What is Eta?
The 2006 Madrid airport bomb demolished a car park, and the peace process
Continue reading the main story
* 'Ceasefire' all too familiar
* Scepticism and hope
* Eta 'ceasefire': Excerpts
* How BBC got ceasefire scoop
For four decades, the armed organisation Eta has waged a bloody campaign forindependence for the seven regions in northern Spain and south-west France that Basque separatists claim as their own.
On 5 September 2010, it announced a decision not to carry out further attacks. In January 2011, it declared a permanent and "internationally verifiable" ceasefire.
The group had declared at least two ceasefires before, but abandoned them both.
Euskadi Ta Azkatasuna, Eta, whose namestands for Basque Homeland and Freedom, first emerged in the 1960s as a student resistance movement bitterly opposed to General Franco's repressive military dictatorship.
Under Franco the Basque language was banned, their distinctive culture suppressed, and intellectuals imprisoned and tortured for their political and cultural beliefs.
The Basque country saw some of the fiercest resistance toFranco. His death in 1975 changed all that, and the transition to democracy brought the region of two million people home rule.
But despite the fact that Spain's Basque country today enjoys more autonomy than any other - it has its own parliament, police force, controls education and collects its own taxes - Eta and its hardline supporters have remained determined to push for full independence.
Itsviolent campaign has led to more than 820 deaths over the last 40 years, many of them members of the Guardia Civil, Spain's national police force, and both local and national politicians who are opposed to Eta's separatist demands.
However, in recent years the group has been under pressure. Although it has mounted occasional attacks, experts believe that concerted political and police action hassqueezed its capabilities.
Certainly the days in the late 1970s, when the group was able to kill 100 people per year on average - just as Spain was awakening from a long dictatorship and moving towards democracy - appear to be long past.
After three people were killed in 2003, Eta refrained from any other deadly attacks until the last days of 2006.
The Eta of today has somelogistical networks in France and a pool of a few hundred youths scattered across the borders of the Basque Country, in France and Spain, willing to engage in deadly missions.
French and Spanish police have sought to reduce Eta's capability and the Spanish government and judiciary have banned the political wing of the movement, which seeks an independent state for the Basques.
The logic for banningthe political wing, which has operated for the last decade under different names - Herri Batasuna, Euskal Herritarrok, Batasuna - is that both wings are inextricably linked.
Banning the political branch, it was hoped, would reduce the flow of funds and support to Eta units, and prevent it gaining political representation.
Spanish and French police, working together, have dealt a number of recentblows to the group.
The arrest of Eta's suspected military head, Garikoitz Aspiazu Rubina, in November 2008, followed the detention of its political commander, Javier Lopez Pena, six months earlier. Both arrests took place in France, long used as a base by Eta.
Since then, French and Spanish authorities have announced the arrest of a string of allegedly senior figures in Eta, giving theimpression that they have the group on the run.
Correspondents say support for Eta is also being squeezed.
This is not only because of the gains made in recent years by moderate Basque nationalists, but also because there is a growing feeling that Eta is desperately out of touch with public opinion.
In May 2009, radical separatist parties were excluded from Basque elections.
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