30 November 2010
DESPITE the ETA ceasefire announced last September, at least 100 Basque businessmen have received threatening letters demanding payments of up to €800,000, revealed antiterrorist sources. For some business owners and professionals based in the Basque region who received the letters at the end of October it was their eighth demand from the terrorist group.
The letters confirmed official suspicions that although ETA declared that it had eliminated armed action from its independence campaign it still intended to finance itself through extortion, as it did during previous truces.
“Nothing has changed,” claimed Jose Antonio Sarria, president of the Confederation of Navarra Businessmen who confirmed that in September members had received letters, asking payment of the so-called “revolutionary tax.”
The terrorists appear to need a rapid boost to their income because only a few days later, Vizcaya businessmen received letters with demands that in some cases rose to €800,000.
Some letters asked for €100,000 or €400,000, an amount that had already been stipulated in some of the “revolutionary tax” demands sent in April, May and August this year, but this had now been doubled.
In many cases what ETA asked for and the economic possibilities of the targeted businesses was clearly disproportionate. It seemed as though the group did not have reliable information, with hefty sums demanded from small concerns and lesser amounts asked of bigger firms, said antiterrorist experts.
The letters, all with Alava postmarks and written in strong and intimidating language, demonstrated that ETA whatever its future aims, it still meant to continue to provide itself with funds, police believe.