On 3 March 1976, in the Basque Country, one of its cities, Vitoria-Gasteiz, suffered the biggest aggression against the working class in its history. Five workers were killed and more than a hundred wounded, most of them shot, as a result of shots fired by the Spanish armed police when they cleared out a church, previously gassed, in which an assembly of striking workers was being held.

In an era lacking in freedoms, in which there were no rights to strike, demonstrate, assemble, etc. and under a harsh dictatorial regime (Franco had died a few months earlier), a strike movement was developing in Vitoria-Gasteiz, widely supported by several companies, on the basis of purely social and labour demands.

Policías esperando a cargar en la asamblea


The Assembly

After two long months of strike action and two days of general strike action, a total strike was called for 3 March. This strike was supported by practically all the workers, both from the companies in struggle and others who supported it in solidarity, as well as commerce, services, students, housewives and the general public. From early in the morning, the police intervened harshly in the face of any hint of concerted action or demonstration, even going so far as to fire live ammunition, resulting in the first bullet wounds.

A general information meeting was called for 5 p.m. in the church of San Francisco de Asís in the Zaramaga neighbourhood, the place where the meetings of the representative committees of the companies in struggle were usually held, to report on the latest developments.

Obreros a las puertas de la iglesia


The police “deliberately” let the church fill up with about five thousand people, while a similar number remained outside, and then ordered the church to be cleared. The crowd gathered there, fearing that they would be beaten and assaulted on their way out, refused to leave the church. It should be stressed that the churches were protected by the Concordat, which meant that the Armed Forces could not act or enter them, unless urgently needed.

In order to proceed with the eviction, the police attacked and assaulted the church with tear gas and riot control equipment, so that, panicked and suffocated, those gathered there began to flee, at which point the police proceeded to beat and shoot indiscriminately both at those who were trying to escape and at those who from the outside were attracting their attention in order to clear the way for those who were leaving the inferno.

Impactos de bala en los portales cercanos



The result, five workers killed and about a hundred injured, many of them seriously. They themselves (the police) congratulated themselves for having fired more than a thousand shots, for having produced a massacre and for having contributed to the worst beating in history. The existing recordings , were collected through the FM frequency of the police channel and are currently preserved.

At first, as a result of the hospital reports sent to the court for being the people treated, both deceased and injured, as a result of shots and attacks, preliminary proceedings were opened. The open summaries, after several tours of various courts and tribunals, finally ended up in the military jurisdiction, which, even recognizing that the facts considered, were in principle constituting crimes of homicide, issued a dismissal order for not having sufficient reasons to accuse certain people of them. Subsequent claims to the State for civil liability, made by some affected, were also not addressed.

La palabra Justicia escrita con la sangre de uno de los asesinados