Retired Lieutenant General Manuel Mestre Barea, 67, from the Oriolan hamlet of La Murada, will be number one on the Alicante electoral list for the VOX ultra-right party in the upcoming National elections.

The former military man does carry with him some unwelcome baggage though, having been responsible for an episode in which a Hercules C-130 plane, from the Zaragoza Air Base, was used in 2006 to take 23 civil waiters to Madrid, where they served a meal to the Chief of the General Air Staff, General Francisco José García, together with about 300 guests, in a gathering at the Headquarters of the Ministry of Defence to celebrate the feast of the patron saint of the Army, the Virgin of Loreto.

Despite the socialist minister José Bono ordering his arrest it was never carried out and Mestre Barea was subsequently appointed the Chief of Staff of the NATO Joint Command

It is precisely, the military experience of Mestre Barea which is the main asset that the Vox ultras require of their candidate. His military curriculum included his appointment as a Diplomat of the General Staff of the Superior School of the Armed Forces (1992) and Diploma of the Air War College, Air University in Maxwell, Alabama, USA. (1999), where he also obtained a Masters degree in International Relations.

Manuel Mestre Barea was confirmed as a candidate for Congress by the right-wing party in Alicante which was confirmed by the party through his Twitter profile.

But it was a decision that surprised even the local Vox groupings in the province who’s discomfort was expressed by many party leaders who chose not to spread the news.

Meanwhile the relationship of Manuel Mestre Barea with the district of La Murada, in Orihuela, where he was born in 1952 are confirmed. There he has had a park dedicated with his name since 2011. It was refurbished in 2018 after suffering acts of vandalism.

In 2015 he presided over a swearing of the flag ceremony involving more than 200 civilians in the town where he harangued those present to defend “your flag, your family and your homeland.”

Electoral nominations of the Vox ultras for the provinces of Valencia and Castellón have also caused surprise. In Castellón, the number 1 candidate for the Congress is General Alberto Asarta, who signed a manifesto in favour of the dictator Francisco Franco. And in the city of Turia, it will be Ignacio Gil Lázaro, a long time member of the Valencian PP and deputy in Congress for this party for 33 years. Gil Lazaro left the PP in May 2018 because he “no longer identified with the party.”