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post #1 of 18 (permalink) Old January 7th, 2006, 10:10 Thread Starter
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Coup d'etat in Spain?

Yesterday, many Spanish people remembered really dark moments of our history. A General of the Spanish Army said: "I always highligheted that the members of the army must not enter in political debates, which obviously belong to the politicians. On the other hand, it's our obligation to alert about the serious consequencies that the approval of the new Estatut de Catalunya (major law of Catalunya) can have on the Army and its members. The most worrying questions are: idiom, the term of nation refering to Catalunya and justice. If these limits were overpassed, something that seems unlikely yet, the 8th article of the Constitution should be applied". He also said that a big part of the army shared his opinion.

The 8th articles says that the Army has to defend the unity of Spain. But, this General forgets that this is not anything that the Army can choose, because they have to obbey the civil institutions ALWAYS and they can not interpret an "attack" to the Constitution by themselves.

All this is going on because of the debate about the new major law of Catalunya, still in the Spanish parliament. This debate is raising the olders stereortypes and hatred in Spain, mostly promoted by the Spanish conservatives, the 2nd political party of Spain, the Partido Popular (now leaded by Rajoy, and party of Aznar, which was founded by Fraga, a minister of Franco).

The Spanish army doesn't have a very democratic background. They did a coup d'etat in 1936 that finished with a horrible Civil War and 40 years of dictatorship. In 1981, the Guardia Civil (police body of the army) entered in the Parliament with guns and kidnapped the governement and all the members of the congress, while the tanks went to the streets in Valencia and arround Madrid. Only the King Juan Carlos I could stop that coup d'etat.

The most worrying is that the General Mena said that a big part of the army shared his opinion. The general Mena has been automatically fired by the Spanish left government. But I think it's not enough, because this words make me think that this conspiration is bigger and they should know who is behind this anti-democratic ideas. The army can not give opinion on the political issues.

I also think that the Parliament should investigate the Partido Popular and the official Catholic Church, that were very blurry about their opinions. The conservative party said that "in the frames of the polemic about the Estatut, it's impossible to avoid expressions of any kind". So they refuse to condemn, and moreover, they understand and somehow back the words of the General of the Army. Something far from strange in a party founded by a minister of Franco.

I would also like to know if the hierachy of the Catholic Church shares the opinion of their radio station, COPE, where they say that they understand the General Mena and, not only this, they defend the intervention of the army in case they think it's necessary to do it. Something unbelievable. They are saying that the Army should decide whether it's right or wrong what the Parliament decides.

IMO, the Spanish parliament should start an investigation to know who is behind all this. Memebers of the army, politicians of the right, members of the church and civil connections in general.

I'm not exagerating, the history of Spain in the last 2 centuries is worrying enough to pay attention to all this signals.

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post #2 of 18 (permalink) Old January 7th, 2006, 10:42
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So, to get this right, this General dude actually threatened with a coup d'etat if a law he didn't like passed?

Even if the law is unconstitutional, doesn't Spain have a high court that can rule with regards to that?

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post #3 of 18 (permalink) Old January 7th, 2006, 10:52
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Originally Posted by AMOROSO!
So, to get this right, this General dude actually threatened with a coup d'etat if a law he didn't like passed?

Even if the law is unconstitutional, doesn't Spain have a high court that can rule with regards to that?
He thinks his soldier will agree to fight their own people because of a law he didn't like?

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post #4 of 18 (permalink) Old January 7th, 2006, 12:13 Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AMOROSO!
So, to get this right, this General dude actually threatened with a coup d'etat if a law he didn't like passed?

Even if the law is unconstitutional, doesn't Spain have a high court that can rule with regards to that?
Of course, there is a Constitutional Tribunal to rule all this things. If a law is not constitutional, then the tribunal can stop the law.

The general threatened with this, using a bad interpretation of the 8th article of the Constitution that says that "the unity of the territory can be defended by the army in last instance". But this article doesn't mean that the Army or the Generals have the power to decide about it. The Army depends on the Civil powers, the Government decides their actions, not the Generals. The government take his powers away though.

The most worrying is that he said that "some of the members of the army" back his opinion and I think that it should be investigated, because this is something very serious. The army can never replace the will of the people represented in the Parliament and that is a usual "mistake" of this people, who many times thought that they had to "save Spain from the reds, nationalists, atheists or whatever".

I'm sure that many people think that this can't happen in Western Europe in the 21st century and I admit that it's unlikely, but I also know that our democracy just have 25 years, that we already had a coup d'etat in 1981, that the division between left and right is still big,... I'm sure that the countries that had dictatorships until not long ago, like Greece or Portugal, understand it much better.

I fear the army, because even though many things changed, I'm sure that still some of them think that they have a "superior obligation from god to save the sacred unity of Spain". I think that the society is way calmer than this, but still some sectors of the conservative party and part of the conservative media "understand" this General... and knowing a bit of history, everyone knows that in this kind of comments, the coup d'etat of Franco of 1936 had its roots.

I can't believe that it can finish in a Civil War, but I do believe that there can be an idiot illuminated militar ready to go to the Parliament and take the powers of the parliament. I dont think it'd triumph, but the harm that can produce on Spain could be extraordinary.

I am still waiting for a firm condemn of these words from the Partido Popular of Rajoy and Aznar. I "can't" believe that they didn't defend the democracy yet and they're using this for their politic goals.... well, if they lied about the bombs of the trains in Madrid to win the elections, what can't they do?
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post #5 of 18 (permalink) Old January 7th, 2006, 14:00
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If the army in Spain still has such "ambitions" like getting involved in the political situation of the country, then the goverments are to blame. After the junta of the colonels fell in Greece, within 5 years about 80% of the high ranking officers of the army were either discharged or "retired", and also those lower-ranking officers who could eventually make a military career and become generals or colonels. Every single root of dictatorship participants or sympathizers was ripped out and several passed a court martial too. Since then there isn't a single voice from the army about politics.

Altough the fear is still there, so usually the top desks of the general command of the army and the intelligence services are staffed with officers from the Navy, which was always very liberal and democratic and was even against the junta. Greece might be the only country which has almost permantly an Admiral as Chief of Staff, instead of a General.

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post #6 of 18 (permalink) Old January 7th, 2006, 22:31
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Interesting read K4. Do you think if one situation overboils (i.e. Catalunya) the rest of Spain's regional areas (i.e. Basque country, Galicia etc) would want to separate as well?

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post #7 of 18 (permalink) Old January 7th, 2006, 22:57
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Like separation in Europe makes much difference. They're all part of the EU anyways one way or another. And as more national competences go to Brussels, highly autonomous regions wouldn't notice the difference.
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post #8 of 18 (permalink) Old January 8th, 2006, 10:15 Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AMOROSO!
If the army in Spain still has such "ambitions" like getting involved in the political situation of the country, then the goverments are to blame. After the junta of the colonels fell in Greece, within 5 years about 80% of the high ranking officers of the army were either discharged or "retired", and also those lower-ranking officers who could eventually make a military career and become generals or colonels. Every single root of dictatorship participants or sympathizers was ripped out and several passed a court martial too. Since then there isn't a single voice from the army about politics.

Altough the fear is still there, so usually the top desks of the general command of the army and the intelligence services are staffed with officers from the Navy, which was always very liberal and democratic and was even against the junta. Greece might be the only country which has almost permantly an Admiral as Chief of Staff, instead of a General.
Yeah, it was the same in Spain. Many of the old high ranking officers disappeared in the early 80s. I didn't expect anything like this and I want to think that it's an exception. So I don't think that the generals could be thinking in a coup d'etat, but I am sure that they're still conservative. The problem is that the Spanish right is creating a lot of tension with the process to make a new major law for Catalunya, raising old ghosts and stereotypes.

The Spanish right, not only the party, but also their associations, the Church and their media promote the boycott to anything that smells Catalan and I guess that the most conservative militar officers swallowed that shit.

The project for the new Catalan law is being discussed in the Parliament and it'll give more competences to the Catalan government. Some of the aspects may not be constitutional, but it's not approved yet, so it's something that has to be closed yet. In any case, if it's constitutional or not, it has to be decided by the Constitutional Tribunal, not by the Army. The problem is that the right is saying all the time that "Spain is going to break", which is false.

But this General said that part of the army share his ideas. In that sense, I think it's necessary to investigate the army to cut all this from the roots. The worst of all is that the right didn't denounce this attack to the democracy and the Constitution and I think it takes them to the pre-Civil War times. They do it, because it gives them votes in the most conservative zones of Spain, anti-Catalan by nature... but it's an action of irresponsability. The right thinks that anything is well done, just to get votes. As I said, if they lied about the bombs of AlQaeda in Madrid, they can do anything to get the power back.

I don't think that the atmosphere is to have a Civil War, but these things don't help much. Our democracy is still young and I'm sure that some people think that it's blessed from heaven to save "the sacred Catholic-national unity of Spain".

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rhizoid
Interesting read K4. Do you think if one situation overboils (i.e. Catalunya) the rest of Spain's regional areas (i.e. Basque country, Galicia etc) would want to separate as well?
I don't think that Catalunya wants to separate from Spain. If you see the surveys about it, the Catalan society wants more autonomy and self-government, but inside Spain. The independentists aren't a majority. But this is something that many people don't want to understand and they see this as a project of independence and it's false. Catalunya just wants to have the same financial status of the Basque country.

The situation in Euskadi is different. The independentists are powerful there, but it's a 55/45 situation. Lately, the situation is calmer there, since the Basque nationalists and the left are moderating their messages, because Euskadi can't live in eternal tension. The problem of Euskadi is ETA, IMO. ETA has no future and they have to find a way to abandone the terrorist way, because they don't have the support of their society, but they don't have a leader yet, although I think that they realized that their way has no future.

Euskadi also presented a major law in the parliament, but they wanted to become a free associated state with Spain. A kind of Puerto Rico with the US, to say an example. But that went too far and the Parliament rejected that project. It was a mistake from the Basque nationalists, I think. Because their current major law was approved by the majority of Basques, nationalists and non-nationalists. I don't care if Euskadi gets more autonomy, but I think that the Basque nationalists and the left should agree a text. The Spanish right is useless, just provokers. But an agreed project between Basque nationalists and left would have the support of the 70% of their population and not just a 50-50.

Galicia isn't a big problem. They also want more autonomy, but the nationalists don't reach the 25% of the votes there, although they're important in urban zones. The Spanish right just lost the elections there after 20 years. Now their governent is a coalition between socialists and Galego nationalists. But the Galego nationalists are quite moderated, they don't pretend the independence, maybe some sectors, but probably a minority. There are not much tensions here.
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post #9 of 18 (permalink) Old January 8th, 2006, 10:21 Thread Starter
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Like separation in Europe makes much difference. They're all part of the EU anyways one way or another. And as more national competences go to Brussels, highly autonomous regions wouldn't notice the difference.
That's the hypocresy of the right. They don't care about the central state giving competences to Brussels, but it's the end of the world if some power goes from Madrid to Barcelona.

They know it, but they use this to raise ghosts and fears from the stomachs of some people to get votes. And maybe they can win votes with this, but it's very irresponsible, because it just creates tension and hatred between the different zones of Spain and in the long term it can be a problem.

For example, the sellings of Catalan products felt in the last year due to that boycott from the Spanish right. That means less jobs in Catalunya and it gives more credibility to the message of the most radicals in Catalunya that say "we have nothing to do with Spain". Many times, I think that the Spanish and Catalan nationalist feed each other, they give an excuse to the other one to exist, but it just creates dangerous tensions. Because you can live with the stereotypes from both sides, but hey, if you lose your job because of this or if you get insulted just because your ID says "Barcelona", the thing goes further.
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post #10 of 18 (permalink) Old January 8th, 2006, 16:27
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This is disturbing...

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post #11 of 18 (permalink) Old January 22nd, 2006, 21:14
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I think what fascinated me the most about this whole situation was how little I actually heard about it, a small article on the BBC News website that wasn't even headline worthy. Considering Spains history I am utterly galled that this general could come out & say something so blatantly anti-democratic but then at least he was removed from his job.

Bizarre that something in a major nation in Europe that could have had major consequence has recieved such little interest.

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post #12 of 18 (permalink) Old January 23rd, 2006, 11:00
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Bizarre that something in a major nation in Europe that could have had major consequence has recieved such little interest.

Apparently, Paris Hilton dancing on a table in some shady nightclub, is big big news, but this isn't (I havent heard anything about this in our media, which is as shocking as the General's statement).
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post #13 of 18 (permalink) Old January 26th, 2006, 12:14
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I spoke with some Spanish friends about this. First of all, not only the general was fired, but he was put in prison immediately, though later released. Secondly, all of them agreed what the guy said was wrong (being a general), but they also said, what Catalonia wants is really too much in some ways. They gave me examples, such as, "you cant practice several professions if you speak only Spanish and don’t speak Catalonian in the province, etc. I have no firm opinion but most of them (Spanish from different parts of Spain) felt that some of the steps are just a way too far.


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post #14 of 18 (permalink) Old January 26th, 2006, 12:43
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They gave me examples, such as, "you cant practice several professions if you speak only Spanish and don’t speak Catalonian in the province
The most important person in Catalonian history, Johan Cruijff, didn't speak Catalonian.

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post #15 of 18 (permalink) Old January 26th, 2006, 20:09
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Apparently, Paris Hilton dancing on a table in some shady nightclub, is big big news, but this isn't (I havent heard anything about this in our media, which is as shocking as the General's statement).
Exactly the same here, saw a short message in some papers but that's it...

It was very dangerous what he said, especially as he was talking about more people that just himself.
Not that I can see it really happen at the moment, but like Koeman pointed out, it's not so long ago...

Hopefully he'll be punished, at least he needs a very good conversation with some 'majors' I think.
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post #16 of 18 (permalink) Old January 29th, 2006, 22:40
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This is the first I have read on this too.

The worrying thing is it sounds very much like this General Mena could just be the tip of the iceberg in the army. It is very unlikely he is a single loose cannon. To say what he did he must believe he has a substantial backing among the hierarchy in the army and possibly elsewhere too from the sound of things. Although he has lost his job this really does not alter the situation.

I'm very interested to read more on this as it is reported. Thanks for the very informative posts Koeman4 which made for good but slightly worrying reading.

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post #17 of 18 (permalink) Old January 31st, 2006, 17:34
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The most important person in Catalonian history, Johan Cruijff, didn't speak Catalonian.
Exactly!

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post #18 of 18 (permalink) Old February 11th, 2006, 01:16
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What happens is that the spanish transition towards democracy was based on 'forgiveness' to all these criminals who still have a lot of power in daily politics, and in the army of course.

The general Mena isnīt the only one who has made these kind of comments. There was a letter sent by another high rank official in a newspaper with his worries about the "separation of Spain" and stuff like that and how the army should do something if this ended happening, a letter he said he was thinking in giving it to the defense minister in his own hand in Madrid accompanied by his squad, I think we all know what does that mean. The leader of the last coup dīetat has also talked in similar words in the last days. The spanish right looks to other place, what can they do, theyīre the same people.


Quote:
Originally Posted by bono
They gave me examples, such as, "you cant practice several professions if you speak only Spanish and don’t speak Catalonian in the province, etc. I have no firm opinion but most of them (Spanish from different parts of Spain) felt that some of the steps are just a way too far.
Well, if in Catalunya there are 2 official languages itīs normal that for some jobs you need to know both languages, as for "public" jobs for example. A catalonian citizen has the constitutional right (at least on theory) to base his relationship with the public administration in any of these 2 languages, therefore, if someone goes to a public administration office he has the right to talk in catalan and be answered in catalan, the same as if he does it in castillian, thatīs pure logic.

And logically, also private companies can ask for people who speak these 2 languages for jobs in front of the public, they reach a bigger market that way. But this doesnīt happen only in Catalunya, it happens everywhere with more than one official language, even more, it sometimes even happens with languages that arenīt official... go to Mallorca and see if you find someone working in a hotel who doesnīt speak german.

Maybe, the problem for some people is that they canīt accept that some nations as is Catalunya in this case have their own cultural identity and language, for many things they were better with Franco where all these languages (catalan, basque, galician) were prohibited and the ones who spoke it were sent to jail (the lucky ones), the rest, well.. The catalans were a bit luckier on this though.
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