Merida, 24th September 2013 (Venezuelanalysis.com) – Venezuela’s intelligence service, in collaboration with Spanish and French police, arrested alleged ETA member Asier Guridi in Venezuela last week. Guridi is wanted by Interpol but a Venezuelan refugee collective has opposed the arrest.
The ETA (Euskadi Ta Askatasuna – Basque Homeland and Freedom) is an armed Basque group fighting for independence. According to El Confidencial over 700 of its members are in prison.
Guridi was in prison from 1992 to 1997, and exiled himself from 2001 when his name appeared on a list of people associated with Ekin, according to EFE. Ekin defined itself as a revolutionary, nationalist, pro-independence organisation, while others called it the political wing of the ETA. It dissolved in 2011.
According to the Spanish ministry of internal affairs, Guridi was convicted by French courts for his “membership of the logistical apparatus” of the ETA in 2007 and two years later a Paris Court emitted an arrest warrant for Guridi for his “criminal association in the preparation of a terrorist act”.
The Basque Refugee Collective in Venezuela released a statement on the arrest, saying, “What the Spanish media has described as another “big police operation” is nothing more than the arrest of a Basque citizen who, like hundreds of other Basque citizens, had to abandon their home and country, fleeing torture.”
“Asier [Guridi] chose Venezuela as a destination and over a decade ago, just like today, took his Venezuelan son to school (where he was arrested) and his Venezuelan wife to work, to then start his own work day… The arrest of our compañero Asier Guridi really just reflects the human and political misery of the Spanish state,” read the collective’s statement.
The collective argued that the “fascist Spanish state” uses repression, jailing, and torture of Basque “revolutionary militants” as a way to “maintain the conflict and suffering of the Basque people”. “We call on the Venezuelan government to not get involved in this macabre strategy of pain, repression, and suffering…against the Basque people,” the statement concluded.
Askapena, the international Basque organisation, also released a statement, supporting the “Bolivarian process” and its “determination to confront the imperialist-capitalist system”, and calling on “the Venezuelan people and their government” to resist the “pressures of the repressive French and Spanish states to hand over Basque refugee Asier Guridi”. The organisation called a rally for today outside the Venezuelan consulate in Bilbao, in Basque Country.
In 2009 Venezuela’s Supreme Court (TSJ) denied Spain’s request to extradite an alleged former member of the ETA, Inaki Etxeberria. Spain had charged him with attempted homicide during an incident in 1993, and the TSJ ruled that the period to try him for the crime had expired under Venezuelan law. Etxeberria had been living in Venezuela for 13 years, and Venezuelan authorities arrested him in April 2009 to fulfil an Interpol order.
In 2002 however Venezuela extradited two alleged ETA members, Juan Galarza and Sebastian Etxaniz, to Spain. Further, in 2011 Venezuelan authorities arrested alleged Armed Revolutionary Forces of Colombia (FARC) member Julian Conrado. Although the government hasn’t extradited him to Colombia, where he would likely be imprisoned or killed, he is still in detention in Venezuela.
There are 4 million Colombians living in Venezuela, many of which are refugees, and Venezuelan law and institutions generally provide the same rights to refugees and migrants in Venezuela as they do to Venezuelan citizens. However the Venezuelan government cooperates with Interpol, and on numerous occasions has called on the United States to do likewise, and extradite wanted Venezuelan terrorist Luis Posada Carriles.