalist Party, wanted to take a further step toward sovereignty. It would make the Basque region, with 2.1 million inhabitants -- about 5 percent of the nation's population -- a "free associated state" with Spain, with power over its courts and a major role in foreign policy.

The plan won a narrow victory in the Basque regional parliament in December and the next hurdle was the Spanish Parliament in Madrid, which is also wrestling with strong nationalist sentiments in another region, Catalonia, whose main city is Barcelona.

"Don't think by saying 'no' you'll end the Basque desire for a solution," Ibarretxe warned Parliament late in the debate.

He also defended "the right of the Basque people to decide their future," and repeatedly called for talks toward a Basque political solution. He blasted the Socialists and conservatives for joining forces to defeat his plan. Some political analysts said Ibarretxe's speeches were aimed at his Basque constituency. It was a rare moment in the national limelight for him. Regional presidents don't usually get to speak to the national Parliament, and the whole affair was broadcast live on Spanish television and radio networks.

Some predicted Ibarretxe would call early Basque elections, angling to use the defeat in Madrid to boost support for his moderate party, which favors more Basque power but rejects ETA's separatist violence. "They know they can't win here," the conservative party leader Mariano Rajoy told Parliament, referring to Ibarretxe's group. "Maybe they want to win something. Maybe votes?"

Prime Minister Zapatero said, "The relationship of Spain to the Basques will be decided by all of the Basques, not half of them" -- a reference to the slim majority Ibarretxe has for his plan in Basque parliament -- "and by all Spaniards."