Spain: Maite Pagazaurtundúa

We think it is possible to overcome violence through democracy and humanism.

— Maite Pagazaurtundúa

Maite Pagazaurtundúa is a Basque philologist and politician. She has been a socialist member of the Basque Parliament and is now a local councilor at Urnieta (Guipuzcoa). In 2000, she was one of the founders of Basta Ya, (Enough is Enough!), a social movement that leads civic opposition to both ETA’s separatist terrorism and radical nationalism in the Basque Country. She is also Vice President of the Foundation for Victims of Terrorism (FVT), herself being a victim of terrorism since her brother was killed by ETA.

In the mid-1980s, university student Maite Pagazaurtundúa committed herself to peacefully fight ETA’s violence and to build a better future for the Basque Country. She joined the Socialist Party and soon started a political career that led her to be a member of the Basque Parliament and local councilor in Urnieta (Guipuzcoa). In 1998, the Lizarra Agreement radicalized the governing nationalists, followed by a 14-month long truce by ETA. “An atmosphere of corrupted values,” in Maite's opinion, that was rooted in “the idea that only Basque nationalists are Basques, an idea that is at the heart of identity fanaticism.” When ETA became active again, non-nationalist Basques felt marginalized and unprotected by regional institutions. Hundreds of them were threatened with death, as Maite Pagazaurtundúa is still today. In 2000, she was one of the founders of Basta Ya, a civic group that aims to peacefully end terrorism. “One of Basta Ya’s main achievements is a deeper and more correct analysis of Basque separatist terrorism,” she points out. “We have underlined the need to stop being silent about violence.” Basta Ya’s actions progressively achieved more success. Many Basques started to assemble on the streets and protest against ETA. But in the meantime, some of Maite's friends were killed by armed groups, as was her brother in February 2003. A shock that strengthened her commitment: “I saw clearly that fighting for freedom and the democratic front were the most important things,” she says. Maite Pagazaurtundúa has become one of Basta Ya’s leaders, acting at a regional, national, and international level. Now she hopes to see the end of terrorism, but also a “moral regeneration” of her fellow citizens and the deradicalization of all Basque nationalism, that she blames for having deepened the social conflict in her homeland.

Basta Ya Foundation for Victims of Terrorism (FVT) Socialist Party