Spain commemorated on Tuesday the 40th anniversary of the attempted coup of February 23, 1981 in the absence of former King Juan Carlos, who played a key role in the failure of the coup.
“40 years ago, Spain experienced an attack on its democratic system of extraordinary gravity,” said King Felipe VI, son of Juan Carlos, during a ceremony held in the Chamber of Deputies in presence in particular of the head of government, the socialist Pedro Sánchez.
A ceremony whose great absentee will have been Juan Carlos, who abdicated in 2014 and went into exile in August in the United Arab Emirates as suspicions grew about the opaque origin of his fortune.
The former sovereign, who last year paid nearly 680,000 euros to the Spanish tax authorities in an attempt to avoid prosecution for money laundering, is the subject of a total of three judicial investigations.
The image of Lieutenant-Colonel of the Civil Guard Antonio Tejero Molina entering on February 23, 1981, pistol in hand, in the precincts of the Cortes (lower house of Parliament) at the head of nearly 200 of his men remained in the story.
Less than six years after the death of dictator Francisco Franco, Spain was then in the midst of a democratization process that these soldiers wanted to stop.
But from the Zarzuela Palace, Juan Carlos I, 43, is deploying all his energy to defeat this coup, calling one by one the generals commanding the various military regions of the country and delivering a solemn address to the television, wearing his uniform of captain general of the armed forces.
“The Crown, symbol of the permanence and unity of the homeland, can not in any way tolerate the actions or attitudes of people who claim to interrupt by force the democratic process,” he said.
Tejero and his men will finally agree to surrender on February 24 at midday and release the deputies and ministers they were holding hostage.
For the daily El Mundo, the absence of Juan Carlos, exiled “because of his condemnable errors, should not tarnish the brilliant role he played while commemorating his televised address (…) thus put an end to the putsch and democracy came out of it strengthened to the point of being comparable to the best in the West “.
A role to which Felipe VI, a direct witness of this historic night when he was only 13 years old, paid tribute on Tuesday.
“His firmness and his authority were decisive for the defense and the triumph of democracy,” insisted the sovereign, who distanced himself from his father by renouncing his inheritance in March and withdrawing his annual indemnity, estimated at nearly of 200,000 euros.
– Democracy in debate –
Forty years after this failed coup, democracy and Spanish institutions are still the subject of debate.
Number three in the government, the leader of the radical left party Podemos, Pablo Iglesias, recently stirred up controversy by asserting that there was no “situation of full political and democratic normality” in Spain.
In addition, several small parties represented in the Chamber of Deputies, such as the separatist parties Gauche Républicaine de Catalogne and Ensemble pour la Catalogne, decided to boycott the ceremony because of the presence of King Felipe VI.
In a manifesto, these formations affirmed that Spain “cannot be considered fully as a democracy (…) as long as the Spanish state relies on the same political, judicial, police and monarchical structures as it 40 years ago “.
“We see these days in the streets social discontent, protest and weariness in the face of these democratic shortcomings”, they added in reference to the violent protests that have shaken Barcelona in the first place since the imprisonment of rapper Pablo last Tuesday Hasél for “apologia for terrorism” in tweets.
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