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José Antonio Ortega Lara in 2014

José Antonio Ortega Lara (born 1958 Montuenga, parish of Madrigalejo del Monte, Burgos) is a former Spanish prison officer who was kidnapped by the separatist organization ETA for 532 days between 1996 and 1997. He was a member of the People's Party between 1987 and 2008. He currently lives in Burgos. On January 16, 2014 he presented, as a member of the Provisional Executive Committee, a new political party called Vox along with other former members of the People's Party.[1]

KidnappingEdit

On January 17, 1996 José Antonio Ortega Lara was kidnapped in the garage of his home in Burgos when he was returning from his work in the prison of Logroño. Days later, ETA said they were responsible for the kidnapping and demanded the transfer of ETA prisoners to Basque prisons in exchange for his release.[2]

The conditions of his kidnapping were painful: the dungeon in which he was kept was very wet (it was a few meters from the river Deva), there were no windows and it measured 3 meters long by 2.5 wide and 1.8 m high inside. Ortega Lara could only take three steps on it. He had a small light bulb and he was only fed with fruits and vegetables. He could not leave the cabin and made his physiological needs at a urinal, on which he also received the water to wash himself. At the time of his rescue by Spanish police, Ortega Lara had lost 23 kilos, muscle mass and bone density. He suffered from sleep disorders, post-traumatic stress, anxiety and depression.[3][4]

In October 2005 ETA leaders Julian Achurra Egurola ("Pototo") and José Luis Aguirre Lete ("Isuntza") were put on trial for being the organizers of the kidnapping. According to the sentence, Erostegui José Luis Javier Ugarte, Josu Uribetxeberria Bolinaga and José Miguel Gaztelu Ochandorena were asked by "Pototo" to seek information for selecting a victim to kidnapping. They also ordered the preparation and maintenance of a hovel where they had to hold the victim, so they built an enclosure of 3.5 square meters in Mondragon.

After the kidnappingEdit

On the recommendation of doctors and his family, José Antonio Ortega Lara took early retirement in 1997, one of the options offered to him by the Ministry of the Interior, as a victim of terrorism.

In the municipal elections of 2003, Ortega Lara agreed to be one of the candidates on the list of People's Party (which he had been a member of since 1987) in the campaign for mayor of Burgos, led by Juan Carlos Aparicio, in solidarity with the Basque councilors threatened by ETA.[5] His presence was symbolic (he was in the penultimate position of the candidature) so he was not elected.

In 2007, in his first interview after his abduction, in the TV program hosted by Fernando Sánchez Drago on Telemadrid he declared himself completely against the negotiation process undertaken by the government of José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero with ETA (see ETA's 2006 ceasefire declaration)[6] During the crisis of the People's Party after the general election of 2008, on May 22, he announced his resignation from the party due to ideological differences.[7]

New political partyEdit

In January 2014 the launch of a new right-wing[8] party, Vox was announced. Ortega Lara founded the party together with (among others) Santiago Abascal Conde, José Luis González Quirós and Ignacio Camuñas, creating an alternative to the People's Party. In 2018, Vox had a surprisingly strong showing in the Andalusian elections and received 11% of the votes,[9] as well as 24 deputies in the 2019 general election.[10]

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ http://www.diariocritico.com/nacional/ortega-lara/ignacio-camunas/vox-/jose-luis-gonzalez-quiros/449117
  2. ^ Amnesty International calls on ETA to release Jose Antonio Ortega Lara[permanent dead link]
  3. ^ Las huellas del secuestro más duro de la historia de España. Sobrevivir al infierno Ortega Lara necesitará algo más que apoyo psicológico para recuperarse de su largo cautiverio, piece of news of El Mundo, July 3, 1997.
  4. ^ El 'zulo' de Ortega Lara, piece of news of El País, 8 July 1997.
  5. ^ Ortega Lara se integra en la lista del PP por «solidaridad» con los amenazados[permanent dead link], piece of news of ABC, 3 May 2003.
  6. ^ Ortega Lara: "Estoy radicalmente en contra de cualquier negociación", piece of news of El País, January 29, 2007.
  7. ^ Ortega Lara abandona el PP Archived 2009-02-07 at the Wayback Machine
  8. ^ Ortega Lara y Santiago Abascal fundan un partido a la derecha del PP, El Diario, January 14, 2014.
  9. ^ "Spain stunned as far-right Vox party storms into Andalucian parliament". Independent. Retrieved 5 December 2018.
  10. ^ Vox enters Congress for the first time but falls short of expectations in elpais.com