Saturday, January 14, 2006

The ghost of Franco

While we in New Zealand have been focusing on the Fijian Army's threats against its government, there's been a similar situation happening on the other side of the world. Last week, the commander of Spain's land forces, Lt General José Mena Aguado, threatened to step in to "guarantee the sovereignty and independence of Spain" if the Spanish Parliament granted greater autonomy to Catalonia (quote from Spanish coverage, translated here). He was immediately placed under house arrest, and his threat was denounced across the political spectrum (with the notable exception of the right-wing People's Party. Now, on the recommendation of his superiors, General Aguado has been sacked.

Like Fiji, Spain has a history of military intervention in politics, going all the way back to the Spanish Civil War. There were also coup attempts in 1978 and 1981 - in both cases led by military officers who refused to accept democracy. In this case, things have been quickly squashed - but General Aguado's comments are a sign that at least parts of the Spanish military still adhere to dangerous notions of "saving" Spain from the perceived mistakes of democratic government. General Franco may be dead, but his ghost is still haunting Spain...


On the other hand, the Ghost of Franco is exactly what keeps King Juan Carlos sitting on his throne and a new military junta out. The irony of the restoration of the Spanish monarchy by Franco is that it ensured the King had the 'mana' to confront the coup of 1981 and the military generally...

Posted by Lewis Holden : 1/14/2006 03:11:00 PM