advance of the book of homage to José María Calleja

On September 21 the book went on sale Metal companion. Looks at the figure of José María Calleja, edited by Catarata. It is a tribute to the journalist and collaborator of, died with coronavirus last April.

Gaizka Fernández Soldevilla, José Miguel Santamaría, Pepa Bueno, Alberto Surio, Ana Aizpiri, Ignacio Sánchez-Cuenca, José Mari Múgica, Consuelo Ordoñez, Fernando participated in the work, with a foreword by the Minister of Culture and Sports, José Manuel Rodríguez Uribes Savater, Edurne Portela, Borja Sémper, Cristina Cuesta Gorostidi, Eduardo Ranz, María Jiménez Ramos, Fernando Grande-Marlaska, Genoveva Gastaminza, Ignacio Latierro and Luis Castells, Eva Orué, Gorka Landaburu and Luis R. Aizpeolea.

We advance the chapter 'A book with Calleja', written by Ignacio Sánchez-Cuenca, essayist and professor at the Carlos III University of Madrid.

'A book with Calleja'

I suppose that, due to academic deformation, what initially attracted me to José María Calleja were his books. I already imagine that this must be a rather rare approach in his case, since what stood out and attracted the most was his personality, a compound made up of very varied elements among which enthusiasm, energy, and a sense of humor stood out. , courage and moral clarity.

Calleja had a constant presence in the media and the public sphere through television programs (news, interviews, debates, gatherings) and a permanent activity as a columnist (in, El Correo, etc.). However, what caught my attention were her first two books,. Against barbarism. A plea in favor of the victims of ETA (Today's Topics, 1997) and The Basque diaspora (Aguilar, 1999). At that time I was very interested in Basque nationalist terrorism, trying to provide, from the social sciences, an explanation of the strategic evolution of ETA. I think I read practically everything that had been written about it. Against barbarism is among my favorite readings of that time. It was the first book, and for some time also the only one, to address terrorist violence from the point of view of the victims. It was written in a very direct and effective language, it managed to give the reader goose bumps with the tremendous stories of the victims and their families, but this was more than journalistic literature: Calleja's chilling chronicles were the result of his experience with pain caused by ETA and a deep knowledge of the ideology and the way of acting of the terrorist organization.

So much Against barbarism how The Basque diaspora they had some final appendages that were a treasure to me. The first contained a list of the ETA fatalities, including data with the date of death, the place, the victim's condition (member of the security forces, political, civil, etc.) and the "detail". where Calleja provided brief but very valuable information on the circumstances of the attack. The second book came with a similar list of all kidnappings carried out by terrorist groups since 1970. All this information could be digitized and statistically analyzed to better understand both ETA's strategies and the damage it had caused.

Following Calleja's example, I set out to build a database, as detailed and rigorous as possible, of ETA's fatalities. The Administration did not have an official list and the circulating lists contained numerous errors. After several years of somewhat detective work, I managed to complete the task. Beyond the academic analysis, I wanted to give visibility to the data and write an informative work, free from the bondage of research. I immediately thought of proposing it to José Mari to do it together. He had met him in 2003 and, like everyone else, he had also been captivated by the person. It was introduced to me by Jimena García-Pardo, a friend of both (Jimena's enthusiasm for Calleja's activity was such that, before meeting him and as a way of thanking him for his work and courage, she gave him a ham as a birthday present).

Calleja liked the proposal and we got down to work. The objective was to prepare a short text accompanied by a more or less definitive list of victims of ETA, with very detailed information. The book would analyze the different ETA terrorist campaigns and their evolution through the stories of the victims. The first part of each chapter was written by Calleja, selecting some episodes of special impact that illustrated the general theses that I was in charge of in the second part. Our way of working could not be more opposite. He wrote in one fell swoop and sent me his contribution in the body of the emails, all written in capital letters. As was characteristic of him, the texts had a brutal force. Then I would take care of fitting that into each chapter, trying to achieve some continuity between my more distant style and his torrential one. Miraculously, despite the fact that its authors were so different, the book went ahead. We finished it in mid-2006, when the peace process started by the government of José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero began. So hopeful were we that we titled the book The defeat of ETA. From the first to the last victim. We were wrong, it is evident, although not so much. The attack on the T-4 in December of that year showed us that we had been optimistic; But the error was not so great, since ETA, indeed, was already in the terminal phase and, despite returning to arms, the list of fatalities did not extend much in the following years (there were 12 people killed between December 2006 and March 2010).

The large publishers did not show much interest in the book, and that Calleja was a well-known journalist with a great pull. It was published in a small publisher, Adhara, with an unappealing cover. At the same time, I "posted" a summary version of the database on the Internet, so that anyone could consult and use it. We presented the book in various places, including El Corte Inglés on Goya Street in Madrid, something that was a most exotic experience for me. I keep a great memory of those acts next to Calleja, they were always an occasion to enjoy his wit and humor. We maintained the friendship until its premature and unfortunate end, in frequent encounters with Jimena and other good friends. In addition, we were classmates at the Carlos III University: he invariably caused me a great laugh with his comments about the university world, which he saw from a distance despite having taught for so many years.

Having written a book with Calleja is one of the great satisfactions of my academic career. It was a privilege to meet you.


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