World

The attempted coup in Spain 40 years ago

At 6:24 pm on February 23, 1981, Colonel of the Spanish Civil Guard, Antonio Tiggero, stormed the Congress building in Madrid with other soldiers, and began firing on the roof of the building and took the MPs hostage. The soldiers’ goal was to restore the dictatorship and halt the democratization process that had begun shortly before, at the end of Franco’s period. The coup attempt lasted nearly 18 hours, then the army was stopped. The “Tiggero coup”, as it has been called since, was a very important moment in the history of democratic and post-Franco Spain.

The story has been known for some time, but more recently Country He was able to see some 13,000 pages of investigation documents With which Spain’s Supreme Military Judicial Council rebuilt the origins of the 1981 coup attempt DocumentsAnd still classified, there are also excerpts from the interrogations of people involved in the coup, which indicate that the plan to control Congress was studied in great detail for months and prepared by a large group of soldiers.

From The end of the Spanish Civil WarWon by the Nationalists in 1939, dictator Francisco Franco ruled Spain for nearly four decades. When Franco died, in November 1975, King Juan Carlos assumed his place as head of state with a mandate Adolfo Suarez To form a government to start the country’s transition from dictatorship to democracy.

Tiggero, who was sentenced to seven months in prison for another coup attempt in 1978, shared his concern about the new democratic order with other prominent generals, such as Third Military District Captain Jaime Milans del Bosch and General Alfonso Armada, next to King Juan Carlos. According to what Tigiru had said during interrogations, Armada said that the king was tired of Suarez and that he would like to take his place: the army then decided to carry out the coup that convinced him to carry out Juan’s will. Carlos.

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On February 23, 1981, a group of Civil Guard led by Tiggero stormed the seat of the House of Representatives in Madrid, where parliamentarians met to vote on confidence in the Prime Minister appointed by King Juan Carlos, Leopoldo Calvo Sotillo. Tejero arrived at the show saying “Quieto todo el mundo!” (No one moves!), He ordered everyone to remain calm and wait for the arrival of the competent authority, which means that he is a military person.

General Gutierrez Milado, Minister of Defense, asked the coup leaders to lay down their arms, but the army attacked them, who began firing at the roof of the bicycle. A national television operator was able to film what was happening in Congress for about half an hour.

And the army led by Tiggero held the deputies hostage throughout the night, while Spain followed the events inside the Congress live thanks to the news broadcast on the radio and television.

Meanwhile, other military personnel attempted similar operations: In Valencia, Melans Del Bosch carried tanks on the street, Declare a state of emergency and try to convince the other soldiers to support the operation. In Madrid itself, General Torres Rojas failed in his attempt to succeed General Ghost in command in the Armored Division BrunettesHe would have been forced to occupy the strategic points of the capital, especially the radio and television, from which he would have issued a statement about the success of the coup.

Around midnight, General Alfonso Armada, a close confidant of King Juan Carlos, entered Congress and tried to persuade Tigero to desist and allow him to assume the role of prime minister by order of the king, in a move that was also against the constitution. It was later called a “light reversal”. Tiggero asked whether Melanes del Bosch would also be part of the new government, but he received a negative response saying that the Armada was not the “expected competent authority” and was suddenly disconnected from the circulation.

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The decisive intervention in resolving the coup was the intervention of King Juan Carlos, who appeared at about one o’clock in the morning on television, dressed as the commander of the armed forces and stood against the leaders of the coup, defending the Spanish constitution. From that moment on, the coup was considered a failure: Melans Del Bosch, isolated, canceled his plans and was arrested at five in the morning; Tiggero resisted until late in the morning, then called the deputy captain of the 3rd Military District to announce his surrender, and the deputies were released.

Still image of King Juan Carlos’s speech on Spanish national television, the night between February 23 and 24, 1981. (EPA / TVE / ANSA)

The trial was held before the Supreme Military Judicial Council and became known as the Campamento Trial. Judges sentenced 22 of the 33 accused: sentenced Melanes del Bosch and Tigero 30 years in prison For the military coup, the same sentence was also imposed on the Armada, who was initially sentenced to 6 years in prison for conspiracy. The ruling stated that “the king’s encouragement was nothing more than a deception of the main rebels, helping them to carry out their plans.” […] And to legitimize what was just the crime of a military coup. “

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In 2011, thirty years after the attempted coup, the first film was shown in Spanish cinemas Film dedicated to the story And named by the name usually remembered in Spain: 23 F (Which means 23 de febrero, that is, 23 February). Today, after the speech he delivered to the Congress of King Philip VI – Juan Carlos’ son – to commemorate the coup, members of various parties demanded that documents relating to the investigation be released to the public, to shed light on what happened. Actually 1981.

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Tiggero was released from prison in 1996 on parole. In 2019, at the age of 87, he participated inExhuming the body of Francisco FrancoHe was greeted by a group of about 250 people chanting “Viva Tejero!” And “Arriba España!” (Forward, Spain), motto The Kataeb Party Who was Franco the leader.

Harold Manning

"Infuriatingly humble social media ninja. Devoted travel junkie. Student. Avid internet lover."

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