World

Spain fires top soldier for controversial remarks

Spain has fired the head of its land army who sparked a controversy earlier this month when he suggested the use of military force in one of the country's provinces.

Spain has fired the head of its land army who sparked a controversy earlier this month when he suggested the use of military force in one of the country's provinces.

Lieut.-Gen. Jose Mena Aguado was placed under house arrest for threatening to send the army to stop Catalonia's drive for greater fiscal and legal autonomy.

Spain's defence minister is trying to reassure Catalans. He told Spanish radio that democracy would continue to come "from the ballot box and not the barracks."

Aguado will not return to active service. He is due to retire in March.

The use of the military in Spain is, understandably, controversial. The country was ruled by military dictator Gen. Francisco Franco for more than 30 years. And as late as 1981, there was an attempted military coup.

A statute on increased autonomy for Catalonia is now being debated by the Spanish parliament. The issue has deeply divided some politicians who say it will break up the country.

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