The felled tree

It commemorates forty years of the 23F, a failed coup attempt against its young democracy, a Spain where old ghosts of extremism and intolerance are resurrected and within nationalisms, respectable, deeply rooted and historically understandable feelings, frankly senseless deviations are manifested, contrary of a Constitution that is not perfect, human works never are, but which has served as a framework for unprecedented progress in all areas. That night in 1981, what an enlightened political leadership was painstakingly achieving was lost. Cercas in Anatomy of an Instant masterfully portrays that bad hour that ended up being good.

For me it is a very vivid memory but for young people here and there, it is an unknown episode.

The Spanish transition to democracy after Franco's death was an admirable process. It was led by a protagonist as unexpected as he was misunderstood in his time, who would be exceptionally effective as a politician and time has allowed his claim. Adolfo Suárez, emerged from the bowels of the regime that emerged from the Civil War but part of generations that barely lived through it or not even that and therefore had a different vision from that of the victors and the vanquished.

In politics, other great figures such as Felipe González, Santiago Carrillo and Manuel Fraga Iribarne had enormous weight in the complex process. It would be necessary to speak of many because history is never a matter of few. I highlight King Juan Carlos, sadly linked to news that overshadow his name but does not erase his crucial role, Cardinal Enrique and Tarancón and it is fair to highlight those who from the Armed Forces understood the significance of change for society, even for the institution of which he was a loyal member, Lieutenant General Manuel Gutiérrez Mellado.

Divisions, rancor, leadership without that stature, pending issues, old or new problems whose consequent wear and tear awakens the stubborn temptation to belittle what has been gained today put those achievements at risk. Those of us who love those beloved people well, we wish it to be so.

Spanish democracy was saved then, but it is a work always under construction and its demolition, from outside or from within, are always on the lookout. Even if it is, like the "felled tree that sprouts" from Miguel Hernández's poem Para la Libertad, because it still has life.


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