Spanish president Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero announced yesterday his government’s decision to send 650 soldiers, 5 military planes and a military hospital ship to the areas in South East Asia devastated by the tsunami. Speaking at a press conference after his meeting with Spanish Defence Minister Jose Bono yesterday, Zapatero spoke of a “state of world humanitarian emergency” and said that Europe and Spain should show an example to the rest of the world and contribute to the relief efforts in every way they possibly can.
The Spanish president said that two Hercules military planes would leave for the area with 18 tonnes of medical supplies, food, bottled water and a water purifying system. The hospital ship will also be fully equipped with medical instruments and 80 medical staff. The troops and supplies will start leaving for the Pacific tomorrow.
José Bono informed all the policital parties of the government’s decision, but the initiative was criticised by the popular party who said that when the socialist government took power, one of Zapatero’s first announcements was that his government would always inform parliament and seek approval of any decisions to send troops abroad to take part in humanitarian operations prior to the troops leaving Spain.
However the government argue that its commitment to consult parliament about sending troops is limited to areas involved in military conflict, and this is not the case of the countries affected by the disaster. The Defence Minister has announced his intention to explain details of the Spanish relief operation to the Parlimentary Defence Commission this week.