Government rules out royal yahct connection

Security has been enforced around a number of Balearic businesspeople after having received letters from the Basque separatists group ETA demanding that they pay the terrorist organisation's “revolutionary tax.” At first it was thought that the businesspeople targeted are those who helped raise the funds to build the King of Spain a new royal yacht, which is now based in Palma. But yesterday afternoon any connection was ruled out and central government delegate to the Balearics, Catalina Cirer, who confirmed the reports in newspapers ABC and El Pais, said that ETA has launched a general campaign threatening businesspeople involved in tourism and entertainment across the country, including the Balearics. In the letters, some of which were sent to private addresses and others to offices, ETA is demanding the payment of between 50 and 60 million pesetas. Cirer, while having ordered that security be stepped up around those targeted, stressed yesterday that the Balearics is not a “region at risk,” adding that ETA has mounted a massive letter-threat campaign. But, this latest move by the separatist group has caused widespread concern because in the past ETA has limited its extortion activities to companies in the Basque Country. This is the first time ETA has targeted the national business community. The President of the Hoteliers Federation, Pedro Cañellas, expressed his “surprise and concern” yesterday. He admitted that he had no idea local businesspeople had been threatened, but he now intends to contact all those targeted in a show of support and solidarity. Balearic Chief Minister, Francesc Antich, was refusing to comment yesterday, but he did call for calm and tranquillity in the region. Spanish Interior Minister was also trying to play down the situation, although he too is concerned about ETA's decision to branch out of the Basque Country.

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