International Papers

The Whacked Basque 

The assassination of a former Basque provincial governor Saturday led Spain’s papers. Two gunmen who shot Juan María Jáuregui in the back of the head in a busy cafe are suspected to be members of ETA, the Basque separatist terrorist organization that has murdered seven since ending a 14-month cease-fire in December 1999. Jáuregui, one of the Basque-speaking minority, served as governor of Guipúzcoa between 1994 and 1996. During his tenure, he launched an inquiry that led to the jailings of his predecessor and of a general in the paramilitary Civil Guard for participating in the torture and murder of two ETA “commandos” in the 1980s. Despite spearheading the inquiry, Jáuregui became an ETA target in 1995 because he supports the current state of autonomy for the Basque region rather than the independence ETA demands. Monday’s papers all fronted photographs from Sunday’s anti-ETA demonstration led by Jáuregui’s grieving widow and daughter.

The conservative Spanish daily ABC declared that the aim of ETA’s recent series of attacks is to bring about the “abandonment of determination and conviction. Surrender, pure and simple.” The liberal El País claimed that now “no one can feel safe in the Basque Country, or anywhere else in Spain, if they don’t belong to the world of totalitarian nationalism or, at the very least, if they don’t look the other way when the assassins go to work.” In an editorial headlined “Shots in the Head of the Population,” the Diario Vasco of San Sebastián said:

The trail of blood, death, and destruction that ETA’s stubbornness leaves, far from being a sign of strength, is the most palpable evidence of its weakness and of the abyss, widening every day, that separates the vast majority of Basques from what the terrorist organization advocates and represents.

In Peru, Friday’s opposition protests against the inauguration of President Alberto Fujimori for a controversial third term left six dead, 200 injured, and 172 arrested. Fujimori blamed the violence on professional agitators. According to Argentina’s Clarín he compared the unrest to that caused by Peru’s Túpac Amaru revolutionary movement in the mid-1990s. The president apparently made this analogy so he could use the anti-terrorist law, which prescribes 30 years in jail for attacks against public buildings or members of the security forces, against the protest’s perpetrators. Opposition leader Alejandro Toledo, who boycotted the second round of presidential balloting after irregularities in the first, accused intelligence service infiltrators of causing the disturbance. Opposition paper La República said that Fujimori saw violence “only from one side,” but an editorial declared:

Violence is taking control of institutions to use them for political advantage.
Violence is firing magistrates for opposing re-election [for a controversial third term].
Violence is bribing the yellow press to insult opposition politicians.
Violence is declaring oneself the winner of elections based on fraud and lies.

The British Sunday tabloid News of the World commenced the second week of its “name and shame” campaign to stigmatize convicted pedophiles. Prompted by the recent murder of 8-year-old Sarah Payne (see this July 20 “International Papers” for more on the case), the paper has printed the names, photographs, and location of child sex offenders. While the broadsheet press attacked the campaign, arguing that it would drive offenders underground, the News of the World defended itself and claimed that 95 percent of the thousands of letters, e-mails, and phone calls supported the paper’s stance. Amid 28 photographs of children killed or “vanished” between 1963 and 1999, it said that “most” of the 110,000 child sex offenders in Britain are already underground, that 64 percent of pedophiles re-offend, and that it is “promoting vigilance” rather than vigilantism. In one astonishing article, a man who bears a resemblance to an offender pictured last week declared his support for the campaign, even though a mob put a brick through the window of his home after mistaking him for the pedophile. A profile of the paper’s editor, Rebekah Wade, in the Observer concluded:

Today the News of the World’s latest perverts’ gallery will be condemned by the chattering classes and its editor will go on insisting that she, not they, are in tune with the public mood. She is probably right. What’s more, it is a great tabloid attention-seeking story and she knows it.

South Africa’s Mail & Guardian carried an exclusive report Friday claiming that during the apartheid era, army conscripts who were thought to be gay were subject to “sex-change operations, medical torture and chemical castration.” According to the story, psychiatrists and chaplains sought out “suspected homosexuals,” who were then separated from their comrades and subjected to a program of “rehabilitation.” Some of those who did not respond to aversion therapy were offered gender reassignment surgery, but “[m]any of these procedures were not completed, leaving a number of mutilated conscripts to fend for themselves.” Apparently, the army has agreed to “finish off” the procedures for some, but at least one former soldier, “stranded between sexes,” is still fighting to get the army to fund the completion of female-to-male surgery.

Otherwise it was fairly accurate. This week’s Sunday Mirror of Britain printed the following correction:

Following an article published on May 28 entitled “Mrs Baggy Manilow: 34 years on … Meet The Girl Barry Manilow Married Before His Pop Career Took Off” Susan Deixler has advised us that she does not scrape a living from a clapboard home, she does not shop for junk food in budget stores, her garden is not overgrown and there are no cobwebs or dirty dishes in her home. She also says that the years have not taken a heavy toll, she is not fighting a losing battle against middle-aged spread and her life is not “humdrum.”