Home A Brief History of Spain Spanish History – 1980 to 1999

Spanish History – 1980 to 1999

1980
ETA fighting kills 118 people.

1981
An attempted coup began in Spain as 200 members of the Civil Guard and some of the military invaded the Parliament, taking lawmakers hostage. The attempt, led by Colonel Antonio Tejero, collapsed 18 hours later. Juan Carlos spoke to the nation on behalf of democracy and the coup collapsed.

1982
Spain joins NATO.
Coup plot by right-wing extremists discovered.
Socialist government wins sizeable majority. Felipe Gonzalez became prime minister.

1983
181 people were killed when a Colombian Avianca Airlines Boeing 747 crashed near Madrid’s Barajas airport.
In Madrid, an Aviaco DC-9 collided on a runway with an Iberia Air Lines Boeing 727 that was accelerating for takeoff, killing all 42 people aboard the DC-9 and 51 aboard the Iberia jet.

1984
The Socialist government permanently shuttered its nuclear facilities.

1985
150 were killed when a Spanish jetliner crashed approaching Bilbao, Spain.
Thousands demonstrated in Madrid against the NATO presence in Spain.
A bombing in Madrid, Spain, killed 18 and injured 82. Shia Muslim extremists claimed responsibility.
Divers found the wreck of Spanish galleon Atocha.
The Socialist government approved pensions for 60,000 soldiers or their dependents who supported the losing Republican side in the Civil War.

1986
Spain joins EEC.
Jose Ignacio De Juana Chaos (b.1955), a former police officer who joined one of ETA’s most active commando units, took part in a Madrid car bombing that killed 12 Civil Guard policemen. 45 people were wounded.

1987
Ignacio De Juana Chaos (b.1955), a former police officer who joined one of ETA’s most active commando units, was arrested.
The Bank of Spain signed an agreement to join the European Monetary System.
An ETA car bomb in the parking lot of the Hipercor department store in Barcelona killed 21 and wounds 45.
A bomb exploded at a USO bar in Barcelona, Spain, killing one U.S. sailor and injuring nine others; a little-known group called the Red Army of Catalonian Liberation claimed responsibility.

1989
The Spanish peseta entered the European Monetary System (EMS) exchange-rate mechanism; the composition of the ECU is adjusted following the inclusion of the Spanish peseta and the Portuguese escudo.
The 300-sq. km. Donana wetland, the richest in Europe, was declared a national park. The belt around Donana was managed by the regional government of Andalusia. The Madrid government managed the park.

1992
Barcelona hosts Summer Olympic games.
Seville hosts Expo 92.
Celebrations mark the 500th anniversary of Columbus’s first voyage to America.
The Greek tanker Aegean Sea spilled 21.5 million gallons of crude oil when it ran aground at La Coruna, Spain.
Spain signed accords with Islamic, Jewish and Protestant representatives.
Leaders of the Basque Separatist Group (ETA) were captured.
1994
Barcelona opera theater “Gran Teatro del Liceo” burned down.

1995
Spain joins European Community.
Leader of opposition Popular Party Jose Maria Aznar survives a car bomb blast.
Princess Elena married a banker, Jaime de Marichalar y Saenz de Tejada, in Seville; it was Spain’s first royal wedding in 89 years.
A car bomb killed six and injured 15 in southern Madrid. Authorities suspected Basque separatists.
Foreign Minister Javier Solana was elected as secretary of NATO.
Spain and Morocco agreed to build a channel tunnel under the Strait of Gibraltar. The plan was for 3 tunnels at a cost of $4 bil.

1996
ETA abducted a prison officer and held him for 532 days.
Jose Maria Aznar (PP) becomes Prime Minister.
Judge Jose Jimenez Alfaro lost most of his right hand when a letter bomb exploded at his courthouse in Madrid. He had sent policemen to jail for Spain’s “dirty war” war on Basque rebels in the 1980s.
ETA set off 3 bombs at tourist sites. One at the airport of Reus, and 2 at the beach resorts of Cambrils and Salou.
Flash floods in the Pyranees killed at least 71 people at a campground.

1997
Eta, demanding that Basque prisoners be transferred closer to home, kidnaps and kills Basque councillor Miguel Angel Blanco. Killing sparks national outrage and brings an estimated 6 million Spaniards onto the streets.
A Supreme Court Jusdge, Rafael Martinez Emperador, was shot dead in Madrid.
A Basque court guard, Modesto Rico Pasarin (33), was killed by a car bomb attributed to the ETA.
23 leaders of Herri Batasuna jailed for seven years for collaborating with Eta – the first time any members of the party have been jailed as a result of Eta links.
Matadors across the country went on strike as the bullfighting season opened.
A passenger train north of Pamplona derailed and killed at least 22 and injured some 87 people.
Thousands of olive oil workers protested in Madrid against the EU plan to force a cut in olive oil production and to lower subsidies.
The parliament approved a labor reform pact to reduce the 22% unemployment.
Former prime minister Felipe Gonzalez quit as the leader of the Spanish Socialist Party. He was succeeded by Joaquin Almunia.
In San Sebastian, some 30,000 marched in support of the ETA separatist movement.
Princess Christina Federica de Borbon y Grecia (32) married Inaki Urdangarin (29), a Basque professional handball team player.
In Bilbao the new Guggenheim Museum Bilbao opened.
A separatist guerrilla group killed a policeman while trying to bomb the new Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao. Jose Maria Aguirre was killed when he helped foil the ETA attack. One of three gunmen, Kepa Arronnategui, was captured.
Flooding of the Guadiana River killed 18 people in Badajoz. A total of 31 died along the Spanish-Portuguese border from the storm induced flood.
In San Sebastian a politician’s bodyguard was shot to death hours before authorities arrested 19 of 23 leaders of the pro-Basque independence party, Herri Batasuna. Protestors also commandeered a bus and burned it.
Tens of thousands marched in San Sebastian to protest the murder of Jose Luis Caso.
In Bilbao thousands marched on behalf of the 23 Basque separatists of the Herri Batasuna separatist group, who were recently sentenced to 7 years each in prison.
Mohamad Kamal Mustafa, imam of Fuengirola, Spain, authored “Women in Islam,” in which he defended a husband’s right to beat his wife.
Pernod Ricard SA acquired the Spanish gin Larios.

1998
Crops destroyed and wildlife wiped out when an iron pyrite mine reservoir belonging to a Canadian-Swedish company bursts its banks causing toxic waste spillage. Waterways feeding Europe’s largest wildlife reserve, the Donana national park, are severely contaminated.
Eta announces its first indefinite ceasefire since its campaign of violence began.
A Boeing 727 with 131 people was hijacked and diverted to Valencia.
Jose Antonio Ardanza, 14-year president of the Basque country, dissolved the regional parliament and set elections for Oct 25. He urged ETA extremists to lay down their arms.
An excursion boat capsized and sank on Lake Banyoles and 20 French tourists were drowned.
Spain deregulated its energy market.
Ramon Sampredro, a Spanish paraplegic who campaigned for euthanasia and spent 30 years in bed, died by sipping water laced with cyanide. He did this after crafting a complex scheme to have friends prepare and deliver the poison in incremental steps so no single one of them could be charged criminally. The story was made into the movie “El Mar Adentro” (The Sea Inside).

1999
Spain along with 10 other European Union nations made the transition to the new Euro monetary system.
Eta ends its ceasefire, blaming lack of progress in talks with the Spanish government.
In Barcelona the Gran Teatre del Liceu opera house opened after a 3-year, $120 million renovation due to a 1994 fire.
Police found a 2nd van loaded with 1,650 pounds of explosives in Alhama de Aragon. Two days earlier a van, bound for Madrid, was stopped with 1,980 pounds of explosives.
Parliament approved an amnesty for illegal immigrants and authorized visas for those able to prove that they had arrived before July 1, 1999.