On 22nd November 1993, ETA murdered Rosa Rodero's husband, Joseba Goikoetxea, Sergeant Major in the "ertzaina" (regional police force) who, at the time, was not on active service. Rodero spent seven years dedicated to bringing up their children. Once she managed to stabilize their lives, she fell into a deep depression.


Name: Rosa Rodero Palacios

Age: 56 (1956)

Profession: Administrative worker

Family status: Widow. Three children.

Place of origin: Barakaldo (Bizkaia). Lives in Bilbao.

GROUP: Relatives of victims.


- Rosa Rodero’s life changed completely on 22nd November 1993, the day ETA murdered her husband, Joseba Goikoetxea, Sergeant Major in the “ertzaina” (regional police force) who, at the time, was not on active service. ETA attacked Goikoetxea when he was taking his 17-year-old son to school in his car. His son, who was able to jump out of the vehicle, was not wounded by the shots that killed Joseba Goikoetxea.

- After the attack in which her husband was killed, Rosa Rodero spent seven years dedicated to bringing up their children. Once she managed to stabilize their lives, she fell into a deep depression. She is still taking medication today.


“We were a normal family, working parents, with three children, two of whom were studying and the youngest was 18 months old when her father was murdered. We had a very nice family life, because we tried to be with the children as much as we could and to go out a lot”.

Joseba was a sergeant major in the Ertzaintza. He was in charge of what could be called the Ertzaintza’s information unit, although that wasn’t its name back then. He was in charge and he had many people under him in the three provinces (Araba, Bizkaia and Gipuzkoa). He had been a staunch and militant nationalist since an early age. There was a political part to his life until he joined the Ertzaintza. They had even arrested him and sent him to prison, although he was released on occasion of the general amnesty in 1977. He then rejoined the Basque Nationalist Party (PNV) and began to rebuild the “batzokis” network. Later, in 1980, he went to Berroci, first in the administration department and then as an ertzaina. That was the embryo of the Ertzaintza and Joseba was one of the first who graduated with a position. So, when in 1982, the first group of Ertzaintza graduated, he was one of the first who was there to greet them and train them. Joseba was in Berroci until 1985, when he came to Bilbao and started working in the Information Unit”.

“In 1986, while the businessman Lucio Aguinagalde was being held by ETA, the Ertzaintza received a tip and they went to check whether it was true. They found a cave in which there were some ETA people with Lucio and there was a shoot-out. The result was that Genaro Garcia de Andoain was killed next to Joseba and they managed to rescue the person who had been kidnapped”.

“Joseba and I met in 1986. I had been married previously. We got to know each other and after two months we started living together, with my children. We had an excellent life. We came to live in Bilbao in 1989, because it was better for work and other things. We have our group of friends in Bilbao. We started having a family life and, as my children were very young, they quickly adopted him as a father, as soon as they knew what he was like, because he was a very lovable person. “

“We had a normal family life. Our jobs, our children … everything normal. We had no problems, or just the concern that comes with Joseba’s job. Things were always cropping up; papers with his name on them… But you never think it will happen to you and you try to go on living with thinking about it. There were threats, but if you want to have a normal life, you have to forget about it. Yes, we took some precautions. For example, my husband did not like taking the kids to school in the morning because he didn’t want them to be with him at that time in case anything happened. But apart from some things like that, we led a very normal life”.

“Joseba was responsible for the said Information Unit and he was a well-known person. He was a key figure in the Ertzaintza”.

“There was a time when we realised that Joseba was being threatened. They obtained papers from a commando they had caught. He appeared at the top of hit lists. We knew it, but it was something we didn’t discuss, we preferred not to talk about it. We did at time but he always told me not to worry. He didn’t dwell on it; he saw himself as just another person, but with a certain job. He used to say that if he ever thought they could attack him, he would take the necessary measures. But it was all very abstract, something you never want to think about, because if you do, you wouldn’t be able to live a normal life”.

“After things happen, certain aspects come to your mind and you realise that they had been after him. But at the time, even though you see things, you do not want to see them in that light. Until after the attack, you don’t realise that they might have been following him”.

“The Ertzaintza was created for the people, because the people wanted it that way. At first, it was never envisaged that they would attack the Ertzaintza. There is a first attack in 1985 against Carlos Diaz Arcocha, but it was a first attack against the people that the Government from Madrid used to control the Ertzaintza through the army. Then it was thought that the attack had occurred because tht person was from the Army and they didn’t want those people in the Ertzaintza. Apart from that, nobody thought they could directly attack the Ertzaintza. However, this is clearly something that changes and that you cannot foresee. We didn’t use to think they would attack people who belonged to the political parties, and then they did”.

“Until the day of the attack, there had hardly been anything against Joseba. Sometimes we did have something weird on the phone, but we had changed the number and restricted callers. We had adopted certain safety measures like looking under the car every morning before getting in. These were a number of guidelines that Joseba had adopted when he was in Berroci. But they were things we didn’t think about too much”.

“If Joseba was afraid he never showed it at home. At that time he had been put through a trial regarding some allegations that the unit had been eavesdropping on the Regional President, Lehendakari Garaikoetxea and, therefore, was not on active service at the time. He had started to study at University and led a very quiet life. Precisely, he thought he was safe because he was not connected to that world at the moment. When he was at his calmest, when he lowered his guard, is when they attacked him. For example, he never took my kids to school in the morning, but when they attacked him, he was taking my eldest son to the bus stop, because at that time it felt more confident”.

“My husband and son left home at ten minutes to eight in the morning the day of the attack, because they were going to the place where my son took the bus to school. After leaving my son, Joseba was going to go study. I went out about fifteen minutes later and saw a crowd of people. As I approached, I became increasingly nervous. I reached the police barrier and I couldn’t see anything. There were a couple of cars, one was my husband’s, and I could not see the license plate because, I was so nervous”.

“I remember asking a lady to read me the license plate number, but she read the number of the other car. A police officer who had heard me told me that wasn’t the number of the car involved in the attack and that’s when I said: ‘My husband’. That boy immediately took hold of me and took me inside. I started to ask about my son and he told me that my son was fine, that my husband had been wounded and to keep calm. I told them not to tell me that, I knew that my husband had been killed but I wanted to know where my son was. I assumed they had killed my husband and my concern was whether my son had been wounded. The police officers were very nice people and were very good to me and took me to the hospital”.

“There I saw my son and I calmed down a bit. That’s when I started to ask about my husband and how he was. I can’t really tell much more because that was the start of five days, from Monday, 22nd November 1993, when the attack took place, until Friday 26th, when Joseba died, in which all I remember is that I wanted to be with him all the time. Many people came to see him. All my husband’s colleagues were there and none of them wanted to go home. They were there to help in anything they could 24 hours a day. There was a time when I they gave me husband’s ring and a medal the entire unit had given Joseba a short time back when he had to step down due to the trial related to the Garaikoetxea case. It was a small medal with a ‘lauburu’ (typical Basque symbol) engraved and the inscription ‘Gaur eta bihar, beti zurekin’ (Today and tomorrow always with you) and it was very important for him. The people he had been training and selecting for his unit had given it to him. The first thing I did was put it on and I always wear it now, because it is important to me as a reminder of his profession, that he loved. “

“After the attack, my life changed completely. The first seven years were very difficult, but I had to deal with several problems. First, my eldest son (16 at the time), who had gone through a difficult seven years, left school. He was a child who used to obtain excellent marks and then he was suddenly unable to pass any subject. For a year I tried to make him carry on, but a time came when we realised he just could not. It also happened to me, and from getting really into any book I was reading I was suddenly unable to read. My mind just starts to roam and I am unable to assimilate what I read. I realized that the same that was happening to my son was happening to me and I tried to encourage him with other things, to make him do things he liked. For my 13-year-old daughter, he was her because she didn’t know what having a father was until Joseba came into our lives. For seven years I managed to bring up my children”.

“My 16 year old son can drive and he is looking forward to his 18th birthday so that he can get his driving licence. In addition, his father had promised he would buy him a motorcycle if got good grades. But until he was 23 he was unable to get into the car, because when they killed my husband, he was in the passenger seat. He saw his father fall with a bullet in the neck and, I’m told, he then dived out of the car and ran after them but was restrained. He had a very tough seven years and when he was 23 he told me he wanted to get a driver’s license. It took us several days before he could get into the car, to get behind the wheel. Almost two months. Once he got over the difficulty of getting into the car, he started driving and got his driver’s licence in no time. He had already started to study again and to do things and was slowly improving. It was different with my daughters… And that’s when I succumbed”.

“When my children were established and back to normal, I fell into a very deep depression. I lost up to 25 kilograms. I was very ill for three years. Due to all that had happened, I had stomach problems. They had to remove a quarter of my stomach. After that, I also had a thyroid problem, heart problems with palpitations, anxiety … I now depend on pills and medication. Though it has been almost 12 years since I had that sharp downfall, it is one of those things you have in your soul and that you can’t get rid of. You keep going because of your children, and now for your grandchildren. I now have grandchildren and I have started to recover my spirits but it is not the same because your life has changed completely. The person around whom you built your life for a some years and with whom you had planned your old age, with whom you would be when your children left home, is missing… Many things about grow old together that are no longer there. The nights are especially horrible, because I’m alone. There are also decisions to be made regarding the children, the house; decisions we had always shared but that now I have to make by myself. It is an uphill struggle”.

“I remember something that happened about a year after Joseba died. My youngest daughter got sick and I took her to the doctor. While waiting for the doctor alone, as Joseba had always been with me on those occasions, I started to cry and I couldn’t help it. It was very intense for me. I do not know what happened to me. Seeing myself there alone with the baby… I immediately called my brother and he came round quickly, because I couldn’t talk to the doctor. He tried to talk to me and I just couldn’t. It was really tough”.

“My husband and I had a group of friends we had known for ages. It was a real blow for them, too. Me behaved beautifully with me, but they also had their own pain deep inside. On the other hand, I was well sheltered within my own environment because everyone supported me a lot. My husband’s sisters also had a hard time because Joseba was the younger brother and a little bit their “son”. I’ve been lucky enough to feel very sheltered by everyone around me. Whether family, friends or social circles”.

“For me, Joseba is always with me, and when I have to make decisions and still talk it over with him. He is always with me, with pictures in every room and in the bedrooms. I feel accompanied, especially now that, except for my youngest, my other two children are already married and have their own families. Although I spend a lot of time with them, because that make me feel better and they are all I have left”.

“Today my children are doing well, they have their own families. The memories are always there. My son is an ertzaina, he always wanted to be one. I feel very proud of him. My daughter also has a job and is expecting a child. The youngest is at university. We are more or less moving forward. They do not like to talk much about it. They like to talk about their father, remember things we did together. They love to talk about what he was like, what they did when they went out walking in the mountains… especially with my youngest daughter, who was 18 months old when he died. My kids love to get together and show her photos and explain what he was like. But they don’t like talking of what happened later”.

“In my case, I still live with Joseba, with my children, with my job and with my grandchildren. I keep going because you have to move on. But, something is always missing and I can’t help it. It is very difficult to rebuild a life after sharing so much and so much love with a man. I don’t think you can. Sometimes, when I talk to my sisters in law they tell me, half-jokingly, that I have set the standards very high, but that is how I remember it, and I will not conform with less. Thank God I am still in touch with them and I thank them for many things because they have helped me to overcome a lot of things and they have helped me out when I needed it, with my children… with everything. That’s my life now; may job and family. And when issues arise about victims of terrorism, I like to be informed”.

“I have got to know about the whole terror victim issues, associations … I am committed to that topic a bit, helping people out but without belonging to any association. Sometimes, as Joseba was well-known and as I became better known, people have called me and I have tried to help out other victims so that instead of taking a thousand steps, they can take one specific step. Or, sometimes, just make a call and chat over coffee. Perhaps what we like best at times is to chat and more so if it is with someone who has been through the same as you”.

“I have always worked for peace, precisely because of my husband’s past. He went through a lot with the police in Franco’s time and was even in prison. Then it was his turn to become a police officer and he taught us that we should not hate, because hatred is absurd and useless. The ideas he passed on to us is what I have cherished after his death. Rather than feel hatred when he died, I felt sorrow, because I believe they did not know the wonderful person they were killing or how much he had done for the prisoners. They had no idea who my husband really was, because if they had known that, they wouldn’t have killed him. That’s why I felt sorrow”.

“Later, I also taught my children not to hate. I have had very clear ideas in favour of dialogue and, above all, breath-taking optimism and hope, that I still maintain, because what I want most is peace. What I most wanted was for everything to end with my husband’s death. Unfortunately, I had to see many more cases and many colleagues and friends were killed. However, I upheld my idea of peace, of living in a wonderful region, where my children could grow up and then my grandchildren could be born and know a quiet, peaceful and free Basque Country. I have always fought for that and that is what I have maintained from the start. I felt no hatred, more something like sorrow or pity when I considered how badly things were being done”.

“The first trial related to the attack was in 1998 and the latest sentence against a person who was arrested after spending a long time in France came out in April this year (2012). I am not going to get my husband back. They have been tried and found guilty and we know that they will not complete their full sentences, but we have to accept it, we have to go on living and move on. I cannot do anything about that, and I will not spend my life hating them because then I will be making myself bitter. I’d rather live without thinking about it. Hatred destroys you and, as I don’t have too many things to live for, I am not in a position to destroy myself. I cannot allow them or anyone to do that to me. I have three wonderful children, a beautiful grandson and another on the way, that will be the ultimate for me, and I have my work and life. I lack many things that I should have and I feel alone, but I would never forgive myself if I started hating. It wouldn’t be any good for me”.

“The fact that ETA has given up its armed activities has given me greater peace of mind. I am convinced that this is the final step, and that I can wake up each morning without thinking ‘what’s going to happen next”, whether a friend is going to be killed, because many colleagues and friends have fallen, and without the fear of another attack… For 19 years we have lived in this way, with that anxiety each morning, because, every time something happened, you relive everything. You relive what happened to you and you’re feeling for what is happening that other family. It is awful. Now I’m happy and I hope, and I will always support, this to continue. I hope my grandchildren will not have to go through any of this and they will see the Basque Country as it really is”.