Teo Uriarte moved to the Basque Country with his family when he was eight years old because his father, who was originally from Bilbao, found a job in Vitoria-Gasteiz. Eleven years later, in 1964, Teo Uriarte joined ETA. In 1969 Teo Uriarte was arrested and became one of 16 defendants in the so-called Burgos Case (Proceso de Burgos). Teo Uriarte remained in prison with Mario Onaindia until the 1977 amnesty. Both promoted the dissolution of "ETA politico-militar" and were two of the founders of the political party Euskadiko Ezkerra (EE). His decision to abandon the world of violence and his subsequent struggle against that world meant that he lived under the threat of terrorist attacks and required a bodyguard.


Name: Eduardo 'Teo' Uriarte Romero

Age: 66 (1945)

Profession / Position: PhD in Communication Sciences. Retired. / Has been a member of the Basque parliament twice for Euskadiko Ezkerra (EE) and councillor in the City Council of Bilbao for the PSE.

Family status: Separated. Two daughters.

Place of origin: Born in Seville (Andalusia), he moved to the Basque Country in 1953.

GROUP: Politicians.


- Born in Seville, Teo Uriarte moved to the Basque Country with his family when he was eight years old because his father, who was originally from Bilbao, found a job in Vitoria-Gasteiz. Eleven years later, in 1964, Teo Uriarte joined ETA.

- In 1969 Teo Uriarte was arrested and became one of 16 defendants in the so-called Burgos Case (Proceso de Burgos) In this macro trial, the regime sentenced six of the defendants to death, including Teo Uriarte. His sentence was the harshest of all: Two death sentences and 60 years in prison.

- International pressure on Franco’s regime led his ministers to agree to commute the death sentences for life imprisonment. As a result, Teo Uriarte remained in prison with Mario Onaindia until the 1977 amnesty. Both promoted the dissolution of “ETA politico-militar” and were two of the founders of the political party Euskadiko Ezkerra (EE), which in 1977 participated in a general election for the first time.

- During the 1980 elections to the Basque Parliament, Teo Uriarte was elected a member for EE, a position he repeated in the following legislature. Later he became deputy mayor of Bilbao with the Socialist Party.

- His decision to abandon the world of violence and his subsequent struggle against that world meant that he lived under the threat of terrorist attacks and required a bodyguard.


“My family and I lived in Seville, but my father was from Bilbao and he wanted to come back. He got a job in Vitoria and, as this was closer to Bilbao, we moved there in 1953. Years later I joined ETA. I have often asked myself why. Out of rebelliousness, because there was a dictatorship and I was the son of someone who had been defeated, out of revenge, boredom (since that society did not provide you with too many choices in life), inexperience, naivety and the stupidity of youth. At the time, there were two platforms for rebellious feelings: the Communist Party, but I didn’t know anybody, and ETA. I was unlucky in the fact that a classmate belonged to ETA and asked me whether I wanted to join and I did; I suppose, he was surprised because I was from Seville”.

“I met Mario Onaindia a few years later, when I escaped from Vitoria due to some arrests that took place in June 1967. We became friends. I was surprised that someone so young had that intellectual capacity. He was a great reader. I lived a number of adventures with him that included the Burgos Case, our time in jail, the creation of Euskadiko Ezkerra… I got angry with him and changed to the PSE one year before him, and there we met again”.

“We experienced the Burgos Case with a level of evident alienation that led us even to assume our ‘sacrifice’ in an irresponsible manner. It was an environment in which you became an idol. You gradually realised the impact the Burgos Case was having and you heard of the demonstrations that were taking place and you couldn’t escape from that scenario opposing the most conservative military elements of the Franco regime. You are under the media spotlight, but accept the challenge, although at times you would think of the fact that these guys who had caught us were going to kill us. You start to be aware of what will happen later. I realised about a month later, when I was sent to another prison and I was able to relax a bit. You realise how close you had come to death and you see the political circumstances involved in the Burgos Case”.

“Unfortunately for us, we became something like icons. ETA was utterly defeated, destroyed and nearly extinct. We were asked to provide testimonies, papers… We wrote some nonsense and also sensible things. We began to be sensible after 1974, I believe. The Regime had no option other than giving way to a democratic system, although perhaps not as coherent as the democracy that was finally achieved in 1978. The Carnation Revolution in Portugal made it clear that Spain either became a democracy or it would find itself in bigger trouble. At the time we started writing serious things and we started to address the need to assume this bourgeois democracy and work within it, despite the younger element who wanted to perpetuate the struggle against the dictatorship”.

“The Burgos Case made people take notice of us, especially in the case of Mario Onaindia, who finished his statement in court singing the Eusko Gudariak (Basques Soldiers). Clearly, this situation helped us a lot, especially Mario’s prestige, to start gravitating, within “ETA politico-militar”, toward more moderate positions, supporting the Autonomy Statute and, from there, the acceptance of democratic rules. It was important because Euskadiko Ezkerra’s contribution to the Statute was a fundamental qualitative element that provided it with prestige. At the time, it was important that Mario was able to attract a section of the ‘nationalist’ left to the Autonomy Statute”.

“There were several milestones that definitely led us away from violence, especially two. Participation in the June 1977 elections. Mario defended the unity of the ‘nationalist’ left, and we had a big discussion. Immediately after participating in the elections, there was another milestone: the reconstitution of ETA with the murder of Javier de Ybarra y Bergé, who was president of the Provincial Council of Bizkaia. Despite our opposition, they kidnapped and held him during the elections to put pressure on our people so that they wouldn’t vote. Immediately after the election results were made public, they murdered him in the most disgusting way, thus placing ETA against democracy and doing away with any legitimacy of violence and of the “politico-militares” (activists). Then came the break-up with KAS, when we forced them to expel us. We had to leave a system controlled by the most radical parties of the ‘nationalist’ left. There were two moments”.

“We all interpret the past in terms of the present. The Franco regime was a dictatorship, and those who say that nothing has changed don’t have the slightest idea of what a dictatorship is. The change that occurred in Spain all the way up to the Constitution, without a civil war, should be set out in the annals of history. It was a major change due to economic factors, which was the creation of a middle class in Spain, and to the insistence by parts of the regime that considered there was no political future if it was not as a Western democracy. These two elements are important and led to elements within the Regime to start removing obstacles and move toward a democratic solution. The only ones that wanted to change things were ETA and the Communist Party. The Regime was well established and, through its measures of repression and terror, had no social opponent. The masses were silent or accepted what they had. Those of us who wanted to break away were few and the only forces in Spain with the ability to cause trouble for the Regime were the Communist Party and ETA. Everything worked out fine. The amnesty was a real amnesty and the democracy that was established was a true democracy”.

“With the creation of the political party, Euskadi  Ezkerra (EE), we saw a gradual movement away from violence. Then, there was a reaction within EE encouraging the poli-milis (activists) to embark on a campaign of attacks against UCD (Union of the Democratic Centre) leaders. It was a move against Mario Onaindia and other reformers within EE. Mario was outraged, especially after the assassination of José Ignacio Ustaran. But, also, I guess because he realized that it was against the process that he was leading. That was it, if something had to break, it had to break. That was when the “poli-milis” were told that there were some rehabilitation measures at their disposal. Then came the coup of 23rd February 1981. Some “poli-milis” realised that what they had been doing was bringing about the possibility of a new dictatorship, because they had been encouraging a military coup. That was something the “milis” didn’t care about. Then the sacred word in that world appeared: ‘Quit’. Until that word is realised, all other words are nonsense. That is when we tried to resolve the issue of reintegration, for two reasons: there were no political conditions because there had been an agreement between all political forces and the judiciary, and, secondly, there was no reaction from the victims, because there was still no victims’ association. Perhaps if there had been and if they had protested, that possibility would have been more complicated. Today, whoever wants to look for solutions has to take into account the existence of the victims’ associations”.

“The Euskadiko Ezkerra phenomenon was very peculiar. From the point of view of classical Greek politics, for a “polis” to exist, certain loyalties had to be assumed: loyalty to the tribe, to the city and even, if the city expands, to the small empire Greece created. You were a citizen of a lot of things. You shared loyalties. Some contradictory, but you tried to assume those contradictions. However, nationalism is an ideology with a single loyalty. Therefore, if you assume ideas that are not nationalist in nature with a view to integrating them in your co-existence with others, you are no longer a nationalist. Mario Onaindia discovered that quite late. We were moderate and critical. Those doctrines, including the late type of nationalism such as the Basque, founded on knavery, sectarianism and stupidity kicked us out as soon as we were no longer useful to the PNV, after we voted for the Autonomy Statute”.

“One of Mario’s best speeches, which I did not see because I was already in the PSE, was when EE merged with the PSE. Euskadiko Ezkerra ran out of political space in the early 1990s. We were in a coalition government with the PNV and the PSE, and it is not that they both adopted EE’s approach, but the two forces wanted that space that no longer belonged to EE, the meeting point between nationalists and non-nationalists. Then, and given the reluctance of many of those present at the meeting before the vote was taken in favour of the merger, Mario said something like: Are you afraid of being called ‘traitors? What we have been through has been much harder, we are already traitors. Now you’re afraid to join the PSE? We’ve done that already! Moreover, it was much harder because we were doing it from within the nationalist camp. I found it absolutely brilliant and true. The world of nationalism first looked on us with fear and then with absolute disgust”.

“I have been a member of the Basque parliament twice for Euskadiko Ezkerra (EE) and later a councillor in the City Council of Bilbao for the PSE. After that, I began to receive threats. There was a time when they phoned every day after 12 o’clock at night. In addition, the Herri Batasuna councillors in Bilbao behaved with fear. One day I received 16 letters with death threats, all in different handwriting”.

“They assigned me a bodyguard about two months before the attack on Miguel Angel Blanco, when I was a councillor in Bilbao. I didn’t like having bodyguards. At first I took it as a kind of stigma, but after the attack on Miguel Ángel Blanco two months later, rumours began to circulate that they were out to get councillors. Since then, I have been protected, except for a short time when I was not in politics”.

“Suddenly, some colleagues who had been in jail with me were told that they were in danger. They found out because some ETA members were transporting a bomb in a car and it exploded. They found a computer in a village house that had a list with my name on it. I was also on another list with several socialist leaders. We were invited to a meeting with a Regional Police commander, who told us what had happened and I realized that, of all the people on the list, I was the only one without a bodyguard. So I was assigned bodyguards again for those six months and then they reinforced my protection”.

“Having bodyguards is a life changing experience. First you feel useless, whether driving or doing lots of other things. It’s not the fault of the guards, but it limits your normal conditions of life. I have been separated from my wife for a little over two years and I believe my way of life had something to do with it, a great weariness by my family for having to put up with someone like me, who is also not very cautious when it comes to shutting-up”.

“I had to stop going to Athletic de Bilbao football matches in their stadium, San Mames. Before games, I would meet some friends and have a coffee in a quiet bar and then go to the field. Then, after the match, we would go for a few drinks, joke, talk about the match… One day, I received a note from the Ertzaintza (Regional Police), from the public safety department, asking me not to carry on with that routine and to enter the stadium once the match had started and to leave before the end. Under those circumstances, I stopped going to football matches. On the other hand, even in the workplace it must be unpleasant to have an employee who has been threatened. One thing is if you already have a job and you then receive threats, but it’s very difficult to find a job when you have bodyguards and you have been threatened. They don’t say anything, but I think I’ve had difficulties finding work because of this”.

“Besides, I have even been insulted in the street, the odd push… One night I went to a PSE Congress and it was getting late so I told the bodyguard to go home. Later, when I was walking home at around 2 o’clock in the morning someone slapped me behind the ear and gave me a shove. I weigh quite a bit so the push didn’t really have much effect on me. But the slap did, in a lonely street at that time of the night. Then I was teased by some kids and I thought I was going to get a beating. But I don’t know what happened, they withdrew a bit, I walked on and left. That was a nasty moment. I also remember a lame man who stepped on my foot with his walking stick for being a ‘traitor’. I have a poor memory, but besides some insults, little else.”

“Another thing I didn’t like at all happened during the truce in 2005 and 2006. As soon as ETA declared the truce, lots of people would come up to me and congratulated me for it. This angered me deeply. Do I owe my life to this bunch? That was worse than the slap behind the ear. People who had stopped talking to me, including a neighbouring family who had had a No to war banner hanging on their house for months started talking to me again because there was a truce. Sometimes I would just look silly and thank people, but it’s unpleasant when these “life-savers” come along and then other people multiply the effect”.

“In other words, your mental stability is profoundly shaken from both sides. I needed some time for reflection, seeking wholeness and balance in order to survive the next day”.

“I have been threatened because I’m an obstacle for them, because I did not keep silent, because I continued to live here, because I know them and can see the tricks in their discourse and I do not know if our differences stem from the killing of ‘Pertur’ in 1974 or because we left KAS because of me. It’s not just because I am member of the Socialist Party. My problems and those of Mario Onaindia come from long ago because, for them, we were the supreme traitors and that is why we became targets.”

“I could have gone to live in Seville, but I have a responsibility because of that monster that, out of naivety, stupidity, rebellion, ignorance…, I created. My responsibility is that before I die I can see that ETA has really disappeared. What I have is a sense of responsibility, it was impossible to see that ETA would become what it has. But, if no-one had moved against Franco, there would probably never have been anything within the regime that would have forced them to think. If there had been no attack on Carrero Blanco, that reflection may never have occurred. True, the Carnation Revolution in Portugal would have made them think. In part, I have a feeling of guilt, but not so much for that as for the subsequent consequences”.

“If I have learned anything by being one of them it is that I cannot trust them, despite the current situation in which they have given up their military activities. I do not even trust traditional political parties, with which it has been an honour to work. I had the feeling of ‘being rid’ of the threats when the Estella Pact was signed, but that was because I didn’t know what had been signed. At that time there was a truce and I was sure that the PNV would be able to find a “way out” for ETA. But that didn’t happen”.

“Personally I would like them to be released, to re-build their lives, to have children… but in a democratic framework. Democracy must be the system that endures against crime-based and totalitarian ideologies. That is what I mean when I say that there must be winners and losers. But, personally, I would like them to be released and have the same opportunities I’ve had. I’ve also done everything possible to encourage their release, reintegration measures. I have also personally gone from place to place to obtain a pardon for some of them who, if pardoned, would have to recognize the harm caused or, at least, their responsibility for what has happened and not be released to later walk down the street as the creators of a new political system based on the murder of innocent people. That would make no sense”.