For Spaniards who remember 1981, the storming of the Capitol looked eerily familiar | Giles Tremlett

Stress was once top, safety was once vulnerable and a sour handover of energy was once underneath method when violent intruders pressured the folks’s representatives to prevent their debate and cower at the ground.

Long run generations of American citizens will determine this as an outline of occasions on the Capitol in Washington DC on 6 January 2021. For Spaniards, then again, it suits an previous second in historical past – an attack on Madrid’s parliament, the Congreso de los Diputados, on 23 February 1981.

Spain’s attackers – reactionary fans of the dictator Basic Francisco Franco, who had died six years previous – had been additionally led through males in foolish hats, even if Lieutenant Colonel Antonio Tejero was once carrying the patent leather-based tricorn of Spain’s civil guard paramilitary police drive somewhat than a couple of buffalo horns.

Comparisons most commonly finish there. Tejero was once waving an actual weapon. One of the most 200 infantrymen and civil guards with him peppered the debating chamber ceiling with machine-gun fireplace.

This was once a correct coup try, now not a shambolic human tidal wave containing costumed fans of an egomaniacal conspiracy theorist. In Spain, tanks rolled down the streets of the japanese town of Valencia to beef up the coup. Some folks started packing for exile. Others apprehensive about firing squads, recalling the ways hired through Franco.

Reactions within the Spanish debating chamber had been additionally other. The outgoing high minister, Adolfo Suárez, and the deputy high minister for defence affairs, Basic Manuel Gutiérrez Mellado, refused orders to hit the ground, whilst the latter angrily commanded the armed assailants to desist. They neglected him.

The communist chief, Santiago Carrillo, was once the one different deputy to stay in his seat, slouching frivolously and chain-smoking. “Previous, disobedient and smoking away,” is how Javier Cercas describes him in his masterpiece of literary non-fiction, The Anatomy of a Second. “He understands that if he survives the gunfire, the golpistas [coup leaders] will execute him.”

In Spain, there was once no want to urge the pinnacle of state to make a tv cope with condemning the attack. King Juan Carlos organised that himself, donning his commander-in-chief uniform and rebuking the “movements or attitudes of someone who needs to break through drive the democratic procedure … voted on through the Spanish folks”.

He didn’t say, like Donald Trump, “We adore you. You’re very particular.” But it sort of feels Juan Carlos might also have unwittingly inspired the plotters upfront, since many had been satisfied he was once on their aspect. “Within the King’s title!” some shouted right through the attack.

Those that stormed the Spanish parliament idea an army junta was once in a position to take over, led through a mysterious determine referred to as White Elephant (more than likely the now deceased former royal aide, Basic Alfonso Armada).

When the gunmen burst in (failing to show off a TV digital camera that recorded the entire thing), there have been excellent causes to consider folks would die, however in any case no person was once harm. White Elephant didn’t divulge themselves and, after 18 hours retaining the deputies hostage, the attackers surrendered. The coup had flopped.

I as soon as met a musician who claimed that, right through his army carrier, he had taken phase within the coup. He recalled being bundled right into a truck and deposited out of doors the parliament construction, however he sneaked off to shop for cigarettes whilst his unit awaited orders. When he returned, they’d long past. A policeman advised him they’d entered the parliament construction, so he ran in and joined them. For Spaniards, then, there was once a spooky part of deja vu within the scenes transmitted are living from Washington on Wednesday, now not least as a result of they mixed actual risk with farce.

The excellent news, although, is that Spain’s coup was once an finish, now not a starting. When it failed, Spaniards realised they now not needed to worry a military that were the spine of Franco’s regime. Democracy and its establishments proved resilient, simply as they have got in the USA. The assailants went to prison, although their shadowy backers most commonly escaped id and retribution.

If truth be told, with the exception of a couple of frights within the 1980s, Spain has slightly witnessed any longer army stirrings within the post-Franco generation – till final month. In a 6 December “patriotic” letter, 34 elderly generals and admirals, and masses of different ex-officers, claimed the Socialist-Podemos coalition executive led through Pedro Sánchez was once intent on enforcing a type of communism.

Newsletter of the letter, which was once additionally signed through the 1981 coup plotter Primary Ricardo Pardo and one in all Franco’s grandsons, adopted revelations of a gaggle Whatsapp chat amongst retired officials through which one player wrote that “there is not any different selection however to begin executing 26 million sons-of-bitches”.

The reactionary outdated Spanish army officials obviously really feel emboldened through a world normalisation of far-right, anti-democratic rhetoric, however their threats are empty. A yr after the failed 1981 coup, Spaniards voted of their first leftwing executive for the reason that 1930s. The socialist high minister Felipe González stayed in energy for 14 years, overseeing a outstanding and cast transformation in Spain.

The trauma, then, needn’t final. If truth be told, an incident like this will also be purifying and clarifying. For Spain it marked the boundaries of violence and the definitive finish of the rotten generation of Francoism.

In time, one can handiest hope the occasions in Washington on 6 January might appear simply the similar.

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