On April 2001, ETA detonated 4 kilos of dynamite at the family home.  At that time, his mother, Charo Dorda, was a council member for the Popular Party (Partido Popular) in Hondarribia. The bomb exploded while he and his sister were inside. It is the fifth attack the family has suffered so far. The flat was completely destroyed. In 2008, His desperate situation led him to publish the following advertisement in a newspaper: "COUNCIL MEMBER VICTIM OF TERRORISM SEEKS WORK COMPATIBLE WITH BODYGUARDS ".


Name:  José Manuel Lizarraga Dorda. Irun (Gipuzkoa)

Age:  43

Profession: Economist. Elected member of the Hondarribia City Council for PP.

Family status:   Married. Two young daughters.

RISK GROUP: Politicians.


- 1998: the family house, situated on a ground floor in Hondarribia, was attacked with Molotov cocktails. After this episode, bulletproof glass had to be installed in the windows.

- 1998-1999: his sister’s chemist, located in the same town, was attacked twice.

- June 1999: he embarked on his political career by standing for election and was elected a member of the Irun city council.

- Summer 1999: His 28 year old brother was cornered in a bar in Hondarribia in an attempted assault. His reaction was to cry, which confused the group of assailants, and they let him go.

- April 2001: ETA detonated 4 kilos of dynamite at the family home.  At that time, his mother, Charo Dorda, was a council member for the Popular Party (Partido Popular) in Hondarribia. The bomb exploded while he and his sister were inside. It is the fifth attack the family has suffered so far. The flat was completely destroyed.

- April 2001: as his home was destroyed, he went to live in Irun.

- Summer 2001: he required psychological treatment as a result of the attack.

- 2003: he was informed of the seizure of new information about him held by ETA.

– 2004: Trial against the Buruntza commando, at the High Court, for planting the bomb.”

– 2007: He was elected council member for Hondarribia. The new situation forced him to find work. He was rejected because he had bodyguards.

– 2008: His desperate situation led him to publish the following advertisement in a newspaper: “COUNCIL MEMBER VICTIM OF TERRORISM SEEKS WORK COMPATIBLE WITH BODYGUARDS. “ It was published on 2 November 2008 in the local newspaper.


“The summer of 1999, when he was elected, was very strange in the village due to the prevailing atmosphere. They cornered my brother in a bar calling him a son of a b……; he started crying and managed to get out of that situation but it has affected him. He had some words with my mother. He said “you’ve screwed up our lives”. We are six brothers and sisters and some of them accused her of putting them at risk and damaging their reputation. They accused her saying: “you should have thought it over more when you got into this because now we are all in danger”.

From my point of view, it’s the cowardly reaction of this society reflected in my family. They think that, of course, if they plant a bomb on the landing, the neighbours will obviously blame you. You have put them at risk.  It’s very hard; you have to go through it. They accuse you of having messed up their lives, your own people, your own family… but no.  I have messed up my own life”.

“Here, in the Basque country, those that threaten and the people who are threatened and murdered all live in the same space. That’s very difficult.  For example, in the home where we had always lived until the bomb destroyed it completely, there were neighbours we had always known who belonged to ETA. For example, the Elorriaga family, whose son was the head of the terrorist group’s logistics apparatus. And, of course, there were those who greeted you and those who avoided you”.

“When the bomb destroyed our home on 21 April 2001, I remember how one neighbour, whose son was involved in street violence of a nationalist nature, had some words with my mother because a piece of the façade of our house affected by the explosion had broken a window of her son’s car”.

“We had to leave the house. My mother had rent a house for 6 months because our home had been completely destroyed.  When the bomb exploded, my sister and I were inside. It affected the middle room where, a few days earlier, my brother (the one who later blamed my mother) had been sleeping. Furthermore, that same day, a neighbour had been sitting just outside the house – it was on the ground floor – waiting for a friend to go fishing.  They left just five minutes before the explosion. The Regional Police (Ertzaintza) then told us we had to leave”.

“We were fortunate in that, a few years earlier, the party had helped us install shielded windows after some Molotov cocktail attacks and they had absorbed the blast. Nevertheless, the house was destroyed. I perfectly remember the pieces of glass stuck in the walls, like shrapnel.  There were pieces of skirting board in the walls. I recall my mother’s sewing box, the traditional type, and the needles were also stuck in the walls. It was awful, that’s one thing you always take with you”.

“I decided to leave Hondarribia forever and I went to live in Irun. The trial against the perpetrators of the attack, the “Buruntza Commando” was held in 2004 and it brings back negative memories. My sister and I were alone and we were also witnesses as we were present when the attack took place. It hurt a lot to be alone but, above all, it hurt when the prosecutor told us he was only going to qualify the attack as “wanton damage” because they said they had no intention of killing. My sister and I were in the house; they could have killed us. But, as that commando had already killed a lot of people the prosecutor didn’t want to complicate things. I was not at all happy when I left the court. Frustrated, disillusioned with the justice system.  When the Regional Police called me and explained what they had found, they showed me a fully detailed drawing of my house, with the exact distribution of the kitchen, rooms, bathroom…  It was clearly supplied by a neighbour and that really leaves you feeling …  well, shattered”.

“Shortly after the attack I got married and went away for a few days away. At first, you have like a rush of adrenaline and, at that time, I was the Councillor for Citizen Security in Irun and I really got into my job. But everything inside you ends up exploding. I had some terrible nightmares. I would always dream there was a bomb in the house and I had to protect myself behind the mattress of a double bed that I had to lift up and place against the wall to protect myself with because I thought there was a bomb behind the door and other things I prefer not to remember. That is why, in the end, I consulted a psychologist and I was on medication for a long time. Now, I’m not sure whether I’m all right or not, because they never tell you that.”

“Later, in 2007, the party decided to send me to Hondarribia. It was hard, because it was a place I had been avoiding. It’s really difficult for me. When I pass what was once my home, I ask myself: Could this still be my home? Could I go on living here? Could my mother continue to live here? It is very unfair. I avoid going back, I only go to take part in activities required by my job as a council member and, therefore, the problems I encounter are some situations and insults during council sessions”.

“Regarding my private life, what most worries me are my daughters. I feel bad due to the fact that, although they are very young (6 and 3 years of age), since they were born they have always seen me with another two people, which is how they see the bodyguards. They always want to play with them I have to say to them “don’t get in their way”. How can you make a child understand that? They have grown up with it, but I am worried for when they find out the truth”.

“When I got married they took me to my wedding. Is it fair that things have to be like that?” “As far as my relationship goes, the most difficult aspect is that we don’t go anywhere. I say to her, do you realize that we have only gone out to dinner once this year? You can’t go anywhere and you don’t want others to limit your options”.

“I’m an economist, and when I left the Irun City Council, in 2007, a full time job, I found that I was not entitled to dole and that I could not survive on what I earned as a council member in Hondarribia. Therefore, I started looking for a job. The problem arises when I go to interviews. I can’t leave a gap from 1999 to 2007 in my CV and if I indicate that I have been a council member, the problems start. They ask me whether I have bodyguards and when I say I have, they say they’re sorry and that they don’t need me”.

“I spent some time working in a large department store in the furniture section and, of course, as I was attending customers with two men hanging around, although they didn’t say anything, I was obviously causing them a problem and they didn’t renew the contract. The whole world can see that this company has employed someone who does not support ETA and that may lead to reprisals”.

“I also worked for a company in Irun. It was a PVC production chain; a tough job but the pay was good. I was working for a temporary employment agency. They would renew my contract on a monthly basis as the boss said he was happy with me, that I was doing a good job. Suddenly, they told me they would no longer renew my contract and I phoned the Temporary Employment Agency to ask what had happened because I found it hard to understand. They told me that the problem was that the company union committee was controlled by LAB and, of course, I arrived every day in the car with two bodyguards and people see this and then say: “Hey, I know you from somewhere”. Irun is very small, there’s nothing I can do about it”.

“I have tried everything; I have accepted any job that came my way. Not being able to work and take money home because I am a council member is very unpleasant. For example, I asked my council for a job as a car park supervisor and they said: “Not if you have an escort, when you no longer have one, we’ll talk it over”. But I am still a target for ETA, I still appear in their documents. What can I do?”

“I believe human beings get used to everything (even people who have been kidnapped come up with a way of surviving). We are survivors. We have lived through worse times. A few years ago, when the truce was announced, I bought a motorbike. I thought we would be able to get rid of the escorts and that would be my new way of getting about. I never used it again”.

“I always think this will end someday and we will be able to live normal lives. And, above all, being a council member in your town will not be something that singles you out”.

“I live in a very nationalistic, very radical neighbourhood. When I go out during the festivities, I have heard people say: “Poor girls …” They don’t realise, but I do. This has got to stop”.

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