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Cablegate: Spain/Eta: Rare Political Unity in Wake of Eta

VZCZCXRO2909
PP RUEHAG RUEHDF RUEHIK RUEHLZ RUEHROV
DE RUEHMD #2189 3380918
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 040918Z DEC 07
FM AMEMBASSY MADRID
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 3892
INFO RUCNMEM/EU MEMBER STATES COLLECTIVE
RUEHLA/AMCONSUL BARCELONA 3191
RUCNFB/FBI WASHDC
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RUEILB/NCTC WASHINGTON DC
RUEAWJA/DEPT OF JUSTICE WASHDC

UNCLAS MADRID 002189

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PTER PGOV SP
SUBJECT: SPAIN/ETA: RARE POLITICAL UNITY IN WAKE OF ETA
ASSASSINATION

1. (U) Spanish political leaders from virtually every stripe
have presented a united front in the aftermath of the
December 1 shooting in the French town of Capbreton that left
one Spanish Civil Guard officer dead and another in a coma.
The officers, part of a bilateral counterterrorism initiative
conducting joint operations with French security forces
against ETA leadership, were shot after they had exited a
cafe. The victims were reportedly out of uniform and
unarmed. This is the first killing of a Spanish Civil Guard
member by ETA since December 2002, and brings to 206 the
total number of Guards killed by ETA during their almost
40-year terrorist campaign against the Spanish government.
This murder also marks the first assassination by ETA in
France since 1976. The assailants, described in press
reports as two men and a woman, fled the scene in one vehicle
but later carjacked another at gunpoint, briefly kidnapping a
woman and her daughter. The suspects are still at large, and
French and Spanish authorities found material in the first
car that leads them to believe ETA members were preparing a
terrorist attack to coincide with the December 6 holiday
commemorating the Spanish Constitution.

2. (U) All Spanish political parties, except Basque National
Action (ANV) and Batasuna who have ties to ETA, met in an
extraordinary session of Congress later in the day to sign a
joint declaration condemning the attack and expressing
support to security forces in the fight against terrorism.
They called for a demonstration to take place in Madrid on
December 4 under the motto "For Freedom and the Defeat of
ETA." This is the first time since the Madrid train bombings
of March 11, 2004 that Spain's two main political parties,
the ruling Socialist government of President Zapatero and the
main opposition Partido Popular (PP), will appear together in
a public event denouncing ETA terrorism, and PP leader
Mariano Rajoy offered his party's full support to President
Zapatero. The Spanish government announced on December 2
that it would not allow ANV to participate in the March
national elections because of suspicions that it supports ETA
terrorism.

3. (U) The slain Civil Guard officer was identified as Raul
Centeno, 24, and his partner Fernando Trapero, 23, is in a
coma and has been declared brain dead. An emotional state
funeral for Centeno took place on December 2 and was attended
by the Spanish Royal Family, President Zapatero, GOS
ministers, and members of the diplomatic community.

//COMMENT//

4. (SBU) The murder of officer Centeno is certainly tragic,
but our contacts in the Spanish Ministry of Interior tell us
this event does not appear to have been premeditated and was
most likely the result of a chance encounter. French and
Spanish CT cooperation has greatly increased over the past
few years and ETA members operating in France have very
little room to maneuver. However, this attack and the
suspects' ability to remain at large a few days after the
shooting shows that at least some ETA members remain active
on French soil. We believe this weekend's events will lead
to even better cooperation and more joint operations.
Spanish political parties have shown a rare degree of unity
that probably will not hold during the intense political
campaign expected in advance of national elections on March
9. The Zapatero government appears close to de-legalizing
ANV, a step the PP has demanded Zapatero take for many
months, and probably will time the official announcement for
maximum political gain and to take the wind out of PP charges
that Zapatero has been soft on ETA terrorism.
AGUIRRE

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