Spanish chief of the defense staff resigns after getting vaccinated

Villarroya says he did not breach the protocol, but "does not want to damage the image" of the army

Ot Serra
2 min
El cap d'Estat Major de la Defensa, Miguel Ángel Villarroya, en roda de premsa des de la Mocloa

MadridThe chief of the defence staff, Miguel Ángel Villarroya, has asked the Minister of Defence, Margarita Robles, to dismiss him in order "to not damage the public image of the armed forces". On Friday, it became known that the general and other members of the military leadership had been vaccinated against the coronavirus, and the minister announced that she would ask Villarroya for a report to explain what protocol had been followed. A few hours later, Defense announced through a press release that the general had resigned through a letter and that he was doing so "with a clear conscience".

According to the ministry, the general points out in his letter that, "in compliance with his obligations, in accordance with the established protocols and with the sole purpose of preserving the integrity, continuity and efficiency of the operational chain of the armed forces, he has recently taken decisions that he considers to be correct". These are decisions -the general is said to have stated in this letter- which "have never sought to take advantage of unjustifiable privileges, but which are damaging the public image of the armed forces and calling into question the honesty of General Villarroya himself".

According to defense staff sources cited by various media, the defense protocol that was drawn up in coordination with the Health Department stipulated that the first to be vaccinated had to be the health military and then the troops with international missions. Then the command structure according to age criteria, and that is why the generals were among the first. Thus, Villarroya - who is 63 years old -, Major Francisco Braco and the head of the joint general staff, Fernando García González-Valerio, were vaccinated. Nevertheless, non-commissioned officers and civilians on the general staff also received the vaccine.

The protocol between Defense and Health, then, seems to have not been violated, but the circumstance has occurred in parallel with the vaccination of the rest of society, which is in a much more initial phase. After vaccinating users and workers in care homes and frontline professionals, the next priority group is hospital and primary healthcare staff. Also the dentistry, dental hygiene and other health care personnel who attend without a mask and for a period of more than fifteen minutes. Furthermore, there is a problem with the supply of vaccines and in the Community of Madrid, for instance, the plan had to be stopped this week due to a lack of doses.

Home Affairs Minister Marlaska removes a lieutenant colonel from the Guardia Civil

Although Robles preferred to wait for Villarroya to send him a report, this Friday the Minister of Home Affairs, Fernando Grande-Marlaska, dismissed the lieutenant colonel of the Guardia Civil who acts as liaison with the defense staff, Gustavo Gimenez, because he had also received the first dose. As it was a freely appointed position, Marlaska opted for direct dismissal.