News August 2003

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Saenz de Santamaría dies

26 August. Lieutenant General José Antonio Saenz de Santamaría has died at the age of 84. For many years the head of the National Police, the main claim to fame of this general was his willingness to stand in obediance to king Juan Carlos on the night of the attempted coup, 23 February 1981.

He was also head of the Civil Guard for a time as well as Captain General of two military regions and Government representative in the Basque Country, most of these posts during the time of Socialist rule. As such he was also questioned concerning the socialists' 'dirty war' against ETA through a counter-terrorist group GAL. However, he was not found guilty.

Gradually, the people who made history in helping the king to bring Spain from dictatorship to democracy are leaving us. But their legacy remains a great contribution both to Spain in general, but also to the current freedoms which the evangelical churches -and others- enjoy. In the current heated political situation one is tempted to remember the dictatorship as if it could return again.Yet it is probably a sign of a maturing deocracy that some issues are now so hotly debated as the Basque liberties, for example.