General Laurentino Ceña, the second most senior office in the Guardia Civil, has quit his position with immediate effect in order to show his support for his colleague Colonel Pérez de los Lobos who was fired in murky circumstances after opening a penal investigation into senior politicians and the chap in charge of Spain’s pandemic response.
Granted, the good General was only a week away from retirement and quit in such a way such as to ensure he still got his pension. He was supposed to have retired a few months ago but continued in his job to help steer the force during the pandemic.
But it looks bad for Spain’s embattled government. They still haven’t come up with a good reason for having fired the investigator other than we didn’t like him.
A source told La Vanguardia newspaper that: “The general quit [in order] to show his opposition to the firing of Colonel Pérez, which was unjust. He opts for his honour rather than his ships*. The entire Guardia Civil applauds his honourable decision. His position requires a level of dignity that he has shown himself more than equal to”.
*A reference to a famous Spanish military saying, from a naval battle in which a Spanish fleet was outnumbered. The Admiral is reputed to have inspired his troops by crying “Both the Queen and I would prefer to have honour and no ships, rather than ships and no honour!”
Interior Minister Marlaska, the bloke who started off this sorry saga, came out this afternoon and gave a speech in which he denied any impropriety in the firing of Colonel Pérez. He said it was simply that he was unable to work with the man and he needed people around him he can trust and work with. Nothing to do with the Colonel carrying out a investigation into senior politicians without bothering to tell the politicians in advance, he assures us.
He also used the press release to bribe the Guardia Civil in a jaw dropping manner. Remember, in the same press conference where he denies trying to force the police to do his will and firing anyone who disobeys, he promised 247 million euros to bring Guardia Civil pay cheques in line with their colleagues over at the National Police, and promised to back date the pay rise to Jan 1st of this year. Wow.
Meanwhile this afternoon … PP, Voz and C’s have united in Parliament this afternoon to demand that Sanchez sacks the minister if he won’t resign. And the Judge who originally ordered Colonel Pérez to start the investigation warned that she would tolerate no political interference in her investigation, which could end up with penal charges of abuse of office.