Operation Ogre – the assassination of Carrero Blanco
A dictionary of Spanish history and culture
Operación Ogro (Operation Ogre) was the name given by ETA to the assassination of Luis Carrero Blanco on 20th December 1973. Carrero had been Prime Minister of Spain for six months and was earmarked to succeed the ailing dictator. For many, and not just among the opposition, it spelled the beginning of the end of the Franco regime.
The group secretly placed the bomb in a under the path off his car in the centre of Madrid. Carrero was returning from mass in an armored Dodge Dart. The charge was so powerful that the limousine was blown over a five-storey building, leading the opposition to nickname him Spain’s first astronaut.
The crater made by the bomb:
In their manifesto, justifying the assassination, ETA wrote:
“The execution in itself had an order and some clear objectives. From the beginning of 1951 Carrero Blanco practically occupied the government headquarters in the regime. Carrero Blanco symbolized better than anyone else the figure of “pure Francoism” and without totally linking himself to any of the Francoist tendencies, he covertly attempted to push Opus Dei into power. A man without scruples conscientiously mounted his own State within the State: he created a network of informers within the Ministries, in the Army, in the Falange, and also in Opus Dei. His police managed to put themselves into all the Francoist apparatus. Thus he made himself the key element of the system and a fundamental piece of the oligarchy’s political game. On the other hand, he came to be irreplaceable for his experience and capacity to maneuver and because nobody managed as he did to maintain the internal equilibrium of Francoism”.
Julen Agirre, Operation Ogro: The Execution of Admiral Luis Carrero Blanco
ETA claimed the assassination was in retaliation for the execution of five political opponents by the regime (including some members of ETA). It was applauded by many opponents of the Franco regime, something which today many probably keep quiet about. Carrero Blanco could have become the most powerful figure in Spain when Franco died, and his death was seen as the beginning of the end of the Franco regime.
However, there were also criticisms among the opposition too. The main opposition parties including the Communist Party condemned the attack, in part because they were against terrorism as a tactic and in part because they feared a “a night of the long knives” committed by Falangist extremists. According to imprisoned union leader Marcelino Camacho, prison wardens promised they would protect the prisoners “over their dead bodies”. Meanwhile, in Paris Communist leader Santiago Carrillo received his first ever phone call from “Madrid”. A general assured him that no backlash would take place (which it did not). Carrillo states that on that day he realised that something was changing. One terrible price was however paid by Salvador Puig Antic who was executed by garrotte probably to satisfy the more vengeful elements in the Franco regime (including the Franco himself).
Note. Here, journalist Manuel Campo Vidal (mp3) speaks of how a huge opposition rally had to be called off after the assassination. Showman Javier Gurruchaga has another take on things (mp3)
From the excellent Vespito.net
The incident was made into a film in 1979.
Here’s an extract showing the moments leading up to the blast
1973: Spanish prime minister assassinated
The Spanish Prime Minister, Admiral Luis Carrero Blanco, has been killed in a car bomb attack in Madrid. BBC account of Luis Carrero Blanco assassination
- Operación Ogro (Wikipedia) including 1978 reprisal assassination of Argala