On 25th October 1978, Rosa Vadillo’s life broke in two when ETA killed her husband, Epifanio Vidal.  The victim worked in a garage and several terrorists waited for him to leave work and then shot him at point blank range. After the first complicated months following the loss of her husband, Rosa Vadillo sought refuge in her job and also had to focus on raising her son Iban.


Name: Rosa Vadillo Uranga

Age: 57 (1955)

Profession: Experienced labourer

Family status: Widow. One son.

Place of origin: Originally from a small place in Burgos, Rosa came to Durango (Bizkaia) when she was just over a year old.  She still lives in the same place with her son Iban.

GROUP: Relatives of victims.


- On 25th October 1978, Rosa Vadillo’s life broke in two when ETA killed her husband, Epifanio Vidal.  The victim worked in a garage and several terrorists waited for him to leave work and then shot him at point blank range.

- After the first complicated months following the loss of her husband, Rosa Vadillo sought refuge in her job and also had to focus on raising her son Iban.


“When the attack on my husband happened I was working in the mornings from 7 until 4 in the afternoon.  We were a very young married couple (at that time Rosa was 23 and Epifanio was 27) with a son who was just over a year old. At work we had half an hour for lunch and we ate in the workshop itself. My mother took care of Iban, and so did my mother-in-law who came over after lunch and took him out. I left work, had a shower, got changed and went to pick up my son. My husband finished work at 6 in the evening and we went out for a walk before giving our son his dinner. The three of us were always together at weekends. We didn’t have our own flat or anything like that and we lived with my parents. We had a really normal life.”

“Epifanio worked in a garage as a panel beater. He never noticed anything that would make him think that his life would change by being under threat. We had a really normal and calm life right up until the day that they committed the attack on him.  No-one ever threatened us on the street or with a telephone call to our home.  After the attack, the typical thing happened; people appeared and said or it was in the press that he was an informer.  Such comments were just normal at that time. Now more recently the anger or indignation after an attack have been reflected on more profoundly.  But back then it was just normal and it seemed that what had happened needed to be justified somehow.”

“On the day of the attack ‘Epi’ left work with two workmates. According to what they told me, two guys approached him and called him Vidal and he stayed back with them while his friends carried on forwards. When my husband’s workmates had gone on forward they shot him. There was  a third terrorist who was waiting for them in the car they escaped in. I nearly found out about what had happened on the TV news. The husband of an elder sister gave me the news. My father saw my husband in the cemetery.  It was very overwhelming.  I couldn’t take it in at that moment and no matter what they said, I also felt I needed to see him.”

“On the day of the funeral I had to wear black although I didn’t want to but I didn’t have any black clothes.  I did it for my in-laws. Some days after the funeral I found out that there were people from the extreme right that took advantage of the circumstances.  We didn’t have anything to do with it, and their actions made it as if the ones who went after ‘Epi’ were right.  It seems that they went to some bar in Durango and laid into a load of people. That hurt me a lot because they were almost siding with those who were making this type of comments. But in the end it became clear what we were like and how we behaved. I am completely sure that ‘Epi’ wasn’t involved in anything or wasn’t receiving threats. Perhaps they behaved like that because of the accusations made by ETA in the press the day after about my husband.”

“What also happened was that if the attack was on 25th October by the Day of All Souls (November 1st) someone had put a sticker of the Spanish flag on our family vault.  These things led to ETA followers being seen as right. They were isolated events and nothing more. Something else that happened to me was in 1978, for the first elections, only our letter box had Alianza Popular propaganda in it although eight families lived in the building.  There was none in the other letterboxes. This was really shocking. Why do they think I’m going to share their ideas?  I’ve always had my own ideas and I didn’t change them. I don’t sympathise with them, regardless of whether I am a victim or not.”

“The comments were never made directly to me. For example, they told a friend of mine that they paid us money and she told them that this couldn’t be true because I had to pay for some normal bedroom furniture in instalments after I got married.   Nobody said this sort of thing to me directly, but things were said and they hurt a lot. They said or They told me… They’ve talked too much here about things they know nothing about.  But the comments lasted as long as they did and then everyday life had to go on.”

“I remember the day of the attack as being something tremendous and crazy. I spent 10 or 12 days just drinking milk with cocoa powder instead of white coffee. I smoked a lot because I reacted to anything that was said. I’ve never had to take any medication to sleep and on the first night they gave me a Valium tablet and I slept for just over eight hours. It was like being in a cloud. The doctor told me that he didn’t think I was progressing so he signed me off as fit to return to work and I should see how I felt. Going back to work was like a release that I needed at that moment.  I was at home wracking my brain. When I got to the workshop for work I switched off quite a lot, I left my problems at home at the door of work and when I left work I picked them up again.  I used to always be laughing and at first people came up to talk to me with some suspicion.  Going back to work did me a lot of good.”

“When Iban went to bed he used to give everyone a kiss. I was very surprised because for the first few days after the attack he gave us all a kiss but then waited because there was someone missing. He was really upset for about a fortnight. In the end we were conveying our tension to him without wanting to. Later, he suffered quite serious breakdowns as a consequence. Iban has grown up like anyone else although his father was missing. At that time he had my brother, who was young, as well as my father. Let’s say that the image of his father could be reflected in any one of the two.”

“Iban hasn’t felt rejection. Many people even at school don’t even know that he lost his father through terrorism. A few might know whose parents I know and I would have told them. But he hasn’t felt any discrimination for being a victim of terrorism.”

“Durango always had a lot of ETA members. It’s something that you only realise over time.  There were people in the village who were said to maybe belong to ETA… but these people also didn’t look at me in a bad way or anything like that. There were people connected with Herri Batasuna (HB) in the company where I worked but they’ve never said anything to me. My life has been quite normal although people from outside here don’t understand how I could carry on living in Durango with all that we were going through.”

“Not one single media company or politician came to see me after the attack.  The only person that did was a local police man one week after. He came to my house in an incredibly secretive way and told me that I had to go to the Civil Government in Bilbao. When I was there, they gave me a cheque for just over one million pesetas (just over €6,000) and they told me not to say anything to anyone. This was the only thing I got at that time, although I admit that as we didn’t have penny, it came in handy. Everything comes out in the end and according to what they’ve told me; it seems that they kept some of the money that they should have given to me.  Later on, I was in contact with some people who could have helped me with this sort of thing. They were the first ones that founded the Association for Victims of Terrorism in Madrid (AVT).  The initial contact was good but then later the management changed……”

“Following the attack on my husband they’ve killed several more people in Durango. After ‘Epi’ it was a local policeman, then a Spanish Army captain who had a chemist…. It’s awful because you know everyone. I knew everyone they killed. In those years, if only by sight, almost everyone knew everyone. ”

“From one day to the next I took on the role of having to work and be both mother and father. It was really very hard. I had the help of my parents, one sister who is 16 months older than me and who has always been both a sister a friend to me, a brother who is 10 years younger and an elder sister.  The atmosphere at home was one of togetherness but that subject was always taboo. Perhaps the first Christmas was very difficult but I’ve always tried hard get Iban through it all. He has always been very communicative and has looked happy to me, although he lacked something.  Maybe the only obstacle for Iban was not being able to concentrate at school. He was a bad pupil because he was thinking too much.  But he’s never had any problems mixing with others.”

“I’ve always blamed it on the fact that perhaps there weren’t any specialists like there are now who could have helped him get on. It would have been easier to treat him when he was younger. I sometimes feel that we’ve wasted time. I remember the first time he went to the psychologist when he was six years old and he was told to draw something. It was always the same. For example, when he had to draw a table, he put us all around it, but there was always an empty place. I think my Iban has done alright and the only thing that has been difficult for him was studying at school.”

“In 1993, fifteen years after the attack on my husband, I had anorexia nervosa and had to be admitted into hospital.  It was more like the culmination of everything I was going through that led to it. Apart from that, I haven’t suffered any further physical consequences. ”

“There is an anecdote that shows just what I’m like. I think Iban was 14 years old then and we had some ‘fights’. He threatened me like he was going to hit me and the situation was very tense. The next day when I was at work in the workshop, one of my workmates saw me laughing a lot and said I was brimming with happiness.  I told him what had happened the day before with my son and he was surprised that I was laughing. I think that in bad times I laugh, talk a lot…  All of this was a headache because I had to be Mum and Dad, but Iban didn’t understand this when he was little. He knew that I was his mother but I also had to assume the role of a father who asserted authority with one word.”

“I will soon have been working in the same workshop for 39 years and I could say that my work has given me life. I think my life has been quite a happy one, regardless of the attack and others which have happened afterwards and make you relive everything again. Otherwise, I think that I’ve got through it quite well. ”

“I’ve never felt any rejection even from the first day. There were a lot of people at my husband’s funeral, despite the fact that it was in those very difficult times and because of how it was. Yes, there were people who said they were afraid to go. But I have never felt rejected by anyone.  I felt supported and much loved in the town.”

“In those days when anything happened in the name of politics and you had to go out and protest ‘no matter what ’I got angry when I was at the workshop because I asked myself how I could go out in the street and protest if they had killed my husband and broke my life in two. It annoyed me.  I walked past the posters in the street and it was like I could only see a blank wall.  Later my company’s works committee decided that anyone who wanted to could go out and protest for political reasons because it was not possible to make anyone go where only a few wanted. When they killed the socialist Casas some of us started talking about going out of the workshop to protest. Seven or eight of us went out and on the next day the typical person came along to ask for explanations. I had felt the need to say that if some went out for some reasons I had also gone out of work because I felt like it, with all of the consequences  because I knew that they would deduct that day from my wages.”

“The first demonstration I went to was when that happened with Miguel Ángel Blanco. It really stuck a chord with me. I never thought they would kill him.  At that time I was working evenings from Tuesday to Saturday. I switched on the radio and heard that they had kidnapped a councillor from Ermua. I hoped that they would release him. I left work that night and when I met my friends we went to Ermua and came to a spot where there were a lot of people with candles. At that moment, I didn’t feel ok but I knew I was doing something good.  There was also a rally next to the church that Monday in Durango and I went.  I shouted like the rest of them even if the others were opposite us. I thought we were doing the right thing.  I had never been in protests.  I think there was a sort of boom in society because a lot of people went out to protest and it seemed right to me. But I’ve always said that it seemed fair in that sense but when the same thing happened, when ETA kidnapped the engineer Ryan from the Lemóniz there were no repercussions.  Society woke up when that happened with Miguel Ángel Blanco. It had to happen at some stage”.

“However, afterwards you see what happens in all the trials there are and it doesn’t seem fair to me. I don’t envy anyone for anything because I’ve got by myself with my work and pension.  But then you see people who’ve got important positions for themselves. I don’t think there should be so many victims associations but just one association with everyone in it and managed how it should be managed.  There are a lot of people in good positions with good jobs. This only happens to a few and there are a lot of us families and we’re going through a bad time.  Although I am financially alright, my son for example isn’t ok; he’s unemployed and is a direct victim just like me.  A lot has been said about funding courses to educate more, to help get a job… None of this has been done.  Then when ETA gave up violence, it has come out that a lot of people who left here are going to be helped to get subsidised housing and they’re going to give them jobs too. And what about us who’ve stayed here suffering? This doesn’t seem fair to me. In the end I try and ignore it but the situation with Iban really hurts me.”

“I’ve never felt like going to live away from Durango. I’m living in the same house as I started living in when I was a year and a half old. Maybe I’m an exception because the majority of people haven’t understood these things. I feel fortunate to have been lucky and I have always felt at ease and well. I’ve never felt rejected or afraid.”

“I know that three people were involved in the murder of my husband but I don’t know who they are because they never caught them or said who they were. My case is time-barred and that’s that.  No more. The place where the attack occurred has disappeared because they built over it. Sometimes when I pass by there I wonder where exactly it happened but I can’t say ‘it was here’. I think that bad things are kept in a small corner of your head and I always try to get the good out of everything.”

“One of my husband’s brothers left several days after the attack because they were like two peas in a pod. They didn’t work together but close by.  My brother-in-law started thinking that the attack could have been on him because when it happened with my husband they called him Vidal. It could have been one or the other of them. I understand why he left just like my in-laws a year after and later a sister. His youngest sister stayed on. ”

“I’m still in contact with them because my son knew he had a family, not because they showed me that.  What I’ve always lacked was my husband’s family, to help me out once in a while or worry that I might need something. Many years after I told them that I needed photos of my husband to show my son what his father looked like.  That’s when they told me I should go and find comfort in my family but who I am going to get comfort from? I couldn’t rely on them because they didn’t show any trust or love when I needed it. I don’t think I was ever bad to them.”

“I have never shown rage, never. If I ever see any posters stuck on a wall it’s like I haven’t seen them. Now I sometimes may look what it says on them.  On Mondays when they do demonstrations and they carry banners, I know them all. At first I felt weird walking past them. Now I won’t look at them. I see who’s there because I know them.  But if I have to go past there I won’t stop short.  And I’ve never been afraid.”

“I am not going to forgive because I think there is nothing I have to forgive. They didn’t kill me. They should say sorry to the one who’s dead. What really always made me angry is when the families of ETA prisoners ask for financial help from the town councils for travelling. I respect that because deaths sometimes occur on the roads. But I would have liked to have gone a thousand kilometres away to talk to my husband and embrace him. I have to settle for going to the town cemetery.”

“There are certain things that make me angry. For many years, if anyone brought up one of these subjects, I didn’t go on the attack. Now however, I answer and say that if they are in prison it is because they’ve killed someone.  Who are they to take away someone’s life? There has been no war here, it was a conflict.  They prepared the war.”

“I’ve always said that a happy outcome is worth waiting for. It has taken them years.  I’ve always hoped for some form of recognition from the Basque Government or the mayor of my town.  It’s been like a thorn in my side. One mayor from Durango did contact me.  He sent me a note expressing his condolences and said he was very sorry.  I felt the duty to go to him and say thank you for the note because nobody had been in contact with me.  Afterwards I was in contact with him several times and later they put us up a monolith for the victims in Durango. I think that the tributes were good.”

“There has been no justice for what happened to my husband. I think that at that time, the police didn’t pull out all the stops like they’ve been doing more recently. Everything was very passive in those years; both in terms of justice as well as the people.  And to be exact I would say that it hasn’t happened to me. But nowadays I couldn’t care less about these things really. What I want is to live my life and be happy with it, nothing more.”