Pearson Refutes Pearson

por Emilio Campmany, 11 de septiembre de 2010


Pearson is an important media group – the owner of the Financial Times, familiarly known as FT. And, therefore, equally responsible for the editorial published last Tuesday; “Batasuna, has been illegal since 2003, when it was caught channelling public money into ETA’s pockets. If the party commits itself and ETA to a permanent ceasefire, […] this ban should be lifted. Prolonging it only props up ETA’s dwindling support [among Basques]…”
So, what FT seems to think is that, once ETA declared the ceasefire, the Spanish administration should allow Herri Batasuna to take part in the municipal electoral process because, as the paper states in another paragraph, “it is less helpful – and ultimately self-defeating – to criminalise the expression of a political opinion.”
Not enough with that, the editorial argues that ETA exploits one more grievance that carries weight among Basque separatists such as Spain’s prison policy. More concretely, FT says that, “The second grievance is that etarras are sent to prisons across Spain, far from their families in the Basque country. This perceived injustice is a money-spinner for ETA’s fundraisers. Returning the prisoners to Basque country jails would remove it.”
It is a very strange editorial because it seems to be saying to José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero what he would like all Spaniards to tell him – and that we don’t dare to say; “See? Can’t you see how they have stopped killing people? Now if you don’t want ETA to have excuses to kill, what we have to do is to allow them to join the electoral process, allow the return of ETA’s prisoners to the homeland and, little by little, everything will end up fine.” It must be that we’re terribly stubborn, insisting time and time again that one must not negotiate with terrorists, that they must not take part in the electoral process until the day they have unequivocally given up their weapons and just limit their activities, as the FT editorialist says, to express a political opinion.   
Now, the question is: Does FT share the same opinion with another great Pearson media outlet such as The Economist? On Thursday, the magazine’s first issue after the ceasefire was distributed and, in it, one could read the following, “By offering a ceasefire, but one that falls far short of that suggested by the rebel Batasuna leaders, ETA is trying to grab back control of the grassroots. If they fall into line, it may go no further than this week’s vague declaration, and use Mr. Zapatero’s refusal to talk as an excuse for an eventual return to bombs and bullets. But if it loses control over the separatists, it may be forced to walk the path to peace. [This corny argument is actually a quote.] The future depends on who wins this battle for Basque hearts and minds.”
That the opinion of The Economist is almost as mistaken as the one of Financial Times doesn’t make it less different. The prestigious magazine makes Zapatero irrelevant and reduces all to a fight between both the armed and the political wings of Basque separatism. The magazine’s point of view cannot be more different than the one expressed by the business newspaper belonging to the same company.
If the newspaper’s opinion isn’t the group’s, how is it possible that it has expressed what the Spanish government was dying to hear? Quevedo already gave us the answer to that one.
©2010 Translated by Miryam Lindberg