On October 23, 1980, the Anti-capitalist Autonomous Commandos kidnapped, interrogated and killed his father, Juan Manuel Garcia Cordero (53), CEO of Telefonica in Gipuzkoa, in San Sebastian. They shot him in the back of the head. Iñaki's family decided not to leave and remained in their family home in San Sebastian.


Name: Iñaki García Arrizabalaga

Age: 50 (August 1961)

Profession / Position: Professor at the Faculty of Economics and Business in the San Sebastian Campus of Deusto University. / part of the board of EITB (Euskal Irrati Telebista - Regional TV). Member of the board of the Basque Country Consumers Union.

Family status: Married. Two daughters.

Place of origin: San Sebastián (Gipuzkoa). Presently living in Zizur Mayor (Navarra).

GROUP: Relatives of victims.


- On October 23, 1980, the Anti-capitalist Autonomous Commandos kidnapped, interrogated and killed his father, Juan Manuel Garcia Cordero (53), CEO of Telefonica in Gipuzkoa, in San Sebastian. They shot him in the back of the head.

- Iñaki’s family decided not to leave and remained in their family home in San Sebastian.

- After the attack, Iñaki Garcia experienced a strong feeling of hatred, to the point that he realised it was destroying his own life. However, he eventually started to use the energy he was wasting on that hatred to work for peace by cooperating with different organisations. He has even agreed to meet a dissident ETA inmate through a programme organised by the Ministry of the Interior that promotes meetings between victims and perpetrators who feel remorse.


“Our family used to consist of our father, mother and seven children, and we lived in a flat in the Gros district of San Sebastian. I was 19 when they killed my father. I had three older siblings and three younger, including two sisters who were minors. Ours was a perfectly normal family. My father worked as an employee and my mother was a housewife. All the children studied, some at school and others at university, depending on our age. I would say our family was normal, a typical middle class San Sebastian family”.

“My father was the provincial delegate for Telefonica, i.e. the head of the company in Gipuzkoa. It was a state-wide company, the only telephony company that existed at the time in Spain. He was killed by the Anti-capitalist Autonomous Commandos on October 23, 1980. I was studying at Deusto University and I used to go to my lectures by bicycle. As it was raining heavily that day, my father offered to drive me to college, but I refused because I wanted to go by bicycle like every day”.

“While I was in class, my elder brother turned up. He asked me to come with him because something had happened, but they didn’t know what. My father had not arrived at work and they had telephoned from the company asking whether anything had happened. My father was a man of very methodical habits and we were surprised that he hadn’t arrived at work. We went home and they called us saying that a body had appeared on Mount Ulía in San Sebastián, near our house. Indeed, it was the body of my father, who had been kidnapped by a commando of the Anti-capitalist Autonomous Commandos, taken to Mount Ulía, apparently interrogated and then shot in the head in cold blood”.

“I recently read a book by a publisher that is very close to the Anti-capitalist Autonomous Commandos in which it justified my father’s murder because he received the list of phone numbers that had to be tapped from the police and my father was the person in Telefónica who gave the order to tap the said telephone numbers. That had led to the fall or disruption of certain commandos. Today, this procedure – a judge ordering certain phone numbers to be tapped – would be considered normal but it was something unusual in those days. That was the excuse my father’s murderers gave: that Telefonica was a company that was cooperating with state repression agencies. With all its trappings and the typical language of that visionary world, that was the apparent reason why they kidnapped, interrogated (to learn the details of the system Telefónica used) and murdered him in the same day”.

“Before the attack, my father had never had an escort. He had never received any threats. He went to work, by himself, in the family car. Of course, the family had no bodyguards or anything like that; we were free to go everywhere. I think it was a surprise; of course for the family, but also for the company and for society as a whole. He was not a person who had been threatened at all. It was unthinkable that they should attack my father, because there had been no previous threats nor had he been warned that he could become the target of a terrorist group. His life was very normal”.

“You can imagine the situation for a woman, a widow, with seven children who have lost their father. It’s just too much. Overnight, without having anything to do with it, you join the “victims of terrorism” list. After a period of shock in which you have to assimilate the reality of what has happened to you – they have killed your father – you have to get on with your life”.

“At one point my mother asked us whether we wanted to carry on living in San Sebastian or move, for example, to Madrid. We all said that we wanted to stay here because we had nothing to hide or to be ashamed of. All our friends, social and labour relations, were here and we had nothing to hide. We took the courageous decision to stay and live in San Sebastian. I think it was a tribute to our father; not to hide, not to leave in disgrace with our tails between our legs. They had killed our father, but we are still here because this is our land, our city, our neighbourhood. My mother still lives in the same house as then”.

“My father’s murder was a great shock and caused a lot of surprise because it wasn’t expected. He had never been threatened. He was a civilian. At first we felt we had a lot of support. I remember that many public authorities went to the funeral and visited us at home. But it was like opening a bottle of champagne, lots of bubbles and impetus at the beginning and, then, after a few days, you have to keep on living and there are no longer any authorities or politicians to offer encouragement. A time comes when you feel all alone. You and your family with the situation you have to live with. Those people were a great support up to the funeral and, then, nothing. That’s when you clearly realise who you can count on: close relatives, friends… Obviously, they are the basic element where one must find support at a time like this”.

“Among our work colleagues or school friends there were clearly no aggressive or hostile reactions. Our neighbours and friends continued to talk to us. We didn’t feel marginalised at all. You must also keep in mind that my brothers and sisters were members of a number of leisure organisations, boy-scouts, youth associations… and we had quite a lot of friends. I think those friends supported us and provided a human touch. We never felt alienated or isolated”.

“All I can remember were two anecdotes. After my father was murdered, I kept going to university by bike and, consistently, every day for a month or six weeks, I would find a poster on terrorist prisoners stuck on my bike. The second anecdote is that a funeral was also held at university, officiated by Alfredo Tamayo, whose idea it was. As a university student had been arrested a few days earlier, we had to walk between two lines of people with posters demanding the release of the said student in order to reach the funeral. It was tough”.

“When you go out in San Sebastian, you see graffiti, demonstrations … but it’s not something you have to see just outside your home. We live in San Sebastian, a city with a more open spirit than smaller towns in Gipuzkoa, and hostility has not been our everyday environment. We didn’t have to change the way we behaved or went about our business”.

“From one day to the next I had to start thinking about issues that I hadn’t thought about at my age, 19. We were a large family and my mother was a housewife. We had to eat every day. At the beginning, I suppose my mother used her savings. What is certain is that we received compensation from the company. But we didn’t get anything from the public administrations at that time. Zero material or immaterial support. It was not until the Victims of Terrorism Act was passed that my family claimed compensation in July 2000. But during those early years, there was no institutional support at any level. A few politicians showed their solidarity, individually. But institutionally, there was nothing. Those were difficult years and San Sebastian was the city where the greatest number of terrorist killings occurred”.

“My mother decided to take charge of things and get the family going. We all finished our studies. She pushed us through. My mother was a very brave woman, very self-sacrificing and a true fighter. One has to admire her for the way she made a living with a family of seven children. On the other hand, roles changed because a key figure, such as the father figure, was missing. My mother had to be mother and father and, in many cases, we (the siblings) had to support each other, especially the younger ones. But my mother was clearly the driving force behind us”.

“When you’re 19, you’re just starting to discover what the world is really about. And, suddenly they cut the grass from under your feet and you fall and you realize that, there are still lots of things in life, and you have to get up and keep going. There were vital projects that were truncated. Plans had to be changed and done differently. But that’s what we did.

“When someone, in a totally unexpected manner, kills your father; at first you can’t believe it, then it starts to sink in and finally, you become fully aware that they have killed your father. As the first reaction, after realising what has happened, you want an ‘eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth’, i.e., revenge or you think that, as they have hurt you, you are going to hurt them. The first thing you feel is profound hatred. Someone has shattered your life, has completely changed the lives of your family members and you want to get your own back. For a long time I lived with a feeling of hatred, of profound hatred. What I wanted was revenge, confrontation…”.

“Little by little you begin to realize that hatred is starting to destroy you. Secondly, it starts to permeate and destroy everything around you: personal relationships, family relationships, labour relationships… Hatred is also very militant, because you need to hate 24 hours a day and in all circumstances. At one point I decided this had to stop, that it was ruining my life. These people had not only murdered my father, but they were also ruining my life. I was falling into a well, until at one point I realised I had to get out”.

“It is very important to realize you want to get out, but you must also have mechanisms or opportunities to get out. In 1986, when Cristina Cuesta launched the call to form the Basque Association for Peace (Asociación por la Paz de Euskal Herria), I found the opportunity I was looking for to turn all that negative energy that I had accumulated into energy that could be of some use. I decided to join the Basque Association for Peace project and I have been working with them since 1986; then with Gesture for Peace and Denon Artean Peace and Reconciliation”.

“You never get over certain things. There are events that mark you for life. No-one has forgotten, but we have learned to live with it. It’s something that exists in our lives, but that does not stop us from living. I don’t think anyone in my family, or at least among my brothers and sisters, have seen their lives truncated by what happened to my father. I insist that this is mainly thanks to my mother. I know of victims who have suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder or similar experiences. Fortunately, this has not been the case with anybody in my family”.

“My father’s case is one of those that has not been taken to trial and the crime will probably prescribe in time, if it hasn’t prescribed already. The little we know about it in my family, we got to know from the media. No-one from the Government or the High Courts has told us what the status of the case of my father’s murders is. Definitely, justice has not been done in the case of my father’s murder. The murderers are on the streets, they have not been arrested or prosecuted, or imprisoned … Justice has not been done and I fear that justice will never be done”.

“The fact that I have spoken to an inmate does not mean that I have ceased to demand justice in the case of my father’s murder and for all the victims of terrorism. These are two different things. The call for justice is firm. All terrorists should be arrested, subjected to a fair trial and, as relevant, go to jail. That is my call for justice. And in addition to that is the call for truth: to know exactly who they were, what they have done, who collaborated with them… “.

“A very different thing, that has nothing to do with the above, is that I have agreed to meet a member of ETA, a terrorist who committed blood crimes, who is sorry for what he has done, who has self-examined his past, who wants to recognize the harm caused and, above all, who wants to apologise. He did not belong to the gang that killed my father, but he had committed violent crimes. He apologised. I saw it was an honest, sincere, apology with no type of material or prison benefit attached and I agreed to meet him. I wish all ETA inmates would do the same under these circumstances. I saw a person who was sincerely sorry for what he had done, who was critical with himself, who recognised the damage done and I thought this was a person who deserved a second chance. From person to person, I am nobody to deny him that”.

“Forgiveness cannot be required from all victims of terrorism. Forgiveness is absolutely free. To impose it would be a grave mistake. That person apologised to me and I told him he had to apologise to the family of the victims he had killed but that I, at a personal level, accepted his apologies. I fully understand that there are other victims of terrorism who will not want to forgive, because forgiveness is for each person to grant or not as they see fit. On the other hand, I think that all terrorists should go through this stage of acknowledging the hurt caused and apologise”.

“The nationalist left are terribly afraid of individual measures aimed at reintegrating ETA prisoners into society. What they want is a measure that covers all prisoners. Amnesty in the sense of amnesia and forget what has happened. We cannot accept that. We cannot act as if nothing has happened. Everyone has to face their responsibilities. From the person who pulled the trigger to the person who provided shelter in his house and ideological support. That self-criticism is very hard. It will come, it’s a matter of time, but it will come”.

“Another thing that worries me is what I call the ethical decontamination processes. Many people here have lived, grown up with and experienced intolerance as the only way of relating with each other. Deconstructing all that is very complicated. How can we recover, for a normal type of coexistence, people who have only practiced intolerance and imposed their views? These deconstruction processes require a strong educational component that I think is very important”.

“I don’t think you can attach conditions to repair the damage done to the victims. Clearly, if the prisoner issue is dealt with through the ‘Nanclares system’, it would be much better for the victims than any other way, such as a collective solution. The law exists, I trust in the rule of law. There are certain prison privileges that, in compliance with the conditions set out by law, must be accepted. As a victim I cannot oppose that. I may like it more or less, but it is the law and I must accept it and obey it, like any other citizen. Another thing is that the pain felt by the victims can be lessened in certain circumstances. For example, social recognition, or their participation in bringing our voice to school classrooms. Not losing our memory and not forgetting may help us victims”.

“Another issue that concerns me is the tale that will come out of all this. What will future generations read in history classes. The story that should remain is that of the moral superiority of the victims of terrorism, who have not embarked on a process of civil conflict against their attackers, who have not fuelled a cycle of violence as has happened in similar conflicts, for example, in Europe. Quite the contrary: the victims of terrorism have brought up their children to be tolerant, respectful and they have learned to break that action-reaction cycle. That gives us a moral superiority so that the story that will be told in the future will be that of the victims of terrorism, who are the true protagonists of this”.

“I’m optimistic by nature. I think we’re certainly in an irreversible situation. I think that ETA terrorism is over; there’s no going back. We now have to build future coexistence. There are currently two major challenges: the prisoners and the victims. All I ask from the rule of law is that it does not give in and that the laws are applied”.