Publication: Tuesday, February 23, 2021 3:24 PM
It has now been four decades since the coup d’état in Spain, that episode in which a group of 200 soldiers broke into the Congress of Deputies to interrupt the investiture of Leopoldo Calvo Sotelo and attempt to appoint Alfonso Armada as president. . The leader of the putschists was General Antonio Tejero, also designer of the plan and who, on February 23, 1981, shook the foundations of democracy … but also those of the chamber itself.
Tejero broke into the Congress building after 6 p.m. and surprised the 350 MPs present by shouting “Freeze everyone!” Then, other orders, already historic, would be heard, such as “Get down!” or “Feel the fuck!” Many MPs hid under their seats waiting for someone to save them from this nightmare.
But those screams in themselves would have been of little use if Tejero hadn’t carried a weapon to threaten those who failed to fulfill his mandates: a weapon he obviously didn’t hesitate to use. The exact number of times he did so is still unknown, as are many other issues surrounding this failed coup. The passage of time, the lack of documents and the reforms that have been undertaken in the hemicycle during these years make it impossible to know how many bullets were fired that day, even if one thinks that there could be around 40, indicates the EFE agency. .
35 impacts, according to the latest 2013 report
What is certain is that 35 traces of gunfire are currently preserved, after the last official count which was carried out in 2013. In September of that year, it was discovered that five impacts had disappeared after the works. carried out in the summer in the lower house and that caused a leak which flooded the press room. Staff were staring at the ceiling where the water was falling when they realized that where there was previously remnants of submachine gun explosions, there was now a ventilation grill.
“This stick belongs to Pepe Gotera and Otilio,” commented an MP angrily, recalling that the order had not been to erase the bullet marks during the rehabilitation works.
The conservative architect justified himself by explaining that the arrangement of the ceiling did not allow the ventilation grid to be placed in any other way. Further, he warned that the secrecy surrounding the 23F’s documentation made it difficult for construction workers to notice the signs on the roof. The construction company Dragados, in charge of the roofing work, distanced itself from surveillance, which was allegedly the responsibility of House maintenance workers.
In any case, the Congress Bureau, headed by the then Speaker of the House, Jesús Posada, decided to commission a technical report that would reflect the exact number of plans still kept.
The document, presented in October 2013, found that eight new gunshot wounds had been recorded, while ten marks had also disappeared on the walls and ceilings of the building since the last count, according to parliamentary sources consulted by the EFE.
The marks unknown at this time were on the ceiling panels (two), in the vault area (three) and on the projector cornice (three). Regarding the missing plans, the report points to the successive work that had been carried out in the plenary room and which could have affected the signals, the most important of which dates from 1988.
When the data became known, Posada tried to minimize the number of bullets and stressed that the main thing is that “what happened in the temple of democracy” remains in everyone’s memory.
The number of shots has changed over time
The first report on the marks of pistols was presented by the conservative architect of the lower house in December 1981, ten months after the coup. At that time, 37 hits were counted, two more than what can be seen now.
The other pre-2013 document was released after the 1999 works: there were already 33 shots, four fewer than those recorded 18 years earlier, according to EFE. One of the marks that disappeared was that of the stained glass window, which was restored for security reasons, and two more could be placed on the diplomatic platform.
In 2008, in addition, the Congress vents were replaced, with the exception of the one that had a bullet hole. This has been preserved and is now on display to the public in one of the halls of the Chamber, framed in methacrylate and bearing a commemorative legend.