The Interior Ministry announced this Monday by surprise that Tomás Caballero, son of the Navarre People’s Union councilor assassinated by ETA, will be the new president of the Foundation for Victims of Terrorism, the body that brings together all associations. The Government thus ends eight years of presidency of Marimar Blanco, who arrived at the post in a maneuver by Jorge Fernández Díaz to try to control a sector soliviantado at that time with the PP and that later she has continued in office despite her responsibilities in the party and having been a deputy in Congress.
The PP squares the puzzle to fit Mari Mar Blanco back into public office
Several victims’ associations had insistently asked the Interior Minister, Fernando Grande-Marlaska, to relieve Miguel Ángel Blanco’s sister of the Foundation’s presidency for not feeling represented. This is the case of Covite, chaired by Consuelo Ordoñez, sister of the PP councilor in San Sebastián who was killed by ETA. The Basque association published a letter in September last year in which it criticized the “partisan use of the cause” and added that those who carry out their positions in political formations and administrations what they do is “harm the entire group”.
The 11M Affected by Terrorism Association, the majority among the victims of the jihadist attacks in Madrid and whose founder was Pilar Manjón, had also repeatedly called for Blanco’s dismissal. Its current president, Eulogio Paz, alluded to the “ethical incompatibility” between her political career and the representation of the different sensibilities in the group of victims.
Eulogio Paz was one of the attendees of the last celebration of the Day of Victims of Terrorism in the Congress of Deputies, who did not applaud Blanco’s speech, an attitude that deputies from various parliamentary groups also had. Blanco used the rostrum of Congress to criticize Televisión Española for “laundering” the terrorists, he said, in his interview with Arnaldo Otegi, the leader of EH Bildu. In that intervention and in others as president of the Foundation, Marimar Blanco had asked for the expulsion of the abertlale left from the institutions and the banning of his party.
The Foundation for Victims of Terrorism is a consequence of the Anti-Terrorism Pact that the Popular Party and PSOE signed in 2000. Its Board of Trustees, which will ratify the appointment of Caballero on Tuesday, includes public administrations and representatives of the private sector, although the majority depends on the Government. From its creation and until October 2012, the Foundation was chaired by Maite Pagazaurtundua, sister of the former head of the Andoain local police assassinated by ETA. It was a time when the institution spoke publicly after agreeing positions with all the associations, also at the time when the AVT was dedicated to collaborating with the PP in stirring the street against the government’s anti-terrorism policy. Without everyone’s agreement, there was no pronouncement from the Foundation.
With private accusations about the salary he was charging, the Government of Mariano Rajoy dismissed Pagazaurtundua and raised Marimar Blanco, who would stop receiving an assignment for the position. To compensate, the PP sought Blanco a position as a parliamentary adviser in Congress. Since then, Pablo Casado’s party has continued to place Marimar Blanco in a position of Administration for which he has no experience. Currently, Marimar Blanco is a housing consultant for the Madrid City Council. This has been the reaction of the PP to Álava not obtaining the seat as number one on its list. In the previous legislature, Casado resigned Daniel Lacalle and Andrea Levy to run the job and Marimar Blanco was a member of Congress.
Blanco’s arrival at the Foundation coincided with the most conflictive period in the relationship between the PP and the victims of terrorism on account of the release of ETA prisoner Josu Uribetxeberria Bolinaga for the application of the Strasbourg sentence on the Parot doctrine. In a rally against the enforcement of the ruling, PP leaders had to abandon the act amid insults and harsh reproaches. Mari Mar Blanco, who was a member of the PP National Executive Committee since 2008, at all times exonerated the Government and blamed the “misnamed peace process” of the Zapatero government.
The most relevant criticisms, being the majority association, came to Fernández Díaz from the AVT and its then president, Ángeles Pedraza. Over time, Pedraza joined the Popular Party at the hands of Cristina Cifuentes and began to hold public office. With Isabel Díaz Ayuso, Pedraza has reached three positions in two weeks. The last one, in which it still continues, is the Management of the 112 emergency service.
Ángeles Pedraza is vice president of the Fundación de Víctimas and the letter from Covite was also addressed to her. From the AVT they defend that, unlike the position of president, the vice-presidency “is not chosen by the Government”. Since its creation, the Foundation reserves in its statutes a vice-presidency to the AVT for being the majority and oldest association and it is this one that chooses who represents it, adds a spokesperson for the association. Pedraza continues to be the honorary president of the AVT.
The Association of Victims of Terrorism had also asked Grande-Marlaska to replace Blanco, although it alluded to internal issues of the Foundation, such as the distribution of grants, the operation of its magazine or the lack of representation at the first level of the organization in public events in recent times.
Knight, a relay with “great consensus capacity”
In a note released this Monday, the Ministry of the Interior announced the appointment of Caballero to replace Blanco, of which he has merely said that he has carried out “a great deal of activity representing the Foundation.” “The Government appreciates their dedication and work in defense of victims of terrorism, knowing that their commitment in this area has been, is and will be permanent,” he adds. elDiario.es unsuccessfully attempted to collect an assessment from the Popular Party.
For its part, the Ministry praised Tomás Caballero’s “long history” in the group – until now he was one of the Foundation’s two vice-presidents – and highlighted his “great capacity for consensus”, which has allowed him “to maintain close relations with the different representative associations of the victims and a precise knowledge of the operation of the entity “. In case there was any doubt about the profile opposed to Marimar Blanco, Interior highlights Caballero “his commitment to the plural defense of the values and interests of the victims of terrorism.”
The AVT spokesman has celebrated the appointment of Caballero: “We hope that he is someone who changes things, that he follows the same line of very clear ideas and that they let him carry them out at the foundation. If so, he will have us at the AVT always by your side and if not, we will supervise and we will be in front “.