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Spain remembers the 40 years of the failed coup without Juan Carlos I

Spain commemorates this Tuesday the 40th anniversary of the attempted coup on February 23, 1981 without the presence of King Emeritus Juan Carlos I, a key actor in stopping the coup and promoting the democratic transition.

The Congress of Deputies, the scene of this attempt, will hold a solemn ceremony at 1:00 p.m. (12:00 GMT) in which King Felipe VI will take the floor, accompanied by the Socialist head of government Pedro Sánchez.

The great absentee will be the father of the current monarch, Juan Carlos I, who abdicated in 2014 and went into exile in the United Arab Emirates in August due to growing suspicions about the opaque origin of his fortune.

The former head of state, who regularized almost 680,000 euros (about $ 825,000) months ago before the treasury to avoid prosecution for money laundering, is the subject of up to three judicial investigations.

The situation highlights the deterioration of the image of the monarch since, 40 years ago, Lieutenant Colonel of the Civil Guard Antonio Tejero assaulted the Congress of Deputies, commanding about 200 men, in an image recorded for the history.

At that time, six years after the death of dictator Francisco Franco, Spain was on a democratic course that a group of soldiers wanted to stop.

From the Zarzuela palace, King Juan Carlos, who was only 43 years old at the time, played a decisive role in stopping the attempt, calling one by one the captains general who lead the different regions of the country to respect democratic legality.

At dawn, the king gave a speech on television in support of democracy, dressed as captain general of the armies.

“The Crown, symbol of the permanence and unity of the country, cannot tolerate in any way actions or attitudes of people who try to interrupt the democratic process by force,” he declared.

Tejero and his men finally agreed to surrender on February 24 at noon, freeing the deputies and ministers who had been held for 18 hours.

For the conservative newspaper El Mundo, the absence of the emeritus king “due to his own reprehensible mistakes, should not obscure the brilliant prominence that corresponds to him on the day his television appeal is remembered (…) Thus he stopped the coup, and democracy was strengthened until it equaled the best in the West. “

Yet four decades after the failed coup, the quality of Spanish democracy and institutions still generate debate.

Number three in the government, the leader of the radical left Podemos, Pablo Iglesias, caused controversy by stating that in Spain there is “no full political and democratic normality.”

Small congressional formations, such as the Catalan independence parties, decided to boycott the commemoration ceremony for the presence of King Felipe VI.

mg / dbh / zm