What Ana Miranda calls "a terrorist" Joaquin Gorostidi calls "a patriot." Both are referring to the gunmen of the Basque separatist organization ETA, or Basque Homeland and Liberty.

Miranda, 38, is a member of Spain's governing Socialist Party and represents San Sebastian, where she was born, in the Senate. She took her seat when the sitting member, Enrique Casas, was shot to death last February by separatist gunmen who had knocked at his front door.

Gorostidi, also 38, was condemned to death in 1970 when he was a member of ETA's high command, had his sentence commuted to 30 years in jail by Generalissimo Francisco Franco and was released in an amnesty in 1977 after the dictator's death. He is currently a leader here of the Popular Unity coalition of extremist Basque nationalist parties that supports ETA's platform of "national liberation."

There was a time when the two were on the same side. Miranda, whose great-grandfather was a prime minister, was active in anti-Franco groups and joined protests during the Burgos court-martial of 1970, when Gorostidi and other ETA members were on trial for their lives.

"People like me, of my generation, people now in the Socialist Party, have changed and developed," says Miranda, who despite her Senate post dresses in faded denims and still looks like a 1960s student. "We are defending democracy and a pluralist society based on liberal values." Miranda calls adherents of Popular Unity "fascist, Nazi-type thugs."

Gorostidi, a metal worker born in grimy industrial Tolosa nearby, reckons that nothing has changed in post-Franco Spain. "The generals are still running things in Madrid," he says.

Political changes since Franco died, such as creation of a regional autonomous Basque government and parliament, are rejected by Gorostidi and the people he represents. He says the present quasi-federalism is "cosmetic," and the front boycotts both the Spanish and the Basque legislatures.

"I am a Spaniard who loves the Basque country, which is where I live," says Miranda. "I am a Basque, period," says Gorostidi.

Miranda learned some Euskerra, the ethnic Basque language, from her nurse when she was a child and then went to Euskerra classes in the late '60s when learning Basque was frowned on by the Franco government. She does not speak it fluently and readily says that she is more interested now in improving her English.

Gorostidi, bilingual from childhood in Euskerra and Castilian Spanish, is an enthusiastic sponsor of promoting the Basque language -- which is difficult to master as it has no common roots with other European idioms and is spoken by less than a third of the 2.5 million Spanish Basques.

For Gorostidi, learning the language is fundamental to nation-building. Miranda, whose Socialist Party is in a minority in the Basque country, criticizes the fact that ignorance of Euskerra is penalized when seeking municipal jobs. Gorostidi says such discrimination is necessary to encourage the growth of Euskerra.

Gorostidi says he formally severed his links with ETA when he was released from prison, and he now devotes his energies to the Popular Front. The coalition currently polls about 15 percent of the votes cast in Basque elections, but it showed its muscle last week when it succeeded in bringing most of San Sebastian and its surrounding Guipuzcoa Province to a standstill over the issue of the extradition of ETA members from France to Spain.

In the stark world of extremist politics, it is little noted that the three extradited men were arrested on warrants issued by Interpol, the international police agency, and were found by French courts to be subject to extradition because their crimes were not judged political.

The local Egin newspaper that supports the ETA headlined its extradition story last week: "Incredible: France Hands Over the Three Basque Patriots to Madrid." The daily did not mention that the three were wanted on nine murder counts by Spanish courts and that the Paris government had ruled that Spain was a democracy and that political assassinations were therefore unwarranted.

When Miranda and Gorostidi meet in the small public life of San Sebastian, they avoid exchanging words. Each willingly discusses, in separate interviews, the political crosses they have to bear.

"It's tough, very tough, being a Socialist in the Basque country," says Miranda, who still has to adjust to the murder of her predecessor in the Senate and close friend. "I still find myself dialing his number," she admits.

Gorostidi, aside from the current developments over the extraditions of Basque separatists living in southwestern France, speaks of prison terms, torture by police, harassment of friends and relatives of wanted ETA members and government bans on protest demonstrations organized by the Popular Front. At present, the Madrid government is conducting a drawn-out legal procedure to have the front declared illegal.

The moderate Basque Nationalist Party, which is the majority political group in the Basque country, is viewed as "soft and ambiguous" on terrorism by Miranda and her Socialist colleagues and as "weak-willed" by Gorostidi.

Extreme nationalists project their struggle as a prolongation of the last century's Carlist wars, prompted by Madrid's decision to trim ancient Basque privileges.

Gorostidi, developing the historical background, uses eloquent bravado when discussing it: "The cause is a just and necessary one; we have struggled for years and generations, and we will continue to struggle." The revolutionary Marxism that the Popular Front and ETA support in principle takes a back seat.

Miranda, who is equally aware of the historical precedents, argues that Basques were by no means all Carlists, and much less pro-independence, and that the great Basque cities like San Sebastian and Bilbao were liberal and progressive strongholds that supported Madrid's 19th century drive against medieval obscurantism.

The battle lines remain drawn.