The kidnapping and murder of the Ermua councilor marked a before and after in the unfortunate history of terrorism. People lost their fear and outrage took to the streets
On Thursday, July 10, 1997, the “Donosti commando” of the terrorist group ETA intercepted a 29-year-old young man at the exit of the Ardantza station in Eibar, put him in a dark car and took him to the crime scene. where he would keep him kidnapped for two days. In the middle of the afternoon they gave the radio station Egin Irratia the message: if the Ministry of the Interior did not take the ETA prisoners to the prisons of the Basque Country within 48 hours, they would kill him.
That young man, councilor of the People’s Party in the city council of Ermua, was Miguel Ángel Blanco, a name that will always be engraved in the history of pain in our country. A name that is part of the Spanish democracy.
Miguel Ángel Blanco was kidnapped number 78 of the terrorist group ETA. Nine days before they forced him into that car while he was on his way to work, the Civil Guard had released José Antonio Ortega Lara, the prison guard who had locked the gang in an inhumane cell for 532 days. Michelangelo’s kidnapping was revenge, a terrifying reaction. The hours that followed the news of his disappearance fell – first on Ermua and little by little on all of Spain – like the wild purple rain of the song Goñi, the singer of Revolver, wrote to remember that fact when there was no place for it. heap.
Because at last there was no room for hope. But the kidnapping and murder of Miguel Ángel Blanco marked a before and after in our country’s unfortunate history of terrorism. People lost their fear. The brutal threat, the feeling of witnessing a murder in slow motion and the impotence after years of forced silence brought solidarity and indignation to the streets. The entire city of Ermua has been holding its breath since that Thursday, July 10, twenty-five years ago. The second night of the kidnapping, just 24 hours before the ultimatum was fulfilled, hundreds of people lit candles and held a vigil to join the young councilor’s relatives and ask for his freedom.
The next morning, Bilbao saw the largest demonstration in its history. A human tide ran silently through the main streets of the capital of Biscay in the afternoon. The streets were filled with people clamoring for Michelangelo’s freedom, not just in the Basque Country, but all over Spain. Hundreds of thousands of people raised their voices against cruelty, against death. Spain faced the terrorist organization peacefully and bravely. But ETA again ignored the people.
The terrorists killed Miguel Ángel Blanco with two shots in the neck. He was found alive and taken to San Sebastián hospital, but nothing could be done. He died at five in the morning. He was the 778th person on ETA’s list of deaths.
From that moment on, Ermua became the symbol of the citizens’ struggle against the terrorist group. And all of Spain expressed its rejection, its condemnation of that barbarity. In those days, during the tense hours of the kidnapping and after the execution, it is estimated that some four million people took to the streets to show the anger, indignation and deep pain of a country hit by years of violence. While protecting Herri Batasuna’s headquarters, in front of 40,000 or 50,000 people, six Ertzainas decided to reveal his face. It was a gesture of enormous symbolism: it was enough to hide, to be silent. The protesters hugged them. The people decided that this had to end.
Silence and fear began to disappear in Basque society and have never returned. Many citizens, men and women, who had remained indifferent to the terrorist fanaticism, finally raised their voices. The spirit of Ermua will always be the spirit of unity and peace. The spirit of coexistence that allows no violence of any kind.
Had the killings caused paralysis before ETA, from 12 July 1997 they triggered mobilizations. Faced with the totalitarian coercion of terrorism, the defense of human rights gained the upper hand. Faced with “the socialization of suffering” – as ETA called its madness – freedom, democracy and life reigned. On the day of Miguel Ángel Blanco’s murder, ETA started to lose for good.
Fourteen years passed until on October 20, 2011, the terrorist group announced the definitive cessation of armed activities, without conditions. Spain ended 43 years of terrorism, with 829 dead.
The end of this black phase in the history of our country could have happened thanks to the gigantic effort of each democratic government in its commitment to dialogue, to the unity of the parties in the face of terror and hatred, to the work of justice, to the essential international cooperation, the invaluable work of the security forces and of course the Basque and Spanish society.
Many young people today were not born when Michelangelo was murdered. That is why we must thank the Basque civil society organizations who make such an effort to preserve their memories and those of the victims. Memory, collective and historical, is essential to correct the mistakes of the past, cherish the truth and guarantee justice.
Euskadi will never forget his recent history, nor should the path traveled to achieve freedom be forgotten in any corner of our country, now or in the future.
Source: La Verdad
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