From the kidnapping to the release of Jose Antonio Ortega Lara exactly 532 days passed. For more than a year, the prison officer was locked up in a damp and oppressive den. One of the largest antiterrorist operations on Basque soil finally managed to find the place where ETA had hidden Ortega Lara.
On July 1, 1997, the news broke: Ortega Lara had been released. However, just 10 days later, ETA took action again. As the director of Information of EL ESPAÑOL Miguel Ángel Mellado, author of Miguel Ángel Blanco, the son of all (The Sphere of Books), “The ETA members demanded from the Government, then chaired by Aznar, the transfer, within 48 hours, of all ETA prisoners to prisons in the Basque Country. With the known result: neither the Executive was willing to make such a concession nor would there have been time, so Miguel Ángel Blanco was shot twice in the head, with a cannon, at the hands of Txapote, sadly famous for being the king of shooting in the neck”.
That tragic scenario, which must never be forgotten in order to know the footprint that terrorism has left in the Basque Country and Spain, has now been recovered by ATRESplayer Premium this October 18. The decisive moment covers everything that happened between the rescue of José Antonio Ortega Lara and the murder of Miguel Ángel Blanco in a documentary where tension and the passage of time mark the narrative of the production.
Through real images of the rescue of the prison official and the subsequent demonstrations in favor of the release of Miguel Ángel Blanco, the documentary intersperses recreated sequences from actors who stage what happened within the investigation, within ETA or even behind the walls of the Ermua Town Hall.
All this is done without being untrue. The documentary is accompanied at all times by testimonies such as those of Jaime Mayor Oreja, Minister of the Interior at that time, Baltasar Garzón The Nerea Garrido, cousin of Miguel Ángel Blanco.
Change of course
Since its foundation, ETA has gone through various phases. It was not the same before or after Franco — although its end remained the same. Nor did it have the same support before or after the dictatorship.
In this sense, the year 1997 also marked a turning point in terms of social support for the terrorist gang. As explained in the production that ATRESplayer premieres, “if yesterday she was not loved, today she is hated“.
And it is that, immediately after knowing the news of the kidnapping of the councilman of the PP in Ermua, the city council summoned a concentration to which most of the town attended. The silence and the looks away disappeared. The people went out to the streets. Such was the uproar that even Jon Cano López, the only councilor for Herri Batasuna (HB) in the Ermua City Council, demanded that the terrorist gang release the kidnapped “safe and sound.”
Bilbao became the heart of that cry that began in Ermua. Little by little, all of Spain would take to the streets to ask ETA to release the young councilor. “We never thought that he was going to look at a town councilor,” Nerea Garrido told the camera.
ETA did not give in to social pressure. The murder of Miguel Ángel Blanco was mourned by all of Spain. Not only did the people shed their tears, but that night there were vandalism acts of impotence against the herriko tavern.
The ETA sympathizers were this time those indicated in the town. This is reflected in the documentary, where it is stated that it was “the first time that the abertzale left feels targeted by Basque society“.
The instant decisive, thanks to the first-person testimonies and images provided, gives greater context to a historical event that many remember in great detail and agony.