Tomás Formentín, a former commander general in the Balearics. | Archive

Tomás Formentín, a former commander general of the army in the Balearics, is one of hundreds of retired military officers who have signed a "manifesto" against the Spanish government.

Last week, two letters were sent to King Felipe by one hundred or so former army and air force officers. The message of these letters, which did not get support from ex-navy officers, was similar to that of the manifesto, an open letter that has not been sent to the King and which is understood to have around 470 signatories.

The manifesto takes issue with the decision of Pedro Sánchez to form a government with "communists" and with the support of Catalan separatists and Basques who are "pro-ETA". Contempt, it claims, has been shown for the King, the constitutional monarchy is being drawn into question, while "single thoughts" are being imposed by legislation such as that for democratic memory and education.

The latest letter began to circulate over the weekend, coinciding therefore with Constitution Day. As well as Tomás Formentín, another eight former Balearic officers are signatories. In addition, and according to El Pais, names include Franco's grandson, Cristóbal Martínez-Bordiu y Franco; Ricardo Pardo Zancada, who was sentenced for his role in the 1981 attempted coup; and José María Mena, who was arrested in 2006 when he called for the army to intervene in Catalonia at a time when greater autonomy for the region was under consideration.

The unity of Spain is being threatened, the signatories claim, while there is a "deterioration of democracy".

As well as the letters, the online newspaper InfoLibre last week published messages from a WhatsApp chat group comprising certain retired military officers. One of these messages read: "There is no other other choice but to start executing 26 million sons of bitches."

The signatories have disassociated themselves from sentiments which appeared to be calling for an uprising, but they have added that they do share concerns about the "socialist-communist government". The minister of defence, Margarita Robles, has sent the chat group messages to the prosecutor at the high court in Madrid.

General Miguel Ángel Villarroya, the chief of the defence staff, has stressed that the opinions expressed by the retired officers "cannot be construed as being representative of the community they were once part of".