Ilivetolearn's Blog

February 25, 2006

more about the coup

Filed under: Spain — ilivetolearn @ 5:49 pm

All week the newspapers ran articles about the failed coup and its effects. Everyone agrees that it greatly strengthened democracy in Spain, though Congress had to debate the role played by King Juan Carlos before it passed a declaration marking the anniversary. Paradoxically, it was the unquestioning loyalty of most of the top military to the king (since he had been appointed by Franco as his successor), as well as his diplomatic efforts during the event—he made a speech to the nation at 1 AM calling for peaceful resolution–that helped quell the revolt. A survivor of the 18-hour hostage-taking in Congress made a speech yesterday lauding the king’s actions during the crisis, and was heckled by neo-fascists.

Most survivors describe a scene in which everyone assumed there would be a bloodbath. Prominent leftists were led out of the chamber at gunpoint, and they were assumed to be on their way to their deaths. Others wrote farewell notes to their families and passed them to colleagues whose politics were thought not to put them in danger. All over the country there were lines at gas stations as people who feared a military regime decamped for France or Portugal. Apparently it was a copy of a special edition of El Pais, brought into the chamber and handed to Tejero, that convinced him to give up for lack of support.

Those plotting the coup thought that Leopoldo Calvo-Sotelo (who turns out to be the nephew of the assassinated Jose of the same surname), a centrist, was not a strong enough figure to stem the rising tide of terrorism. The ETA (Basque separatist group) had murdered 239 people in the three years before the coup attempt, including 92 in 1980 alone. This issue is still a hot button, and people are constantly accusing the government in power of pandering to the ETA…but the good news is that the ETA has now gone 1000 days without killing anyone.

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