The PP, led by Marimar Blanco, sister of Miguel Ángel Blanco, a councilor kidnapped and murdered by ETA 25 years ago, and Alberto Núñez Feijóo himself, has brought the institutional tension with the Government of Pedro Sánchez to the great event held in Ermua in memory of those events of 1997 and which has been chaired by the Head of State, King Felipe VI, by the President himself and by the Lehendakari, Iñigo Urkullu, among other high authorities. There are already three consecutive days in which the main opposition party in Spain has questioned the political agreements of the Socialists with EH Bildu, a coalition that brings together Sortu, the party of the nationalist left.
Ermua also pays tribute to the police work against ETA in the framework of the acts by Miguel Ángel Blanco
“ETA and HB, today [EH] Bildu, they are the same thing”, affirmed the victim’s sister from the stage of the municipal sports center of Ermua, which precisely bears the name of Miguel Ángel Blanco and which has brought together several hundred guests and dozens of accredited journalists in the middle of a formidable security cordon that has involved the Royal House, the Ertzaintza, the local Ermua Police and the State Security Forces. Without expressly mentioning the agreements of the PSOE with the pro-independence coalition, Blanco has emphasized in his speech that “the ends pursued by terrorist crimes” “are still more alive today than ever” with a political formation that continues “without condemning the crimes”. And he added, in a veiled reference to the last agreement between the Government and EH Bildu, the one related to what is known as the law of democratic memory: “We demand that the democratic memory collect the history of terrorism in this country, a history with good and bad, with victims and executioners. “Justice”, he has emphasized, must be the “priority of any government” that claims to be “decent”. “Let our voice not be silenced”, he has cried out.
Blanco, who has been in charge of the PP for years, has refused to applaud Sánchez before and after his parliament, a few moments in which he has remained sitting in his seat without making any gesture. In addition, in her words she has been careful to thank only the Head of State and not the Government for the reparation policies for the victims of terrorism. “Your Majesty, I want to thank her for her presence at this event, but also for the constant and unconditional support of the Crown, sharing our pain. We receive closeness, affection and respect knowing that we have the support of the highest institution of the State is very important “for the victims of terrorism”, she has pointed out.
This week had been controversial because the Ermua city council, organizer of the event, had not planned a speech by Blanco, although it had paid tribute to the entire municipal corporation of 1997, headed by Carlos Totorika, in which she was going to participate on behalf of Miguel Angel. Finally, it was explained that it had been a “misunderstanding”. In addition, before the arrival of the King, Blanco wanted to appear before journalists to emphasize that “every day” and “not only on the days indicated” we must be on the side of the victims of terrorism and not of the nationalist left. Later, the Head of State, the President and the Lehendakari met with the Blanco family, as well as with those close to the other ETA victim in Ermua, Sotero Mazo. Sources close to Blanco have indicated that they have understood it as a meeting “with the king” in which “Sánchez and Urkullu were only invited”. “The ones we have spoken with have been the king and only the king,” they insist.
At the end of the event, Núñez Feijóo addressed the journalists to highlight the “brilliant” intervention of Felipe VI and to emphasize that this party has come to Ermua to support the Royal House. “We continue to have a king of all”, he congratulated himself in contrast to a resounding silence on Sánchez’s words at the ceremony. The leader of the opposition in Spain, who has enjoyed a treatment of much greater preference than that given by his status as a senator -ahead in the protocol, for example, of the president of the Basque Parliament, Bakartxo Tejeria- has also lamented that there are political formations that do not condemn the murders of ETA and has pointed out that these parties “do not deserve the trust of the Basques and the Spanish”.
In the floral offering, the king, Urkullu and Núñez Feijóo have been highly applauded by the institutional guests and by the neighbors and visitors gathered around the police cordon, many of them monarchists and with Spanish flags. Sánchez, however, the bulk of the PP members have not applauded him and part of the public has even booed him when he placed a flower next to the monolith in memory of Blanco. The socialist cadres present have redoubled their applause to compensate.
Inside, the president has pointed out that in July 1997 something “changed forever in Spain” due to the image of unity in the rejection of ETA terrorism. He has highlighted that “a generation is growing up in Spain that has not lived surrounded by terrorism” but understands that society must not forget. For this reason, he recalled that the Government inaugurated the Vitoria Memorial in 2021 in honor of the victims of all terrorism, also that of the GAL, and that the Ministries of Education and the Interior are promoting programs for all of Spain similar to those existing in Euskadi to bring testimonies of relatives of murdered to the classrooms. At the end of his speech, Sánchez addressed Blanco directly: “Dear Marimar, we are aware that not all the acts of recognition or the decorations will be enough to compensate for the absence of your brother Miguel Ángel or that of all the men and women [víctimas del terrorismo]. Despite this, we must continue committed to memory and remembrance, in affection towards the victims”.
Regarding the message from the head of state, he emphasized that he himself presided over the funeral in 1997 and that, at that time, he was the same age as the victim. “There are dates that remain forever in our memory, that accompany us throughout our lives. The days from July 10 to 14, 1997 are impossible to forget. Today, 25 years ago, on Thursday, July 10, days after the Civil Guard released José Antonio Ortega Lara, all of Spain was paralyzed by the news of the kidnapping – one more in that terrible time – of yet another innocent: It was Miguel White angel. From half past three that afternoon, we were all with his family; we were all -we felt- the same family. A few hours later, after learning of the despicable ultimatum, Ermua, under the leadership of its then mayor Carlos Totorika and the municipal corporation, spontaneously took to the streets as a sign of solidarity and revulsion…, of a resounding rejection of an unbearable situation for a tired, exhausted society, fed up with terror and fear”, he solemnized.
And he added: “That unit provided a security that we had never felt, removing the fear that had been present in our environment for so many years and causing a generalized and forceful rejection of the physical, psychological and emotional violence imposed during all that time. […] Let’s continue, then, persevering so that what we experienced does not fall into oblivion; so that unity summons us around our recent history; so that the spirit of Ermua reminds us, every day, of the value of peace, life, freedom and democracy”.
The Lehendakari, who combined words in Spanish and Basque, said: “We look to the past to demand courageous reflection and sincere self-criticism from those who exercised and supported terrorist violence.” But he has also asked to look to the future, “to a Euskadi in peace, a Euskadi built on ethical and democratic principles and values, a Euskadi that builds coexistence with memory”. “This legacy is the best tribute that we can pay today to Miguel Ángel Blanco”, he pointed out. The mayor of Ermua, the socialist Txitxo Abascal, wanted to highlight Totorika’s leadership in 1997 and wished that just as humanity has developed a vaccine against COVID-19, it can achieve “an antidote against intolerance”.
Ermua has experienced an exceptional Sunday morning, with a huge security device and cordons that sometimes the neighbors skipped to the surprise of the commanders in charge of the operation. Several dozen people have gathered to see the king and cheer on him, the heiress Leonor de Borbón, the Civil Guard, the National Police and the Ertzaintza. The monarch, who has been delighted with the aurresku in his honor, and Sánchez have arrived in a dozen cars each, almost all dark. The president of Congress, Meritxell Batet, has also traveled to the Biscayan town, although in the end there have been no ministers. From that group came the boos to Sánchez -although at the same time many applause to the also socialist Totorika- and some timid “Feijóo, president!”. In addition to the PP, Blanco’s party, positions from PNV, PSE-EE, Ciudadanos and Podemos have attended. Sortu already announced that he would not attend and EA, another EH Bildu party, has explained to this newspaper that no one has invited them. Vox has also been absent. The appointment was the first for Urkullu and Feijóo in person since their arrival in Genoa. Both maintain a great relationship from their previous stage in Galicia and they have exhibited it with an affectionate greeting and a small talk within the rigidity of the rundown.