The Basque separatist group ETA has preempted Spain's changeover from the peseta to the euro by demanding that its “revolutionary tax” be paid in the new currency. The Spanish Interior Ministry confirmed that ETA's latest batch of extortion letters asked businesses in the Basque region to pay between 30'000 and 60'000 euros ($27'000 to $55'000). Euro notes and coins will not officially be available until 1 January 2001, but cheques made out in euros are already accepted in the 12 EU member states which are joining the single currency. ETA threatened reprisals against family members in cases of non–payment. About 10% of Basque businesses pay what ETA calls a tax to support “the struggle of the Basque people”. They tend to be smaller companies which cannot afford to hire their own bodyguards.

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