“11M”: the documentary that covers the tremendous events that occurred on March 11, 2004 in Madrid. (Netflix)
193 dead. Four cars hit by ten bombs that exploded on March 11, 2004 at the Atocha railway station from where different trains departed in Madrid, Spain. The memory of 9/11 (the attack on the World Trade Center from New Yorkwhen the Twin Towers collapsed) came to everyone’s mind and the horror was felt raw.
The documentary of Netflix ,11 M (based on the book 11 M. Al Qaeda’s revengean investigation of Ferdinand Reinares) runs through testimonies of survivors, relatives of victims, journalists and politicians, everything that happened that day. But he also delves into the previous issues, how this attack was conceived and what the days after were like.
“In Spain we felt permanently threatened by local terrorism. It was ETA terrorism”, he says in the documentary Jose Zarzalejos, director of ABC Newspaper between 1999 and 2004. It is that ETA (acronym for Euskadi Ta Askatasuna) was a terrorist group that began to act at the end of the 1960s with the aim of achieving the independence of the Basque Country from Spain. As a result of their terrorist attacks, there were 800 people who lost their lives throughout all those years. Fifteen days before the attack, some ETA members had been captured with explosives in a van on the way to Madrid. That is why at first they were thought of.
The 11M attack was on a Thursday prior to an election Sunday in which they faced Mariano Rajoy by the PP (Popular Party) and Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero by the PSOE (Socialist Party). The Prime Minister at the time was Jose Maria Aznar, a member of the same political party as Rajoy. The government contacted all the major newspapers in Spain (The World, The Country, ABC, La Vanguardia) and reported that the person responsible for the attack was ETA. The cards were drawn and political plays were the order of the day. Thus, the attack had become politicized and public opinion began to change its view of what happened.
But had it been ETA? Immediately stronger versions began to circulate about the responsibility for the participation of the jihadist groups. The ETA track was falling until it disappeared. According to specialists consulted for this documentary, ETA did not act in that way nor did it have the expansive capacity at that time to mount an attack like this. The occupation of Spain in the war in Iraq in support of George Bush (who had also been joined by the British Prime Minister, Tony Blair) was a fact that Al Queda was not going to let go.
The documentary 11 M travels on various paths. On the one hand, the political issue, the post-attack confrontation, the mistake of having blamed ETA and others. On the other hand, the role of journalism also appears and how it was uploaded to the version issued by the government. And, perhaps, the most heartbreaking of all, is the path of the survivors and that of the relatives of the victims. There is recorded between tears and heartbreaking stories, the horror of innocent people who were about to go to work one day like any other, but who were marked forever.
11 M It invites us to remember the horror experienced and also works as a tribute to the 193 victims and those who survived, but lived through the most traumatic experience of their lives.