1981-02-23 Madrid, Spain / Coup d’état / Putsch / Golpe de Estado / Golpe de Estado

Cameramen and technicians recorded half an hour of the attempted coup d’état in Spain, providing the World with an audiovisual record of the attempt.

In addition, members of the private radio broadcaster SER continued reporting with open microphones from within the Congress of Deputies, with a significant portion of the population following on the radio.

As such the date is sometimes remembered as the ‘Night of the Transistors’.

Antonio Tejero entered the Congress of Representatives, the lower house of the Spanish Parliament, with 150 Guardia Civil and soldiers and held the congressmen hostage for some 22 hours.

King Juan Carlos I gave a nationally televised address where he denounced the coup, called for the rule of law to be upheld and for the democratically elected government to continue in place. The coup soon collapsed.

Addressing all Spaniards, with brevity and concision:

In the extraordinary circumstances that we are currently experiencing, I ask of everyone the utmost peace and confidence and I inform you all that I have given the Captains General of the army, the navy, and the air force the following order:

Given the situation created by the events that took place in the Palace of Congress, and to avoid any possible confusion, I confirm that I have ordered Civil Authorities and the Joint Chiefs of Staff to take all necessary measures to maintain constitutional order, within the law.

Should any measure of a military nature need to be taken, it must be approved by the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

The Crown, the symbol of the permanence and unity of the nation, cannot tolerate, in any form, the actions or behavior of anyone attempting by force to interrupt the democratic process of the constitution, which the Spanish people approved at the time of the referendum.

After holding the Parliament and cabinet hostage for 22 hours the hostage-takers surrendered the next morning without having harmed anyone.

Antonio Tejero was the last of the coup leaders to be released from jail on 2 December 1996, having then served 15 years in the military prison at Alcalá de Henares.

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