• Spain's news in English

Leaders give Spain's 'best' PM final goodbye

AFP · 1 Apr 2014, 09:15

Published: 01 Apr 2014 09:15 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Foreign government envoys joined Spain's royal family and ministers who arrived at the cathedral under rainy skies along with members of the public to remember Suarez, who died on March 23, aged 81.

King Juan Carlos, Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy and other mourners swept up in cars to the gates of the grey stone cathedral, watched by hundreds of onlookers.

Other members of the public queued at a side door hoping for a last-minute seat in the mass, which filled the building with mournful organ music and hymns.

"He was the best leader we have had," said one of them, Fidel Carrasco, 72.

"If his successors had been like him, Spain would be in a better state than it is."

Among those invited from overseas were Britain's Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, a US delegation led by Ray Mabus, Secretary of the United States Navy, and European Commission President Jose Manuel Durao Barroso.

Suarez, Spain's first elected premier after the death of dictator Francisco Franco in 1975, was admitted to hospital in Madrid on March 17 with pneumonia and died there a week later.

He had suffered from Alzheimer's disease for the past decade.

He was buried two days later in his home region, in the cathedral in the town of Avila, after his coffin was borne through the streets of Madrid.

But Monday was the day for the full state honours, with a funeral mass attended by Juan Carlos, Suarez's partner in the process of democratic reform known as the Transition.

Suarez had himself served as a member of Franco's regime, as head of the state broadcaster and a senior leader in the National Movement, a Francoist party with fascist roots.

But after Franco's death, the king chose Suarez, who enjoyed a reputation as a skilled negotiator, to lead the political process towards democracy.

Story continues below…

Many Spaniards hail Suarez as a national hero for his democratic reforms and his unruffled stance during an attempted coup on February 23, 1981.

When soldiers firing their rifles in the air took members of parliament hostage that day, Suarez was one of only three lawmakers who did not hide under their benches.

 In 1976 Suarez won Spain's first democratic elections since the dictator's death and went on to oversee the passing of Spain's constitution in 1978.

In time he was overwhelmed by splits within his party and other political perils, and resigned in 1981, having finally lost the support of the king.

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Spain's 'Napflix' aims to bore viewers to sleep
Photo: Screengrab/ Napflix

A Spanish video platform called Napflix, designed to put people to sleep with dull content, was launched this week and its founders are on the lookout for more "monotony and repetition."

Recipe: How to make fabada - traditional Asturian bean stew
Photo: Flavio Lorenzo Sánchez/Flickr

The hearty Asturian dish is a perfect lunch on a cold day... and don't forget the crusty bread and cider!

Brit 'paedo' held on Costa del Sol after Most Wanted appeal

One of Britain's most wanted fugitives was arrested on the Costa Del Sol following a tip-off from an expat just hours after his face appeared on a public appeal.

Spain's parliament approves deficit reduction measures
Photo: Images Money/Flickr

Spanish lawmakers approved on Thursday measures to reduce the public deficit and keep it under the target agreed with the European Union.

'Cubism and War' show opens at Barcelona Picasso Museum
Pablo Picasso Harlequin and Woman with a Necklace. Photo: MP

Barcelona's Picasso Museum unveiled an exhibition on "Cubism and War" on Thursday depicting how one of the most influential artistic styles of the 20th century survived the First World War.

Why this bionic limb pioneer doesn't believe in disability
Hugh Herr has been award Spain's top science prize. Photo: FPA

The Local speaks to Hugh Herr on winning Spain's top science prize and how being an amputee doesn't make him disabled.

Dine in the buff at Spain's first nudist restaurant
A buffet of organic food will be served on "human tables". Photo: Innato / Facebook

Spain's first naked dining experience is to arrive on the island of Tenerife following the success of a similar venture in London.

Spain's top court overturns bullfighting ban in Catalonia
Photo: AFP

Spain's Constitutional Court on Thursday cancelled a bullfighting ban in Catalonia in what is likely to exacerbate tensions between Madrid and the separatist region, and between animal activists and fans of the tradition.

Out of the dark: Five years on from Eta ceasefire
Eta members made a ceasefire declaration in January, 2011. Photo: Gara / AFP

Five years after armed separatist group Eta declared a permanent ceasefire, Basque journalist Alberto Letona is still wondering when the dialogue will begin.

Hunt for ten most wanted Brit fugitives hiding out in Spain
Call Crimestoppers if you recognize these faces.

These fugitives from British justice are thought to be hiding out in Spain. Do you recognize anyone?

Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
Madrid parish church faces fine over 'too noisy' bells
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Celebrate expat life at Madrid’s THRIVE convention
Fury after kids told to bring their own loo roll to school
Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
Disney announces plans for Don Quixote action movie
Activist tells 8-yr-old matador wannabe with cancer 'just die'
King to make last minute push to avoid third vote in Spain
Amazing photos of Catalonia's 'human tower' contest
What's on in Spain: October 2016
'No way, Jose! You'll never get your hands on our Rock'
Recipe: How to make a classic Spanish tortilla de patatas
Chorizo in paella? Go back to cooking school Jamie Oliver
Spain in eye of a perfect storm after 10 months without govt
Thousands share clips of life for 'Spain in a Day' film
Ten incredible Spain locations for Game of Thrones season 7
Analysis & Opinion
Why moving to Spain could be the best decision of your life
Seven reasons why autumn is the very best season in Spain
Spanish study finds four types of personality. Which are you?
New search underway for civil war grave of poet Lorca
Bison found decapitated on Valencia nature reserve
Forgotten Voices: What Brits in Spain think about Brexit
One dead and 14 injured in blast at Spanish resort
Game of Thrones want extras 'with muscles' to film in Spain
Thousands march in Madrid to push for bullfighting ban
jobs available