Friday, March 02, 2007

Giving In

The Spanish government has decided to let an Eta terrorist prisoner who's been on hunger strike for nearly four months to go home. Iñaki de Juana Chaos has been in prison since 1987, but had latterly been doing a three-year sentence for making terrorist threats from his cell as he awaited early release. Although he'll serve the rest of that under house arrest and in hospital with a police guard, he's essentially been allowed to go free.

It's easy to criticise Prime Minister Zapatero for giving in to terrorism. Faced with a similar situation a quarter of a century back, Margaret Thatcher let seven IRA (and three INLA) hunger strikers including Bobby Sands die. But her tough stance on Northern Ireland meant the IRA didn't announce its first ceasefire until after she was gone, and 13 long years after Sands' death. If Zapatero's decision helps move the faltering peace process on a bit, then upsetting the relatives of those killed by Eta will probably be worth it. If it doesn't, the day he gave into terrorism could be the the day he made the biggest mistake of his career.

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