“After the Spirit of Ermua we were all committed to a clear anti-terrorist policy, not to give prison benefits to ETA prisoners and not to accept tributes to terrorists”. With this argument, the leader of the PP, Alberto Núñez Feijóo, has attacked the agreement reached between the coalition government and EH Bildu (among other groups) to approve the Democratic Memory Law, which will be voted for the first time this Thursday in Congress. A phrase that makes it obvious that, after the murder of Ermua councilor Miguel Ángel Blanco in 1997, the Executive of José María Aznar, with Jaime Mayor Oreja as Minister of the Interior, approached imprisoned terrorists and opened a negotiation with ETA.
The Government saves the Democratic Memory Law in Congress thanks to an agreement with EH Bildu
“I will always have an attitude of generosity, with an outstretched hand and an open spirit to consolidate the possibilities of peace”, José María Aznar said in 1999two years after ETA kidnapped and killed with two shots in the neck the councilor who was active in his party.
For example, in 1998 there were 26 prisoner transfers. That year, six people were killed by the terrorist group. The following year, in 1999, the number of incarcerated terrorists who were moved to prisons closer to the Basque Country multiplied to 105.
At that time, Aznar boasted of a "new orientation of prison policy" towards ETA that would be "flexible". The framework in which this shift took place was that of open negotiations between the Government and the terrorist organization after the truce announced in September 1998. Barely a year after the murder of Miguel Ángel Blanco.
Two months later, the then president Aznar made a statement to the Spaniards: "The Government and I personally have authorized contacts with the environment of the Basque Liberation Movement. I have personally authorized it and I want the Spanish to know it”.
In the following months there were different meetings between envoys from the PP government and representatives of ETA and Herri Batasuna. In the eight years of the Government of José María Aznar, and with Mayor Oreja as minister, 426 ETA prisoners approached to facilitate family visits.
Two decades later, ETA no longer exists. The defeated terrorist organization laid down its arms in 2011. And the Spanish courts have determined that Sortu and the EH Bildu coalition are legal.
But Feijóo will meet this Thursday with different associations of victims of terrorism to show his rejection of the Democratic Memory Law, which is not related to ETA. This Tuesday, the parliamentary spokesperson for the PP, Cuca Gamarra, devoted a third of her initial speech in the debate on the state of the nation to talking about a terrorism that no longer exists.
In an interview on Telecinco, Feijóo has said: "What do we explain [a las asociaciones]? What are they going to give the go-ahead to the law of forgetfulness? That Bildu, co-author of the law, does not even condemn the murders of his relatives? This is not how it is built, it is destroyed”. And he has settled: “When after the Spirit of Ermua we were all committed to a clear anti-terrorist policy, not to give prison benefits and not accept tributes, the road is interrupted and now we have to see that the law of memory is the Bildu law. It is a setback in the freedoms and in the Spanish democracy”.