Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Spain: Sabre Rattling.

Ever since the Catalonian regional government called for a referendum on the issue of secession, there have been talks in Madrid about the need for military intervention.

Yesterday, what were mainly vague, private comments, may have become more concrete and public, after an active service officer, general Juan Antonio Chicharro, speaking in a public colloquium, sketched what an observer qualifies as a juridical rationale "for a military intervention to avoid the secession". (See here, in Spanish, my translation)

General de División (equivalent to a US Army Major General) Chicharro, former commander of the Spanish Marines, made the pronouncement at the Gran Peña, a traditional club frequented by reserve officers, during a colloquium to which figures linked to academic and judicial circles were also attending.

According to the El País report, Chicharro's intervention, which fell short of calling for a coup d'etat against civilian authorities refusing to take military measures against separatists, gained relevance as he is an active member of the Army Reserve. In Spain the military jurisdiction outlaws the public expression of opinions suggesting the dereliction of the neutrality duty in relation to political matters.

Coming when the Catalonian regional government seems decided to proceed with the separation and when the federal government, headed by conservative Mariano Rajoy, has shown itself incapable of solving the economic crisis affecting Spain and is besieged with generalized accusations of corruption, Chicharro's opinions were received with approval by the public present at the colloquium, according to the El País.

The last attempt at a military putsch in Spain took place in February 1983, 32 years ago.

Update:
02-03-2013. The commotion created by general Chicharro's intervention in the Gran Peña moved the Spanish Defence Ministry, predictably, to open an investigation. PSOE and other parties manifested their condemnation to any form of extraconstitutional exit to the secession movements. General Chicharro sent a letter to El País denying his intervention in the colloquium aimed to justify a military intervention.

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