Friday, January 13, 2006

Spanish government puts army chief under house arrest

I think about all he has in common with Franco is being a general. On the one hand, you can understand the Spanish being wary of military intervention. On the other, the military is actually given a role in the Spanish constitution safeguarding national unity - not that that would ever be pretty. However, the current Socialist government is quite indebted to the Cataloñian region and is not exactly pro-military, so this is hardly a surprising reaction. Boy, the '90's really were an "escape from history", weren't they?

Army chief's warnings awaken ghost of Franco

Addressing army officers in Seville, Lieutenant-General Mena said that, if limits set by the Spanish constitution to stop any region from overreaching its set powers were exceeded by Catalonia, the army would have to act. His speech met an angry response from Spain’s Socialist Government. José Bono, the Defence Minister, ordered him to be placed under house arrest and is expected to seek his expulsion from the armed forces.

It became clear yesterday that Lieutenant-General Mena enjoyed some support within the armed forces. Retired Colonel José Conde Monge, President of the Spanish Military Association, applauded his remarks and criticised his arrest.

“We are in a dangerous situation that the politicians do not want to acknowledge but which threatens to break up Spain,” he said.

The Catalan plan has split Spain, causing a widespread backlash among many Spaniards against the region.

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