“Was that torture? Can one speak of torture?” asked the interviewer, followed by the answer “obviously.” Manuel Pastrana, a former Spanish civil guard, said as he admitted they tortured ETA members as a systematic measure to obtain information and dismantle the now dismantled group.
“The war against ETA was harsh, bloody and many times dirty. Somebody had to do it. Among the 75,000 civil guards, it was up to me,” said Manuel Pastrana in an interview with the Catalan channel TV3's Preguntes Frequents (FAQ). Pastrana was an undercover agent and worked within ETA for two years.
When he was asked if it was usual to beat prisoners to get information, he said “you wouldn't invite a cup of coffee to a prisoner. You must get it no matter how.”
The Civil Guard's second lieutenant justified the torture and said the prisoners were not treated as severely as in France, for example, where he says prisoners weren't treated like humans. “They've been treated pretty well in Spain,” he said.
And regarding ETA members, his specialty, Pastrana said they were, “as a general rule, weak.”
“There were many smart ones among the Etarras [disrespectful term for ETA members], but there were also others very easy. As soon as you touched them they would sing,” he said.
The former Civil Guard thinks they did the right thing. As evidence of this, he says, the ETA is now gone. He also says it was the Civil Guard that erased ETA from the map and not the politicians taking the credit for it.
In a recent autobiography written along with the journalist Joaquin Vidal, Pastrana also admitted the Spanish Antiterrorist Groups of Liberation (GAL) were an organization of international mercenaries group tasked with combatting ETA, and that their origin dates even before the rule of Felipe Gonzalez.
The pro-Basque independence group ETA announced its formal dissolution in May 2018 after years of de facto demobilization.
"ETA has decided to declare its historical cycle and functions terminated, putting an end to its journey... ETA has completely dissolved all of its structures and declared an end to its political initiative,” they wrote in a letter published in El Diaro.