While officers of the Portuguese military are warning that they might intervene against the austerity regime being forced on an increasingly angry nation, the military threat in Spain comes from the opposite direction, invoking the ghost of fascist dictator Francisco Franco.
The threat from Col. Francisco Alamán Castro was buried at the very bottom of a report on the secession movement in Catalonia by Ambrose Evans-Pritchard of the London Telegraph. Why it wasn’t the lead is simply beyond our ken:
A serving army officer, Colonel Francisco Alaman, has fuelled the flames by comparing the crisis with 1936 – when Gen Francisco Franco seized power – and by vowing to crush Catalan nationalists, described as “vultures”.
“Independence for Catalunya? Over my dead body [Spanish original “per sobre del meu cadàver” — esnl]. Spain is not Yugoslavia or Belgium. Even if the lion is sleeping, don’t provoke the lion, because he will show the ferocity proven over centuries,” he said.
Retired Lt-Gen Pedro Pitarch, a former army chief, said the words reflect “deeply-rooted thinking in large parts of the armed forces”. He also accused Madrid of bungling the Catalan drama disastrously.
“Are we looking at a failed state?” he asked. Investors holding Spanish debt are listening carefully.
The Catalonian independence is becoming a formidable force, able to mobilize millions to march for their cause, ad they did earlier this month.
Here’s a video from the movement produced and aired before the 11 September march:
And here’s a brief video made on the day of the march, featuring interviews with English-speakers:
The movement also boasts an English-language website, Help Catalonia.
And in this remarkable October 2011 video, the late veteran socialist jurist and politician Gregorio Peces-Barba, one of the principal authors of the post-Franco constitution, jokes about bombing the Catalonian capital, Barcelona:
Here’s the quote, from the Help Catalonia website:
I believe that we’ll be in a better position than in the past. I don’t know how many times we had to bomb Barcelona in the past, but next time we’ll be able to find a solution that does not involve bombing that city.
For many centuries now, that has been Spain’s main concern regarding this issue, ever since Count-Duke Olivares had to confront the Portuguese and Catalan uprising. By the way, it seems to me that Catalans celebrate a defeat on their so called national day.
At that point in history a decision was made, namely, letting go of the Portuguese and retaining the Catalans. I always like to joke about this. What would have happened had we retained the Portuguese, but let the Catalans go? Perhaps it would have been a better deal for us. Well, that’s all in the past now, we can’t… anyway, it might’ve been a huge problem. We wouldn’t have had Madrid vs. Barcelona soccer matches. Of course, that’s always of the utmost importance.
There’s a certain irony in a man who professes to be a socialist harkening back to the bombing carried out by Franco during the Spanish Civil War.
Before Franco’s victory, the Second Spanish Republic had granted regional autonomy to Catalonia, which was quickly abolished by Franco after his victory, along with the use of the Catalonian dialect.