In the film ‘Maixabel’, which tells of the restorative meeting between the widow of a murdered by ETA, Maixabel Lasa, and two of the three terrorists from the command that carried out the attack, Luis Carrasco and Ibon Etxezarreta, one of the most shocking scenes shows the second by buying a bouquet of flowers to participate in the tribute to his victim, Juan María Jáuregui, civil governor of Gipuzkoa during the last stretch of Felipe González’s mandate and promoter of the investigation against the LAGs. There are as many red roses as there are years absent from the commemoration and a white one as a symbol of sincere repentance. The character played by Luis Tosar rides a golf course and goes to the place and meets Blanca Portillo. Spontaneously, she asks him to bring her closer to the place and they arrive together to the surprise of the rest of the guests.
Maixabel Lasa, victim of ETA: “To forgive has a religious connotation and I am agnostic”
It is an artistic license for the film, because in reality there was a third person in the car. The driver was named Edu. Behind the hypocoristic is the lawyer, professor of Law and mediator Eduardo Santos Itoiz (Pamplona, 1973), now Minister of Migration Policies and Justice of the Government of Navarra. With the socialist María Chivite at the helm, this cabinet is a coalition between PSN, Geroa Bai (Socialverdes and PNV) and Podemos in which he is the only purple representative. Before he was a deputy in Congress for this same political formation. He has recently left the general secretariat of Podemos in the foral community.
His role in the real plot behind ‘Maixabel’ is crucial. Santos was, in fact, the host of the first of the meetings between Lasa and Etxezarreta, which has been followed by many others. It took place at his home, on the outskirts of Pamplona, and he attended the meeting from start to finish, as well as all the preparatory work. The appointment only reflects the role of Esther Pascual, the main mediator on the ‘via Nanclares’, but not the only one. Journalism, always more exact and accurate than cinema, did document it. A camera belonging to Mercedes Milá, which was accompanied by another of the invisibles from ‘Maixabel’, Txema Urkijo, collected the before and after of that appointment and recorded inside the house. There were not three glasses on the table but four, those of Maixabel, Ibon, Esther and Edu.
Jaúregui’s widow, who with Juan José Ibarretxe and Patxi López was responsible for the Office for Victims of the Basque Government, had previously met with Carrasco in the Nanclares de la Oca prison, in Vitoria. There, at that time, the condemned who separated themselves from ETA and the official prisoner group, the so-called EPPK, were gathering while the rest were far away and dispersed. A third terrorist participated in the attack, Patxi Xabier Makazaga. In fact, he was the one who pulled the trigger. He never dissociated himself from the EPPK, although some information suggests that he recently asked to see his victim, without any official source confirming it. “It is difficult to be absent a whole day and say that you are going to buy tobacco. There’s always someone who asks the question, ‘Hey, aren’t you in on this?’ We have lied like scoundrels ”, Santos has written in a book entitled ‘The eyes of the other’ and which was published in 2013.“ These things are not done under the spotlight ”, he limits himself to answering this hypothesis in the present.
Santos jokes that the director, Icíar Bollaín, has done a magnificent job: the good mediator must be “invisible” and this quality is faithfully captured in 115 minutes of footage. There is no hint of anger; On the contrary, in Santos there is excitement to see the result of the film. The facilitator, in fact, promoted from his new responsibility in the Government a very special ‘premiere’ in the Pamplona prison attended by Bollaín and Lasa and which brought together fifty long prisoners, who thanked the plea in favor with applause of second chances. Those of ETA, of the EPPK, chose to follow their routine and not go near to see the film.
Santos decides to tell his story to elDiario.es in a restaurant in the center of Pamplona. Euskaldun, with a resounding message against any type of violence and fearful of the “involution” in some political messages, expresses himself with pause, as if measuring each word. Also in the encounters between victims and perpetrators, everything was scripted and calculated. Before the appointment, a questionnaire of more than twenty questions had already been made to both parties. “I already knew that I was going to tell him that he would rather be Juan Mari’s widow than his mother,” he explains. This questionnaire is in the book ‘The eyes of the other’. One of the key questions to terrorists is this: “If you had magic pills that erase pain, who would you give them to?”
We have gone to lock ourselves at home with a pack of tissues and with the feeling of not being able to bear so much misery
Why would someone lend themselves to put their house for something similar? Urkijo says – paradoxes of life have ended up on the ‘opposite’ side to Santos, in Más País, although he fondly considers him “a charming guy” – that the restorative meetings were gestated with institutional support, but that the arrival of Mariano Rajoy stopped the central government in their tracks. With ETA still formally active because until October 2011 it did not communicate the cessation of terrorism, Mercedes Gallizo in Penitentiary Institutions -until ago the Basque prisons were managed by the State-, Lasa and Urkijo in the Office of Victims and the socialist Jesús Loza as commissioner For the Coexistence of the Lehendakari López they forged the project. Pascual met with the prisoners on the ‘via Nanclares’ – with all of them at the same time – and probed them. There were “coexistence workshops” with them. Several took the step of wanting to see their victims. The first meetings were held in the prison itself, now in disuse but still standing and which hosted part of the filming. In parallel, several relatives of the murdered wanted to do the same with the terrorists.
Suddenly, the change of government left necessarily slow processes that were left without institutional protection. And that’s when Santos proposed to give up his house so that Lasa and Etxezarreta could see each other. It was May 2014, many years after the process started. And after two months, on July 29 of that year, the photograph of Etxezarreta, repentant, was produced in homage to his victim. In the image that accompanies this information, Santos appears in the middle of both protagonists with an umbrella… and a smile.
“Maixabel and Ibon are not friends”
“The process belongs to the parties and the consequences as well. The facilitator cannot have more leading time than is strictly necessary to build the bridge that the parties decided to meet ask for. Then he must retire and prepare for the next meeting, ”he also wrote in the book. But, obviously, this mediator is not a mere helper: “We have laughed and cried with the people we were with, because the expression of feelings is not incompatible with neutrality; sometimes in silence, sometimes with an inner feeling of tears or surprise at the pain that was being entrusted to us. Sometimes with a sense of deep unreality. And then we have gone to lock ourselves at home with a packet of tissues and with the feeling of not being able to bear so much misery ”.
“Maixabel and Ibon are not friends,” he says about the surprise that the good relationship between them generates in those who have now discovered this story. Santos explains that Etxezarreta’s repentance is genuine. He assures that in his prison permits – he is still serving a long sentence and none of this has brought him a prison benefit – he cannot move around Gipuzkoa without remembering that he followed up here, that he committed an attack there and that there he guarded a Guard barracks Civil to inform the gang. They were mercenaries who received the mission instructions in an envelope and executed it. “There is nothing more delegitimizing violence than those who have exercised it tell you that it is absolutely useless,” concludes the invisible mediator.