Terra Lliure

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Terra Lliure graffiti

Terra Lliure (Eastern Catalan: [ˈtɛrə ˈʎiwɾə], Western Catalan: [ˈtɛra ˈʎiwɾe] "Free Land"), sometimes referred to as TLL, was an armed Catalan nationalist and left-wing separatist organisation. Formed in 1978, with the goal of establishing an independent Marxist state in the Catalan Countries, the group carried out dozens of attacks that left many people injured and one person dead.[1]

Terra Lliure, which was proscribed as a terrorist organization by the Spanish authorities,[2] became known to public with a manifest in a mass meeting at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona in 1981. An important police raid in 1991 and the renunciation of violence by some of the group members led to the dissolution of Terra Lliure in 1995. After disbanding, many members joined the political party Republican Left of Catalonia.[3]


After Francisco Franco's death in 1975, Spain began its transition to democracy. Under Franco's rule the Catalan language had been banned, the culture suppressed, institutions abolished and people imprisoned for their political beliefs. In 1977, the president of Catalonia in exile went back to Catalonia and the Generalitat of Catalonia was restored. Following the approval of the Spanish constitution in 1978, a Statute of Autonomy was promulgated and approved in referendum. Catalonia was organized as an Autonomous Community.

Not satisfied with that level of autonomy, some organizations started to demand the full independence of Catalonia. The demand for an independent Catalonia had been present since the beginning of the 20th century but after the end of the dictatorship, it gained more support among the Catalan society. This would lead to some people to use violence to achieve that goal.



Mural in Sabadell honouring Martí Marcó, killed in a police shootout

Most of Terra Lliure's original members converged into the group around 1980, arriving from other armed organizations such as the Popular Catalan Army (EPOCA), the Catalan Liberation Front (FAC) or political organizations such as the Socialist Party of National Liberation (PSAN) and Catalan Countries' Independentists.[4] In 1979, Terra Lliure started its armed activities and two of its members died that year, one in a shootout with Civil Guard members and another one blew up himself.[5]

In May 1981, Terra Lliure kidnapped journalist Federico Jiménez Losantos, shot him in the leg and set him free. He was targeted due to signing and promoting a manifesto commenting on the Catalan nationalist menace to Spanish language in Catalonia.[6] In June, the group published its first statement, called Free Land Calling, in a mass meeting at the Camp Nou stadium.

In 1982, Terra Lliure held its first assembly, while it continued its armed campaign against Spanish and French interests, bank offices and other administrations. A second assembly was held in 1984 and the group started publishing official statements and claimed actions that they carried out through the Alerta magazine.[7] In 1985 and 1985, two more members died while carrying explosive devices.[8][9]

Between 1984 and 1989 some of Terra Lliure's leaders were arrested, nevertheless the group maintained its structure and capacities and a parallel political movement was developing, the Solidarity Committee with the Catalan Patriots (CSPC) and the Movement for the Defense of the Land (MDT).[2] In 1987, the group committed its only killing, with a bomb attack in Les Borges Blanques, Lleida. Terra Lliure admitted the killing was an error. The group also committed several attacks, mainly against American interests, together with the Catalan Red Liberation Army.[10] In 1988, Terra Lliure held its third assembly and developed three documents to describe the theoretical framework and analyze the social reality of the Catalan National Liberation Movement.


In July 1991, Terra Lliure announced it was declaring a ceasefire and that some of its members would start joining Republican Left of Catalonia.[3] Despite that, some cells kept carrying out attacks, especially due to the proximity to the Olympic Games in Barcelona in 1992. Also in 1991, a former member of Terra Lliure, who had joined ETA, was killed in a police raid after a bomb attack in Vic, Barcelona.[11][12]

In July 1992, under an order of judge Baltasar Garzón, police arrested around 40 of members of the group. Years later, the European Court of Human Rights ordered the Spanish government to compensate some of the arrested people for failing to investigate allegations of torture during the raid.[13] The following years, the group did not commit any attack and announced its dissolution on the 1995 National Day of Catalonia.




  • July 25: first attacks claimed by Terra Lliure, with two bomb explosions in Fecsa-Endesa offices in Barcelona and Calella.
  • September 10: two bomb attacks target the Provincial Education Delegation and the ENHER offices building at the Gràcia district of Barcelona.


  • January 2: bomb attacks against Fecsa-Endesa offices in Barcelona and Lleida and against an electricity pylon in Prat de Llobregat.
  • April 12: bomb attacks against FECSA office in Terrassa and against a Pirelli factory in Vilanova i la Geltrú.
  • May 21: Jiménez Losantos is kidnapped in Santa Coloma de Gramanet. After a few hours, he is released with a shot in the leg as a reprisal for his activities against the public use of Catalan language.
  • May 30: bomb attack against a transmission station of the Spanish TV in Montserrat, the night before Fuerzas Armadas (Spanish army) day.
  • June 24: bomb attacks against FECSA offices in Girona, Salou and Reus. Bomb attack against an electric transformer station.
  • September 9: bomb attacks against the Spanish treasury's office and the Spanish state labour office in Barcelona, the Spanish treasury's in Tarragona and the Spanish state delegations in València and Alacant.
  • October 9: bomb attack against an excavator property of Exmop SA at Pedraforca mountain. Bomb attacks against the Spanish education ministry office and the Spanish courts at València.
  • October 29: bomb attacks against the provincial government office in Lleida and against Montepio Laboral savings bank and the Spanish courts in Barcelona.
  • November 9: bomb attack against Guardia Civil barracks in Terrassa.


  • January 23: bomb attacks against FECSA premises in Cornellà and Sant Cugat del Vallès.
  • February 25: bomb attack against Guardia Civil barracks at Alcover.
  • May 1: bomb attack against the Spanish state labour office in Girona.
  • May 22: bomb attack against Guardia Civil barracks in Vallvidrera which results in two wounded Guardia Civil agents.
  • May 30: bomb attack against Spanish employment service offices in Sant Feliu de Llobregat.
  • July: bomb attacks against ENHER and FECSA offices at Barcelona and Mollet del Vallès.
  • September 2: bomb attack against ICONA offices in Barcelona.


  • April 20: bomb attack against Guardia Civil barracks at Sitges.
  • September 2: bomb attack against FECSA offices located in the Sants district of Barcelona.
  • September 7: mortar attacks against Guardia Civil barracks in Martorell and against a Spanish police station in Barcelona.
  • November 8: mortar attacks against the Spanish state delegation offices and against a Spanish police station in Barcelona. The station, in Casarmona, was the same one as in the previous month's attack.
  • November 12: bomb attack against the central Spanish courts in València.
  • November 15: bomb attacks against two separate offices belonging to Hidroeléctrica Española in València.
  • December 2: bomb attack against a FECSA office in the Sarrià district of Barcelona.


  • January 20: bomb attacks against two separate Spanish treasury offices in Barcelona.
  • January 21: bomb attack against a Spanish police station in the Gràcia district of Barcelona.
  • February 10: bomb attack against a FECSA offce in the Sant Andreu district of Barcelona.
  • March 2: bomb attack against a Spanish police station near Barcelona's port. A patrol car and a police bus are destroyed as a result.
  • April 20: bomb attack against a command office of the Spanish Navy in Castelldefels. The building is virtually destroyed by the blast.
  • May 9: bomb attack against a Spanish state employment office in València.
  • May 12: bomb attacks against El Jardín and Primar bars in Barcelona. Both were involved in heroin trafficking. Another bomb attack against the courts of Barcelona.
  • May 13: shrapnel bomb attack against an office belonging to Hidroeléctrica Española in Sueca.
  • May 21: parcel bomb against Pedro J. Lapeña, an extreme-right professor at Valencia University.
  • May 30: bomb attack against a tax collection office in València.
  • June 15: bomb attack against FECSA offices in the Sants district of Barcelona.
  • June 26: bomb attacks against the Spanish public works ministry's offices in València.
  • June 27: bomb attack against Spanish state employment offices in València.
  • July 1: a bomb targeting ENHER offices in Barcelona is defused by the police.
  • July 10: coordinated bomb attacks against FECSA offices in Sabadell, Molins de Rei, Terrassa, Sant Cugat del Valles, Martorell and Rubí. Another bomb attack hits offices belonging to Constructora Pirenaica SA in Barcelona.
  • July 16: bomb attacks against Hidroeléctrica Española premises and against Spanish state employment offices in Torrent and against the Spanish labour ministry's offices in Barcelona.
  • July 18: bomb attacks against Spanish state empolyment offices in Quart de Poblet and against Spanish Navy premises in Tortosa.
  • July 20: Terra Lliure member Josep Antoni Villaescusa dies in Alzira after the premature explosion of the bomb he was about to plant in Spanish state employment offices.
  • September 8: mortar attacks against Spanish state offices and a Spanish police station in Barcelona. This second attack fails. Another bomb attack targets Guardia Civil barracks in Santa Bàrbara.
  • November 2: bomb attacks against two Spanish state employment offices in Barcelona.
  • November 28: bomb attack against Guardia Civil barracks in Perelló.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "TV3 s'atreveix amb la història de Terra Lliure". ee-noticies.com (in Catalan). 2007. Retrieved 2010-10-23. 
  2. ^ a b "La escalada del independentismo callan ha propiciado la escalada de violencia protagonizada por Terra Lliure". elpais.com (in Spanish). April 17, 1988. Retrieved 2010-10-23. 
  3. ^ a b "Terra Lliure renuncia a la violencia y anuncia que sus militantes ingresarán en Esquerra Republicana". elpais.com (in Spanish). July 6, 1991. Retrieved 2010-10-23. 
  4. ^ "EPOCA: l’exèrcit a l’ombra". llibertat.cat (in Catalan). May 15, 2010. Retrieved 2010-10-23. 
  5. ^ "Vic acoge un homenaje a Terra Lliure tras el de las víctimas de ETA". elmundo.es (in Spanish). June 13, 2009. Retrieved 2010-10-23. 
  6. ^ "Solicitan 86 años para los militantes de Terra Lliure que dispararon contra Jiménez Losantos". elpais.com (in Spanish). July 7, 1983. Retrieved 2010-10-23. 
  7. ^ "1984 Aparició del núm. 1 del butlletí Alerta, portaveu de Terra Lliure". llibertat.cat (in Catalan). 1984. Retrieved 2010-10-23. 
  8. ^ "22è Aniversari de la mort de Quim Sànchez". llibertat.cat (in Catalan). December 15, 2007. Retrieved 2010-10-23. 
  9. ^ "25è Aniversari de la mort de Toni Villaescusa". llibertat.cat (in Catalan). July 19, 2009. Retrieved 2010-10-23. 
  10. ^ "American Sailor Dies in Barcelona After U.S.O. Blast That Hurt 10". nytimes.com. December 28, 1987. Retrieved 2010-10-23. 
  11. ^ "Los terroristas fueron descubiertos al cometer una cadena de 'errores de aprendiz'". elpais.com (in Spanish). June 1, 1991. Retrieved 2010-10-23. 
  12. ^ "Los principales dirigentes históricos de Terra Lliure han abandonado la organización terrorista". elpais.com (in Spanish). November 19, 1985. Retrieved 2010-10-23. 
  13. ^ "Garzón, un jutge contra les cordes". elpunt.cat (in Catalan). February 11, 2010. Retrieved 2010-10-23. 

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