Echoes of violence

Normally social or political uprisings don't happen because someone has come up with a great idea to improve a situation, but because of confrontation brought about by the pain of unbearable suffering. Understanding someone, knowing them as a person and, having listened to their experiences, achieving civilised debate, is generally an arduous task.

In this society where democratic culture does not have particularly deep roots, the argument has mainly taken the shape of pointing the finger at the bad things done by others: attacks, peer pressure, revolutionary tax, torture, indiscriminate arrests, dirty war, etc. By creating social taboos, individuals accept that actions against the enemy are decisions taken in good faith.

Oiartzun is a town peculiar unto itself. If, like in the first pages of an Asterix comic, we were to hold a magnifying glass over the town of Oiartzun, we could say that it looks like a place impossible to conquer. An island surrounded by nature, a freehold of the nationalist left. A land nurtured by warriors who, now and always, have fought the enemy with the Basque language and the fatherland as their magic potion.

I believe that my ideology corresponds to the nationalist left, understanding the term as a coming together between numerous flexible ideas: from music to language, politics to industry, etc. Voluntarily or not, necessary or "ex post facto", suffered or provoked, violence, in all its forms and expressions, has been closely linked to the nationalist left, just as shadow is to light. And, unavoidably, to my life and the town of Oiartzun.

All significant events to have taken place in the nationalist left movement have had some kind of an echo in my beloved town. From the first of ETA's attacks until the process under which the nationalist left has renounced violence, someone from Oiartzun has always been involved.

The purpose of the documentary Echevarriatik Etxeberriara is to analyse the connection to violence of the nationalist left, to understand and discuss it. During this exercise, it goes without saying that the self-same limits of the term "violence" will be called into question. Violence is nothing but a term and, like any hermeneutic interpretation, can be understood to mean different things depending on where the understanding is made (ETA, police, politics, citizens, Spain as a whole, psychology, etc.) until it becomes a double-edged weapon to suit the theory of choice.

From a very young age this has weighed me down, not because it had an influence on my everyday life, but because I have been unable to discuss the subject in depth. Sacred taboo, in Oiartzun and in Barcelona. The answers to the debate had been written way back in the collective minds, assumed opinions that authorised the protection of ethical and moral securities. Those opinions are also tied to suffering. The greater the pain, the greater and more important the need for protection offered by these opinions.

ETA's decision to renounce the use of violence lent a new spark to my personal desires. It is time to talk; today when the past is stuck to the present, on the threshold to the new era, talking is necessary. Essentially because we must discuss all versions if we are to give shape to a new future.

It is obvious that at some point Spain and France will have to hold a debate on the Basque Country, just as the Basque Country must hold its own debate. But I believe that, before this, every movement, and particularly the nationalist left, must look inwards to make analysis in order to bring an end to the divisions and animosity of recent years. People are ready for it, as can be seen from the results of the last elections, and Echevarriatik Etxeberriara is my personal contribution. I chose the environment with which I am most familiar to act as a mirror, with the idea of throwing a little light, from my town, onto a phenomenon of much greater entity.

Ander Iriarte

Film: Echevarriatik Etxeberriara

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  • San Sebastián Donostia 2016
  • Donostiako Udala. Ayuntamiento de San Sebastián
  • donostiakultura.com. San Sebastián: ciudad de la cultura
  • AIETE: Casa de la Paz y los Derechos Humanos