The military move from parade to demonstration

by Deborah Cater
Spanish military deployed during Covid. Image Creator: Xpression International via uncder creative commons license

Four days after parading through Madrid’s Paseo de la Castellana, hundreds of soldiers demonstrated about their pay this Saturday. Unarmed and without uniform, they marched along the Carrera de San Jerónimo.

They marched from Puerta del Sol to the Congress of Deputies to demand “worthy retribution”. Convened by the main professional military associations (ATME, AUME and Asfaspro), the protesters complained the Army “takes the chestnuts out of the fire for the State” every time there is a problem; however, its members are the lowest paid public employees.

Related article: Military parade on Dá de la Hispanidad

Who do they call? The Military!

“Who do they call in for the fires, floods, earthquakes, the pandemic, rescues, the eruptions?” they asked. “The military!” they responded in unison.

“They remember us when there is an emergency and forget when they make budgets”, summarised the representative of an association.

ASSSA - health insurance in Spain

All parties agree the salaries of the military are due for review, particularly in respect to other uniformed bodies. This ‘offence’ worsened with the increase in pay to civil guards and national police to make them equal to the autonomous agents.

Miquel Peñarroya, president of Asfaspro (Association of NCOs of the Armed Forces), considers it “ridiculous” the average increase of €40 the military received this year. Meanwhile, Marco Antonio Gómez, of the ATME (Association of Troops and Sailors Española), warns that “with poor salaries one can only expect an increasingly less attractive Army.”

For this reason, Ignacio Unibaso, secretary general of AUME (Unified Association of Military of Spain), demands the approval of a €300 million item in the next budgets. That will increase the salary of the military by €160 per month and initiate the “dignity” of their remuneration.

Symbolic gesture

At the end of the demonstration, the attendees made a “symbolic return” of medals. Decorations and words of praise do not enable the military to pay the expenses of their families. “We are the best valued by society, and the worst paid,” several of them complained.

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