Thursday 24 February 2011

Spain, February 23, 1981.

The footage below (Spanish) was shot the night of the 22nd of February, 1981, at the Congreso de Diputados (Lower House of the Spanish Parliament):

The video features Lt. Col. Antonio Tejero (Guardia Civil - Spanish national militarized police) interrupting the proceedings, gun in hand and shooting at the ceiling.

Simultaneously, in Valencia, the commander of the Third Military Region, general Jaime Miláns del Bosch, rose up in arms, deploying troops and armoured vehicles, declaring military law and outlawing strikes and public demonstrations.

The attempted coup d'etat was finally aborted in the early hours of the 23rd of February, due to lack of active military support and through the intervention of S.M., King Juan Carlos I.

El País, 23-02-1981 [1]


The last European fascist dictator, Francisco Franco Bahamonde, died in 1975, after over 3 decades in power.

Franco (second right) and Himmler (second left). 1940. [2]

The first democratically elected post-Franco government (1977), headed by Adolfo Suárez, of the centre-right UCD (Spanish acronym for Democratic Centre Union), endeavoured to work in amiable terms with the francoist extreme right (People's Alliance, AP), social democrats (Spanish Socialist Worker's Party, PSOE), and smaller, mostly regional, parties with parliamentarian representation.

Suárez himself started his political career during Franco's long period, as secretary general of the francoist National Movement (sole legal party).

As a consequence of the Atoche 1977 murder of 4 trade unionists, by ultra francoist elements, the Suárez government was forced to legalize the still underground Communist Party.

This, compounded by the economic crisis Spain was going through, led extreme conservative elements in the Armed Forces to plot a coup d'etat.

The first such attempt (Operation Galaxia), in 1978, headed by Lt. Col. Tejero, was put down and its leader, tried and convicted, was sentenced to 7 months and one day in jail.

At his release, Lt. Col. Tejero was reinstated and started plotting again.


After the 23-F failure, Tejero and Miláns del Bosch were tried and convicted for their participation in the attempted putsch. The only civilian co conspirator and participant in the coup tried and convicted was Juan García Carrés (former leader of the sole francoist legal union, the Sindicato Vertical).

Adolfo Suárez was succeeded as Presidente del Gobierno (Prime Minister) by Leopoldo Calvo-Sotelo, who had been solicitor for the francoist Cortes (token Parliament, under Franco).

The Congreso de Diputados session interrupted by Lt. Col. Tejero was in the process of ratifying Calvo-Sotelo as Prime Minister.

So far, the failed 23-F coup d'etat is the last putsch attempt in Western Europe.


Video footage: YouTube.
[1] El País. "Golpe de Estado: El País con la Constitución", 23-02-2011.
[2] Wikipedia/Deutsches Bundesarchiv (German Federal Archive), Bild 183-L15327 / CC-BY-SA

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