Tuesday, December 6

The King claims the ‘spirit of Ermua’ as the victory “of morality over fear”


The King, in the center, together with Lehendakari Urkullu, Sánchez, the President of Congress, Meritxell Batet and Alberto Núñez Feijóo.

The institutional tone is the backbone of the speeches of the institutional tribute to Miguel Ángel Blanco, in which his sister reminded Sánchez that “justice and truth must be the priority of any government”

The ‘spirit of Ermua’ has returned today to the place where it was born. Twenty-five years after the kidnapping and murder of Miguel Ángel Blanco in his hometown at the hands of ETA, the highest level of the Rule of Law, now free from the ETA threat for more than a decade, has met in the Biscayan town, of 15,000 inhabitants, to look at the past as the foundation of a present in peace and a future of coexistence. In that key, King Felipe VI, who was 29 years old in 1997, the same age as the young popular mayor when he was assassinated, has made it clear that those turbulent days of “valuable meaning” were that “sad and desolate” turning point. », those who «have brought us here».

A memory that, he has said, must remain alive so that its meaning is not lost. And it has valued, in this sense, the civic rebellion against terrorism that crystallized in Ermua as “a victory of the collective conscience of all our people”, a triumph of “dignity and morality in the face of fear and terror” , and «an example, in short, of our strength». In this sense, the Monarch has made it clear that “we cannot afford” that the younger generations are unaware of an event that marked a before and after in Spanish democratic life, “united our collective consciousness and contributed to establishing our coexistence”. “Let us, therefore, continue to persevere so that what we have lived through does not fall into oblivion, so that unity gathers us around our recent history, so that the ‘spirit of Ermua’ reminds us every day of the value of peace, of life , of freedom and democracy”, the King concluded in front of the hundreds of guests who have gathered on the field of the sports center that bears the name of the assassinated mayor.

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The measured and evocative tone of the profound democratic sense of those days in July has been the common denominator of the speeches that have structured the act of homage, sober and lasting just over an hour, in which the controversy over the pacts of Pedro Sánchez with EH Bildu has barely flown over the messages, except for that of Marimar Blanco, the sister of the assassinated mayor, who has finally taken the floor after rectifying the mayor, the socialist Juan Carlos Abascal, the initially planned rundown. The also popular deputy in the Madrid Assembly has alluded, without expressly citing it, to the Moncloa agreement with the nationalist left to extend the application of the law that in principle intends to compensate the victims of Francoism until 1983 in exchange for their support for the text. “We demand that the Democratic Memory”, she said, referring to the title of the law, “recognize the history of terrorism in our country, a history of good and bad, victims and executioners”.

The leader of the PP, Alberto Núñez Feijóo, -who has occupied a central place in the protocol together with the King, Sánchez, the president of Congress, Meritxell Batet, the lehendakari Urkullu, the president of the Basque Parliament, Bakartxo Tejeria, the mayor of the town, the general deputy of Bizkaia, Unai Rementeria, and the president of the General Assemblies, Ana Otadui-, made statements once the tribute was over to vindicate the Transition and charge against those who “equate” victims and perpetrators.

“Justice and truth must always be the priority of any government. The opposite is neither fair nor decent”, Blanco launched at the President of the Government, who has received isolated boos outside the enclosure (“go now”, “what have you come for”) in a tribute that, for the rest, It has taken place in a climate of institutional normality and has served to remind the Corporation of that time, which has received as a distinction the first monolith in homage to the victims designed by Agustín Ibarrola. The President of the Government has also highlighted the importance of “continuing to tell this story” to those who were not born when it happened so that society does not forget. “We must remain committed to memory,” he urged.

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In fact, the tacit agreement of all the participants has been made clear so as not to divert attention from the main thing, the memory of Miguel Ángel and the other victim of ETA in Ermua, the hairdresser Sotero Mazo, murdered in the worst of the years of lead, in 1980, together with his friend and policeman Alberto Lisalde in Eibar. “By reminding them today we honor all the victims of terrorism again”, underlined the Monarch, who dedicated his speech to exhaustively recalling a few days that he lived in the first person as Prince of Asturias, in which citizens took to the streets spontaneously as a sign of “resounding rejection in the face of an unbearable situation for a tired, exhausted society, fed up with terror and fear”.

The King recalled the blue ribbon, the white hands, the demonstrations throughout the country, the vigils, the rage and impotence as the clock ticked down, the “brave and historic” gesture of the ertzainas who uncovered their faces before neighbors who hugged them… «The paralyzing fear of terrorism was getting smaller and smaller in the face of the massive mobilizations that took to the streets, banishing the violence that had appropriated them for so many years. The ‘spirit of Ermua’ spread”, recalled the Monarch, who praised this unprecedented “unity” because it created “a security that we had never felt”.

After the central act, the authorities have moved to the adjoining monument to the victims of terrorism to make a floral offering, in front of a lit cauldron, in which each of those present has deposited a red rose in memory of those killed by ETA .

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Sánchez goes to the lectern to intervene in the tribute. / EFE

Sánchez: «We must continue telling this story and that society does not forget it»

A quarter of a century has passed since ETA kidnapped and murdered Miguel Ángel Blanco, and since then countless tributes have been held with even more speeches in memory of the PP councilor in Ermua. Everything seems to have already been said, but in these 25 years thousands of young people have been born who did not live through those mournful days of July 1997. “Today a generation is growing that has not lived in a Spain surrounded by terrorism and that is an immense joy” , Pedro Sánchez congratulated himself, “but we must continue telling this story and that society does not forget”, he underlined. In his speech at the State tribute held this Sunday in the Biscayan town, the Prime Minister insisted on the need to keep alive the memory of the victims of terrorism.

His speech was an ode to the so-called ‘spirit of Ermua’ that arose as a spontaneous reaction of society to barbarism. “Something changed forever. Since then we have been a different country that would never bow to terror again », he evoked after recalling the massive demonstrations with white hands. “We all remember where we were that day.”

The anniversary of Blanco’s crime comes a few months after the tenth anniversary of the dissolution of ETA, “ten years in which we have had to rebuild everything that violence and extortion had tried to destroy.” Because, as he recalled, the armed gang “did not achieve any of its objectives, but left 854 fatalities, 86 more kidnapping victims and more than 7,000 injured, not counting their families.” If today Spain is a free and peaceful country, he has claimed, “it is thanks to those who opted for unity in the face of terror and fear.”


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