This Tuesday it became known that the seven EH Bildu candidates who were members of ETA and who committed blood crimes will not take up their positions if they are elected in the municipal and regional elections of Álava, Bizkaia, Gipuzkoa and Navarra, according to a letter of the aforementioned themselves disseminated in I am and as confirmed to this newspaper by training sources. According to Covite, an association of victims led by Consuelo Ordóñez, there were a total of 44 express prisoners on the plates, but the same note regrets that people included in investigations have been put in the same bag under the prism of “everything is ETA” and unrelated to terrorism. “The decision is theirs”, they insist in EH Bildu. However, this move has been coordinated with the leadership of the coalition. In a statement to the media called urgently, the leader of the coalition, Arnaldo Otegi, has said that he hopes that this “gesture” will deflate the campaign.
The PSE-EE is conspiring to win the polls: “In 2019 we got six more points in Álava. We are going to win!”
According to the list drawn up by Covite just before the electoral campaign, there were seven ex-terrorist candidates. Agustín Muiños Díaz ‘Tinin’ was number six on the list of Legutio, in Álava, who was sentenced in 1985 to 29 years in prison for the 1983 murder of José Antonio Julián Bayano. Begoña Uzkudun Etxenagusia was third on the list in the Gipuzkoan town of Errezil with a 1989 sentence of 18 years in prison for the murder of José Larrañaga Arenas in 1984. Juan Ramón Rojo González was 21 in Irún and was sentenced to 30 years in 1996 for the murder of Francisco Gil Mendoza in 1991.
Asier Uribarri Benito was four in Maruri-Jatabe (Bizkaia) and had weighed on him a sentence of 16 years in prison issued in 2011 for an accomplice in the crime of the civil guard José Manuel García Fernández. José Antonio Torre Altonaga ‘Medius’ was second substitute in Mungia, also in Bizkaia. He had been sentenced in 1981 to 20 years in prison for his collaboration in the 1978 murder of Alberto Negro Viguera and Andrés Guerra Pereda. Lander Maruri Basagoiti, another substitute in Bizkaia, in Zierbena, was sentenced in 2001 to 16 years in prison for his complicity in the 1997 murder of the civil guard José Manuel García Hernández. Juan Carlos Arriaga Martínez was third in Berrioplano, in Navarra, and received a 29-year sentence in 1989 for the crime of Jesús Alcocer Jiménez, which occurred in 1984.
The sources consulted indicate that, with the lists already proclaimed -and the ballots printed-, there will be no changes as such in their composition between now and the elections. The same thing happens in the case of the Güeñes PP, which has withdrawn as a candidate the person who was the spokesperson for EH Bildu in that Biscayan town. The jurisprudence of the Constitutional Court is clear in understanding that a plate with holes would be null and this waiver formula is used to avoid violating the right to passive suffrage of the rest of the candidates. There have been cases, for example, in which a candidacy with a deceased person has been voted for this very reason.
The content of the letter
“The inclusion of our names in the EH Bildu candidacies in our respective towns has raised a great political and media outcry. 44 candidates have been summoned, most of whom were sentenced under the ‘everything is ETA’ strategy that pursued strictly political activities and led to the violation of the civil and political rights of many citizens. It would be a disservice to the minimum democratic principles if it is taken for granted that these rights can continue to be trampled on”, they write.
And they add: “Our specific cases have been more prominent due to the facts for which we were convicted. We are not going to deny now our militancy of the past nor the responsibility that we assume with it. The configuration of the lists in our respective municipalities has reached an undoubted importance, which forces us, for different reasons, to withdraw our candidacies to the extent possible and to ensure that in no case will we take the position of councilor. With this decision we want to address, first of all, the victims of ETA and, in general, all the people who have suffered in this conflict, thus showing our commitment so that neither our words nor our actions ever add the slightest suffering to the already been We want to highlight that from the beginning we participated in the change in strategy of the nationalist left that took place more than a decade ago, and that we assumed its unequivocal commitment through exclusively political and democratic channels”.
The presence of these ex-members of ETA on the lists had become the central axis of the electoral campaign and not of the Basque one, but of the Spanish one. The right, PP and Vox, had used this decision by EH Bildu to attack Pedro Sánchez -who visited Euskadi this Monday- for his agreements with the coalition and had reactivated the drums of outlawing a formation that emerged in 2011 as Bildu, which in 2012 it changed to Amaiur and since then it has been EH Bildu. It integrates not only Batasuna’s heir party, now called Sortu, but also EA, Alternatiba (a split from IU) and independents. At the time, the extinct Aralar de Patxi Zabaleta also participated. Groups such as Podemos or the PNV had also launched very critical messages against EH Bildu in recent days.
The seven signatories of the letter assure that “from the beginning” they took part in the “change in strategy of the nationalist left that took place more than a decade ago” and that they assumed an “unequivocal commitment to exclusively political and democratic paths”. “We expressly join the Declaration of October 18 [realizada por Otegi con el líder de Sortu, Arkaitz Rodríguez] as a self-critical look at the previous cycle of confrontation. It is not in our spirit to hide the past and we believe sincere, constructive and complete memory exercises are necessary”, they point out.
Of course, they also indicate that they cannot “accept” the response of “reactionary sectors” to their presence on the lists. “It is quite obvious that in recent days partisan and electoral interests have been imposed that have little or nothing to do with the construction of coexistence and peace, and that the objective of the controversy is none other than to harm EH Bildu, having managed to be an inescapable benchmark and the main transforming force. In our opinion, it cannot be argued that EH Bildu’s objective is to ratify our previous trajectory. In our opinion, this political project represents a future full of hope for Euskal Herria, which has achieved the support of many people and sectors, including many who in their day openly confronted us, who censured us and condemned our actions. Obviously, their participation in this collective project that is EH Bildu is not intended to legitimize ETA. We understand that EH Bildu was established in a new time as an instrument to achieve sovereignty, peace and freedom, to build a better country. And that is also our commitment”, they point out, using the word “condemnation” significantly, completely alien to the language of the traditional nationalist left.
Given the magnitude that the controversy has acquired, the reactions to the ex-terrorists’ announcement have not been long in coming. “This is indeed a victory,” Covite cried after the news broke. In any case, the entity belonging to the sister of Gregorio Ordóñez, a former leader of the murdered Basque PP, has regretted that there are another 37 people who continue normally on the lists “after having contributed, through their membership of ETA, to all the crimes that this terrorist organization committed.” He also points out that “it is unworthy that those who committed crimes as serious as murder give lessons in peace and coexistence.” The Fernando Buesa Foundation has thanked Covite for its “valuable work” after it has achieved that seven EH Bildu candidates, former ETA prisoners with blood crimes, have resigned from occupying council posts after the municipal elections on May 28, according to what it has collected Europe Press.
From the Basque Government, the counselor-spokesperson, Bingen Zupiria, has indicated that this decision shows that there was no “conspiracy” against EH Bildu and there was an ethical requirement. And he added: “The majority of Basque society continues to hope that the nationalist left and the people who exercised terror and violence in our society in their name recognize the damage caused and the unfair and illegitimate nature of the violence they exercised”. The minister-spokesperson for the Government of Spain, Isabel Rodríguez, has affirmed that “the victims have won” but also that this should never have happened.
The opposition leader, Alberto Núñez Feijóo, has written that “democracy, dignity and decency of the majority of Spaniards have prevailed despite Pedro Sánchez, who chose to leave the Spaniards alone.” And he added: “We have taken the first step. Let’s go for the next ones.” But Isabel Díaz Ayuso, president of the Community of Madrid and candidate in Bilbao, does not believe it: “They are not going to resign because they are also on the list. And of course they will take possession. What word does a murderer have?
The socialist president of Navarra, María Chivite, has assessed the announcement “positively”. “We already said that it was an issue that we did not like” since it “re-victimized the victims,” said the candidate for re-election. Minister Ione Belarra, also a leader of Podemos, has applauded the “important step”, which, in her opinion, “contrasts with a right wing capable of using the memory of the victims for electoral purposes.” From the PNV, Aitor Esteban has affirmed: “It seems positive to me. But I have the question of whether it responds to an electoral calculation ”. Eneko Andueza, leader of the PSE-EE, added: “The search for a coexistence based on respect and plurality demands something more than compliance with the law, although compliance with the law is an essential condition.” Vox insists on outlawing EH Bildu.