En un país tan ingrato como el nuestro, la muerte del presidente Suárez me provoca sentimientos cruzados de cierta orfandad política, enorme agradecimiento personal y no poca culpabilidad colectiva. Evocando el cantar del Campeador: ¡Dios qué buen ciudadano si hubiese buen país!
Estaba cocinando unos gurullos almerienses, con la receta de mi madre, cuando escuché la noticia de su muerte, no por esperada menos triste. Recordé unos versos de Machado: “Un golpe de ataud en tierra es algo tremendamente serio”. Con Suárez, nos hemos muerto un poco todos aquellos que participamos de alguna manera en la transición y hemos asistimos después, más o menos pasivamente, al deterioro progresivo de nuestra democracia. De ahí esta mezcla agridulde de amor y culpabilidad.
Desde que oí la noticia, se han precipitado en acudir a mi mente multitud de recuerdos compartidos con el primer presidente de la democracia más larga de la historia de España. Algunos, entrañables -como cuando me colé con 21 años en su despacho de TVE en 1968 y presenté la Televisión Escolar- y otros, muy tristes -como cuando paseamos del brazo por el cementerio de Segovia al enterrar allí a Fernando Abril Martorell. Nuestro último abrazo fue en la iglesia de Avila donde dieron sepultura a su esposa hace ya más de 13 años. Mi relación con Suárez, desde 1968 hasta 2001, duró 43 años. Y está llena de anécdotas, sin apenas importancia, pero que me hacen sentirme un privilegiado por haber pasado por su lado.
Ahora todo son alabanzas, como corresponde a la tradición de los obituarios. Por algo, el día de hoy, el del fallecimiento, recibe el sobrenombre de “día de las alabanzas”. Dejaré pasar unos días entes de poner aquí, en frío, algunos de mis recuerdos con Adolfo Suárez. No era tan perfecto como dicen hoy por doquier, pero era un ser humano excepcional.
A menudo he pensado en él como el perfecto candidato a jefe del Estado, como presidente de la III República. Ya no será posible. Pero podría servir de ejemplo a generaciones venideras para frenar el deterioro de nuestra democracia y devolver a muchos descreidos la ilusión de que otra política, capaz de consensos contra la corrupción y por el interés general, es posible aún en España.
Descanse en paz el presidente Suárez.
Copio y pego a continuación (para mi archivo) el obituario que acaba de publicar el New York Times sobre Aldolfo Suárez, primer presidente de la Democracia tras la Dictadura de Franco.
By RAPHAEL MINDER
Mr. Suárez, who helped fill a power vacuum left by the death of Gen. Francisco Franco in 1975, was a key figure in the country’s transition back to democracy.
MADRID — Adolfo Suárez, Spain’s first prime minister after the Franco dictatorship and a key figure in the country’s transition back to democracy, died here on Sunday. He was 81.
A family spokesman, Fermín Urbiola, announced the death. Mr. Suárez was admitted to a Madrid hospital last Monday with respiratory problems that developed into pneumonia. He had been treated for Alzheimer’s disease for a decade.
A lawyer by training, Mr. Suárez led a new generation of Spanish politicians who filled the power vacuum left by the death of Gen. Francisco Franco in late 1975.
The government announced three days of official mourning and said that Mr. Suárez would receive a state funeral. In a televised address on Sunday, King Juan Carlos called Mr. Suárez “a loyal friend” who had helped lead the country back to democracy, calling it “one of the most brilliant chapters in Spanish history.”
King Juan Carlos picked Mr. Suárez, who was then 43, to form a government in 1976. At the time, Mr. Suárez was a successful but relatively obscure aparatchik of the Franco regime who had spent a few years running the national radio and television broadcaster. But he had little of the power-brokering experience that was required to heal deep divisions in Spanish society after four decades of dictatorship and international isolation.
Still, despite his ties to Franco, Mr. Suárez was also relatively free of any stigma as a member of the regime. He was too young to be associated with the horrors of the Spanish Civil War and the early and most brutal period of Franco’s regime.
By June 1977, when Spain held its first democratic election since 1936, when the Civil War began, Mr. Suárez “epitomized the changing face of Spain and the emergence of a new middle class,” Robert Graham wrote in “Spain: A Nation Comes of Age,” a book about Spain’s democratic transition. Mr. Graham, a foreign correspondent in Madrid during Mr. Suárez’s premiership, added: “His clean, youthful looks were in themselves a breath of fresh air. He represented what many Spaniards aspired to be — a provincial boy made good, with a devout wife and a large, happy family.”
The 1977 general election was won by the Union of the Democratic Center, formed just ahead of the vote as a loose, center-right coalition that included several candidates who had served in the Franco administration without being linked to its most Fascist component.
Mr. Suárez did not run as the official leader of the party, but he addressed the nation on the eve of the vote that positioned him at its helm. He could claim direct backing from King Juan Carlos, who himself had been handpicked by Franco and crowned only two days after the dictator’s death.
“The point of departure is the recognition of pluralism in our society: We cannot allow ourselves the luxury of ignoring it,” Mr. Suárez told lawmakers in 1976.
This pluralism included the Communist Party, which had been banned under Franco. In a secret meeting with Santiago Carrillo, Spain’s long-exiled Communist leader, Mr. Suárez offered to legalize the Communists in return for a pledge that they would join the election.
His engineering a wave of political conciliation and a smooth switch to democratic elections were the high-water marks of his premiership. Much of it afterward was rife with tensions within the leadership of his own party and cabinet reshuffles.
By the start of 1981, Mr. Suárez was facing an internal party rebellion and trailing in the polls behind the Socialist Party. His response was to resign, a decision he did not fully explain, although he hinted that his other option — calling an early general election — risked making Spain’s return to democracy a “parenthesis in history” if the Socialists took power and provoked a takeover by the military, which was dead set against their running the country.
In fact, in February 1981, a month after Mr. Suárez’s resignation announcement, a group of military officers attempted a coup, starting with a takeover of the Congress of Deputies, the lower house of Spain’s parliamentary system, while it was in session. Stunned Spaniards followed events live on the radio as members of the military police fired shots into the air and many lawmakers took cover behind their seats. A few, however, including Mr. Suárez and his deputy prime minister, Manuel Gutiérrez Mellado, stood up to challenge the rebels.
The coup attempt, denounced by King Juan Carlos in a television broadcast, was over within a day.
Afterward, Mr. Suárez sought a political comeback, leading a new party, the Democratic and Social Center, known as C.D.S. He was re-elected to Parliament in 1982, but the C.D.S. failed to make a major impact and gradually lost support. Mr. Suárez resigned his party leadership and retired from politics in 1991.
Mr. Suárez’s wife, María Amparo Illana Elórtegui, died of cancer in 2001. A daughter, María Amparo Suárez Illana, died of cancer three years later. His survivors include four other children.
Although he had won popular support cast as an outsider to Spain’s establishment, he was awarded by the king with a noble title, Duke of Suárez, after stepping down as prime minister. His last public appearance was in 2003. Two years later, his family said Mr. Suárez had Alzheimer’s disease and could no longer remember having led Spain.