Last spring, when I traveled to Spain to do some research on terrorism in that country, it was only days after the group had declared a "permanent" ceasefire. My goal at the time was to write on the relationship between the democratization process and the end of nationalistic terrorism in that country. The point of the effort was a paper that countered the Bush Administration's assertation that bringing democracy to Iraq would bring an end to insurgency in that country. The ceasefire in Spain gave me at least an end point: roughly 27 years after the constitution was passed; 24 years after the Socialist Party won office away from the former regimists.
And now it seems that the permanency of the ceasefire is questionable. The Spanish government had been negotiating with the political wing of the terrorist group to bring the nationalists in line with the democratic process and a true end to the violence, and with the bombing the government has put an end to those negotiations. Juan Carlos I himself called the attack "cowardly and vile".
On the other hand, the political leader of the organization is running on the assumption that the negotiations will continue. Arnaldo Ortegi claims that peace is still at hand if "we all act responsibly". Seems that the ETA was upset that the negotiation process was not speedy enough for their liking and the bombing was, if you'll pardon the analogy, to light fire under the government. In the statement issued by the terrorists, they expressed their condolences to the families of the two victims; however, they placed the blame for those deaths on the government and the security forces -- after all, the ETA called three times to warn of the bomb. It seems only fair, the political leadership seems to be saying, that the government continue the discussions as the group is only responsible for the bombing, not the deaths that resulted from that bomb. Now, says ETA, the government will stop "constantly putting obstacles in the way of the democratic process" because they've been reminded of what's at stake. As far as the group is concerned, the "permanent" ceasefire is still valid. A clear case of the ETA believing it can have its cake and eat it too.
This bombing is just one more in the long list of terroristic acts carried out by the Basques. Whether there will ever be real peace in democratic Spain is a question that will not be answered anytime soon. But the situation does answer the question as to whether there will be a cessation of violence in Iraq if the US is successful in establishing a truly democratic state there. If Spain is still trying after nearly three decades then I can with some certainty say that there will be no quick end to the violence in Iraq, whether the U.S. Boys in Fatigues are there or not.