Councillor for PSE-EE in the City Council of Getxo, on 19 February, 2001 the family home in Getxo was attacked with Molotov cocktails. Since the attack Joseba has had bodyguards and his family has been constantly harassed by their neighbours.


Name: Joseba Markaida

Age: 56

Profession: Working for the Directorate General of Merchant Marine. PSE-EE spokesman in the Berango City Council (Bizkaia). Chairman of ZAITU, association of people persecuted, threatened and exiled due to actions by ETA.

Family status: Married. Two children.

Place of origin: Getxo (Bizkaia).

COLECTIVO: Politicians.

Asun Olaeta, Joseba Markaida’s wife, also joined the interview.


- In the year 2000, he became a councillor for PSE-EE in the City Council of Getxo.

- On 19 February, 2001, he and his family were attacked for the first time. The family home in Getxo was attacked with Molotov cocktails. His eldest son suffered burns on his leg while trying to extinguish the fire caused by the cocktails.

- Since the attack Joseba has had bodyguards.

- Threatening graffiti along the promenade in the town are a common occurrence since he joined the Getxo City Council.

- On February 19, 2002, some unknown people placed a packet that was similar to a bomb under the family’s car while it was parked in the back yard of the house.

- The Ertzaintza (Basque Police Force) informed him, on one occasion, that they had found a list belonging to one of ETA’s commandos in which he was included as a possible target together with José María Lidón, a judge murdered in 2001.

- On June 18, 2005, the family home was attacked once again. Molotov cocktails were thrown at the house. None got inside.

- On October 13, 2007, a group of a dozen activists had prepared an ambush at his home to kill Joseba Markaida, according to a document by Judge Garzon.

- The family has been constantly harassed by their neighbours.


J.M.: “The story of our lives is simple. Ever since we were members of Euskadiko Ezkerra , some neighbours looked at us with disrespect and made silly comments. When EE merged with the Socialist Party in 1993, and we joined the PSE, things became more radical: some people stopped talking to us, the insults started and even some graffiti”.

“Things got really serious when I was elected to the Getxi City Council in the year 2000. That is when the direct threats against me began. Graffiti with my name in the centre of a target all along the promenade and death threats”.

“But it was when they burned the house that we realized they were out to get us. Before that, they had burnt down a hut we had in the vegetable garden behind our house. We were not sure whether it was a prank, something done by teenagers or something related to street violence of a nationalist type, and we let it go at that. But on February 19, 2001, they threw Molotov cocktails at the house. They came in through the kitchen windows, where my wife and my son were, and started a fire. From where they threw the Molotov cocktails they could clearly see whether there were people in the house. They had no qualms about throwing the cocktails even knowing that my family was inside”.

A.O.: “Our oldest son burned his foot while trying to extinguish the fire. One of the ingredients they had mixed into the device was battery acid, hydrochloric or sulphuric acid… The point is that it could not be extinguished with water, and kept on burning. That was the first serious attack. Following such an experience, you start getting paranoid. For example, my son didn’t want to sleep in his bedroom because he was afraid that if there was another attack, a large glass division he has in his room would fall on him. I was afraid to get up for a glass of water at night… well, you get scared. Then you get over it but, at the beginning it was tough”.

J.M.: “That’s when our suffering began; we knew we were in the spotlight, I began to use bodyguards, and we were forced to make a decision: should we leave, something we could do thanks to my job, or should we stay. We decided to stay. Staying meant losing freedom, greater worries, but also greater dignity and consistency”.

“Over the years, they have attacked our house three more times. Since 2002, the harassment has been constant. From the first months, the section from the church of Andra Mari to Azkorri Beach, two kilometres of promenade, have always been full of graffiti like: “Markaida, that’s the last you’ll do” or “Markaida, you’re dead”, “Markaida, murderer”.  Before becoming a member of the city council, when we joined the PSOE, we had had arguments with other people, punctured car wheels, insults, people who stopped talking to us… Those were childish things, pranks, and reactions of fear, or at least that’s how we saw them”.

A.O.: “But on one of those occasions we had to call the Ertzaintza, there was even a trial. On that occasion, my father was here at home and some kids started banging on the door. They were 14 or 15 year-old kids. They threw a steel ball that hit a dog we had then. It hit the dog on its head and nearly killed it. I didn’t want to call the Ertzaintza to report some children, but I called, and the Ertzaintza told us they weren’t children, that they know who they were and that they were dangerous. We later found out that some of these kids had been arrested for attacking the High Speed Train project”.

J.M.: “The second attack was on June 18, 2005. I remember the date because it is our wedding anniversary. They threw Molotov cocktail at the house. They wanted to burn the roof, but the cocktails rolled over to the other side of the house. They tried to make some gas cylinders we had in the yard explode, but they couldn’t. We were lucky that they only damaged some property and failed to throw the Molotov cocktails into the house”.

A.O.: “It was June, the end of the school year, when people organise end-of-course meals. My children were all out dining. My son’s girlfriend came to spend the night and she arrived at four o’clock in the morning. She found the Ertzaintza, the lights, the whole mess in the house … I told her to go upstairs to bed. I was thinking: “this girl must be terrified”. That’s another aspect; seeing the situation, who’s going to want to come and share anything with you”.

J.M.: “Yes, that’s one of the toughest things. From one day to the next, you realise that some people you know feel afraid to approach you. Some friends stopped coming home. When they see you are being attacked, some people don’t want to be seen with you. They’re afraid and don’t want to be singled out. After the attack, some people would phone to see how you were but they wouldn’t come to the house for anything in the world. That’s one of the things that have affected us most”.

A.O.: “I must also say that, on the other hand, we have had some pleasant surprises. For example, a neighbour who has been a lifetime HB (Herri Batasuna, latter Batasuna)  supporter, a sister of one of the members who abandoned the national board in the times of Idígoras and all those. At that time, we had joined an association in favour of building a station in Getxo. We were on a committee, and they, the Batasuna lot, booed Joseba when he intervened at the meetings, even though we were on the same side, in principle, claiming the station. Well, one of the people who screamed most at Joseba at the meetings was this neighbour, a woman of our own age more or less.  One day she came to our house and said to me: “it’s not right to be doing this to you (referring to the attack). You already know my ideology but I think that what they have done to you is unacceptable. I was going phone you but I decided to come and tell you in person, so you can see that I don’t care whether anybody sees me”.

J.M.: You must realise that we live here, surrounded by HB people, who are always looking out of the window. Well, this woman didn’t mind being seen. We thanked her, really. On the other hand, I can also say that more than one person from HB has called me to give me information and tell me things”.

“As I said, there are times when HB people surprise you. Some have been supportive. These are facts, sincere gestures, not just words. That’s why I say that generalising in their case is not fair”.

A.O.: “On another occasion, someone put a package that looked like a bomb under my eldest son’s car. It was a small package, cardboard and taped, containing a handful of large nails. I started the car, I felt the car go over a bump and I got out and ran. My son came down and saw the box wedged behind a rear wheel. It was nothing serious, he found out it was a hoax himself, without calling the Ertzaintza or anything (which, I admit was rash)”.

J.M.: “But it was my son’s car, it was no longer a warning to me. It was a threat against my son. There came a time when he had had enough. The year was 2002. They had just planted a bomb against Eduardo Madina.  It was a tough time. My son had had to endure the pressure, insults and threats for many years. Some of those who were, at that time, attacking people were kids that my son had played with as a kid in town; kids who have been running around my own house”.

“He decided to leave and study outside the region. It was a tough time. He was very affected at first with all this, but then, at a distance, he has assimilated it, and now he accepts this situation more calmly, unlike our youngest son. He was very calm at first. But when they arrested those that had tried to burn the house the last time, he realised that one of them belonged to his group of lifelong friends. That really shocked him. He really felt it. The way he approached this issue changed completely”.

“I am speaking of my children because, although I, the PSE-EE council member, am the target; at the end of the day, they suffer the situation the most. They decided to stay, although I am convinced that they are sorry they did more than once”.

“The biggest shock we’ve had lately was on October 13, 2007. We heard on the news about an order issued by Judge Garzon concerning the arrest of a group of people who had drawn a plan to attack us at home. They were going to throw Molotov cocktails at the front of the house to force us to leave the house through the back where another group of people would be waiting to kill us. The order literally said there was “imminent danger” to our lives. We are waiting for the trial to take place, by the way”.

“In addition, I was also followed by a terrorist commando a few years ago. They followed Marisa Arrúe, the PP spokesperson in Getxo, Judge José María Lidón  and us. The only person who had bodyguards was Judge Lidón. And they killed him”.

“In conclusion, I would say that this is an exceptional situation. Inconsistent with the times we are living. The problem with ETA is a side-issue in twenty-first century Europe. But an issue that could have cost us dearly and that has complicated our lives over the last 10 years”.

“It has been a constant concern, but it has been a voluntary situation. Because here everyone reacts to things differently. It depends a lot on the personality of each individual how you deal with fear. We decided to stay and endure. Others decided to leave. And we respect that. We are not all in the same situation, nor do we take things in the same way. We also had our doubts on whether we did the right thing by staying. You could say we were a bit reckless, especially as we were in a position to choose. But I think time will show that those of us that decided to deal with this patiently and with firmness were right. We had doubts on whether we were doing the right thing, but now those doubts are fading”.

“I think that if many of us had not stayed, this would not have reached the point where it is now. I am not thinking about politicians or journalists, or the judiciary. I am thinking about large and small businessmen who have endured so much here. Unlike public representatives, who do have an obligation to come forward, they had no obligation. They could have left the Basque Country, as many others have done, and yet they decided to stay”.