Ex-officers unite in Spain to pillory the left-wing government and democracy. How dangerous are the stirrers really?

You speak openly about “eradicating the red wines” in Spain and the shooting of 26 million people – including children. Terrorists? Crazy? No, there are dozens of former senior military officers who are a big thorn in the side of the left-wing government in Madrid.

They propagate the overthrow of Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez, which endangers the unity of the country, and even express concern in letters to King Felipe VI. in front. Columns and TV studios are talking about “scary coups”, and there is heated discussion in the streets and cafes. The rattling of sabers causes unrest.

The head of government in Madrid shares the concerns of the signatories

It is not primarily retirees with uniforms (and possibly small arms) in their closet that cause fear. Rather, concerns are the responses of influential conservative politicians who either comment on the statements of the ex-Generals & Co. not condemning sharply enough or even expressing “understanding” for them. Such as the head of government of the Madrid region, Isabel Díaz Ayuso. The PP People’s Party politician said she shared the concerns of those who signed the letters to the king.

The words of the 42-year-old, who gained political weight in a successful fight against the corona pandemic and is celebrated by many as the new star of the conservative opposition, made people sit up. The statements of the right-wing populists of Vox, the third strongest force in the national parliament behind the PP, were less astonishing. “Of course these are our people,” Vox MP Macarena Olona said of the retired military indulging in coup fantasies.

Accusation: The government is backed by terrorists

What exactly happened? Two groups of 39 and 73 retired officers each. As the media revealed last week, in November the Air Force and Army complained in letters to the king about Sánchez, repeating the discourse of right-wing and far-right politicians: the government would be supported by supporters of, for example, the budget or other laws. were adopted. Supported terrorists and separatists, he said. This refers to regional parties in Catalonia and the Basque Country, some of which are separatist and some of which are former supporters of the underground organization ETA, which has been disbanded for years.

Spain, Madrid: Putschist Antonio Tejero Molina gestures with a gun drawn to the lectern in the Spanish Parliament. It was then that the lieutenant colonel stormed the parliament building in Madrid with more than 200 men of the paramilitary Guardia Civil and took the MPs hostage along with the government. Thanks to King Juan Carlos’s dedication to the democratic order, the coup attempt collapsed after 18 hours. (Source: — / epa efe / dpa)

The government was threatening national unity, it was said. Another letter of similar content followed Saturday, this time even signed by other 271 ex-officers. But especially the publication of the chat of the members of one of these three groups in Whatsapp caused outrage and unrest. State television broadcaster RTVE and other media outlets publish screenshots that left members ill-mannered by name.

Praise to dictator

The agitators insult Sánchez and Deputy Prime Minister Pablo Iglesias in the worst possible way. They praise the dictator Francisco Franco, whose regime (1939-1975) made at least 100,000 opposition members “disappear”. And they speak out for the abolition of democracy. Former Division General Francisco Beca calls for “26 million bastards” to be shot. You can read, among other things, “Prepare for battle! Let’s get the red ones !!! Cheer up and go into battle!” In addition to leftist politicians and their sympathizers and voters, homosexuals and feminists, Catalan and Basque separatists are also insulted.

A retired Lieutenant Colonel who left the group “because of the hatred” frankly told his colleagues on television, “They wanted the King to become politically active and overthrow the government.” Memories of the coup attempt on February 23, 1981 are aroused by gunfire in parliament.

Some observers downplay the threat. Warn others. “The calls should not be taken lightly,” wrote columnist Óscar J. Barroso in “La Voz de Galicia”. These are “alarming”. “The fact that the Secretary of Defense (Margarita Robles) claims that the authors do not represent anyone does not reassure you. Above all, because she does not know the echo of these incendiary speeches in the active military.”

“Anything but a joke”

Alexis Mari says it in the same direction in the newspaper “Levante”: “This is not a small group of crazy people. They are former generals with a lot of influence. So anything but a joke.” Historian and internationally renowned curator Nacho Ruiz is also concerned. In the “HuffPost España” he speaks of “a scary call for a coup”. The past tries to return. Let’s not allow that. ‘

“The past” is dictatorship. It has ended since Franco’s death in 1975. But the “Generalísimo”, as Sánchez put it today, is “still in the minds” of some. The agitators are a “fringe group” of dictatorship “nostalgics,” Sánchez says. Worrying, however, is the spread of the same hate speech “by groups that are not insignificant”.

The government is not idle behind the incendiary speeches. Minister Robles filed a complaint with the public prosecutor. The statements are “cause for concern, especially in a complicated political situation involving an emergency, a pandemic and an economic crisis”. An offense could be fulfilled. Now it is the turn of the king. Politicians and observers are increasingly calling on the monarch to comment. The head of state “must finally make it clear that he does not share genocidal dreams with fanatics,” says curator Ruiz. Otherwise, the first thing to do is endanger the monarchy.

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