Spanish Premier Adolfo Suarez's first official visit to the Basque region, which ended today, proved eventful. When he appeared on a main television news show, his voice was bleeped out for a communique read on behalf of Marxist separatists. A widespread municipal strike protested his presence and he was kept waiting for an appointment when a leading Communist politician found himself temporarily kidnapped.
The much-intense political terrorism -- 109 political killings this year -- was marked by massive security precautions, tense relations with Basque politicians and a general public indifference.
Winding up his 2 1/2-day visit with a press conference in San Sebastian, Premier Suarez vowed that the Basque separatist organization ETA "will be eradicated." He expressed hope that outstanding disputes between his government and the region's ruling Basque Nationalist Party over the transfer of powers to the region would be settled before Christmas.
ETA, responsible for the vast majority of the killings this year, had been expected to stage a major terrorist attack during the visit. But the Marxist organization, which seeks to set up an independent Basque state, opted for sophisticated propaganda. It contrived to silence the news film of Suarez, superimposing the 15-minute diatribe attacking the Spanish "occupation" of Basque country.
More than 100 Basque nationalist mayors of small towns had ordered municipal council activity to cease during the trip to protest the alleged reluctance of the Madrid government to transfer key administrative powers.
The climate of violence was reinforced when gunmen held local Communist Roberto Lertxundi two hours as he was en route for talks with Suarez.