Independent Media Centre Ireland

The Death of "Wilson" : ETA & Democracy

category international | history and heritage | opinion/analysis author Wednesday March 12, 2008 22:04author by iosaf .:. ipsiphi

Pedro Iñaki Pérez Beotegui (alias "Wilson") 1948 - 2008

Pedro Iñaki Pérez Beotegui (alias "Wilson") died yesterday, on the fourth anniversary of the Al Qaeda M11 bombing of Madrid, in Vitoria in the Basque Country at 60 years of age. As "Wilson" he led the group who in 1973 rented a flat on at Calle Claudio Coello 104, Madrid overlooking the road which Franco's prime minister & expected successor Admiral Luis Carrero Blanco used every morning to travel to work after mass in an armoured car. For several weeks the four members of the team, codenamed "Ogre" tunnelled under the street and then placed 80kg of explosives which they detonated on the 20th of December 1973. The car in which Carrero Blanco travelled was sent 20 metres into the air & over a five storey building in the blast. The assassination is cited in almost every account of how the Spanish state passed from an authoritiarian military dictatorship to the process of "transition" upon Franco's death without named successor to the European social democracy it is today.
Pedro Iñaki Pérez Beotegui (alias "Wilson") 1948 - 2008
Pedro Iñaki Pérez Beotegui (alias "Wilson") 1948 - 2008

The assassination caught the attention of the world both at the time & regularly since, for its politcial efficacy, logistic audacity & strategic victory. The BBC report on the day recognised the far reaching consequences of the attack & the movie "Operation Ogro" (1979) still regularly shows on Spanish language TV to this day. Carrero Blanco's replacement as Franco's "number 2" Carlos Arias Navarro in his acceptance speech of Feb 12. 1974, promised liberalizing reforms including the right to form political associations. Though he was denounced by hardliners within the regime, the transition had begun.

Pedro Iñaki Pérez Beotegui (alias "Wilson") was born in Vitoria on the 31st of July 1948. He went to England to study in 1965 the reason why his later no de guerre or alias was so English. In 1969 he was detained in London after attempting to burn the Spanish embassy to the UK. Upon return to Spain he volunteered for the ETA V assembly & is regarded as the brains behind the assassination of Carrero.

On the 30th of July 1975, as a result of the infiltration of the agent Mikel Lejarza alias "Lobo" (or wolf [also a subject of a movie - c/f 2004 )
Pedro Iñaki Pérez Beotegui (alias "Wilson") was arrested in Barcelona along with Juan Paredes Manot, (alias Txiki). Both men had risen to the top of the organisation ETA at the height of its popular support amongst Basques, Spaniards & internationally. He was released as part of an amnesty decreed by the legitimate successor to Franco as chief of state of Spain, King Don Juan Carlos. In total 287 political prisoners were released in the amnesty which followed a week of serious rioting in the Basque, Catalonia & Madrid in May 1977.

He then took up exile in Norway along with other prominent members of Basque seperatism & ETA including Mario Onaindia and Teo Uriarte. By the 1980's he had found his way back to Vitoria where he lived out his life without incident and eventual death this week after a lengthy illness. In many ways he belonged to what is widely regarded as another ETA from another time . The organisation which is credited with 935 murders has somehow managed to hold the same letters, symbology, ballads, letterheads decade through decade but in no proper sense or under any substantial analysis may be deemed to be the same organisation. Unlike the Irish history with which the Basque has often lamentably compared, no "real" nor "continuity" has ever been suffixed to the letters ETA.

It is the saddest & most bitter example in Europe of what when listing the dead of both Irish & Basque, British & Spanish state or group terrorism, I called "The Selective & Collective memory : Memory as fetishised community : Communality as fetishised memorial" ( c/f "The Absent" )

The last murder committed by those who hide behind the letters ETA was last Friday. A retired former councillor of the Basque wing of the Spanish Labour party was shot in the nape of the neck with a 9mm pistol. It is said to be a painless & instantaneous way to die. Unfortuanately what is left of the face only increases the pain of the bereaved. The murder in no way contributed to the re-election of Zaptero's PSOE, or the record results of the Basque Labour party branch PSE. It has meant due to the lack of condemnation by the last proxy political party of the Basque armed tradition the ANV that the party has lost control of councils & municipal government throughout the Basque because no party of the radical left are prepared to sit in coalition anymore. It is repugnant, to sit or be thought to fellow travel with those who consider such a barbaric murder to serve any political aim. There is complete & utter abhorrence in every sector of the Basque & pro-Basque community at the supposed return to socialisation of suffering . The murder of Isaias Carrasco ought never have been added to list of legitimate targets which forever apparantly justify armed campaigns of either state or group nature. There is a gulf of moral relativism which finally begs the truth between the death of Carrero Blanco in 1973 & Isaias Carrasco in 2008.

Panicked by the realisation that they are now beyond the status of a starved cornered cur, the apologists for Basque "political" violence have only tonight expressed r-e-g-r-e-t . It has been months since the leadership who were internationally held in respect or esteem, who were offered political asylum or exile by sovreign states, aired their rejection of the current leadership of an organisation which offered opportunities to negotiate & dialogue in 2006 with its "so-called" permanent ceasefire.
(c/f's_2006_%22permanent_ceasefire%22 )

Basques of all political hues & none were offered in sincerity & respect the assistance of others experienced at conflict resolution within Europe, from Ireland & far beyond. If "Wilson" deserves an obituary & wishes that He Rest in Peace - than it is simply because his claim to fame, his place in history illustrates in no other way the moral relativism of political assassination.

Democracy in the modern Spanish state may have begun with Carrero's car bomb -
Terrorism in the modern Spanish state must end with that 9mm exit wound in Carresco's face.

Comments (9 of 9)

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author by Companero - SIpublication date Thu Mar 13, 2008 17:14author address author phone

Excellent post, thought provoking and insightful

author by Scepticpublication date Thu Mar 13, 2008 22:20author address author phone

This is counterfactual and invalid. The proposition is:

1. Carrero was assassinated by ETA
2. Thereafter Span became a democracy
3. Therefore it was the assassination that begat or at least began the democracy.

The factors that really brought democracy were the personality and policies of the new King and the pull of the European Community economically and politically. Plus it was what the people wanted and were prepared to vote for. Luckily the times gave Spanish democracy a fair wind.

Incidentally what do Ogra Sinn Fein think of the murder of Isaias Carrasco? Normally they have plenty to say on Basque matters. Does their silence denote disapproval perhaps? They should say so. Far less newsworthy things happen in the Basque country that they post about incessantly.

author by iosaf .:. ipsiphipublication date Thu Mar 13, 2008 22:52author address author phone

Mendiz mendi. Mendirik mendi ( = from one mountain to another ) as some say in Euskera or Basque.


Sceptic, you were not amongst the intended readerership. If you follow the link I provided to the BBC coverage of the Carrero assassination & read the BBC concised history you would have seen that just as I wrote, most explanations of the transition began with that event. The BBC point out that Franco in the final years of the dictatorship split the powers of his regime. From the late 1960's Juan Carlos had been declared as his successor as "head of state" but not as "chief of armed forces" nor as head of the executive. If you had bothered to read the wikipedia pages provided you would have seen the assassination of Carrero lead to the subsequent appointment of Carlos Arias Navarro who announced the new direction. The first prime minister of the state after Franco, Saurez was himself a member of the Arias Navarro lobby. Without the reforms of Arias Navarro the plans to present a rival candidate to the Bourbon throne (that of Franco's daughter's husband) which were favoured by Carrero would have sidelined Juan Carlos before he even enjoyed the powers to play his undeniable later role in the Transition.
Yet again, in your need to play some sort of I'll answer that game you have shown your ignorance of European history. IF you can cite a single historian who does not include the assassination of Carrero in a direct line of causilty with the transition, then I take you seriously. As it is even the revisionist historians of the far right accept the beginning of the transition was the end of the authoritarian military clique. Their only proposed revision is the identification of the culprits. The Spanish far right have argued the CIA played a part in the logistic support & strategic planning of "operation ogre".

Now I'd thank you to have a go on some other thread. You know nothing about Spanish or Basque history in the 1970's nor Spanish or Basque affairs today.

author by Scepticpublication date Fri Mar 14, 2008 14:48author address author phone

The assassination was an important event, one in a chain. But that is not to say that it was so pivotal that if the assassination has not taken place Spain would still not be a democracy which was virtually the implication of your post. There are chance events in history and there are long term trends. The assassination was a chance event which in this case did not interact unduly with the long term trend towards democracy in western Europe in the 1970s. Little credit is due to ETA that Spain is now a democracy.

author by iosafpublication date Sat Mar 15, 2008 15:34author address author phone

Oh you are sad. But I am very patient with you. I won't try and teach you anymore about the final years of Francoism & the desperate attempts to keep the dictatorship viable. The international appeals to pardon the young sent to the garrote. I won't remind the readership of the paucity of social democracy in Europe or the Hispanic world in the 60's or early 70's.
& I will not sully my own writing & purpose in writing by engaging in condemnation without contemplation, toying in explanation without foundation. I gave no credit nor did I seek dues. I will ask you to read just one article I linked to above. That's all. You can't comment on it. It's way passed its time now. "The Selective & Collective memory : Memory as fetishised community : Communality as fetishised memorial" "The Selective & Collective memory : Memory as fetishised community : Communality as fetishised memorial"

On Monday you will celebrate Ireland's Paddy's day & national holiday, & I will mark 4 years since the last statue of Franco was removed at dawn 17/3/04 in Madrid. I reported it in my article on the Feb23 fascist coup d'etat attempt anniversary with my thoughts on how democracy emerges. "lest we forget

So your taunts don't really get me Mr septic Sceptic. Types like you don't seem to understand either may have or exit wound . Read my last 2 lines in the article above again :-

" Democracy in the modern Spanish state may have begun with Carrero's car bomb -
Terrorism in the modern Spanish state must end with that 9mm exit wound in Carresco's face. "

author by Scepticpublication date Sat Mar 15, 2008 17:36author address author phone

I was not taunting you but making observations on your apparent excuse making for the violence of ETA. ETA is a terrorist group the tactics of which is the opposite of democracy. Democracy is about persuasion and accepting the results if you fail to persuade. Terror is about not accepting democratic results and getting your objectives by way of fear rather than persuasion. Its no credit to ETA that Spain is democratic since they have made it their business to kill and bomb for decades since the democracy was re-introduced. And what is your attitude to the killing of Carrasco? Is it ok so long as it bookends the ETE terror campaign or is it to be condemned as an atrocious and senseless murder by nihilists?

Ogra Sinn Fein normally so vocal and verbose about Basque matters, no matter how trivial, have yet to enlighten us on their view of the latest killing.

author by iosafpublication date Sat Mar 15, 2008 18:22author address author phone

I am not a spokesperson for any political party.

I repeat my link to the list of all victims of terrorism in the British / Irish conflict & Spanish state which i provided & it's subtitle - "The Selective & Collective memory : Memory as fetishised community : Communality as fetishised memorial"

I repeat the final two lines of the article. I will do so every time you return under your mask to mislead others through the latest comment page. You are a LIAR sceptic.

" Democracy in the modern Spanish state may have begun with Carrero's car bomb -
Terrorism in the modern Spanish state must end with that 9mm exit wound in Carresco's face. "

author by iosaf mac diarmadapublication date Thu Mar 30, 2017 19:09author address author phone

Between 2013 and 2015, Cassandra Vera tweeted 13 times making fun of the assassination of Carrero Blanco, the work of ETA's Wilson whose life was the subject of this article. She was charged with glorifying terrorism and her case ended up before the top court of the Spanish state yesterday. Obviously there is as much wrong in the Spanish state now as when I wrote the article above. But some things have altered. She was accompanied to court by the leader of "Podemos" Spain´s popular left wing party, Pablo Iglesias. Podemos emerged from the street protests in Madrid and Barcelona the same year as the Arab spring. The umbrella of left wing groups would eventually win control of Barcelona´s city government, whose mayor Ada Colau has won respect and admiration throughout Europe for applying anarchist and alternative theories to the municipal government. If you ever visit Barcelona I do a wlkaing tour which explores and explains the social projects and problems being addressed which are key to understanding the administration. feel free contact me if you visit : ( )
At the last general election in Spain, Podemos won about 25% of the votes. The conservative PP won the most votes but did not secure enough to govern. True to Spanish form, the prime minister continued in functions regardless. He now rules in minority. & to those who know Spain, it is no surprise that his ilk would now seek to imprison Cassandra Vera for a year for tweets she tweeted as a teenager about the death of a fascist over 40 years ago. Oh did I mention that Cassandra is trans? Perhaps that is incidental. who knows how these things work? Of course when she began tweeting at 15 years of age she had yet to become a historian, trans activist and general pain in the side of the post-fascist establishment which masquerades as democratic modernity over here.

Her tweeted jokes were so terribly offensive here are three of the worst -

Kissenger offered Carrero Blanco a piece of the moon
and ETA sent him there

Did Carrero Blanco also go back in time in his car?

& the utterly henious :-
Happy December 20! (with a photo of the car)

This is her paypal account .

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author by Diarmuid Breatnach - independentpublication date Fri Nov 03, 2017 22:37author address author phone

I met Wison in Brixton jail -- he told me that he was then a member of the Communist Party of Spain and I, an anarchist then, told him I had no time for the communist parties in Europe. He was awaiting trial for throwing a petrol bomb at the Spanish Embassy there and I think he pled guilty to get it over with. I was awaiting trial on charges to do with occupying empty houses in order to house homeless families. The State regularly objected to bail in order to ensure activists got a taste of prison, whether they were likely to be found guilty or not or, in the former case, likely to get a custodial sentence or not. That practice became the subject of a TV documentary later.

I never heard more about him after he left Brixton and although I was aware of the struggle of ETA, I never associated him with it. Some years later I was watching a documentary by the BBC I think, called "Portrait of a Terrorist" and realised with a shock that it was he. But I had no associations with the movement then, which began tentatively around 2005. A few years later I tried to find him but by the time I found someone who knew where he was, he had died.

You say he is widely recognised as the brains behind Blanco's assassination but I have heard that claimed for Argala.

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