Secret document provides detailed account of 1981 attempted coup

Previously unseen testimony of storming of Congress made public

Just two days before the 30th anniversary of an attempted military coup in the Spanish Congress, a previously unseen account of the events inside parliament on February 23, 1981 was made public on Monday.

The four secretaries in Congress that fateful day, José Bono, Víctor Manuel Carrascal Felgueroso, Leopoldo Torres Boursault and Soledad Becerril Bustamante, wrote a detailed narrative of the moment that Lieutenant Colonel Antonio Tejero burst into the chamber, pistol in hand, accompanied by other armed members of the Civil Guard.

"If the power goes out, and you feel anything brush against you by the door, open fire." According to the document, this was the chilling order that Tejero gave his troops once they had stormed Congress, holding hostage the 350 deputies who were taking part in the intended investiture of incoming Prime Minister Leopoldo Calvo Sotelo.

"If the power goes out, and you feel anything brush against you by the door, open fire"
More information
Remembering the coup attempt 30 years on

The content of the account, which had remained secret for three decades, reflects the climate of high tension in Congress during the attempted coup, as well as how close the eventually bloodless events came to being a massacre.

José Bono, who went on to become defense minister for the Socialists as well as regional premier in Castilla-La Mancha and now speaker in Congress, told the radio network Cadena SER on Monday how he and his three colleagues were called to sign their names to the document, having been eyewitnesses to the events, which were later seen around the world thanks to recordings from the cameras inside the building.

"It was written by me and Víctor Carrascal, and later signed by the four of us," he said. "We each have a copy of the original."

Bono went on to explain that in order to produce the document, the pair listened to all of the material they could get hold of, "including the recordings of the microphone in the room and tapes of some of those located toward the outside."

The coup came at a dangerous time for Spain's young democracy, which had only thrown off the shackles of dictatorship six years before with the death of General Franco. The plot was thought to have originated in Valencia, where tanks rolled out onto the streets. But it soon became clear that a close advisor to the king, Alfonso Armada, was heavily implicated.

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