ETA supporters planted two homemade devices on the door of José Manuel Ros' office. On both occasions, the explosions only caused damage to property, however regrettable. On March 24, 1999, Jose Manuel Ros decided to resign and leave his municipal office for his family's sake. Tired of the political situation and looking for peace of mind, in 2001, he and his family moved to Barañain (Navarre), where they reside at present.


Name: Jose Manuel Ros Morales

Age: 55 (1956)

Profession / Position: Attorney / Former Second Deputy Mayor and Councillor for Social Welfare (PSE-EE) in the city of Ordizia (Gipuzkoa).

Family status: Married. Two children.

Place of origin: Born in Murcia, he has lived in Lazkao (Gipuzkoa) since he was a few months old. He has also lived in other parts of Goierri district of Gipuzkoa such as Ordizia and Beasain. He currently resides in Barañain (Navarre).

GROUP: Politicians.


- On January 9, 1999, a homemade device exploded in front of the law firm of Jose Manuel Ros, a councillor in Ordizia (Gipuzkoa) for the PSE-EE. The office was located directly below his home.

- Two months later, on March 15, 1999, ETA supporters planted another homemade device on the door of José Manuel Ros’ office. On both occasions, the explosions only caused damage to property, however regrettable.

- On March 24, 1999, Jose Manuel Ros decided to resign and leave his municipal office for his family’s sake.

- Tired of the political situation and looking for peace of mind, in 2001, he and his family moved to Barañain (Navarre), where they reside at present.


“We have always been suffering in the Basque country. Gestures, the way they look at you, it leads to this … I have a small law firm in a small town (Ordizia, Gipuzkoa) where I work with the public and you know there are people who do not share your views. Everyone is free to share or not share one’s ideas.”

“In 1983 I became a lawyer, and that has been my job all my life; before becoming a councillor in the City Council of Ordizia. Ordizia is a small town where everybody knows everybody and when you make yourself known and you protest, for example, when they planted a bomb near the mayor’s home, you know you are going to have to hear certain comments and there are people who would hurt your if they could. But honestly, I felt the situation in the Basque Country to be overwhelming because I feel it is unfair that something can happen to you based on your political opinions. I found it stifling and unbearable for anyone with a certain level of sensitivity”.

“I believe that when a person is suffering from the scourge of terrorism, we all suffer, but the moment the situation began to affect me more personally is when I joined the City Council of Ordizia as a councillor for the Socialist Party. That’s when the pressure began, some calls and other things. The turning point was when they planted a bomb on the door of my office. In addition, at that time I used to live directly above the office. I lived on the first floor and the office was on the ground floor”.

“I had been a member of council for just over three and a half years. It was a Friday afternoon, almost evening. We heard a loud bang and, from the outset, I feared it was in the office. I went downstairs; the area next to the door was burning and a neighbour helped me to extinguish the fire. We have a distorted concept of what a homemade device is. The explosion blew out the door frame and, if someone had been there, it would have killed him. A few minutes earlier, some children had been playing in the area, because there is a cafeteria nearby. If a child had passed by when the bomb went off, we would not be talking about a burned door – that is paid by the insurance and it ends there. We would be talking about something irreparable”.

“This type of event had crossed my mind, but at the time ETA had declared a sort of truce. The concern is always there but it was not something that overwhelmed me, because I was aware of the town and the people I was dealing with”.

“The first time the planted a bomb against me I thought it was simply my turn and that it was over. What mainly worried me was my wife’s situation, even though she took it much better than I thought she would. We had been married for many years and she is a hard-working person so, at night, she would go to sleep as soon as she got into bed. After that I realized she didn’t sleep as well, and it’s pretty tough when you don’t know what to say to reassure her”.

“What changed everything was when, two months after the first explosion, they planted a second bomb. In the end you reach the conclusion that, as the saying goes, when a fool learns a way, it is not clear whether the fool takes the path or the path the fool. I was an easy target. I was in the street and they could easily control where I was and what I was doing. I decided it was not worth exposing my family and sacrificing their peace of mind. I was there to be councillor, but not to be a hero; in this land you are asked to be a hero rather than a person”.

“I clearly decided from the outset that, regrettably, I would withdraw and I resigned from my municipal position. In any case, the elections had been set for a few months later and some party colleagues wanted to know whether I was going to carry on or not. I was not sure, because I have a small firm, I practically work alone and working for the council took up a lot of time. I have never made a living from politics and I was not sure whether I wanted to carry on. My wife clearly did not want me to continue, even before the bombing episodes had happened. When they planted the second bomb, I decided that was the limit. I have continued to be a member of Gesto por la Paz (Gesture for Peace) and to express my opinion and not to put up with certain things from these people, but I was unwilling to go on as I had. I found it quite unbearable knowing that people you crossed in the street had passed on your name or that set you up as a target”.

“Before all this happened, we had already thought of leaving Ordizia. We had thought of putting a bit of distance in between and we eventually came to Pamplona, where we are delighted, we have never had any problems, my two children (at that time they were 15 and 17) have adapted very well and are not considering moving at all. We are very happy to be here, but at the time you feel upset. I was 45 then and it’s tough to have to move for the reasons mentioned.”

“At the time there was a type of truce. What I have occasionally wondered is what might have happened if there hadn’t been a truce, if some numbskull had decided that I was an easy target because they knew where I was. You start thinking of what might have happened but, after all, we are now living in peace. Many people’s lives were torn apart but ours has only been changed a bit”.

“When I joined the City Council, the pressure increased. One of the things that bothered me most was that my family and people close to me went down to the square to protest when they planted the bomb at my office. I think you have to protest every time something unjust happens. We all have families and dreams, and when someone is attacked you can’t just look the other way. You have to step up and, at least, say that that is not right. I do not want a family member coming down to the square to protest because this has happened to me; I would have liked them to have been with me every time something like this happened. When, in a town of seven thousand people, you go out to protest about some injustice, they know. But if five thousand go out to protest, we would know those who stayed at home.  This is what has not been done before in the Basque country, where some of us have been struggling along against others and against many who just looked the other way”.

“In addition to the two bombs, there have been threats on occasions and also insulting calls. I have also had to go through unpleasant situations in the City Council with people who were only interested in their own views and who would never see any further. The fact that something may happen had crossed my mind, but I had not felt greater pressure when I was a member of the City Council than when, earlier, I had decided I was going to position myself against a particular situation and say it openly”.

“The most oppressive element is the situation that has existed in the Basque Country over many years. People are afraid to speak, they do not react to certain injustices … I don’t think most people are evil, they are good. But I do think that fear is free and people in the Basque country have chosen, in my humble opinion, to look the other way. That has allowed a situation of injustice to exist for a long time, a situation that has become quite unbearable. I know people who don’t go to a certain business because the owner has a given point of view. They can go where and with whom they want but they cannot threaten, coerce or try to humiliate or anything like that”.

“I was born in Murcia, my father came to the Basque Country when I was six months old. I lived in Lazcano my entire life. I had a firm in Beasain and Ordizia. I’ve been linked to the Goierri all my life; this is a district of small towns where everybody knows everybody. I was a member of the City Council when they killed Isidro Usabiaga, a businessman from Ordizia. On top of everything else, you had to see their cockiness when, his body still warm, they stood opposite the City Hall partying and jeering. That’s incredible. We all know each other and we know who they were and who we are. There are times when it is absolutely unbearable to have to live with people you know would like to see you dead. As an anecdote, I remember that they were at the door of the polling station in Lazcan on the day of the referendum on the Constitution. They were making a list of the people who were going to vote. That is unthinkable elsewhere”.

“When I publicly said what I thought, it did not affect my family life. My wife, children and I have always agreed to a great extent on how we see life and how we feel about certain things. But mental anguish doesn’t disappear. What might have generated greater tension is if I had decided to stay in politics, but it was clear to me that my family was the most important thing and that I was not going to expose myself to further risks”.

“As I said, the homemade devices were not toys, I didn’t want to expose my family anymore and my wife was delighted (with my decision to drop politics). We decided we were going to move. We took our time, studied different situations. Fortunately, being at this distance, I have no problem in maintaining my firm. It has affected me because I used to live directly above the office and now I have to travel 80 kilometres each day. But that’s the way it is. Ultimately, it affects you, but it has hardly affected us in our family and personal lives”.

“I find it sad that people who know me and know what I am like wait until they can see me almost in secret in order to encourage me. With some exceptions, most people in my social and family environment supported me and we had no great problems. There were some isolated cases of people who thought they were braver or had a higher sense of what is right, but those are situations you always come across in life at some time. Anyway, most of the people who knew me and supported me still support me and most of the people I knew I couldn’t count on at all, indeed, acted as expected”.

“More than once I have thought about what might have happened if there had not been a truce at the time. My wife insisted on taking more precautions. I think that eventually whatever has to happen, will happen. Besides, in my job, people call to make an appointment and I give them one because I have no idea who I am talking to. In the end you cannot become obsessed and think that every person who is asking for an appointment has something against you”.

“The decision to leave was the right decision. We now live in Barañain, a large town near Pamplona. We have made friends because we’ve been here 10 years now, but everything is much more anonymous than before. There is not the same political tension in the sense that you are not seen as the enemy and we have never had any problem or confrontation. I have not been overwhelmed by personal feelings, but rather in the sense that we were a society that was sick. That’s no way to live, harassing those you consider the enemy because they have a different set of ideas than yours”.