Everything spies and journalists had to do to hide the secret life of Juan Carlos

In July 1997, Emilio Alonso Manglano has a meeting with Felipe González. The date is important, because at that time Manglano is no longer the director of the intelligence services, Cesid, and González is no longer president of the Government. They are not two retirees killing time to count old battles. They both have a problem. The television artist Bárbara Rey is blackmailing King Juan Carlos with the evidence of his romantic relationship – a debatable concept in this case because it is more convenient to quote the title of the film ‘Why do they call it love when they mean sex?’ -. You need to do something about it. That is, you have to hide it. “The sensible press is controlled, although in the environments the relationship is taken for granted. There is also the support of the elite, bankers, businessmen …”, says González.

The meeting description appears in the book ‘The chief of spies’, written by ABC journalists Juan Fernández-Miranda and Javier Chicote, who have relied on in the personal documents in which Manglano summarized his career as Cesid director between 1981 and 1995. The presentation of the book in Madrid this Tuesday was attended by three of the most influential journalists of that time –Juan Luis Cebrián, Pedro J. Ramírez and Luis María Anson–, for What was interesting to know to what extent they were all involved in that story: how the media played a key role in the Transition and subsequent years not only to tell what was happening, but to hide everything that could harm the high State institutions. What in the case of Juan Carlos I was practically everything.

Cebrián, director of El País for twelve years and then CEO of Prisa until 2018, gave a perfect example of the cynicism with which the elites in Europe handle themselves. When a shameful revelation arises about the past and they ask him what he did in those moments, he responds that these things happen in all countries and do not be scandalized. “All states have sewers,” he said. Ramírez launched a cataract of accusations against Manglano for having committed crimes to protect the king and Felipe González, but he ignored his own relationship with Mario Conde when he blackmailed the Government to free him from his problems with the law after sinking Banesto. Anson, director of ABC between 1983 and 1997, did not say anything relevant, because at this point in his life he is not going to get out of the character he created long ago. As he is 88 years old, no one is going to reproach him out loud.

The Anson thing is interesting, because the then director of ABC was one of the journalists, along with Ramírez, who formed an association in the nineties whose mission was to end felipismo. Cebrián, in a display of journalistic ingenuity almost inappropriate for his writing, called them “the crime syndicate.” The book tells in detail that Manglano was very concerned about this offensive, which he considered a maneuver “against the state.” Some of those journalists were very over the top. If it was necessary to take the monarchy ahead to get rid of the PSOE, they had no problem with it. His priority was to end González so that the Popular Party could come to power as soon as possible.

To tell it all, it must be remembered that Manglano – and ultimately the king – had linked their fate to that of González. “You have to help PG (President of the Government). Help to avoid worse situations”, Manglano writes in his papers when the scandal of Juan Guerra, brother of the vice president, took place, as it appears in the book.

Manglano is clear that he needs a mole and Anson is the piece he gets. The journalist, a monarchist since Franco, is shocked by the crazy things he hears from his colleagues. He becomes a double agent who reports to the head of the spies. And not just Manglano. Narcís Serra, a member of González’s government for fourteen years as defense minister and later vice president, tells him what the journalist has told him: “For Anson, it would be very important to get to know which journalists from El Mundo charged from Roldán. best way to take it all apart. ”

This is a fight of criminals in which some accuse the Government of having paid the corrupt director of the Civil Guard and others accuse some journalists of having collected from Roldán or Mario Conde. Serra is in his sauce. The sympathetic mayor of Barcelona became a sinister figure in the González government, always ready to use the intelligence services for the benefit of his political party. Manglano was delighted to collaborate with him.

Regarding his status as a part-time spy, Anson said nothing at the book launch. Nor has he ever said much about his pivotal role in Madrid’s 1980 conspiracies to wipe out Adolfo Suárez and cause a complete shift in the country’s politics to the right. He preferred to make a tearful defense of the integrity of Juan de Borbón, who resigned from the Crown in favor of his son. And defend Juan Carlos to the limit of brain death. For him, everything that has been published about the fortune of the former monarch abroad are “tricks and slander.” Juan Carlos has had to pay the Treasury hundreds of thousands of euros so that they do not accuse him of a tax crime. But it is that the very book that he praised so much in the presentation reveals based on the Manglano papers that this king has spent a good part of his life collecting commissions and storing a fortune abroad.

In 2012, The New York Times made an estimate of the fortune of Juan Carlos that reached 2,300 million dollars. The figure was so high that it seemed hard to believe. It was more typical of a Colombian or Mexican drug trafficker. They fell very short. The book cites an entry by Manglano, according to which Sabino Fernández Campo knew in 1990 that it was much higher: “Sab. Says that the king has 5,000 million in Switzerland.” Fernández Campo was a senior official in the Royal House from 1977 to 1993 (and his boss in the last three years). It is not surprising that the monarch had been trying to get rid of him for a long time because he “talks too much”.

Cebrián commented that Fernández Campo told him everything that appears in the book about Juan Carlos’ personal conduct. He was referring to his lovers, not his illegal fortune. The then director of El País was one of the state’s keepers who dedicated himself to protecting the monarch’s reputation. He continues to do so: “With great regret (because he knows they are going to criticize him for it), I will say that this country owes a debt of gratitude to Juan Carlos I.” On the crimes that he did not want and does not want to speak in detail, he referred only to “fiscal irregularities”. As if it were the same as forgetting to fill in the appropriate box on the income statement.

In that debate of how far to tell about what Juan Carlos did, Pedro J. Ramírez had the upper hand. His problem is that he also has a few skeletons in the closet that he’s less talkative about. He called Manglano a “suspected criminal with stripes” and a “docile servant of his masters.” He blamed him for having covered up the crimes of State terrorism. For the director of Diario 16 and El Mundo between 1980 and 2014, the former director of Cesid was a cover-up for crimes: “He protected the State by hiding multiple criminal actions by repeatedly committing crimes.” He used the word ‘presumed’ frequently, but only as a legal courtesy.

Ramírez denounced that the king was using Cesid, with the complicity of Manglano, “to hide his financial scandals and his love affairs.” It is totally true and is reflected in the book. For the avoidance of doubt, the journalist cited the pages of the book in which these revelations appear. This is not an exaggeration. One of the main functions of Spanish spies was to prevent the king’s dark affairs from coming to light.

They had to work hard. Juan Carlos was so unleashed that at the beginning of the nineties he asked Mario Conde for a credit of 90 million pesetas. When Banesto was intervened by the Government, that operation had to be covered up. “I spoke with Ybarra and with Alfredo Sáenz. He fixed it for me,” he told Manglano. Now it is easier to understand why Sáenz was pardoned by the Zapatero government in 2011 when he was on duty.

Armed with the documents that Lieutenant Colonel Perote obtained from Cesid, Conde launched a pressure campaign against the Government, threatening to remove everything. “Mario Conde is behind all this,” Anson explained to Manglano, referring to the maneuvers of the anti-Felip journalists. Pedro J. Ramírez was eager to publish what came to him from Conde. About the banker who ended up in jail, he did not speak at the book launch. As for Cebrián, he believes that the end justifies the means. It’s just that the two of them have been in different places in the trenches, but the sense of amorality unites them.

Everything had a high level of theatrical representation. The Royal Shakespeare Company is a bunch of amateurs compared to these illustrious journalists. There are many years and many stories that must continue to be hidden.


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