A former Spanish army officer has suggested that Catalan politician Marta Rovira was right: the Spanish government did threaten the Catalan authorities with "deaths" if the independence movement went ahead and implemented the Catalan Republic in October. Amadeo Martínez Inglés, an army colonel who was expelled from the forces in 1990 and subsequently linked to left-wing and republican movements, gives credibility to the threats that Rovira revealed, when she claimed that the Spanish Government assured that there would be “deaths in the street” if independence was proclaimed. Martínez Inglés points to Spanish president Mariano Rajoy and his deputy Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría as the ones responsible for this.
In a blog article entitled ‘The Catalan Gordian Knot’, the former army figure affirms that the Spanish government employed psychological warfare techniques with the goal of avoiding the referendum of 1st October and that, after the obvious failure to stop the vote, it elevated the level of its threats, with military intervention being more than possible.
Martínez Inglés recalls that on 17th November, Marta Rovira referred for the first time to death threats made by Spain, and assures that she “did not lie”, but he adds that the threats by the Rajoy executive “were part of a secret operation”, put into action “long before the referendum” which included the option of intensifying to a level of “maximum virulence” if the Catalan authorities had tried to implement independence “at national and international level, with massive mobilizations in the streets and occupation of key points all over Catalonia, in the hands of the Catalan Mossos police or active picketing teams from the left-wing CUP party”.
Planned in full detail
The colonel assures that the threats that Rovira referred to “existed and were planned in full detail in Spanish vice-presidential circles, with the appropriate help and advice from specialists in psychological warfare”, who deployed a “secret operation to destroy the morale of Catalan politicians”.
This deployment included troop movements prior to 1st October and, in particular, the posting of thousands of Spanish police, in a “ridiculous and badly-planned transfer operation”, as well as persistent declarations about the role of the army in Catalonia.
The campaign entered into its second phase, says Martinez Inglés, after Deputy PM Sáenz de Santamaría "lost her cool" when she "realized the independence movement had been successful in the cat-and-mouse pursuit of ballot boxes and voting papers”, provoking “institutional panic” among Mariano Rajoy's executive.
Once this point had been reached, according to the fomer colonel, the threats and warnings grew “to incredible dimensions”. “You threatened to do everything you wanted and more, Mr. Rajoy,” continues Martinez Inglés, to conclude that if “the strategy worked for them” it was because their “opponents”, the pro-independence forces, “were not willing to fight and die for their ideals”.