Tomás Caballero Pastor

Last updated

Tomás Caballero Pastor (February 25, 1935 in Alfaro, La Rioja – May 6, 1998 in Pamplona) was a Spanish union leader and politician from Navarra. He was assassinated by the Basque separatist organization ETA. [1]


Early years

Tomás was born in Alfaro although he grew up in Tudela, in the Spanish foral region of Navarre. He studied in a Jesuit school and at age 18 he joined the Spanish utility company FENSA which would later become Iberdrola. He was a co-founder of the cultural association Muskaria. Two years later he was transferred to the Pamplona headquarters where he worked while he obtained his degree in Topographic Engineering. [2]

Political activism and ideology

In 1963 he became president of the Energy Union in Navarre and in 1967 he was elected President of the Navarrean Workers Council. Through this position, he defended the social and labor rights of all the Navarrean workers in opposition to the official union that Francoist Spain had enabled after the Spanish Civil War. He held this position until 1974. Simultaneously, he became a local council member at the Pamplona city council as a "social councilor" in 1971. In 1976 he was appointed mayor of Pamplona as the transition to democracy had been initiated in Spain and 1977 [3] he resigned this position in order to run for congressman in the first Spanish General Election as a candidate for the Frente Navarro Independiente. He remained a union representative up until 1987. At the same time, from 1984 to 1994 he was elected president of the cultural and sports association Oberena. In 1995 he was elected to the Pamplona city council under the Unión del Pueblo Navarro (UPN) candidate list although he ran as an independent.

Tomás eventually joined UPN and took over the previous spokesman for the local government, Santiago Cervera. He also retired from his job at Iberdrola on 1997 after 42 years of work. On 1998, three political parties in the Pamplona city council (PSN, CDN and IU) forced UPN into the opposition benches. Among the reasons often cited in order to explain why ETA specifically chose Tomás, their UPN fellow party affiliates quote a lawsuit filed by nationalist party Herri Batasuna. Herri Batasuna argued that Tomás had libeled them when in 1998, immediately after the murder of José Ignacio Iruretagoyena, Caballero stated in a response to the city council members from HB who did not vote in favor of an official condemnation of the assassination by the city council:

What you really pretend is to keep murdering so that, in this way, we may become frightened, and by murdering I don't mean exclusively the act of pulling the trigger, but to incite or to support the act of murdering itself. They [the members of HB as well as ETA] want us to get scared and leave but they will not succeed... There are only two sides: that of the democrats, and that of the terrorists and their supporters. Make up your mind and decide which one are you on. [4]

A local judged dismissed the lawsuit. Only a few months later, after a trip with the local government to Yamaguchi, Japan, ETA members assassinated him.

Murder and public reaction

On May 6, 1998 Tomás Caballero was assassinated by ETA members at the doorstep of his house as he was getting ready to leave home for work. [5] At the time of his death, Tomás Caballero was married, and had five children and eight grandchildren. His funeral and burial became a massive show of support towards all victims of terrorism. The fact that Tomás had led a life dedicated to the protection of the rights of workers and the promotion of a more plural, diverse, and democratic Navarre and Spain. Unlike with previous assassinations, members of socialist-secessionist movements in the Basque Country and Navarre such as J. Antonio López Cristóbal, Patxi Zabaleta or Miguel Ángel Muez publicly and unequivocally condemned his assassination and called for ETA to disband.

"All ideas may be freely expressed and defended through free speech and reasoning. They [ETA members and supporters] wish that we shut up and leave but they will not succeed. It is necessary that all democrats close ranks and face these murderers and those who provide them with support. We will not allow that terror and murder become an accepted way of forcing ideas upon the overwhelming majority of our people." [6]


These are some of the quotes that define Tomás Caballero's democratic values:

"Freedom and social justice cannot be defended with reasons that stem from power but with the power of reason." [7]

"Those who believe that values and ideas can be murdered are wrong." [8]

"Human rights are my daily catechism." [9]

"One must work hard and work a lot if one is to be able to help others." [10]

Further reading

Arbeloa, Víctor Manuel y Fuente Langas, Jesús María. Vida y asesinato de Tomás Caballero: 50 años de lucha democrática en Navarra. Oviedo: Nobel, 2006. 1ª, XXV, 901 pp.

See also

Related Research Articles

ETA (separatist group) former armed Basque terrorist group (1959-2010)

ETA, an acronym for Euskadi Ta Askatasuna, was an armed leftist Basque nationalist and separatist organization in the Basque Country. The group was founded in 1959 and later evolved from a group promoting traditional Basque culture to a paramilitary group engaged in a violent campaign of bombing, assassinations and kidnappings in the Southern Basque Country and throughout Spanish territory. Its goal was gaining independence for the Basque Country. ETA was the main group within the Basque National Liberation Movement and was the most important Basque participant in the Basque conflict.

Navarre Autonomous community and province of Spain

Navarre, officially the Chartered Community of Navarre, is an autonomous community and province in northern Spain, bordering the Basque Autonomous Community, La Rioja, and Aragon in Spain and Nouvelle-Aquitaine in France. The capital city is Pamplona.

Batasuna was a Basque nationalist political party. Based mainly in Spain, it was banned in 2003, after a court ruling declared proven that the party was financing ETA with public money.

Basque nationalism nationalist movement

Basque nationalism is a form of nationalism that asserts that Basques, an ethnic group indigenous to the western Pyrenees, are a nation, and promotes the political unity of the Basques, today scattered between Spain and France. Since its inception in the late 19th century, Basque nationalism has included separatist movements.

Herri Batasuna defunct far-left Basque nationalist political party in Spain

Herri Batasuna was a far-left Basque nationalist coalition in Spain. It was founded in 1978 and defined itself as abertzale, left-wing, socialist, and supported the independence of the Greater Basque Country. It was refounded as Batasuna in 2001 and subsequently outlawed by the Spanish Supreme Court for being considered the political wing of the terrorist Euskadi Ta Askatasuna (ETA).

Basque Country (greater region) Cultural and historic land of the Basque people

The Basque Country is the name given to the home of the Basque people. The Basque country is located in the western Pyrenees, straddling the border between France and Spain on the coast of the Bay of Biscay. Euskal Herria is the oldest documented Basque name for the area they inhabit, dating from the 16th century.

Abertzale is a Basque term usually referring to people or political groups who are associated with Basque nationalism.

Arnaldo Otegi Basque pro-independence politician

Arnaldo Otegi Mondragón is a Basque politician from the Basque Autonomous Community in Spain, who is currently General Secretary of Basque nationalist party EH Bildu. He was member of the Basque Parliament for both Herri Batasuna and Euskal Herritarrok. These two parties and Batasuna were banned in 2003 for having links to ETA which was proscribed as a terrorist group. He was one of the key negotiators during the unsuccessful peace talks in Loiola and Geneva, in 2006.

The Batallón Vasco Español (BVE) was a Spanish neo-fascist paramilitary organisation active from 1975 to 1981, primarily in the French Basque Country and the Basque Autonomous Community. The BVE employed violence mainly against Basque nationalist groups. With the change of government in Madrid, from the centre-right Union of the Democratic Centre (UCD) to the centre-left Spanish Socialist Workers' Party (PSOE) in 1982, the BVE vanished but a similar group, the Grupos Antiterroristas de Liberación (GAL) took its place.

Batzarre political party

Batzarre is a political party in Navarre, Spain. It has a branch in the Basque Autonomous Community known as Zutik. It bids to win the political space to the left of the Basque nationalists and the Spanish socialists, the latter eroded for their long-running collusion with the conservative UPN government. It formed on 29 January 2011 the coalition Izquierda-Ezkerra along with Izquierda Unida de Navarra (IUN) and local Socialist figures disillusioned with the party's regional alliances.

The Basque National Liberation Movement was an umbrella term that comprised all social, political and armed organizations orbiting around the ideas of the illegal armed organisation Euskadi Ta Askatasuna (ETA), proscribed internationally as a terrorist organisation.

Basque Nationalist Action political party

Basque Nationalist Action is a Basque nationalist party based in Spain. Founded in 1930, it was the first Basque nationalist political party to exist running on a socialist program. On 16 September 2008, the party was outlawed by the Spanish Supreme Court based on ties with ETA. The Spanish ruling was appealed to the European Court of Human Rights, which, after reviewing the question, upheld the Spanish courts on the matter.

Aralar (Basque political party) political party in Spain

Aralar was a Basque socialist and separatist political party in Spain. It was opposed to the violent struggle of ETA.

Basque conflict 1959–2011 armed and political conflict between Spain and Basque separatists

The Basque conflict, also known as the Spain–ETA conflict, was an armed and political conflict from 1959 to 2011 between Spain and the Basque National Liberation Movement, a group of social and political Basque organizations which sought independence from Spain and France. The movement was built around the separatist organization ETA, which had launched a campaign of attacks against Spanish administrations since 1959. ETA had been proscribed as a terrorist organization by the Spanish, British, French and American authorities at different moments. The conflict took place mostly on Spanish soil, although to a smaller degree it was also present in France, which was primarily used as a safe haven by ETA members. It was the longest running violent conflict in modern Western Europe. It has been sometimes referred to as "Europe's longest war".

EH Bildu Basque nationalist coalition from the Basque Autonomous Community and Navarre in Spain

EH Bildu, short for Euskal Herria Bildu is a leftist, Basque nationalist, pro-independence political coalition active in the Spanish autonomous communities of Basque Country and Navarre.

Navarrese Left Union, better known by its acronym UNAI was an electoral coalition formed in 1977 to present a list in the first democratic elections in Spain since 1936 in the constituency of Navarre. UNAI was the sister coalition of Euskadiko Ezkerra, that presented lists in Gipuzkoa, Araba and Bizkaia.

The Grupos Armados Españoles (GAE) was a Spanish neo-fascist paramilitary organisation active from 1979 to 1980, primarily in the Basque Country. A report by the Office for Victims of Terrorism of the Basque Government in June 2010 attributed 6 murders to the group, and linked it to the National Police Corps, SECED and the Civil Guard.

Eusko Sozialistak

Eusko Sozialistak was a Basque socialist political party, with presence in the Spanish Basque Country. The leaders of ES were Javier Alonso and Mikel Salaberri.

Pernando Barrena Spanish politician

Joxe Pernando Barrena Arza is a Basque politician, former member of the Parliament of Navarre and a member of the European Parliament for Spain.

9th Parliament of Navarre

The 9th Parliament of Navarre was a meeting of the Parliament of Navarre, the regional legislature of Navarre, with the membership determined by the results of the regional election held on 24 May 2015. The parliament met for the first time on 17 June 2015.


  1. País, Ediciones El (1998-05-07). "ETA asesina en Pamplona a un edil de UPN". El País (in Spanish). ISSN   1134-6582 . Retrieved 2019-11-11.
  2. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2008-07-23. Retrieved 2010-02-15.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  3. "Memoria de vida". Retrieved 2019-11-11.
  4. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2008-07-23. Retrieved 2010-02-15.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  5. "Tomás Caballero Pastor : Mapa del terror" . Retrieved 2019-11-11.
  6. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2008-08-28. Retrieved 2010-02-15.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  7. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2008-10-15. Retrieved 2010-02-15.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  8. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2008-10-15. Retrieved 2010-02-15.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  9. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2008-10-15. Retrieved 2010-02-15.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  10. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2008-10-15. Retrieved 2010-02-15.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)