Expatica news

Spain’s transition-era premier has Alzheimer’s

1 June 2005

MADRID — Former prime minister Adolfo Suarez is suffering from Alzheimer’s disease and has no memory of his historic role as the leader of Spain’s first post-Franco government, his son announced.

Adolfo Suarez Illana, the former head of government’s oldest son, said on state-run TVE television that his 72-year-old father “no longer remembers that he was prime minister. He doesn’t recognise anyone and only responds to affectionate stimuli like love”.

Suarez Illana told journalist Julia Otero that his family had decided to make the situation of the ex-premier public because “we want to maintain the dignity and the aesthetics … (of a person) who does not deserve” to be the object of “gossip”.

Suarez’s illness has been known for some time within political and journalistic circles but it has been kept hidden until now out of respect for his reputation.

Though Suarez retired from political life in 1991, his absence from several institutional ceremonies which he should have attended in his capacity as a former prime minister over the past two years had provoked some speculation about his health.

These included various events related to terrorist bombings in Madrid and the wedding of Crown Prince Felipe and Letizia Ortiz in May of that same year.

The former premier’s oldest son said that his father knew about his illness up until the time that he lost almost all his mental faculties two years ago, adding that he always tried to conceal it “to keep us from suffering”.

The interview ended with an emotional statement from Suarez Illana: “We, his children, had the good fortune to have him take care of us and now life has given us the chance to take care of him”.

Suarez began his political career in the 1960s, during the Francisco Franco dictatorship, as director general of state radio and television.

In 1975, after Franco’s death, he became part of the government presided over by King Juan Carlos.

The king named Suarez prime minister in 1976, a post in which he headed the country’s transition to democracy at the helm of his centre-right UCD party, with the support of all political forces until his resignation in 1981, just days before Juan Carlos was forced to intervene to block an attempted military coup.

[Copyright EFE with Expatica]

Subject: Spanish news