Murder of environmentalist Gladys Del Estal: reward as punishment?

  • Environmentalist Gladys Del Estal was killed by a member of the Civil Guard at an anti-nuclear festival in 1979. The officer was sentenced to 18 months in prison, but shortly afterwards before serving his sentence he was awarded a medal. Del Estal has become a symbol of environmentalism, and her death an example of impunity.

2019ko apirilaren 05a - 15:11
A Civil Guard officer killed her forty years ago in Tutera (Navarre, Basque Country) by shooting her in the head at a peaceful anti-nuclear festival. (Photo: Kutxa fototeka)
Zarata mediatikoz beteriko garai nahasiotan, merkatu logiketatik urrun eta irakurleengandik gertu dagoen kazetaritza beharrezkoa dela uste baduzu, ARGIA bultzatzera animatu nahi zaitugu. Geroz eta gehiago gara, jarrai dezagun txikitik eragiten.

Gladys Del Estal, the activist from Donostia-San Sebastian, was shot in the head by Civil Guard Officer José Martínez-Salas on June 3, 1979, in Tutera (Navarre, Basque Country), while she was taking part in a peaceful anti-nuclear festival. The judge handed down a minimum sentence of 18 months, (which was confirmed by the Spanish Supreme Court in 1984), but it is not clear whether he has served a single day of it.

ARGIA magazine has found out that barely two months after appearing in court he received a medal from from the Spanish Government. This fact came to light as a result of research by the journalist Urko Apaolaza. Martínez-Salas was awarded the Civil Guard's White Cross of Merit on February 15, 1982. His name appeared in the Official Spanish Gazette in a resolution signed by the Deputy Interior Minister.

It was already known that Gladys Del Estal's killer had been awarded another military medal in 1992. And the then Spanish Interior Minister himself Jose Luís Corcuera justified the decision in the Lower House of the Spanish parliament, saying that the officer had completed his sentence and was entitled to receive  the award.

The medal, which has now been revealed, has surprised historians and lawyers, and turns the Spanish Government's arguments on their head, because the killer was given the award without having served his sentence; it would also have to be clarified whether it is legitimate.



Gladys Del Estal dead on the ground.



As Apaolaza says in his work, the legitimacy of awarding such medals is in doubt, even more so after reading the conditions attached to the White Cross. They are based on a 1976 Franco regime law, stipulating that Civil Guard officers have to show "exceptional professional and personal qualities" and have "model behaviour" to be awarded it.

Forty years have gone by since the death of the activist Gladys Del Estal. And ceremonies and tributes in her memory have already started to be held throughout the Basque Country.


This article was translated by 11itzulpen; you can see the original in Basque here.

English kanaletik interesatuko zaizu...
2023-01-18 | ARGIA
ARGIA: Worker-Owned Basque centenary Media
Independent journalism with solidarity-based subscription model

ARGIA is a news media funded in 1919 in Pamplona and published in Basque language. At first religious – called Zeruko Argia, "light of heaven” –, forbidden during the fascist dictatorship in Spain from 1936 on, in the 1950s and 1960s it had managed to come... [+]

2020-02-07 | Paul Iano
The future of the Basque economy: labor power or tech parasites

In this series of articles, it should now have become clear that venture capital has created a system in which two types of companies become global giants: companies with bad business models but good marketing, or good business models and horrible impacts on society. This... [+]

2020-01-29 | Paul Iano
The Coming Tech Economy
The creative destruction of peer to peer

One of the confusing aspects of the tech industry is that from a distance all the companies can seem the same. They use apps, have similar design styles, are based in hip urban centers, and strangely have millions of dollars without making any money. In part, this series is... [+]

2020-01-16 | Paul Iano
The reason Telepizza won't pay minimum wage: Undercover again

After publishing Glovolizacion, a three-month undercover investigation into the working conditions of Glovo riders, I received almost entirely positive feedback from the general public and riders alike. Most riders felt ignored and exploited, and most readers were interested in... [+]

2019-07-21 | Paul Iano
Who is Glovo?

This is the third in a four-part investigative series examining Glovo’s business model and its relationship with the world it operates. Based on public statements by Glovo’s founders, this article will contextualize their world-view and the changes they hope to... [+]

Eguneraketa berriak daude