On June 4, 2000, Carmen Hernandez became a widow when they murdered her husband, Jesus Mari Pedrosa, a councillor for the Partido Popular (Popular Party) in the city of Durango (Bizkaia). Carmen Hernandez, who, after the murder of her husband, endured a feeling of emptiness and tried to overcome feelings of hatred, has met the person who murdered her husband and has forgiven him when he showed remorse and apologised.


Name: María del Carmen Hernández

Family status: Widow. Two daughters.

Place of origin: Durango (Bizkaia).

GROUP: Relatives of victims.


- On June 4, 2000, Carmen Hernandez became a widow when they murdered her husband, Jesus Mari Pedrosa, a councillor for the Partido Popular (Popular Party) in the city of Durango (Bizkaia). Pedrosa, 57, had been working as a councillor in this Biscay town for 13 years until one day ETA decided to kill him when he was on his way home after having a few drinks with some friends.

- The councillor, who had rejected having a bodyguard, had received several threats over the last three years of his life, but decided not to leave the town.

- Carmen Hernandez, who, after the murder of her husband, endured a feeling of emptiness and tried to overcome feelings of hatred, has met the person who murdered her husband and has forgiven him when he showed remorse and apologised.


Speech by Carmen Hernandez at the Congress on Memory and Coexistence (Bilbao, 14th May 2012)

“My name is Carmen Hernandez. I am the widow of Jesus Mari Pedrosa who was murdered by ETA. First I would like to thank you for the opportunity I have been given to be here, sharing the story of the saddest episode in my life with you, which was the loss of my husband, because some people decided to take his life. I would like to recall some aspects and also express some of my thoughts”.

“My husband had been a councillor in the Durango Town Council for 13 years when, on 4th June 2000, on his way home, he was shot in the back of the head.”

“Everything had been more or less acceptable in the early years but between 2 and 3 years before he was killed, the threats in the street began, followed by more direct methods of harassment. They would come to our block just about every day. They papered the staircase with pictures of targets, they hung banners with lit candles, they threw stones at our windows and read papers. They would call my husband a gaoler, among many other things, as he walked down the street. Kids from the high school opposite our home used to demonstrate holding up posters of prisoners during breaks”.

“I must also say that the police never showed up while all this was happening or they always arrived late”.

“Our family life was pretty sad due to this and we all (I have two daughters) faced it as best we could. You feel lonely because people seemed to have become used to seeing that kind of situation and it didn’t seem to bother or affect them”.

“That passivity of the people affected me. I also suffered when people I had grown up with no longer greeted us, or when they joined in demonstrations opposite our house. Things that seemed impossible but that really happened”.

“At first you get a little stronger and you face each day trying not to think too much about it because everything seems to be a nightmare. In the end you are afraid, very afraid, but you never think it will be you”.

“Possibly his life, our life, was not very different from that of many other victims of terrorism. Normal lives, simple lives dedicated to our families and hoping for a better life for them and for our society”.

“I believe that among the victims who have suffered similar tragedies and experiences, although we may see things in many ways, there are certain issues on which I think we agree. We have believed in freedom, justice and in rights, never in violence, terror and tyranny”.

“I heard of what had happened on the radio because I was at home and alone. They interrupted the programme to break the news. Although they did not mention the name at first, I knew it was Jesus Mari by the information they provided. I was unable to react, and then my younger daughter came in and they repeated the news but, this time, mentioning his name. That’s how she found out”.

“As best I could, I called my other daughter that was living nearby and told her to come home because they had killed her father. She wanted to go the scene of the crime, but the people there didn’t let her get near. So when the police came to give us the news we already knew about it”.

“The feeling is impossible to explain. Anxiety chokes you, you feel anger, outrage, helplessness. You have lot’s of questions. Why? What for? What right have they to take his life? There are no answers. It is all absurd”.

“Later, I was overwhelmed by the people who came, although at the time I was not aware of what was happening. The media were harassing us. Suddenly you are no longer anonymous, you are the centre of attention”.

“When everything got back to normal, people who apparently had not realised what had been happening accompanied me, others lamented not having been there during the difficult times.”

“How can you deal with this? I promised to be strong for my children, so that they would feel better. I felt I had to take the helm of the family. This has brought us together more but it has changed our lives, not only because it has thwarted our plans for the future. Nothing is ever the same; I mean that as this was not a natural death but a brutal murder, you are unable to accept it. You just learn to live with it. It is that… there are other things apart from the emptiness, what we have lived with each loved one that is missing”.

“At first it was hard to go outside and, in a town like Durango was then – a town where everyone knew everyone – it was tough to meet people who had tried to make your life miserable. It was hard. I had to start by going to the outskirts of the town. Eventually I started going to the centre and then to the places I used to frequent with my husband. I have struggled to get by, seeking the help I needed”.

“Besides, I made an effort to continue doing the things I used to do and that made me feel better. Among others, I continued my volunteer work as secretary of the NGO, Bateginez, where I have been working for about 16 years. Then my grandchildren were born and they have been my greatest joy throughout this time. Later, I kept taking on other activities”.

“I have written a lot as a therapy to clear my mind of things that hurt me, especially at night. I believe in God and holding on to my faith also helped me a lot. Based on this conviction and given the way I see things, it was clear from the start that I would have to be able to forgive if I wanted to be at peace with myself. I have always thought that forgiveness is not an obligation, neither is forgetting; they are rather acts that liberate one”.

“I think this issue is very particular, something unique to each person that cannot be related to believing in God or not, because anyone can forgive if they want to. However, I am sure that hatred and resentment hurt you more than they hurt the aggressor”.

“You hear about achieving peace and reconciliation. I think what we really need is to live in peace and respect each other in a plural society such as ours”.

“Some sectors also seem to be in too much of a hurry to normalise the situation in this country. In my humble opinion, I think we should go step by step, because we have gone through many years of suffering and redirecting that hatred, teaching values and respecting others as people takes time. Because, among other things, what has gone wrong is that we failed to recognise the other party as humans, as people”.

“Sometimes I recall something Joseba Arregui used to say”:

‘The story of these times of terror that we have gone through will require coming face to face with the fact that we have all been actors in this episode. Dealing with this episode seriously will require asking ourselves what we have done, where we have been throughout these 50 years’.

“The key element is that we must be fair when analysing what has happened. It is baffling that instead of defending political ideas with words, they have been intimidating, kidnapping and killing people for so many years. We must learn from the mistakes of the past to build the future. That is what we need. And we should all contribute to that task if we are to achieve the coexistence that we all desire”.

“However, there seems to be a different mood among the people, another hope. Perhaps it is restlessness in social groups who are working hard trying to help, looking for points of agreement.

A gateway to hope has been opened and we must work together”.

“I think we should continue to work, acknowledging all human rights violations that have occurred in this country and that have not yet been acknowledged, compliance with the same rights to truth, justice, reparation and memory in an equitable manner”.

“It would be great if there came a time when we could all join in favour of something and not against something. The feeling that remains is that there is much to be done”.

“I have had the opportunity to hear the story of a person from that world of terror. A very sad story. I was nervous at first, but that person was in a worse state. I had a lot of questions to ask … like, what was going through his mind before and after the attack? Could they sleep? For them, do people cease to be people when they receive the list of what they have to do”.

“In short: This person had thought about it and was very sorry. This is the positive aspect of the case. There is no undoing the damage done and the suffering caused, but being out of prison he will have to get on with his life and try to reintegrate into society in some way”.

“His work and his dedication to his family. I encouraged him. I wish all the people who are in prison would go through this process of reflection and repentance”.