Witness: The Day Troops Held Spain’s MPs Hostage Reply

Antonio Tejero Molina

BBC.com–Six years after the death of Spain’s dictator General Franco, the country remained a fragile democracy. Political tensions continued despite free elections and a new constitution. Moreover the army was not fully behind the new democracy and some in uniform remained loyal to Franco. In February 1981, as parliament sat to swear in a new prime minister, 200 Spanish civil guards burst into the chamber and took all 350 MPs hostage.

Joaquin Almunia – who later became an EU Commissioner – was one of the MPs trapped in parliament as the civil guards, led by Lieutenant Colonel Antonio Tejero, fired into the air. Mr Almunia spoke to Witness about that dramatic day.

Witness is a World Service programme of the stories of our times told by the people who were there.

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