A serving army officer, Colonel Francisco Alaman, has fuelled the flames by comparing the crisis with 1936 – when Gen Francisco Franco seized power – and by vowing to crush Catalan nationalists, described as “vultures”.
“Independence for Catalunya? Over my dead body. Spain is not Yugoslavia or Belgium. Even if the lion is sleeping, don’t provoke the lion, because he will show the ferocity proven over centuries,” he said.
Retired Lt-Gen Pedro Pitarch, a former army chief, said the words reflect “deeply-rooted thinking in large parts of the armed forces”. He also accused Madrid of bungling the Catalan drama disastrously.